No. 15 Arizona State (14-6) recorded its fourth consecutive win on Saturday night, marking back-to-back weekends in which the Sun Devils have picked up sweeps.
ASU did this by using solid goaltending, and some timely goals to upend Colorado College (7-9-2). With the wins, the team will enter a short holiday hiatus before returning to action just after the Christmas holiday on Dec. 28.
“It was a good sweep. I told the guys that we are obviously really proud of them,” head coach Greg Powers said. “14 wins, and now it’s time for them to go enjoy their families some, and come back nice and rested, and focus on what’s ahead.”
After a scoreless first period, ASU’s offense opened the gates in the second period on Saturday courtesy of freshman forward PJ Marrocco. Skating up the right wing, Marrocco let loose a high wrist shot that was batted down by Colorado College junior goaltender Alex Leclerc.
While following his own shot, Marrocco then went to front of the net, and tapped in his own rebound before Leclerc could find the puck.
Marrocco wasn’t done, though. Toward the end of the period after CC had sustained some momentum with a couple of good shifts, the Canadian freshman took some wind out of the Tigers sails when he got out on a 2-on-1 breakout with redshirt freshman forward Austin Lemieux.
Marrocco dropped a saucer pass on Lemieux’s stick, and Lemieux deposited the puck in the back of the net, giving Marrocco two points to round out his night.
When asked about his performance, the young Sun Devil said he gets some insight on how to score from another figure on the team.
“When I move my feet and shoot the puck, I am more successful. That’s all I was kind of thinking about tonight. I talk to Johnny Walker quite a bit, and he tells me if you get 10 shots a game, you will score at least once, so that’s kind of the mentality I go with,” said Marrocco with a grin.
Speaking of Walker, he made his presence felt on Saturday night as well, as he netted two power play goals in the third period to put the game out of reach. The two goals gave him 17 on the season, as he continues to lead the entire nation in lighting the lamp.
Despite what the score might have indicated, Saturday’s contest also wasn’t as far out of reach as it might seem. Colorado College out shot ASU 31-27, but they couldn't find an answer against junior goaltender Joey Daccord, who made a couple of miraculous saves in the game.
In both the second and third period, the netminder made two acrobatic, sprawling saves that kept pucks out of the net.
Daccord has played in every game between the pipes this season, he leads the nation in wins, and with the shutout on Saturday, he also leads the country in goose eggs. He has been that good, and he proved it again against the Tigers.
In the third period, some frustrations boiled over for CC down three goals, and things turned a little chippy, leading to some extra penalty minutes for both teams. The Tigers had opportunities with a 5-on-4 advantage, a 5-on-3 advantage, and a 4-on-3 advantage, but Daccord would stand tall, weathering any puck that came his way.
Nonetheless, with a humble demeanor, Daccord had more to say about his teammates than his own performance.
“Any night that the guys are doing what they are doing and blocking shots like that and making my life easy, it gives me a good chance to be successful,” Daccord said. “It gives our team a good chance to win. I kind of just take what comes to me, and if it ends up being a shutout, it ends up being a shutout, but two points is more important to me.”
As for some other standouts who didn’t appear in the points column, but who played well, senior forwards Anthony Croston and Dylan Hollman both were relentless on the forecheck for the Sun Devils. They were able to generate a variety of scoring chances, and their impact helped earn a victory.
Up next, ASU will host one of the premiere holiday hockey tournaments at Gila River Arena just after Christmas, when No. 19 Clarkson, No. 3 Minnesota State and No. 4 Minnesota Duluth all come to the desert on Dec. 28 in a slate that has the look of games that could be played down the road in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity with the field we have in the Desert Classic,” said Powers of the tournament. “It’s a great opportunity for our program to continue to not only build, but expose college hockey to this region at the very highest level, and that’s what we intend to do.”