Arizona State (5-12-2) suffered its third straight loss on Thursday night, falling 10-0 against No. 4 Minnesota (12-3). It was the first time since the program’s inaugural season in 2015-16 that the Sun Devils have given up 10 goals in a game.
The first period was a thrashing from the Golden Gophers, as they put up four goals in the opening 20 minutes and outshot ASU 22-2 after one. The onslaught continued all game long.
With weary legs, fatigue, and a thin roster, it appeared ASU hit somewhat of a breaking point on its long road trip with the ugly defeat.
“We are having to play guys that are just dead and they don’t have anything left. They’ve been on the road for two months out of the last 70 days and they are tired and mentally and physically exhausted,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers. “Today it finally caught up with us.”
For the third straight game, the Sun Devils were mightily banged up, as Jarrod Gouley, Jacob Wilson, Ryan O’Reilly, Sean Dhooghe, Willie Knierim, and Cole Brady were all out.
Forward Matthew Kopperud returned to the lineup after missing last game, but there was only so much he could do.
On the flip side, Minnesota was back at full strength on its roster as defensemen Jackson LaCombe, Brock Faber, and Ryan Johnson were back on the ice.
The three blue liners were not in the Golden Gopher lineup when the two teams met earlier in January because the trio was representing Team USA and won a gold medal at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
Additionally, Minnesota was coming off back-to-back losses against Notre Dame, and it was the first time all year that the juggernaut had lost two straight games.
Thus, it was the perfect recipe for disaster for ASU, as the Golden Gophers were hungry, and against a depleted roster, they took full advantage and didn’t let off the gas.
The numbers were video game like for Minnesota. 12 different players had points, including a three-goal hat trick for forward Sammy Walker. Brannon McManus also had four points with three assists and a goal, and the Golden Gophers outshot ASU 52-14.
There wasn’t much to take from the loss for the Sun Devils, as they are now 1-6 in the second half of the season. Powers was blunt when talking about the lineup and how deep he’s dug just to put out a full four lines and defense pairs.
Even in practice prior to Thursday’s game, ASU was only able to have 11 players out on the ice.
“We got five guys in there that just shouldn’t be playing,” Powers said. “...We only had 11 skaters on the ice for practice just because guys couldn’t go and we had to preserve what we could preserve. We’re in preservation mode and we got to get through tomorrow and find a way to dig deep and bring a much better effort and get into the break and get healthy.”
Ultimately, it was one of the ugliest losses to date for the Devils. However, if there was one bright spot from the game, it was the story of goaltender Bronson Moore, who appeared in the third period and made six saves.
Moore is a member of Arizona State’s Division I club hockey team, but with Brady out due to mono and ASU needing a third goaltender on its roster, Moore has been the team’s emergency backup on the road trip.
After Justin Robbins and Evan DeBrouwer were roughed up in the first two periods, the walk-on, ACHA netminder got his opportunity in the final 20 minutes.
“I was just going to let him get some shots and go out there and have some fun and have his name in HockeyDB. He went in and he was actually really good,” Powers said. “I think he had the two best saves of the night. I’m happy for the kid. He deserves it. He doesn’t have to be here but he’s here to help us as an emergency guy...hopefully he’ll remember that moment for the rest of his life getting into a Division I game against Minnesota.”
ASU will look to find some energy and dig deep going into game two tomorrow afternoon to try and salvage a split. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. local time.