Before Denver’s first trip to Tempe in program history, Sun Devil Hockey took to Twitter to announce their newest threads.
⛈THE STORM IS HERE ⛈— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) December 3, 2019
Debuting 12/6/19 pic.twitter.com/xvB5CdxoTk
The Denver Pioneers saw the opportunity to create a rivalry with a budding program. Twitter fingers ensued.
The two-game series kicked off on a Friday night at Gila River Arena, and it took junior forward Johnny Walker but five minutes of play in the first period before pulling out a nasty toe drag to a bar-down wrister. Senior Brett Gruber’s empty net goal at the conclusion of the third period, combined with Walker’s hat trick for a 4-1 win over the #4-ranked Pioneers.
Saturday’s matchup finished knotted at two goals apiece, featuring sophomore Evan DeBrouwer’s 44 saves. Walker tallied another point with an assist to sophomore James Sanchez.
For the program, knocking off the highest-ranked opponent in team history since #6 Penn State last year was the big takeaway for the weekend. But for the team, Walker’s reemergence as a threat.
In the weeks prior to Denver, Walker was trudging through the mud of a four-game streak without a point to his name. That was the story to his season; his streaky play. After recording four points in the two-game series versus Denver, the season flipped.
The first 12 games of the season saw a loss on opening night to unranked Mercyhurst, 7 wins and a 1-9 series-loss against #3 Minnesota State. ASU won 14 games in the final 22 of the season after the Denver weekend, primed for the team’s second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Until next year.