Arizona State (3-6-2) didn’t get off to an ideal start in its opening game against Ohio State (3-5-1) on Thursday night. The Sun Devils gave up three goals in the first 10 minutes and found themselves behind the eight-ball.
A timeout was called and junior goaltender Evan DeBrouwer was put between the pipes in place of freshman Cole Brady. Powers was blunt when talking about the first three goals and the shots that got through.
With a deep breath, Powers exhaled during his postgame press conference before answering a question about the opening 10 minutes.
“I saw a couple of shots that should’ve been stopped,” he said.
It was that kind of night for the talented Brady, who had a rough go after not starting last weekend.
Nevertheless, the New Jersey Devils draft pick has had his stellar moments as well, including a 44-save showing in his first game against Michigan. It’s all part of the learning curve as a first-year college goaltender.
“It’s still not a knock on our freshman goalie. He’s a great goalie and he’s going to be an incredible goalie, and he’s entitled to be a freshman,” Powers said. “They’ve all made freshmen mistakes and when you play freshmen as much as we are this year, you are going to have to live and die with some rough moments. He’ll be fine and he’ll bounce back.”
With his teammates help, though, ASU settled in and rallied all the way back to eventually take a 4-3 lead in the third period against the Buckeyes. In the end, the Sun Devils would have to settle for a 4-4 tie.
“Arizona (State) is a good hockey team,” said Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik. “They weren’t going to just lay down. They got kicked in the teeth early and they just clawed back...When you turn pucks over as many times as we did and you give a good team like that opportunities, they are going to come back.”
The rally started at the beginning of the second period. Freshman forward Michael Mancinelli popped home a goal to get the Sun Devils on the scoreboard. Then later in the frame, he went hard to the net on a rush and got rewarded again.
He tapped home a loose puck to make things a one-goal game going into the final 20 minutes.
“Honestly, it was just sticking to how we play and how we know we can play,” Mancinelli said. “It was a tough first 10 minutes, but after that we kind of re-grouped and got to work.”
The two Mancinelli goals carried momentum into the third, when Chris Grando was the beneficiary of sloppy puck management and a turnover between Ohio State’s defensemen behind the net.
Grando swooped in and tucked it into the goal before Buckeyes goaltender Tommy Nappier even knew it was in.
Wanna see a magic trick? ♂️ pic.twitter.com/GxMKo1KvGx— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) December 18, 2020
That knotted the score at three, then forward Jordan Sandhu came through with a go-ahead goal minutes later.
“It was just a no-quit mindset,” Sandhu said. “We know what we have and obviously it was a tough start in the first 10 minutes, but there were still 50 minutes to go and it showed how much character we have in the room and we stuck to the game plan and started moving our feet and playing our game instead of adapting to theirs.”
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils though, they weren’t able to pick up the closeout victory as Ohio State responded with a backdoor tap-in from Tate Singleton with under nine minutes remaining.
He streaked to the back post as defenseman Layton Ahac activated into the play and zipped a pass on his tape for the tap-in goal.
Ahac -->> Singleton -->> GOAL— Ohio State Men's Hockey (@OhioStateMHKY) December 18, 2020
Singleton's first of the year tied the game at 4 in the third period. pic.twitter.com/VpbVxutSjW
Both teams traded chances from there on out, but things ended in a stalemate. For the fourth straight game, ASU came just short of a victory.
Nonetheless, the comeback effort was valiant and it shouldn’t be overlooked. The Devils will look to end their marathon of a road trip tomorrow evening in game two and take a happy flight back home to Tempe.
Powers is never one to hang his hat on tie hockey games, jokingly calling them “un-American” in the past, but even he was pleased with how his group performed given the circumstance of the trip and the opening minutes of Thursday’s contest.
“It was like a morgue in the (locker) room because the guys wanted to win, but they came back and when you claw back down three after what we’ve gone through for 35 days, are you kidding me? The character of this team to do that was so impressive to go down three on the road like that in your 11th game on the road,” Powers said.
“...I’m so proud of our guys. It’s such a great tie and now we’re in a position to win this series tomorrow. We feel like we probably should’ve won the game tonight and outplayed them, but for us to claw back like that against a really good team was really impressive.”