For the third time this season, No. 19 Arizona State (12-6) pulled out an overtime victory on the east coast.
The Sun Devils defeated Princeton (3-8-1) by a final score of 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night to sweep the Tigers in a two-game set.
Heading into extra time knotted at two, senior forward Jake Clifford won a battle in the corner. The puck eventually was fled back to the point for freshman defenseman Josh Maniscalco, and Clifford proceeded to break from the corner to the front of the cage.
Maniscalco swung a shot on goal that was batted to the side of the net, and while being in the right place at the right time, Clifford was able to find some loose change. He picked up the puck and calmly chipped it in, sealing the OT victory.
As a whole, the moment for Clifford likely rounded out a perfect day for the senior.
He lit the lamp, and likely some birthday candles after the game along with his head coach Greg Powers, who were both celebrating their birthdays on Saturday. You can’t write a script any better.
But how did they get to that point?
In the first period of Saturday’s contest, ASU got out to a start similar to Friday night’s game. The Devils scored twice in the opening frame, with the first goal coming on the first shift of the game.
Junior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk buried a shot from the slot, and later on, sophomore defenseman Jacob Wilson was able to put one home to make the score 2-0, thus providing some offensive firepower from the players on the blue line.
But with some desperation down 2-0 on its home rink, Princeton responded in a hurry in the second period.
Just nine seconds into the second frame, senior forward Ryan Kuffner netted a goal to cut ASU’s lead in half, then less than two minutes later on the power play, senior Max Veronneau burst into the Sun Devil zone with some speed.
From a sharp angle, he let loose a quick wrist shot that beat junior goaltender Joey Daccord on the glove side, tying the game at two.
Staying out of the penalty box and keeping Veronneau and Kuffner contained was the focal point during this week’s practices for ASU, but in the second period, the dam let loose a little water.
Facing some adversity, ASU regrouped and was able to dial back in. Both teams held scoreless through the remainder of the second and into the third period, setting the stage for Clifford’s late-game heroics.
In its three games that have gone to overtime this season, ASU is 3-0, and all three game-winners have occurred on the road on the east coast (Penn State, Harvard, Princeton).
Needless to say, the near five-hour flight back to Phoenix will be a happy one for ASU. Up next, they will be back at home on Dec. 14 and 15 to take on Colorado College. Both games can be viewed on the Pac-12 Plus live stream.