It's been a long time coming for Jordan Gluck.
The freshman goalie, between all the trainings and camps he has been to, has not played in a live game in nearly two years. He made his Sun Devil debut Thursday night, blocking all but one of the 24 shots sent his way, helping Arizona State to a 2-1 victory in overtime against Colorado.
"Obviously I was nervous, I'm always nervous before games," Gluck said.
His only goal: a product of nerves of his first start. Less than a minute into the game he went behind the net to play the puck and shot it out right to a Colorado's Kirk Van Arkel. Gluck didn't have time to get back in the net and it was an easy goal to put Colorado up 1-0. Gluck was perfect after that.
"They hadn't scored on me, I pretty much scored on myself," he said of his mindset after that goal. "So I just had to keep doing what I was doing and I'd be fine."
Gluck locked it down after that and kept Arizona State (12-1-0, 3-1-0 WCHL) in the game, but the offense never quite put together the way it expected. Junior forward Ryan Belonger tied the game on the power play with 7:03 left in the first period, then the defenses took over.
Colorado (6-2-2, 1-0-1 WCHL) goalie Matt Lechner was fabulous in net for the Buffaloes, making 40 saves in only his second appearance of the season. But the players in front of him were equally as good.
Arizona State will typically get a goal or two per game on a breakaway, when one of its forwards sneaks past the defense and receives a long outlet pass. Colorado did not allow that to happen, forcing the Sun Devils outside the circles in the neutral zone and stopping any momentum they tried to generate.
And when Arizona State slipped through the cracks, Lechner was there. In the third period, Arizona State forward Eric Rivard got tangled up outside the left circle and everyone swarmed to the puck to take it out. Everyone except Tommy Cooney, who parked himself to Lechner's right, waiting for Rivard to win the battle and feed him. When he did, Lechner sniffed it out, and dove forward and extended his stick, knocking the puck away with the shaft.
The game went into overtime, and when it came down to four-on-four, Colorado couldn't keep up. Liam Norris took the puck in the neutral zone and hurled it to the streaking Belonger, who was all alone and beat Lechner top-shelf to end the game.
"I just knew I had to bury it," Belonger said. "The game was on my stick, I knew it had to end and get this over with."
Overtime only lasted 40 seconds, too long in the eyes of Arizona State coach Greg Powers. But when those 40 seconds ended, his third-string goalie won his first game with a pitchfork on his chest.
"He's a kid that has a good pedigree, so he pulled it together and made some big saves," Powers said. "He held it together and we're proud of him."
Three stars (as selected by media)
Third star: Jordan Gluck, goalie, Arizona State. He made 23 straight saves to earn a win in his college debut.
Second star: Matt Lechner, goalie, Colorado. He did his part, making 40 saves and taking his team to overtime against the No. 2 team in the nation.
First star: Ryan Belonger, forward, Arizona State. The only goals of the game by the Sun Devils, including the game-winner.
– Arizona State forward Michael Cummings left the game in the second period with a bruise in his thigh and did not return. He is not expected to play the rest of the weekend.
– Arizona State finished 1-4 on the power play, and did not allow a goal in three short-handed opportunities.
– Belonger's goals were his seventh and eighth, tops on the team. He also leads the team with 20 points. Both goals were assisted by Norris, who leads the team with 14 assists.
The Sun Devils return to action Friday and Saturday against Colorado State. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.