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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils swept at No. 4 Minnesota

Rough flight back to Tempe

Photo courtesy: Brad Rempel/Minnesota Athletics

For the second straight game, Arizona State (5-13-2) gave up 10 goals, as No. 4 Minnesota (13-3) dropped a hammer on the Sun Devils for the second day in a row to record a 10-2 victory on Friday afternoon.

Offensively, the Golden Gophers were spurred by Jack Perbix, Blake McLaughlin, and Ben Meyers. Both had three-point nights, while five other Minnesota skaters had multi-point nights as well.

Unlike the first game, though, ASU was actually within striking distance early on. Although Minnesota still controlled the pace of play and offensive zone time, the Sun Devils trailed by only two goals at 4-2 entering the final 20 minutes.

However, the wheels fell off in the final frame. Minnesota netted six goals, pulling away with ease against a deflated and exhausted Sun Devil squad. Similar to last night’s beating, ASU’s gas tank was just on E.

“We just don’t have anything in the tank,” said head coach Greg Powers. “We had some guys go hard tonight, but it’s unfortunate that the third (period) got away. It would have been really nice to put up a competitive end score after the first period, but we couldn’t hang on.”

As Powers noted, the first period looked promising for ASU. After Minnesota grabbed an early lead, forward Johnny Walker sprung Chris Grando for a breakaway opportunity, and Grando put a shot top shelf past goaltender Jared Moe.

Going into first intermission, the Sun Devils were tied. Nonetheless, Minnesota grabbed the reins in the second period and didn’t look back. They put up three goals, then poured on more in the third.

The final shot counter was 37-19 in favor of the Gophers, and forward Michael Mancinelli had the only other ASU goal.

The Sun Devils finished the eight-game road trip going just 1-7, but when looking at the logistics and outlook of the trek, it’s easy to see where things went astray.

After missing the last week, forward Ryan O’Reilly returned to the lineup, but the Sun Devils were still without five bodies on Friday, including Willie Knierim, Sean Dhooghe, captain Jacob Wilson, and Jarrod Gourley.

In some ways, the venture seemed to be a trip from hell. ASU had its first positive COVID-19 tests of the season, causing contact tracing and isolation protocols to go into effect.

Then with Wilson and Dhooghe out due to injury, the problems continued to stockpile. Powers wouldn’t share the logistics of some of the injured bodies, but he said at least five players also wouldn’t have played this weekend if not for the depth issues, and they had to gut their way just to get out on the ice.

When ASU arrives back in Tempe for another hiatus this upcoming week, the team will spend the first few days off just receiving treatment and looking to recover after the wear and tear of the long trip.

It’s been a long voyage over the last four weeks, and with the unprecedented road season beginning to take its toll, the Sun Devils will look to heal their wounds. ASU has been on the road for 58 of the last 70 days.

“It’s an unprecedented thing we are going through and our guys deserve some slack from everybody, including me, to attempt what they are going through,” Powers said. “It (the road weariness) caught up with us. It’s as simple as that.”

The program will take part in two rare games at Oceanside Arena on Feb. 4 and 5, when the team takes on the U18 U.S. National Development Team in two exhibition games before returning back into Big Ten country for a series with Michigan State on Feb. 14 and 15.