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ASU Hockey: Oklahoma hands Sun Devils first home loss for second straight year

In 2014, Oklahoma handed ASU its first home loss and 2015 saw more of the same for these WCHL rivals.

Michelle Hekle/Hekle Photo Images

Last season Oklahoma became the first team to beat the Sun Devils on their home ice when they came in during the first weekend of the new year.

History was far too similar for the Sun Devils' liking in 2015, losing 5-3 at Oceanside for the first time this season on the first weekend of the new year. The details were different, a 5-3 loss this time on the first game of the season as opposed to the second, but the result was the same: The Sooners spoiled it again.

"They match well with everybody, they're just good," ASU coach Greg Powers said. "They're just a good team. Always have been, always will be."

Oklahoma (16-5-2) never trailed in the game, getting the first goal of the game when Bryce Johnson ripped a slap shot past ASU goalie Robert Levin from the top of the left circle just 3:21 after initial puck drop.

ASU (22-3-0) tied it up six minutes later but when Oklahoma got two in the second, that was the game. When Cory Ramsey's clearing attempt went into ASU's empty net with less than two seconds left, ASU left the ice with its first home loss of the season, third overall.

Johnson owned the Sun Devils Thursday night, bookending Oklahoma's non-empty-net goals, popping the first one and then the fourth one on the power play with 16:28 left in the third. He also assisted on two goals. His four points give him 37 on the season, tops on the Sooners.

Tensions boiled over late in the third when the Sun Devils were on the attack. During a flurry in front of the goal, the net came off its hinges causing a stoppage in play. It was far from the first time it happened on the night, and Powers lost his cool. He yelled at the referees from his bench and was assessed a bench minor.

Powers believed it was done intentionally by Oklahoma goalie Colin Fernandes and that Oklahoma should have had the penalty, not his team.

"It's one thing for the kid to knock the net off three times, but 10, that's ridiculous. It;s absolutely ridiculous," Powers said. "You sustain pressure like we did the entire game and the only way to kill that is to knock the net off, it's delay of game. It's against the rules, it's that simple. I don't know what (the referee) was looking at, but after the 10th time, I had seen enough."

While he was upset at Fernandes, he did credit him with Oklahoma winning the game, pointing out the big saves he had and stopping ASU on all four of its power-play chances.

"He was clearly the difference," Powers said. "(ASU goalie) Rob (Levin) wasn't bad, Rob just wasn't as good as Colin (Fernandes) tonight, that kid was really good. Sometimes goalies can steal games."

A bright spot for the Sun Devils was the play of its newcomers and players returning from injury. Faiz Khan and David Norris, both making season debuts played well on the second line, with Norris scoring a goal, his first as a Sun Devil.

Patrick Yudez isn't a newcomer, but had no points in the three games he played this season when healthy. He scored the first ASU goal of the game in the first period, a feat would have celebrated more had it come with a win.

"They were opportunistic," Yudez said. "I thought we carried the play most of the game. We had a couple of breakdowns in our zone and that's going to cost you sometimes and unfortunately today it really did.

ASU played strong all night, but was unable to bury the puck. ASU outshot the Sooners 17-3 in the first period but left the frame in a tie game. The Sun Devils were unable to capitalize on all four of its power plays, including a five-minute major at the end of the second period.

It's small things, but when playing the No. 6 team in the nation, it equals a loss.

"I thought we outplayed them, it just wasn't our night," Powers said. "It's a loss. They were opportunistic, we forget about it and we come back tomorrow."

ASU returns to the ice Friday and Saturday at 7:30 against No. 2 Central Oklahoma.

Three stars (as selected by media)

Third star: Colin Fernandes, goaltender, Oklahoma. Three goals allowed.

Second star: Mico Solorzano, defenseman, Oklahoma. Two goals.

First star: Bryce Johnson, forward, Oklahoma. Two goals, two assists.