No. 15 Arizona State (13-6) had momentum against them midway through the second period.
Colorado College (7-8-2) had just scored two goals in less than a minute. The ice was tilted toward the Tigers. Then after a couple of shifts, what seemed like a care-free icing call turned into a face-off in the Colorado College zone.
Junior forward Tyler Busch entered the face-off circle. He won the draw, and the puck rolled back to the awaiting stick of freshman defenseman Josh Maniscalco. From the stick, to the top corner of the net, the freshman unwinded for a missile that cut a two-goal CC lead down to one.
The flip switched. It would be the first of four unanswered goals for ASU en route to a 4-2 comeback victory.
“We bounced right back. I am really proud of our guys,” head coach Greg Powers said. “Good resiliency, and I am just very happy with the last two periods.”
Maniscalco finished with two goals after he salted the game away late in the third period with an empty net goal.
Sophomore forward Johnny Walker was responsible for the second and third goal for the Sun Devils, as he continues to lead the entire country in goals with 15 in 18 games played. The next closest player to Walker’s stat count is David Cotton of Boston College, who has registered 11.
Walker’s second goal of the evening proved to be the game-winner, although it did not come without a little bit of controversy. On the goal, Walker sent a one-timer from the left circle on net.
The puck got a piece of Colorado College junior goaltender Alex Leclerc. Parked near the side of the goal was ASU junior forward Brett Gruber. After initially making contact with the puck, it began trickling towards the goal line.
Walker and Gruber both put their hands up to look for a celebration. Then the referee pointed toward the goal line, signaling the puck had crossed the line. Leclerc looked with a puzzled look at the referee, and the linesmen proceeded to look for video evidence with a review.
With the call on the ice already called, and no indisputable evidence to overturn the play, the goal stood as it was, and the Devils took their first lead of the night. Walker discussed the play following the game.
“I shot it (the puck) on the ice, and the puck beat his pad there...I didn’t see it go in, but I knew with the way it got on net and the way he was getting to the post, there was no way it didn’t go in,” Walker said. “It was good to get that one, and it was a great team effort and a good bounce back by our group tonight.”
Regardless of the play, the only thing that mattered for ASU was that the call stood. The Sun Devils proceeded to close out the game with virtually no blemishes, aside from one breakaway opportunity for the Tigers.
Late in the third period, CC senior forward Trevor Gooch was able to get in behind the ASU defense, and he went one-on-one against ASU junior goaltender Joey Daccord. Gooch fired a low wrist shot, but calm, cool and collected, Daccord snatched the puck with poise.
The netminder also made some timely saves in a first period that featured some grade-A opportunities for CC to score. Daccord answered the bell.
“I say it all the time, we have the best goalie in college hockey,” Powers said. “He proved it tonight. He was huge in the first period, and made a couple really big saves.”
Maniscalco’s empty-netter sealed the deal for ASU, rounding out a strong performance for the blue-liner who has tallied six points in his last six games.
“I just try to take it game-by-game and do as much as I can,” said Maniscalco of his hot streak. “I just got to listen to this guy (Powers, who was sitting beside Maniscalco after the game).”
Powers then added to Maniscalco’s point.
“He’s dynamic. We let him play. He’s going to make a couple mistakes, but he is a dynamic player...He makes us (the coaches) look smart.”
ASU has now rattled off three straight wins after they were swept at Nebraska Omaha on Thanksgiving weekend. The team seems to be getting a sense of how to close out games, which is something that is a part of the growth from last year to this year.
“I don’t know how many one goal games we lost (last year),” Walker said.
Powers cut off his goal-scorer mid-sentence.
“10,” said Powers bluntly.
“Thank you,” he told his coach. “...We fight back and we don’t have any quit in this program no matter what. The difference is we win. Good teams find a way to win, and it might not have been pretty from start to finish, but we got the job done, and I think that’s a tribute to the growth of this program.”