ASU head coach Greg Powers was frank when discussing his team’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of No. 19 Clarkson (10-6) on Friday night in the No. 15 Sun Devils (14-7) first game of the Desert Hockey Classic.
“They out worked us. They deserved to win that game,” Powers said. “If the two teams tonight play that way 100 times, we are going to lose 100 times out of 100.”
Powers added to that point later on in his postgame press conference.
“That team just out executed us, they out worked us, they kicked our butts,” Powers said.
As Powers stated, Clarkson out played ASU in Glendale, and the defeat began early in the first period when the Devils took two of their seven penalties on the evening.
Two hooking minors were called against ASU, and Clarkson went to work with a two-man advantage.
Golden Knight freshman forward Josh Dunne jammed home a puck on a scramble in front of the net, and junior forward Devin Brosseau proceeded to rifle home a slap shot from the point less than a minute after the Dunne goal.
In the blink of an eye, ASU found themselves down 2-0. All three of Clarkson’s goals on Friday were power play markers.
“We have to stay out of the box,” Powers said. “We are not a team that can get in special teams battles...If we are going to get in special teams battles like we did tonight, we are not going to win games. We got to play 5-on-5, and use our depth and play downhill.”
To add insult to injury after the two power play goals, ASU had an opportunity of its own on a 5-on-3 after Clarkson committed two minor penalties later on in the first period.
The Devils had some chances, but they seemed hesitant to pull the trigger, possibly looking for the perfect play to get one past Clarkson junior goaltender Jake Kielly. The Golden Knights weathered the storm, and they killed the penalties to erase any possible momentum shifts.
“They just have to put more pucks on net and simplify,” said Powers of an 0-for-8 ASU power play. “We are passing up a lot of grade-A’s...These guys just have to get back to putting pucks on net and getting an ugly one. That’s what we were saying on the bench...Finesse is not our game. We got to get ugly goals and get in goalies’ eyes.”
ASU mustered 15 shots on Friday, and Kielly wasn’t tested too much behind a Clarkson defense that pressed down on the Sun Devils. Clarkson won the battles, won the races, and ultimately came out with a win.
Powers noted he was afraid of a possible holiday lull following the Christmas break, although he thought his team had a solid week of practice. Nevertheless, the end result was one the team would like to forget on what was previously a 4-0 month of December.
With the loss, ASU is now 1-10 against NCAA opponents at Gila River Arena. The NHL venue just 28 miles west of Oceanside Arena in Tempe has not quite been a home ice advantage by any sorts.
Of course, there are other factors aside from just the venue that contributed to losses in recent years, but the confines haven’t been too friendly to the Sun Devils in terms of wins and losses.
However, regardless of the arena or where the team plays, ASU will have to figure things out quickly as they will be right back to action tomorrow night against No. 3 Minnesota State, who will be hungry after a sour, 4-3 overtime loss against No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth earlier in the evening in the Desert Hockey Classic.
Powers knows it’s time for a quick turnaround.
“We just reset them. Efforts like tonight, you got to flush,” said Powers of the loss moving forward. “Whatever they do when they get home, they got to flush, and be excited for the opportunity that we have. Essentially with this field and as good as this field is - Clarkson is a great team, and clearly Duluth and Minnesota State are great teams. If you go 1-1, it’s not a bad weekend. So we can get some momentum going into BC with a huge effort and hopefully a huge win tomorrow against a really good program.”