The Arizona State Sun Devils closed out the Desert Hockey Classic Sunday against a familiar foe, taking on the UConn Huskies for the third time this season.
Playing a team three times in year presented quite the challenge for both teams to mix up their game plans.
The Huskies got the best of the rubber match — and the season series — winning 3-0.
"Credit UConn," ASU coach Greg Powers said. "It's even harder for the team that's better and harder for the team that's already have two wins to get up and play hard against a team they know that they can beat and already proven they've beat twice, so credit them for going out there and getting it done.
"Our guys need to play with a little more jam on a consistent basis," Powers continued. "You saw it. They didn't come out with it. Last ten minutes of the first period, I thought our guys played really well. We went into the locker room feeling pretty good about ourselves, like we did against Yale and then we came out flat."
It was a very similar start for both the Huskies and Sun Devils, in comparison to their Tuesday meeting, with both teams being scoreless after 20 minutes. Freshman Ryland Pashovitz, who got the call for the Sun Devils, made 13 saves in the first period including a flurry right in front of his crease.
The Sun Devils needed some time to get into a flow, not looking sound offensively. They got two power plays, but didn't generate much of either one.
After shaking off some cobwebs, the Sun Devils kicked it into gear and generated some quality chances, including a Joe Lappin breakaway that was stopped by UConn's Rob Nichols.
The second period saw UConn finally crack the mystery that was Pashovitz. A Kyle Huson shot was re-directed by Joey Ferriss to put the Huskies up by a goal.
With 4:34 left in the second, Eric Rivard took the first Sun Devil penalty of the evening and UConn was quick to capitalize. After some nifty, quick passing, the puck was in front on the stick of UConn senior Shawn Pauly, who slipped the puck right between Pashovitz as he was moving from post to post, giving UCONN a 2-0 lead.
In the final frame, the Sun Devils were looking to make a comeback and get something going offensively. That didn't happen as they struggled to generate offensive opportunities and gave up a third goal after a turnover in their own end. The puck found the middle of the ice where senior Joey Ferriss was for the Huskies and he was alone against Pashovitz and put found the back of the net.
Pashovitz was the lone bright spot for the Sun Devils, making 26 saves on 29 shots.
"He's unbelievable," said captain and defensemen Jordan Young. " He's the best player on our team. He's the reason why we're kinda, I think, positive about where we are right now.
Some trends continued for the Sun Devils on Sunday, having trouble putting the puck in the net on a consistent basis and struggling on the power play.
After the game, Powers provided an outlook on how ASU will adjust from losses like these heading into next season.
"Probably wait until our red-shirts and recruits come in next year," Powers said. "We don't have the ability to generate the way we need to. So we need to win with hard work. I've said it all year. If you don't work hard for sixty minutes, you're not going to win. When we have, we've won. And when we haven't, we lose. It's that simple. Got to outwork them."
The Sun Devils return to the ice on Friday at Bemidji State, looking to snap their 11-game losing streak.