Taking down Goliath has now become a regularity for the Sun Devils.
For the third straight time, Arizona State (10-19-3) ventured to ranked enemy’s territory and sneaked out with a series split.
First, it was then-No. 10 Ohio State, who the Sun Devils tied 2-2 by NCAA rules, then won in penalties. Two weeks later, ASU rose past then-No. 17 Quinnipiac 4-2. On Saturday night, Arizona State defeated No. 9 Western Michigan 3-2 in double overtime. But of course, it will count as a tie, as it was 2-2 following the first overtime.
One common theme stood out in all three of these road ranked series splits: It was the way the Sun Devils responded, not the way they began — In all three of its last road trips, Arizona State lost game one, but edged out victories in game two.
Here’s how it all went down:
In Arizona State’s first skate in Kalamazoo, Mich., the Sun Devils fell 4-2.
It wasn’t because of a mental lapse, missed opportunities or the usual heap of penalties. It was simply a contest won by the No. 9 Broncos who played like a top-10 program.
The Broncos had half as many penalties as ASU (four), won on faceoffs 31-26 and out-shot Arizona State 39-32.
For the first two periods and a half, every time the Broncos scored, the Sun Devils answered. Down 1-0 midway into period two, sophomore forward Anthony Croston evened the game at 1-1, scoring his 10th goal of the season. Down 2-1 seven minutes into the third period, Wade Murphy netted in a power play goal to tie the game at twos.
But Western Michigan’s sophomore defenseman Corey Schueneman answered Murphy a minute later and Griffen Molino converted on an empty net to give the Broncos the 4-2 win.
Despite the loss, Arizona State’s Joey Daccord was awarded the third star for his performance in goal. The freshman had come off a 53-save night in Arizona State’s 4-2 victory over Quinnipiac that awarded him American Sports Network Player of the Week.
On Friday night, Daccord saved 35 of 38 shots posting a .921 save percentage.
Oh, the Sun Devils were so close.
After a momentous third period goal from sophomore forward Jack Rowe, the Sun Devils stood over the Broncos 2-1 with just 4:47 left.
Arizona State was 4:47 away from earning it’s highest-ranked win in program history, in its last game against a ranked team.
And in the blink of an eye, the Sun Devils’ hopes were lost. Freshman Wade Allison of Western Michigan scored with 1:05 remaining belting one of the 52 shots towards Daccord into the net.
The Sun Devils did end up winning in double overtime as Murphy buried a game-winner past WMU’s Ben Blacker.
The secret to Arizona State’s almost-but-actual victory over the Broncos was efficiency.
Quantity wise, Western Michigan blew past Arizona State with 52 shots compared to ASU’s 33. But in terms of quality, the Sun Devils had just one penalty through all 65 minutes, while the Broncos handed Arizona State four power plays.
Once again it was a remarkable night for Daccord in goal as he saved 50 of Western Michigan’s 52 shots. His save percentage stood at an impeccable .962 earning him the first star of the night.
Arizona State’s gruesome NCAA schedule has officially come to an end as the Sun Devils host Canada’s Simon Fraser of the BCIHL. The Sun Devils’ last two home contests fall on Feb. 10 & 11 with both start times at 7:05 p.m.