For the seventh time this season, No. 15 Arizona State (16-7-1) recorded a series sweep. The Sun Devils shut out Boston College (6-9-2) 2-0 at Gila River Arena on Saturday night.
The zero goals allowed was junior goaltender Joey Daccord’s NCAA-leading sixth shutout, and it gave the Sun Devils a tie for the NCAA lead in wins with 16.
“Really liked how our team closed it out,” head coach Greg Powers said. “Joey was great, but we were opportunistic and we finally popped a power play goal. It was a great win.”
As Powers noted, ASU was opportunistic with its two goals. For the second night in a row, BC outshot the Devils. On Saturday, they did so by a 32-27 margin on the shot counter.
However, Daccord stood tall and it allowed his team to get its legs under them. The first period was controlled by BC, but at the 9:15 mark of the second frame, the Eagles got caught with two defensemen below their own goal line.
Creating some space in front of the net, sophomore forward Johnny Walker won a battle between the two BC defensemen, and dropped a puck on the tape of junior forward Brett Gruber.
Gruber deposited a one-timer into the net, helping to break the 0-0 score midway through the game.
Then in the third period, ASU registered its second goal on the power play. On a shot from the slot, junior forward Steen Pasichnuk was able to knock down the shot in front of the net, and he then relayed a pass just to his left as freshman forward Jordan Sandhu was cutting to the goal.
Sandhu received the pass and dropped it in the net for a big insurance goal, but the play was set up by the 6-foot-4 senior who just recently moved to special teams to enhance the power play.
Additionally, it was a breakthrough goal on a power play that had previously been 0-for-5, including two 5-on-3 stints in the first period.
“It was getting a little frustrating,” said Pasichnuk of the special teams. “When stuff is not going your way, it gets frustrating but we just said keep working hard and keep getting some net-front presence, keep kicking it around, and it’s going to come. It just happened on that power play that everything kicked the right way.”
Both ASU goals occurred down low and near the goal line, which is exactly what Powers wants from his team. Against a BC team that was full of speed and skill, the ability to work the puck down low paid off.
“90 percent of our offense is generated from below the goal line. That’s just how we have to play,” Powers said. “We have big, strong bodies. We are a forecheck-predicated team...that’s exactly how we scored the 5-on-5 goal from Walks to Grubs, and then Steen, he’s on the power play for the exact reason that we scored. He’s a big body in front (of the net).”
On top of the two goals was the performance from Daccord, who was once again masterful in net. He robbed multiple BC scoring opportunities, and he even made a bid for an end-to-end empty net goal late in the third period. With under a minute remaining, the puck just trickled wide of the empty cage.
For the North Andover, Massachusetts native, the shutout held a little extra significance against a program that Daccord labeled as his “dream school” growing up.
But for the NCAA leader in shutouts, the accolade and his performances in goal aren’t necessarily his doing, as he humbly pointed about after the game.
“I think it’s a team stat (shutouts),” Daccord said. “I don’t think it’s a personal stat. I can think of five or six different unbelievable blocked shots today...I think a shutout, like I said, it’s a team stat. I just get the number next to my name.”
ASU also killed off six BC power plays in a tightly officiated game, and altogether, it pieced together into a tie for the nation lead in wins with 16.
Coming off a tie against No. 3 Minnesota State and a sweep of BC, the wheels seem to be rolling in the right direction as the team gears up for another grueling east coast road trip where the Devils won’t play at home for more than a month.
“The belief in that room (locker room) right now is unlike anything I have ever been a part of,” Pasichnuk said. “Even when we are down one goal or two goals in a game, there is never a doubt in anyone’s mind on that bench that we are going to come out without a win...It’s an unbelievable thing to be a part of.”