History was made in Gila River Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Arizona State hockey team (1-3-0) defeated No. 18 Air Force (2-1-1) to win the program’s first ever game against a ranked opponent.
“First home NCAA win, first win against a ranked opponent. Those are two huge benchmarks for us,” said coach Greg Powers.
Powers described the win as an “unbelievable team effort.”
Last season, the Sun Devils earned wins against NCAA opponents Alaska Fairbanks, Southern New Hampshire and Lake Superior State, but none were ranked in the top-20 and all were on the road.
With new records come new players, and the Sun Devils’ recruiting class has proved to be the answer.
“I think adding kids like Brinny (Brinson Pasichnuk) and Buschy (Tyler Busch) who’s got four goals in the last four games and then Dac (Joey Daccord) is there in the back end and some of these other guys we didn’t have—we have a swagger and confidence that last year’s team didn’t have,” Powers said.
Juniors Dylan Hollman and Wade Murphy, freshmen Brett Gruber and Tyler Busch, and senior Robbie Baillargeon all scored for ASU. Busch earned his fourth goal of the season, while the other four scored their first of the season.
The offense shined, but the defensive brilliance of goaltender Joey Daccord didn’t go unnoticed.
“That’s his first of many wins,” Powers said. “The kid’s a hell of a goalie.”
Daccord allowed two goals. One hit off his glove before the puck tipped off his helmet and went in. The other was an own goal.
“Honestly the team played awesome. That was the best performance we’ve had so far and I didn’t have to do too much, so that was good,” Daccord said.
The three stars of the game were all Sun Devils: Hollman, Busch and Daccord.
For the first time all season, ASU scored first, taking a 2-0 lead and never looking back.
“The standard here needs to be to expect to win every time we take the ice and that’s a good start,” Powers said.
The Sun Devils will travel to play at No. 16 Northeastern (1-1-2) on Oct. 21 in the first of a five game-stretch against ranked teams.