Slow starts were the predominant theme this weekend for the Arizona State Sun Devils (8-21-5) as they took on the Michigan Wolverines (18-13-3) in Ann Arbor, Mich. They were outscored by a total of 6-1 in the first period in both games eventually resulting in two 5-3 losses at the hands of the Wolverines.
If there is a silver lining for coach Powers and his squad; however, it’s that in both games the team fought back and made it close before eventually losing.
By the numbers, game one was a very atypical performance for the Sun Devils. Although they have had their struggles getting off to fast starts, freshman standout Johnny Walker scored just under a minute into the game to give the ASU a 1-0 lead.
From there on; however, they struggled to contain the Wolverines allowing four unanswered goals, building a near-insurmountable deficit to overcome.
Normally a team that struggles with the man advantage, the Sun Devils also scored two power play goals in their comeback attempt, but a late empty-net goal undid all of that work and sealed the win the Michigan in game one by a final score of 5-3.
Walker scored two goals in the loss good for his 14th and 15th on the season, while goalie Joey Daccord saved 28 of 32 shots in the losing effort.
The second game served as both the series and season finale for the Sun Devils but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the start.
ASU came out with no sense of urgency and as a result gave up four unanswered goals before beginning their comeback attempt.
Once again it was Johnny Walker who started off the scoring for the Devils as the Phoenix-native scored twice in the second period to draw his team within two goals heading into the final frame.
Another unsuccessful penalty kill in the third would allow the Wolverines to extend the lead to 5-2. While they wouldn’t overcome this deficit in the end, they proved their resiliency once again in the form of a Filips Buncis goal with just over seven minutes to play.
The game would conclude with the Sun Devils second 5-3 loss on the weekend and their season would end with a record of 8-21-5.
The numbers may not look as good as last season, but this young Sun Devil team showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Johnny Walker ended with the second-most goals for a freshman in the country with 17 and Joey Daccord proved that he has elite talent.
Even though they’re not affiliated with a conference, they could make some noise in the college hockey world in the years to come.