Playing short-handed and digging deep into its roster, Arizona State (5-10-2) was shut out 4-0 by No. 12 Wisconsin (7-6) on Saturday night.
The Badgers netted three goals in the opening 10 minutes against sophomore goaltender Justin Robbins, who got the nod in net for a second straight game after a 26-save win in his first collegiate start last week at Notre Dame.
Nevertheless, Wisconsin, who was coming off a win against No. 1 Minnesota, came out strong and outplayed the Sun Devils. Jack Gorniak, Josh Ess, and Ty Pelton-Byce all had goals in the opening minutes and ASU was outshot 30-11 after 60 minutes.
“We were just flat and bad,” said head coach Greg Powers of his team’s sluggish performance. “That was the first time in a while that we just couldn’t put it together and the guys just didn’t have it tonight. They didn’t have their legs and they didn’t have energy.”
Earlier this week, the team received its first positive COVID-19 test of the season. Friday’s game was pushed back to Sunday, and with protocols and contact tracing in place, Powers had to figure out what his lineup was going to look like.
In addition to the positive test, ASU had already been hit by the injury bug, as the Sun Devils were missing defenseman Jacob Wilson and forward Willie Knierim, who hasn’t been with the team on this entire trip as he continues to nurse and heal an injury back in Arizona.
Additionally, goaltender Cole Brady has not been on the trip due to a case of mono, while defenseman Jarrod Gourley and freshman forward Ryan O’Reilly were out of the lineup, too.
With illness and injury swarming, other players were given opportunities. However, Wisconsin took advantage of the thin ASU lineup and the Devils just fell short in all facets.
“It was tough not knowing who was going to play and who was in and who was out,” Powers said. “It got down to the wire and I thought we’d have even more guys out. If you want to chalk it up (the performance) to that, it’s whatever. But at the end of the day, we have to be better.”
If there was one thing taken from Powers postgame media session, it was that he didn’t want to take any excuses.
He noted that besides defenseman Carson Kosobud, forward Dom Garcia, and forward Michael Mancinelli, he wasn’t pleased with anyone’s effort.
At this point in the year, ASU has been hit with some possible wear and tear of being on the road for so many days. However, Powers doesn’t want to hear any of it and exepects more out of his group going into tomorrow’s second game.
“We didn’t embrace that next man up mentality and we didn’t overcome whatever adversity was thrown our way this week and just accepted defeat,” Powers said. “That’s unacceptable.”