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ASU Hockey Year in Review: The Game of the Year

Beating the Wildcats is always fun, but the dominance on the ice has become commonplace. In contrast, none of the eight victories against Arizona compared to the Sun Devils' classic 3-1 victory against Division 1 opponent Penn State.

The Sun Devils had three goal celebrations in their victory at Penn State.
The Sun Devils had three goal celebrations in their victory at Penn State.
Allyson Cummings (Walter Cronkite Sports Network)

The Arizona State hockey team accomplished so many program firsts this season that it's easy for some achievements to get lost in translation.

While players might lose some of the memories they collected throughout the year, there's one moment that no one will ever forget.

On Dec. 1, 2012, the Sun Devil hockey team took to the ice in Happy Valley, Penn. and set out to make history.

After nearly three grueling hours of play against opponent Penn State, the Sun Devils achieved their goal.

Behind a goal from Faiz Khan, a pair of goals from Kale Dolinski and a sensational performance between the pipes from goalie Joe D'Elia, the Arizona State hockey program recorded its first ever victory against an NCAA Division 1 opponent.

In a season that featured an 18-0 start and the team's first foray into the ACHA National Semifinals, nothing will compare with the joy and jubilation of defeating the Nittany Lions.

Not long ago, Penn State was the class of the ACHA, as the program's five National Championships indicate. However, the Nittany Lions moved onward and upward and joined the ranks of the NCAA's elite.

When the Sun Devils agreed to travel to Happy Valley, they could only dream of one day defeating the cream of the crop.

Penn State's roster includes 18 scholarship players, while the Sun Devils' team features a number of players who were told they couldn't compete at such a high level by NCAA programs.

Instead of bowing down and appreciating the Nittany Lions' success, the Sun Devils played with a chip on their shoulders.

Players like Colin Hekle, Dan Styrna and Danny McAuliffe knew this could be the greatest moment in their Arizona State careers, and they took the opportunity to heart.

When the Sun Devils emerged from their Saturday evening tilt, there was no denying significance of their achievement.

While players and fans will talk about the winning streak against the Arizona Wildcats for hours on end, no game played in the Cactus Cup could ever match the legendary status that the Penn State victory has accrued.

Though the season may not have ended the way the team would have liked, the Sun Devil team has something that few teams in ACHA history could ever claim and that's the distinction of beating an NCAA Division 1 opponent.