After leaving Pittsburgh with a couple of tough losses to Providence and Lake Superior State, Arizona State (6-12-2) headed into the Ice Vegas Invitational with a lot to prove.
They faced Northern Michigan in the first game and then would face either Boston College or Michigan Tech in the second game. All teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in the most recent USCHO.com poll.
The Sun Devils got off to a fast start as its captain, Dylan Hollman, scored the game’s first goal just under four minutes into the game.
They extended the lead less than two minutes later. This time it was Anthony Croston who tipped in a puck from Jakob Stridesberg to give ASU a 2-0 lead.
One of the major issues that ASU had been having coming into the Ice Vegas Invitational was its power play. At a 10 percent clip overall, it has been a sore spot for the Sun Devils, but against Northern Michigan it finally hit its stride.
Just a couple minutes after extending the lead to two, Brinson Pasichnuk blasted one that got tipped by Croston and beat the Northern Michigan goalie Israelsson to make it a 3-0 game.
The Wildcats would add one goal in the second period to make it 3-1, but that’s the closest they would get as Louie Rowe tapped home an easy goal on the 5-on-3 power play to start the third to extend the lead to 4-1.
Gage Hough added his first and second goals career goals just minutes apart to make it a 6-1 ASU lead.
Following two answered goals by Northern Michigan, Brinson Pasichnuk scored, adding his third point of the game to make it 7-3 where it would remain for the rest of the game. It was a statement victory to start off the tournament.
This biggest difference for the Sun Devils was their power play efficiency. It boosted their offensive output and allowed Daccord to relax and make some big saves to secure the win.
Following the win, they were set to face Michigan Tech in the championship after it beat No. 13 Boston College, 4-3.
The Sun Devils got off to another fast start, following a penalty kill right out of the gate, Brinson Pasichnuk got loose for a breakaway and buried it to give ASU a 1-0 lead.
The first period ended with ASU on top 1-0 after they outshot the Huskies and killed off a couple of penalties.
The second frame got off to just as good of a start when Johnny Walker snapped one past the Michigan Tech net minder Kero to double the Sun Devils’ lead.
Not only did Walker’s tally boost the Sun Devils’ morale but goalie Joey Daccord got the secondary assist, his first point of the season.
The boost helped the Sun Devils in both ends, as they played great team defense for the rest of the period and it eventually led to Brinson Pasichnuk’s second goal of the game and fifth point of the tournament, putting ASU up 3-0.
The Huskies made it interesting, scoring two goals in the third, but failed to score with an empty net late, resulting in a 3-2 ASU victory.
The tournament win marked the first of its kind in program history for ASU.
Heading into one of the toughest stretches of the season, these wins could be just what the Sun Devils need to make a push in the second half of the season.
They will host UMass-Lowell next weekend in a pivotal series before they host Quinnipiac and Boston in the coming weeks.