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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils blank Alaska Anchorage

Second straight shutout

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Arizona State (21-9-3) senior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk skated toward the bench, each teammate cheering him on as he made his way toward the end of the group.

Behind him was his sophomore defense partner Josh Maniscalco, who instead of celebrating, looked up at the equipment managers behind the bench. With a puck in his hand, he threw the biscuit to the members of the Sun Devil staff.

Pasichnuk had just buried the fifth and final ASU goal in a 5-0 shutout against Alaska Anchorage (4-20-5), and the puck that just made its way into the back of the net marked the 100th career point for the fourth-year blue-liner, becoming the first player in program history to reach the landmark.

Pasichnuk slipped the shot under the five-hole of the Sea Wolves goaltender.

“I was not aiming five-hole on that shot,” said Pasichnuk with a smirk discussing his accolade. “It’s a really cool accomplishment, and I never thought I would get to that many. I am just grateful.”

On a weekend that is all about the seniors in their final home games, Pasichnuk wasn’t the only one who took the spotlight, too. His senior counterpart Brett Gruber also registered two goals in the five-goal onslaught.

Gruber’s first of the night made the score 3-0, then he sniped home his second on the power play in the second frame, beating Alaska Anchorage goaltender Kris Carlson on a shot off the far post to make the score 4-0.

It marked Gruber’s sixth straight game with a point as the veteran forward has continued to add to the stat sheet down the homestretch.

“I think we were just good in the d-zone and it translated to offense,” said Gruber of his third line and scoring twice. “I thought both of my linemates had a good night and they worked hard for me and gave me pucks, and fortunately I was able to capitalize on it.”

Aside from Pasichnuk and Gruber, the other two Sun Devil goals came courtesy of junior forward Johnny Walker and sophomore forward PJ Marrocco.

Walker opened up the scoring in the first period on a great effort from sophomore forward Jordan Sandhu. With a 50/50 race near center ice, Sandhu sprawled out to tap the puck toward Walker, who was on the right wing.

He walked in, toe dragged, then sniped a puck upstairs. Then at the 15:08 mark of the first, Marrocco found open ice off of a late line change from the Sea Wolves.

He was able to fire a wrist shot to make the score 2-0. Overall, ASU controlled the entirety of the game from start to finish, outshooting Alaska Anchorage 36-25 and controlling the face-off dots 43-26.

Coming in as a favorite against an opponent with only four wins, they took care of business.

“The guys played well and I think we’ll be better tomorrow. We are going to have to be,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers. “That team is going to be better, just like everybody is on a Saturday night after getting beat.”

Although he wasn’t tested too much, sophomore goaltender Evan DeBrouwer also recorded his second straight shutout going back to last Saturday at Bentley. He made 25 saves and few timely pad stops to move the game along.

“That’s how you know he’s at his sharpest,” said Powers of DeBrouwer’s saves while not facing much pressure. “He’s dialed in when he makes the tough saves look really easy, and that’s what he’s doing right now.”

With the Gruber goals, the DeBrouwer shutout, and the Pasichnuk icing on the cake, ASU rolled to victory. They will now have to handle senior night tomorrow evening.

One last win on home ice could be the stamp that ASU needs to put themselves in for the postseason, too. Another victory also means that the team would surpass its win total from last year, setting a new program record for a team still in its youth.

According to Pasichnuk, that’s been all a part of the plan, and there’s a bigger picture than just having good memories from senior night and the last four years.

“A National Championship. That’s our goal, and our freshmen class, we got together when we came here and said our senior season, we are going to the National Championship,” Pasichnuk said. “Like I said in the first press conference of the year, that’s why I didn’t go pro this year. We have the team to do it and I truly believe that.”