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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils bounce back, split series with UMass-Lowell

It was a tale of two games for the Devils...

Photo Courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics

Friday night was one that the Sun Devils couldn’t put in the past quick enough following the euphoria of the Ice Vegas Invitational.

The series finale was a different story.

A team that hasn’t been swept at Oceanside Ice Arena yet this season, the Sun Devils have been incredibly resilient on Saturday games especially following rough losses and tonight was no different.

The game got off to a similar start to last night’s game with both teams swapping offensive opportunities but to no avail.

That all changed; however, when defenseman Joey Raats stepped up in transition and buried a shot past UMass-Lowell goalie Christoffer Hernberg to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead with under a minute left in the first period.

They took that lead into the second and didn’t let up.

“We just didn’t want to sit back,” coach Powers said. “We got through the first with a big goal there at the end by [Raats]...boy in the second period we were all over them.”

Just over five minutes into the second frame, Dominic Garcia blocked a slapshot and then promptly chipped it forward to find Johnny Walker wide open for a breakaway.

As the talented freshman from Phoenix has been known to do, Walker made a beautiful move on Hernberg and beat the UML net minder on his backhand to double the Sun Devil lead.

Walker had the hot hand tonight for ASU as just minutes later on a 3-on-1 breakout, he made another beautiful move followed by a backhand finish to extend the lead to 3-0.

One of the biggest storylines throughout the game was the Sun Devil special teams units. The power play was 1/3 on the night and the penalty kill was perfect, killing off all five penalties that faced them.

“We have a ton of confidence in our kill,” Powers said of his PK that was perfect on the weekend. “They were incredible tonight and our power play was good, it was sharp.”

That power play goal game with under a minute left in the second period when Tyler Busch uncorked a missile from the point that found its way past Hernberg and gave the Sun Devils their fourth and final goal of the game.

The third period was all about defense for the Sun Devils and the players were up to the task, doing everything needed to help Joey Daccord secure the win as well as his first collegiate shutout.

“It was awesome,” Daccord said simply of the game. “It’s been almost two years now so I’m really happy to kind of get the monkey off the back and I’m just really happy for the guys to get a big win. This was a really big win for us.”

Daccord stopped 28 of 28 shots against him, a relatively low total considering ASU’s usual shots against numbers, largely due to their shot blocking.

“It was a great effort,” Powers said. “I think that’s the best sixty minute effort we’ve had since playing division one hockey.”

Coach Powers and the Sun Devils are back in action next weekend when they will host Quinnipiac with Friday night’s game being back at Oceanside and Saturday’s game set to take place at Gila River Arena.