When the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-18-5) hosted to Boston U Terriers a weekend ago, they didn’t quite match up against one of the most storied programs in college hockey.
This weekend, they travelled east to a town under 150 miles south of Boston to take on another historic school, the Yale Bulldogs (11-11-1).
A powerhouse in recent years, the Bulldogs have struggled this season, as evidenced by their 11-11-1 record. This record is especially concerning, considering the Bulldogs topped Quinnipiac in the national championship in 2013 and haven’t had a losing season since the 2006-07 season.
Sitting at ninth in the ECAC heading into the weekend, the Bulldogs had no room for error, and the Sun Devils had nothing to lose.
A recurring theme this season has been this young Sun Devil team’s tendency to take too many trips to the box, and game one was no different.
The bright side of that is that they successfully killed off all eight Yale power plays with their penalty killing unit that is near the top in the nation. The concern arises from the fact that coach Greg Powers can’t seem to get his young team to avoid the box.
The Sun Devil power play itself was unsuccessful in six tries, but due to the momentum, they built early in the first period, Jake Clifford had a grade A opportunity that he stuffed past Yale goalie Sam Tucker to give ASU the lead early.
From there it would largely become the “Joey Daccord show” as the sophomore net minder stopped 43 of 46 shots he faced on the night.
The Sun Devil penalty kill handled three late first period penalties sending the game to first intermission with ASU leading 1-0.
Daccord’s clean sheet would make it halfway through the second frame before a costly turnover in the offensive zone allowed the Bulldogs to knot the game up at one, although the Sun Devil goal tender did just about everything he could to prevent Yale from scoring.
The Sun Devils would respond, though as with just minutes left in the second period Anthony Croston found Dominic Garcia for a one-timer beauty that he buried to give the Devils back the lead heading into the third.
Early in the final stanza; however, the Bulldogs took advantage of yet another ASU turnover to tie the game up at two.
That is where the score would remain until 60 minutes of play had concluded sending the game to overtime at ASU – 2 Yale – 2.
It took only about half of the overtime period for Yale’s leading scorer Joe Snively to score on a 2-on-1 and give the Bulldogs the 3-2 win. According to NCAA rules that is an official loss for ASU and a win for Yale as opposed to the NHL, where teams earn a point with an overtime/shootout loss.
Despite bad discipline and costly turnovers, it was a good showing the Sun Devils who have struggled on Friday games on the road. Even though they lost they had some momentum heading into the series finale on Saturday.
The second game of the weekend got off to a rather pedestrian start with neither team taking any penalties and both teams failing to sustain any attack for the first part of the opening period.
For Daccord, he once again did just about all he could, but he couldn’t keep everything out as the Bulldogs eventually crashed on a rebound off Daccord’s pad to give Yale a 1-0 lead with just over five minutes left in the first period.
Unlike games past, once they fell behind, the Devils did not give up, answering back with a goal of their own just minutes later.
Freshman defenseman Max Balinson fired one from the point that was initially thought to have been deflected by Dylan Hollman but that was eventually awarded to Balinson.
The score would remain tied at one for the remainder of the first and all of the way through the second despite numerous great chances for both teams.
Once in the final regulation period, the scoring opened up a bit as the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead just a minute and a half into the period on the power play.
Again, though the Sun Devils had an answer, netting their fourth short-handed goal of the season from the stick of Brinson Pasichnuk who simply jumped on a loose puck and deposited it in the back of the net.
The stalemate would last almost eight minutes before the Bulldogs scored again on a quick shot off the faceoff that beat Daccord to make the score 3-2 Yale.
Trailing by one late in the third, the Sun Devils put the puck on the stick of their leading scorer Johnny Walker who came up clutch breaking the ASU record for goals by a freshman with his 10th of the season and tying the game back up at the same time.
Just like the first game of the series, the finale required overtime.
That would be it for the Sun Devils though as they once again couldn’t score when it mattered most eventually resulting in a 4-3 overtime loss.
Takeaways and Looking Ahead
While they left New Haven, Conn. with no wins, they do have plenty of positives to take away such as Joey Daccord’s response to his struggles last weekend with 95 saves on 102 shots, Johnny Walker’s record-breaking goal and Steenn Pasichnuk’s first ever two-point game in game one where he colleceted two assists.
With just two Michigan Schools left on the schedule, the Sun Devils seem to be right on the cusp of something great but don’t have a whole lot of time left to prove it.
They travel to Houghton, Michigan on Feb. 16 to take on Michigan Tech (14-12-5) for the second time this season, with the first game resulting in ASU’s Ice Vegas Invitational win.
Following that trip, they will go to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on the 20th-ranked Michigan Wolverines.