After Friday’s 8-0 thrashing at the hands of the Boston University Terriers (13-11-2), it was clear that ASU head coach Greg Powers and the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-16-5) needed to respond. . . in a big way.
A game full of penalties, the opener on Friday got out of hand early for the Sun Devils and they were simply never able to respond. On Saturday, however, although it contained more penalties, the Devils never gave up, keeping themselves in a close game right to the end.
“That’s a great hockey team and we battled toe-to-toe,” coach Powers said of his team’s performance. “We were really good, I thought.”
The game got off to an equally as rough start Saturday as it did Friday night for ASU, as the Terriers dominated the first period from start to finish — resulting in two goals, one coming on the power play.
Like Friday, the Sun Devils entered the second period trailing by more than one goal. But unlike last night, they responded.
“We said, ‘boys, you’ve got to punch back,’” coach Powers said when asked about the first intermission. “And they came out to bury us and didn’t quite get it done and we did.”
After the Terriers took back-to-back penalties, the ASU power play went to work — eventually leading to Johnny Walker’s ninth goal of the season on an absolute rocket one-timer.
About six minutes later, while the Terriers were on one of their numerous power plays in the game, Jacob Wilson intercepted a pass and promptly beat BU net minder Jake Oettinger to the pad side to tie the game up at two.
The celebration was short-lived; however, as the Terriers went right back to work on the power play following the goal leading to yet another go-ahead goal just 19 seconds later.
“The [penalty] kill was excellent,” coach Powers said. “To kill that effectively I think it gave us momentum. I think it gave our guys energy.”
The special teams units certainly were busy as the penalty kill successfully held off seven of Boston’s eight man advantage opportunities and the power play converted on two of six.
The score would remain 3-2 at the end of the second, a welcomed difference in comparison to the series opener in which they trailed 7-0 after 40 minutes.
The final frame got off to a relatively pedestrian start up until when the Terriers were able to get one to trickle past Daccord, who couldn’t keep the puck from crossing over the line and extending Boston’s lead to 4-2.
Rather than just rolling over, the Sun Devils dug in and fought hard.
Being the final home game of the season, senior night festivities took place before the game and the lone senior David Norris was honored.
He put an exclamation mark on his final game at Oceanside with a goal to draw his team to within one with just over five minutes left in the game.
Good for their second power play goal of the game, the Sun Devils had traffic in front in the form of Norris who took a deflected loose puck and put it in the back of the net to make it 4-3.
“Personally, it’s nice to get one last one here,” Norris said. “I’m not a big goal scorer so getting that last one, it’s really nice and really special.”
That would be where the score would stay as the Terriers were able to fend off ASU’s late push. But, compared to the first game of the series, it was like watching two different Arizona State teams.
Moving forward, the Sun Devils will hit the road for their final three series of the season with trips to Yale, Michigan Tech, and Michigan.
Coach Powers is optimistic that his teams gritty, tough performance in tonight’s game will translate into some wins in the home stretch of the season.