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ASU Hockey: Devils sweep No. 9 Quinnipiac

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Photo Courtesy: Riley Trujillo/Sun Devil Athletics

Arizona State (5-3) was ready from the opening puck drop. For the second consecutive night, the Sun Devils downed the No. 9 team in the country. On Saturday, though, it was even more of a complete effort from Friday as ASU stifled Quinnipiac (4-3) by a final of 4-1.

For a full 60 minutes, the Sun Devils put forth one of their most complete efforts all season, and they outshot the Bobcats 38-20.

“That was about as good as we can expect them to play,” said head coach Greg Powers. “If we play like that, we can expect to win a lot of games. It’s that simple. That’s the effort across the board, from top to bottom, that we knew we had in us.”

All four lines wreaked havoc, but the scoring touch came primarily from the top two lines. Junior forward Fil Buncis was out on Saturday with a day-to-day upper body injury, and the lines were shuffled with a couple moves.

Regardless of the change, both groups didn’t flinch. Sophomore forward PJ Marrocco moved from the fourth line up to the top unit, and sophomore forward Demetrios Koumontzis centered the second line while freshman forward Jax Murray played the first collegiate minutes of his career on the fourth line.

Both Koumontzis and Marrocco made their presences felt. The first goal of the night came on a back post pass from freshman forward Logan Jenuwine to redshirt sophomore forward Austin Lemieux, who proceeded to tap one home.

“The chemistry is there with me and Jenuwine, but we had a new centerman tonight,” Lemieux said. “I played a lot with Komo last year, and it was pretty easy to fill in.”

Powers added to that point.

“We had to move Komo up because we needed the depth down the middle, and he’s capable...I think long-term, that’s what Komo projects to be is a centerman,” Powers said. “I really liked the look of that line. He (Koumontzis) was giving them speed, and he was winning draws tonight. When we can start Logan and Austin with possession off the face-off, they are going to be really dangerous.”

Aside from just the second line, the top unit also produced. With an opportunity with the top group, Marrocco was relentless all night, and he was rewarded on a short-handed goal.

On the strike, senior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk had an open ice poke check in the neutral zone, then Marrocco out muscled a Quinnipiac defender to earn a stride and net a shot past the goaltender to make the score 4-1 in the second period. When asked about the play, Powers was brief.

“It was pretty sick,” he said.

Marrocco’s goal was a result of hard work, and so was the third Sun Devil goal. On a long shift, the top line wouldn’t let Quinnipiac clear the puck, and they forced three turnovers in the Bobcat zone.

Because of their efforts, they were rewarded. Junior forward Johnny Walker was able to tap home a loose puck on a shot from junior forward James Sanchez.

Among other tallies, junior alternate captain and defenseman Jacob Wilson lit the lamp for the second consecutive night. Often coined a solid, stay at home d-man, the veteran found the scoring touch.

For someone who wasn’t able to play against Quinnipiac in last year’s NCAA Tournament due to a suspension, the goals had a taste of extra significance.

“It’s a little sweeter to be able to play against them this year,” Wilson said. “Everybody is going, and I’d just go to the net and go hard...And good things happen.”

All around, it was a complete team effort. Sophomore goaltender Evan DeBrouwer wasn’t tested too much, and ASU controlled zone time and possession for nearly the entire game.

Simply put, the Devils took it to em’, and it left them with a satisfied feeling after a sour taste last March in Allentown.

“We wanted to sweep them because they knocked us out. One win wasn’t going to be enough,” Powers said. “The only way to feel whole again was to go out and have the type of effort we did tonight.”