For the fourth straight trip, the Sun Devils (10-19-3) escaped being victims of the ominous sweep by dropping game one 5-3, then roaring back and beating the U.S. National U-18 Development team 6-3 the next evening.
Against then-No. Ohio State, then-No. 17 Quinnipiac, and then-No. 9 Western Michigan, Arizona State fell flat in game one before triumphantly winning or tying their opponents in game two.
For one last go, the Sun Devils showed their true colors fighting back in resilient fashion, ending their season in an exhibition sweep to the nation’s best teenagers.
In what was an equally played game statistically, the Sun Devils, who fell behind 4-1, couldn’t dig themselves out of the trenches dropping Friday night’s contest 5-3.
Arizona State had more shots (29) compared to Team USA’s 28, had only one more penalty (3) than Team USA (2), but couldn’t slow down the teens due to a powerful three-goal explosion in the second period.
After evening the game at one a piece from a Tyler Busch strike with two minutes left in the first period, the Sun Devils allowed for three consecutive Team USA scores. Seventeen-year-olds Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Joe Cassetti all scored for Team USA putting the Sun Devils three goals under at 4-1.
Louie Rowe struck nylon with six minutes left in period two, before 16-year-old Joel Farabee put Team USA up 5-2 a minute and a half into the final period.
Tyler Busch scored his second and final goal of the game in 10 minutes into period three, ending the contest at 5-3.
Much to blame for the loss is the goalie play as freshman Joey Daccord allowed a goal more than his average (4.0) allowing over three goals for the first time since Nov. 18 against then-No.10 Penn State. The Massachusetts native let in five goals on 28 shots posting a .821 save percentage, his worst all season.
In what was a comeback series split, game two was smooth sailing for the Sun Devils as they scored first and never trailed the U.S.
Jack Rowe scored 17 minutes into period before Scott Reedy evened the game on a power play goal about a minute later.
Then, the Sun Devils erupted scoring five unanswered goals leaving the U.S. in the dust.
Busch, Brinson Pasichnuk, Ryan Belonger and Liam McCing scored consecutively giving Arizona State a 5-1 lead 11 minutes into period three.
Two USA goals later, Anthony Croston put ASU up 6-3 on an empty net goal with 1:12 left in the game.
Other than Arizona State’s offensive outburst, the goalie play surely sharpened up in game two. Robert Levin earned his final win as a Sun Devil as the senior saved 34 of USA’s 37 shots with a .991 save percentage.