The night started with Arizona State unveiling its national championship banner in front of a packed Oceanside Ice Arena. It ended with a 3-0 shutout of rival Arizona.
"We channeled that emotion and used it to our advantage," coach Greg Powers said.
And the emotions were certainly running high for Arizona State (8-0-0). Last year's championship team was in attendance, as was athletic director Ray Anderson, and so was Arizona (2-3-0), who is always itching for a good game.
The scoring started just 2:30 after puck drop, when junior Chris Blessing hurled the puck from in his own zone to a streaking Sean Murphy. The sophomore forward caught the pass, threaded the needle through two Arizona defensemen and had only the goalie to beat. He flicked a wrister past Garrett Patrick, off the bottom of the crossbar and past the red line.
"I just moved the puck to (Blessing), and I knew he'd give me the puck, so I went with it," Murphy said.
After that, Arizona was able to keep in out of its own net, but not keep itself out of the penalty box. Arizona State had three chances with the extra man, including 22 seconds of a three-on-one, but did not score. The scoring came in the second period.
Arizona State unveiled its national championship banner before Saturday's game against Arizona (Justin Emerson/House of Sparky)
With just over half the period to go, Arizona forward Sean Gruenhagen took a hooking call, then had an extra two minutes attached for an unsportsmanlike conduct call. It gave Arizona State a four-minute double-minor, and its second goal of the game.
Sophomore defenseman Connor Schmidt collected the puck and hurled it at the net, trickling past Patrick for the second goal of the game. Schmidt has continued his hot play alongside blue line partner Ed McGovern, who keep impressing in their first seasons with the Sun Devils.
"They're solid, they're rocks," Powers said of Schmidt and McGovern. "They're our horses back there that need to be out there in every situation."
With 6:30 left in the third period, Murphy hit the dagger. Arizona couldn't handle the puck in its own end while on the power play, and Murphy picked it up and shot it past Patrick for his second goal of the night, and his team's third.
Arizona State travels to Oklahoma next weekend, then returns home for one game against Liberty Oct. 23.
Three stars (selected by media)
Third star: Connor Schmidt, defenseman, Arizona State (1 goal).
Second star: Robert Levin, goalie, Arizona State (17 saves).
First star: Sean Murphy, forward, Arizona State (2 goals).