Arizona State’s Friday night matchup against West Chester was expected to be a Sun Devil blowout. Lacking a flair for the dramatic, that’s exactly what Arizona State put together in a total domination, beating the Golden Rams 14-0. Six different Sun Devils scored twice in the romp.
"I think we had a lot to prove this week after the second game last weekend," junior forward Chris Blessing said.
Before the game, star goalie Robert Levin was benched by head coach Greg Powers in favor of sophomore Lucas Felbel. While he wouldn’t be tested often as the Sun Devil blue line controlled the game, Felbel stopped everything that West Chester threw his way, securing Arizona State’s first shutout of the young season.
"My teammates made it really easy for me," Felbel said. "Keeping a lot of shots on the outside, eliminating second chances, they made it really easy for me."
In the first period, the Arizona State offense wasted no time, scoring the first goal of the night 17 seconds into the game. Belonger’s first ACHA goal put Arizona State up 1-0 and the rout continued from there. Five minutes later, sophomore forward Tommy Cooney got in on the action, scoring past West Chester goalie Michael Rice to add to the early Sun Devil lead. Cooney’s first goal of the night upped his total to three, and he’s scored in each of Arizona State’s games this season. At the 9:26 mark of the first period, sophomore forward Eric Rivard scored in impressive fashion, flipping the puck past Rice while falling away from the goal to improve the lead to 3-0.
Not to be left out of the free-for-all, Blessing and sophomore forward Sean Murphy each found the back of the net, and Belonger’s second goal of the night right before the end of the period put the Sun Devils in an ideal position, up 6-0. The Sun Devils outshot West Chester 27-2 in the opening period.
Showing resiliency, West Chester remained competitive and challenged Felbel more in the second period, getting seven shots on goal. Felbel stopped all seven, and his domination in goal allowed the Sun Devil offense to pad the lead. Cooney’s second score of the evening was his most impressive, as he took the puck coast-to-coast and beat the entire West Chester defense to increase the Sun Devil lead to 7-0. Murphy and Blessing each added goals of their own, and Arizona State held a commanding 9-0 advantage after the conclusion of the second period.
With nothing left to play for but pride, the Golden Rams and Sun Devils continued to duke it out in the third period. The offenses cooled, but tempers flared and both teams earned an abundance of penalty box time, giving the offenses power plays throughout the night. The difference was that Arizona State’s offense was able to capitalize on those power plays, scoring on six of those power plays, with the fifth and sixth power play goals coming in the third period. Rivard added his second goal of the night, and freshman defenseman Gianni Mongrone got in on the offensive action, scoring his first goal of the season to up the lead to 11-0. Coach Powers removed his starters and put in the newer players on the team, and it resulted in freshman Mak Barden’s first career goal. Barden scored again before the game came to a close, and sophomore Michael Cummings’ score wrapped up the Sun Devil onslaught.
Missing from Friday’s blowout was star sophomore Ryan Ostertag, who’s already recorded a hat trick this season. Ostertag injured himself in practice and will miss tomorrow’s rematch against West Chester. Judging by Friday’s outcome, Ostertag’s absence won’t hinder the Sun Devils against the Golden Rams on Saturday. Still, coach Powers emphasized Arizona State’s focus regardless of opponent
"Anything can happen, and we’re going to go back and treat tomorrow like today never happened," Powers said. "That seems in my opinion not far off from what we saw last weekend, but when teams don’t get really good goaltending against us they’re going to struggle.
"When we pay attention to detail and we play Sun Devil hockey the way we want to teach it, the way we want to play, we’re going to be very hard to beat. We were able to show tonight what I think a lot of people expect to see out of us night in and night out."
Three stars (selected by media)
Third star: Gianni Mangone, defenseman, Arizona State. Another excellent night of defense, and even had a goal and an assist.
Second star: Lucas Felbel, goaltender, Arizona State. Pitched a 14-shot shutout filling in for Levin.
First star: Chris Blessing, forward, Arizona State. Two goals and an assist, and that's even without playing with top-line mates Ostertag and Liam Norris.
The Sun Devils return to the ice for another game with West Chester Saturday. Same time, 7:30 p.m., same place, Oceanside Ice Arena.