The Rochester Institute of Technology (12-11-3) had just tied the game at two in the third period on a penalty shot that sophomore forward Jake Hamacher slid underneath the pads of ASU junior goaltender Joey Daccord.
The Sun Devils (19-10-1), had entered the final frame with a tight one-goal cushion. However, after a penalty and a play where a Sun Devil covered the puck with his hand in the goal crease (leading to the penalty shot), Hamacher and RIT took advantage of the opportunity.
The score evened at two a piece, and ASU had to gather themselves. That gathering process didn’t take long. Three minutes and 28 seconds after the game-tying penalty shot, ASU won a face-off in the RIT zone. Freshman forward Demetrios Koumontzis won the draw and the puck slid back to sophomore defenseman Gvido Jansons.
Wasting no time, Jansons belted a shot from the blue line with traffic in front of sophomore goaltender Logan Drackett. The puck buzzed past the late-stretched blocker of Drackett and into the back of the net for Jansons’ first goal of the season.
It proved to be the game-winner in a 4-2 win to sustain a sweep against RIT.
ASU added an empty netter later in the period courtesy of junior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk, and the Sun Devils held off a fiery Tigers group that came back with a fight after getting pelted 6-1 the night prior.
Jansons’ first goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time. It capped off a stretch of road games that lasted over a month for ASU. They made three trips back to the East Coast, and they went 3-3 over that span. They lost the first three games before recovering to win the last three.
It might not sound ideal, but it was pivotal in regards to staying afloat over a rigorous portion of the schedule. The Devils played in three tough arenas against three formidable opponents, and they held their own.
Prior to Jansons late strike, ASU had goals from sophomore forward Johnny Walker and Koumontzis. Walker put one home in the first, giving him 22 goals on the year. The Hobey Baker Finalist has proven he gets better as the weekend goes on, as he has scored 14 of his 22 tallies on Saturday night's.
Koumontzis’ goal came on a backhand shot in the second period that found its way into the goal off an RIT stick. It made the score 2-1 before the late theatrics occurred in the third.
Daccord made 26 saves on 28 shots and held his own once again, making more timely stops to secure the victory. That’s just what he does.
After facing RIT’s backup goaltender on Friday, ASU faced Drackett on Saturday and was able to get the win.
Now it’s back to the warm temperatures in Tempe where the Devils take on another Atlantic Hockey Conference foe when division-leading American International College (AIC) enters Oceanside Ice Arena on Feb. 15 and 16.
Saturday’s game is senior night for five Sun Devils and it could possibly be the last time that ASU fans see Daccord at Oceanside Ice Arena, pending whether the Ottawa Senators draft pick elects to go pro after this season. It should be another big weekend of hockey with just four games remaining on the 2018-19 slate.
Senior night and Daccord will be a storyline, but there are bigger implications on the horizon for a team that is ever so close to making history and punching a ticket to the NCAA postseason.
In recent years, games at this time of year haven't meant much in regards to postseason alignments. Put this into perspective. At this time last year, ASU was 7-16-5. A year later, they are in the driver’s seat to record 20-plus wins while being among the country’s top programs.
A lot can sure change in a short amount of time. It’s back to Tempe for the Devils.