In a close contest, the Sun Devils fell to their third straight ranked opponent this season on Friday night in Gila River Arena.
Arizona State (0-3-0) had contended with No. 5 Notre Dame (2-1-0) in a 4-2 loss last week and was neck-and-neck with No. 18 Air Force (2-0-1) this time around.
“We made a few mistakes that you can’t make at this level against a top-20 team to win,” said coach Greg Powers. “We think we are capable of beating a team like that. I think we’ve showed in the stretches, but we are too inexperienced to just do it in the stretches.”
Mistakes were abundant for the Sun Devils who had six penalties compared to Air Force’s three. ASU did improve on its 43-penalty weekend in two games against Notre Dame.
“We have to stay out of the box and that’s a huge point of emphasis,” Powers said.
Trailing 3-1 about four minutes into the second period, Powers pulled senior goalie Robert Levin and placed freshman Joey Daccord into the net.
“He was great,” Powers said. “Joey was outstanding. He held us in it and gave us a chance to come back and win.”
Daccord gave up one goal and saved 19 shots displaying a .947 save percentage. After allowing nine goals in the Sun Devils’ season opener against Notre Dame, Levin started game two.
Against Air Force on Sunday, Daccord is expected to be in goal.
“Joey will start. He earned it,” Powers said.
The Sun Devil attack began with leading goal-scoring freshman Tyler Busch who tied the score at 1-1 with four and a half minutes left in the first period.
“Playing against ranked teams, they’re tough. They’re the toughest teams to beat in the country. I think we’re right there with them, and we just got to find a way to play a full 60 minutes and come away with a win,” Busch said.
Busch, the former Spruce Grove Saint (AJHL), has scored three goals in three games for the Sun Devils.
“He’s a good player. He’s only going to get better too, and he’s off to a great start,” said Powers.
Freshman Brinson Pasichnuk and sophomore Nicholas Gushue scored the last two goals for the Sun Devils.
This Sunday, ASU takes on No. 18 Air Force for the second time in the two-game series at Gila River Arena at 2:30 p.m.
“If we can come back Sunday and play with the desperation we played with in the last 15 minutes, I think we’re in good shape.” Powers said.