After going down 2-0 in the second period, No. 16 Arizona State (10-5-2) was dug into a hole at Baxter Arena against Omaha (7-8-2). The Sun Devils had to dust themselves off and pick themselves up to try and sustain a comeback.
That’s exactly what they did as ASU rallied to score four straight goals. In the end, the Devils’ pulled out a 5-4 victory.
It wasn’t exactly the team’s prettiest performance of the year, but it got the job done against the Mavs. Omaha outshot ASU by over two-to-one margin (48-21), and ASU was opportunistic with their scoring chances.
Additionally, Omaha freshman backup goaltender Austen Roden got the nod in goal because the Mavs normal starter, Isaiah Saville, is currently representing the Czech Republic playing in the IIHF World Juniors Tournament.
Omaha got off to its ideal start with their two second period goals, but ASU responded with a fury. Both junior forward Fil Buncis and sophomore forward Jordan Sandhu recorded their first goals of the season to knot the game at two.
Then junior forward Willie Knierim followed that up with another tally to put the Sun Devils back in front in the blink of an eye. The three-goal flurry happened over the course of one minute and 34 seconds, putting all momentum back on the side of ASU.
They weren’t done there, either. At the 16:55 mark, junior forward Johnny Walker scored to make things 4-2 heading into the second intermission.
However, similar to ASU’s second period run, Omaha had a late push of its own heading into the third. Mavs senior forward Teemu Pulkkinen and sophomore forward Taylor Ward both had goals in less than three minutes to knot the score at four.
Once more, ASU had to respond to adversity, and they did so. While being down a man and trying to kill off an Omaha power play, Sandhu was able to spring junior forward Brett Gruber on a breakaway.
Gruber deposited the fifth Sun Devil goal of the evening, and it would be the game-winner.
Although there were a combined nine goals on the scoreboard, the efforts of sophomore goaltender Evan DeBrouwer couldn’t be understated as well. He made 44 saves and once again provided a stout effort to help secure a win.
By no means did ASU put forth its strongest game of the year, yet they still found a way to pull through with a win.
For the fourth consecutive series, the Sun Devils have now taken the opening game. Though, the silver lining in those wins is the fact that ASU hasn’t been able to pull out a sweep in any of those two-game sets.
With that thought in mind, the team will get back to work looking to seal the deal on Sunday afternoon for game two against the Mavs.