On Friday, the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-14-5) won in thrilling fashion against the visiting Quinnipiac Bobcats (9-12-4) at Oceanside Ice Arena. Saturday, however, Gila River Arena wasn’t so kind.
Despite a crowd of 2,696, the first period got off to a rough start and really set the tone for the rest of the game.
Just minutes in, Tyler Busch took the first of his two penalties in the opening period which was promptly taken advantage of by the Bobcats — earning them their first lead of the game.
“His discipline has been a lot better lately,” coach Greg Powers said of Busch’s trips to the box. “He’s an intense player but he can’t take penalties 200 feet away from our net.”
The remainder of the period was spent with the Sun Devils on their heels as they mainly just tried to keep the Bobcats from scoring more, and they did so successfully.
In keeping with that trend, Quinnipiac came out strong in the second and potted its second goal of the game under five minutes in to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
A group that has struggled to battle back after trailing, the Sun Devils responded very well. ASU scored just over a minute later when Jacob Wilson threw the puck off the Bobcat net minder’s pads, leaving a wide open net for Anthony Croston who drew ASU back within one.
From there, the second period began spiraling out of control.
The Bobcats struck two more times as the period started getting later and later, both on the power play to take a 4-1 lead.
But the Sun Devil grit reared its head again when Dominic Garcia scored his first collegiate goal just 30 seconds after the Bobcats took a three goal lead.
The burst of energy that the Las Vegas native’s goal provided was short-lived as just eight seconds later the Bobcats scored again to take a 5-2 lead.
“Obviously we would love to see him get his first goal in a win but it didn’t happen,” Powers said of what the goal meant. “He’s got that monkey off his back and hopefully he can get a couple more.”
That goal would prove to be a back breaker for the Sun Devils who couldn’t dig themselves out of that hole. Max Balinson would score his second of the season on the power play late in the third, but that would be all ASU could muster late, resulting in a 5-3 final score.
“I thought we played really well in the third,” Powers said. “We played our style of hockey, I think we came out and were really physical right away and that’s how we have to play.”
The penalty kill was a big eye-sore for the Sun Devils who allowed three power play goals in the loss and one goal Friday after a long stretch of perfection.
“The kill was bad tonight,” Powers said. “It’s been really good for us all year, so we’ve got to erase that effort and get back to work”
Next weekend should prove to be a crucial series for Powers and Co. who host the Boston University Terriers in their last home series of the season before they hit the road for their final six games.
“We’re focusing on the positives right now,” Powers added. “In 2018 we are 3-2-1 and the “1” was a nice double overtime win against a good team last night and we are still playing good hockey.”