Just 101 miles north of Arizona State’s 740-seat Oceanside Ice Arena, the Sun Devils hosted the Desert Hockey Classic inside 5,000-seat Prescott Events Center on Dec. 30 and 31.
Despite the luxury of a quick hour or so bus ride and a larger arena with more capacity for fan support, the Sun Devils (7-14-1) fell in overtime to Rhode Island’s Ivy league Brown, 9-8 (NCAA rules counted it as an 8-8 tie), and then lost to No. 18 St. Cloud State of Minnesota, 4-2.
Arizona State failed to capture its first-ever win in the tournament for the second year of its existence. In last season’s Desert Hockey Classic, ASU fell to both Yale and Connecticut in Gila River Arena.
Goals here, there and everywhere in 8-8 tie vs. Brown
In the craziness of the 17-goal contest between the Bears (3-10-1) and Sun Devils, miraculously, Arizona State scored eight goals on just 23 shots on two Brown goalies—freshman Gavin Nieto allowed six goals on 15 shots and senior Tim Ernst let in two goals on eight shots.
Through all nine of Brown’s goals, Robert Levin was ASU’s lone goalie to hit the ice. The senior made 28 saves on 37 shots.
Beginning with senior Robbie Baillargeon’s seventh score of the season midway through the first period, the Sun Devils and Bears traded goals until Brown broke away with three straight to take a 4-2 lead four and a half minutes into the second period.
The Sun Devils then leaped ahead on four unanswered goals to the end the second period leading 6-4.
In the third period, Brown scored four goals over the Sun Devils’ two. The scoring madness halted at an 8-8 tie, but to decide who’d move to the tournament’s championship game, a five-on-five sudden-death overtime was played.
Two and a half minutes into overtime, the Bears scored on a junior Max Willman game-winning goal.
Frustration Abundant in 4-2 loss to St. Cloud State
After scoring a season-high eight goals to low-rated Brown, the Sun Devils came out flat against talented No. 18 St. Cloud State (9-8-1).
The Sun Devils fell 4-2 in a game they played just as well, if not better than the Huskies.
The Sun Devils had two less shots (25-23) than the Huskies, won the face-off contest 30-21, had only three penalties compared to SCSU’s five, and—most demoralizing of all—Arizona State had five power-play opportunities and converted none.
It was a 3-0 lead after two periods that the Sun Devils couldn’t erase. The two late goals scored by ASU came from freshmen Tyler Busch and Steenn Pasichnuk.
St. Cloud State’s fourth goal was an empty netter with just one tick left on the clock as the Sun Devils pulled freshman goalie Joey Daccord.
While St. Cloud State stole bronze in the tournament, Arizona State was left empty-handed. Connecticut earned first place with a 4-3 win over SCSU and a 4-1 championship win over second-placed Brown.
After winning three straight games in Massachusetts, the Sun Devils now find themselves on a two-game losing skid. Arizona State looks to break its losing streak when it travels to Denver University for a two-game series against the Pioneers on Jan. 6-7.