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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils swept at No. 12 Wisconsin

Tough weekend in Madison

Photo courtesy: Victoria Dombeck/Wisconsin Athletics

Down two goals and with the score at 3-1 in the third period, a sudden opportunity arose for Arizona State (5-11-2) in Madison on Sunday evening.

In an open ice collision, ASU forward Sean Dhooghe dumped the puck off to freshman forward Michael Mancinelli. On the play, Dhooghe was hit up high and steamrolled by Badger forward Roman Ahcan.

The puck got through to Mancinelli, who proceeded to walk in and get a shot past Wisconsin freshman goaltender Cameron Rowe. That made the game a one-goal deficit, and there was an ensuing five-minute major penalty for a high hit to the head by Ahcan.

Playing short-handed and missing six players on its roster, ASU had a glorious opportunity to knot the game at three going into the homestretch.

Unfortunately for the Devils though, they couldn’t capitalize. Despite a variety of good looks, No. 12 Wisconsin (8-6) anchored down and limited shooting lanes to kill off the major penalty and close out the rest of the game. The Badgers ended up taking the victory 5-2.

“They do a great job of locking it down low and throwing all of their guys in front of the net,” Mancinelli said of the power play sequence on the five-minute major. “It’s tough to get shots through and I thought we had a couple of great chances and the goalie (Rowe) played well. It was tough.”

The sequence capped off a frustrating weekend for ASU, as the team dropped both games against the Badgers.

For the second straight night, the Sun Devils were without multiple bodies, too. Five players were out last night due to injury and COVID-19 protocols, and on Sunday, one more player was added to the list as freshman forward and leading goal-scorer Matthew Kopperud wasn’t on the ice.

In yesterday’s game one, Kopperud had a collision early on and came off the ice looking uncomfortable. He later returned and played the rest of the way, but did not suit up in game two.

Thus, with the roster even more thin, ASU made due and competed despite the missing bodies.

“We wanted to win and we got a lot of character in our room,” Powers said. “We talked a lot about our situation and it’s not an excuse to not work hard and outwork our opponent no matter who we have suited up. That’s not how we run our program and not how we do things.”

In the first period, the Devils struck first on the power play courtesy of a goal from James Sanchez. On a loose puck in front of the net, he punched one home.

The Sun Devils then got an unfortunate turn of events and Wisconsin took advantage. In a first period where many whistles and penalties were called, Sanchez stepped in for a draw on what appeared to be an ASU power play.

With the score knotted at one, Sanchez was given a face-off warning for a violation. Then when the referee tried to drop the puck again, Sanchez was given another violation.

Unlike the NHL where the centerman would just be ejected from the face-off dot, in college hockey, the second violation results in a minor penalty. It’s a new rule that was passed by the NCAA this summer. Nevertheless, it’s rare to see the call.

To ASU’s dismay, Powers wasn’t happy. The Sun Devils should have been going on their second power play, but instead were forced to the sin bin because of the two face-off violations.

Although it isn’t known what was said, a second penalty was then assessed against the ASU bench. Instead of an initial 5-on-4 power play for the Devils, it was turned into a Wisconsin man advantage.

Cole Caufield then lit the lamp to give Wisconsin a 2-1 lead and cap off two Badger goals on the power play in less than a minute.

“You go from an o-zone draw on the power play to a d-zone draw on the kill,” said a befuddled Powers. “I’ve never seen that and I never thought I would see it. I don’t think you should see it.”

The Badgers took advantage and grabbed momentum with the strike. In the second period, they added to their lead with a goal on a wrister from defenseman Mike Vorlicky, who slid a shot past netminder Evan DeBrouwer.

Mancinelli added the third period goal for ASU, but the strong Wisconsin penalty kill closed the door and then the Badgers added two empty netters to seal the victory.

The season series between the programs ended up as a four-game split, with both sides taking two wins.

Up next, the road doesn’t get much easier for the Sun Devils as they return to Minneapolis for another two-game set with No. 1 Minnesota.

“Guys were out of the lineup but we try not to make up any excuses,” Mancinelli said. “This week was a great time for people who don’t play as much to step up and I truly believe that they did.”