It was a homecoming of sorts for the Sun Devils, as they returned to play at Oceanside Arena for the first time in over a month. This time they welcomed the University of Alberta for a series of exhibition games.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Sun Devils and Golden Bears were all knotted up and needed overtime. And when overtime ran out, the game officially went down as a tie. To send the fans home happy, the two squads faced off in a shootout that the Sun Devils were able to win, leading to a 5-4 victory.
"It's big. Every game, especially against teams of that caliber that you play, exhibition or non-exhibition doesn't matter, that's a good what would be a really good NCAA team. Every chance we get a chance to play a team like and God forbid give ourselves a chance to win is great for our young program. So that's a big win for us," head coach Greg Powers said on the team's "victory".
Robert Levin got the call in net for the Sun Devils for the second consecutive game since returning from an injury,looking to shut down the 12-4 Golden Bears. It was a rocky start for Levin and the Sun Devils, with Alberta getting on the board just 5:07 into the game via a Kruise Reddck goal. About 11 minutes later, the Sun Devils would tie it up off a Ed McGovern blast that was tipped home by Matt Kennedy past Albert goaltender Luke Siemens.
This exhibition had its share of oddness, with the game being stopped, and a goal disallowed, in the first period because Levin's net kept coming loose.
The second period was a better period for the Sun Devils and was the Ryan Ostertag. Entering tonight, Ostertag had two goals and one assist in seven games. While the stats don't count, Ostertag doubled his goal tally with two in the second period, including a breakaway goal that he sniped glove side on Marc-Olivier Daigle, who replaced Siemens, and knocked his water bottle off of the net.
"It's great. He had a goal at Clarkson. He played well there," coach Powers said. ""He came out tonight, and I think he hit a post in the third. He was next guy up in the shootout, if we needed him, and I have no doubt he would have put it in."
Alberta got back in the game quickly in the third, scoring 31 seconds into the period off the stick of Reddick again. Then while short-handed, Jamie Crooks put home a juicy rebound and Alberta had the lead once again.
It appeared as though the Sun Devils were going to allow two third period goals and fall in the first game of this series. Ryan Belonger wouldn't let that happen though, as he netted a goal with 14 seconds left, with Robert Levin pulled, to tie the game and force overtime.
And overtime wouldn't be without its fair share of drama, with the Sun Devils playing the final 1:56 of the period with a 4-on-3 advantage. With time expiring, the puck made it's way onto the stick of Ostertag once again, who put it just wide as time expired.
With the tie in the record books, the Golden Bears and Sun Devils would go to a shootout to send the fans home happy and break the tie. Jordan Masters and Charlie Zuccarini put home two goals on two consecutive shootout attempts and Levin stopped two to give ASU the "win".
If there are things to correct for the Sun Devils, it starts with the power play. The Sun Devils were given four opportunities, including that 4-on-3 in overtime, and didn't score a single goal. The only goal scored on a Sun Devil power play was that short-handed one by Alberta to put them up 4-3.
They were also out-shot 40-23, including 15-4 in the third period. For the Sun Devils to capitalize on the momentum from this outing, they will need to correct these two areas.
The Sun Devils will look to win the second in this exhibition series tonight, at Oceanside, at 7:30 MST.