Coming off a road trip which could be described by no word other than disappointing, Arizona State (2-5-2) got a huge win tonight against the University of Alabama- Huntsville (1-6-0) by a final score of 3-2.
Through the first month of the season, one of the biggest issues for ASU has been special teams. More specifically, the power play.
Tonight, that was far from the case.
The penalty kill was brilliant, taking care of all six UAH power plays to keep the Sun Devils in the game. The power play which had just three goals all season up to this point scored a goal on two chances to give ASU an early lead.
“We worked on the power play more than anything all week,” head coach Greg Powers said. “We won the special teams battle...that was the difference tonight, we scored a power play goal and they didn’t.”
The power play may have only gotten two chances tonight, but they certainly got their money’s worth.
The first goal of the game — which came on the man advantage — was scored by veteran defenseman Jakob Stridesberg. His one-time slap shot beat UAH goalie Mark Sinclair and was the first of two goals on the night for the Swede.
Even on the heels of a great individual performance, Stridesberg wasn’t fully satisfied with the win and is hungry for another one tomorrow.
“We gotta be better than we were today,” Stridesberg said looking ahead to tomorrow’s game. “We had a couple of mistakes, we have to improve on those and hopefully we’ll get a win tomorrow too.”
A victory Saturday would be a lot more than just the third win of the season for ASU — it would be the first home sweep of a Division one team in program history.
Another one of the keys that helped the Sun Devils win tonight was their willingness to block shots and clog up the shooting lanes.
Goaltender Joey Daccord may have surrendered two goals that could be blamed on mistakes in the defensive zone by his teammates, but still, he acknowledged and appreciated the toughness of his comrades.
“As a team, when we’re blocking shots it helps me out,” Daccord said. “The guys did an awesome job doing that tonight and definitely bailed me out a few times.”
ASU limited UAH to just 22 shots on goal, which Daccord also attributes to the massive volume of shots that his teammates blocked.
Daccord and the Devils will need to bring their A game once again tomorrow night as they host Alabama-Huntsville for game two of the series at Oceanside Ice Arena.
Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. once again and it should prove to be a key matchup for both teams who have struggled early on in this young season.