No. 16 Arizona State (10-7-3) had a two-goal, and three-goal deficit, yet still managed to sustain a 4-4 tie on Sunday afternoon against No. 17 Harvard (7-4-1).
The Sun Devils never held a lead, but they were able to fight back after being down three goals early in the second period.
“That’s a great tie,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers. “We hate ties but to come back from three down, that’s a top-10 team. It’s a legit top-10 team, so for our guys to fight back...They can be proud of themselves.”
In what became an uphill battle all afternoon, the Sun Devils found themselves behind the eight-ball early on.
In the opening frame, the Crimson netted two goals, with one coming from freshman defenseman Ryan Siedem, and the other coming from sophomore forward Casey Dornbach.
Then two minutes and 48 seconds into the second period, Harvard sophomore defenseman Jack Rothbone wired a shot from the point on the power play that found its way in through traffic.
ASU graduate transfer Max Prawdzik started just his second game in goal on Sunday, and he allowed three goals on 12 shots.
After playing in the third period last night, the Sun Devil netminder got the nod in game two as Powers looked to give rest to starter Evan DeBrouwer after a quick 1 p.m. puck drop.
Nevertheless, following the third goal, Powers made the move to put DeBrouwer back between the pipes.
“I don’t think he was very sharp, but in his defense, it was his first start in a long time,” said Powers of the goaltending change midway through the game. “It was just to give the team a spark, and to mainly give Evan rest because of the short turnaround.”
Following the third consecutive Harvard goal, ASU responded in a big way. On the ensuing shift, sophomore defenseman Josh Maniscalco rifled home his second goal in as many days against the Crimson.
Then just over a minute later, redshirt sophomore forward Austin Lemieux dangled his way into the slot.
He dropped a pass off to junior forward Fil Buncis, who feathered a shot on goal, and the puck trickled under the arm of Crimson freshman goaltender Mitchell Gibson. Lemieux proceeded to clean up the loose puck in the crease and tap it in.
Suddenly, the three-goal deficit was trimmed to one, and ASU had life thanks to its second line - a group which was without sophomore forward Demetrios Koumontzis, who was a healthy scratch in game two.
Thus, Buncis, Lemieux, and sophomore forward PJ Marrocco provided a spark with the newly arranged trio.
“They were kind of the straw that stirred the drink,” Powers said. “They got a lot of good stuff done for us, and they just played really well. That was exactly what we needed out of them.”
Harvard added a fourth goal when freshman forward Nick Abruzzese slid a shot through the five-hole of DeBrouwer, and entering the third, ASU needed to rally once more from down two.
They did that thanks to a couple of strong individual efforts. First, to make things 4-3, senior forward Tyler Busch won a battle below the goal line and got the puck to freshman defenseman Jacob Semik at the blue line.
Semik fired a low wrister toward the net with traffic, and junior forward Willie Knierim redirected the shot.
Then to knot it up at four, Marrocco, who had been swarming around the puck all afternoon, was rewarded. He received a pass from Buncis from behind the goal, and let loose a one-timer that beat Gibson.
“I think it was just confidence and belief in every single guy that we were going to go out every shift and just do our job and get the puck in deep and get after them,” said Marrocco of the third period comeback.
As for Marrocco himself, he received high praise as well for his efforts throughout the weekend.
He scored his third period goal to tie it, but he was generating scoring chances all afternoon, including a two-on-one in the second period in which he rung a hard wrist shot off the post.
Both teams went to an overtime period, but there was no score after five minutes of 5-on-5 action.
Harvard and ASU played a 3-on-3 OT period as well just for the fans who came out for the game, and the Crimson scored a power play goal in the extra time, but the game still went down as a tie.
Entering 2020, ASU returns to home ice after a gauntlet of games in December.
The Sun Devils were the only Division I team in the nation to play every weekend over the holiday break, and with games against No. 6 Denver, No. 18 Michigan State, Omaha, and No. 17 Harvard, the group went 3-3-2.
With no wins in Irvine, the Sun Devils might swing in the USCHO polls, and it’s sure to be a continual grind the rest of the way. But overall, ASU and Harvard both put on a display of skill over the weekend in the SoCal Clash.
“It was almost like it was a tale of two teams playing their games at different spurts all weekend,” said Powers describing the series. “It was both teams going back and forth and playing the way they needed to be successful, and I thought it was a fun college hockey game to watch.”