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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils swept at No. 1 Minnesota

Two straight

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Despite rallying from down two goals and taking the lead in the second period against No. 1 Minnesota (10-0), Arizona State (4-8-2) couldn’t hang on for the upset, falling 6-4 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

The Sun Devils put up another valiant effort, but with up and down play against a team as lethal and deep as Minnesota, ASU just couldn’t finish off the job.

“It’s obviously frustrating. You take a leap like that and you can see how we play when we play the right way...I told the guys after the game that they have to collectively make a decision if they want to do that for an entire game because that’s what it’s going to take to string together a bunch of wins,” said head coach Greg Powers. “Hopefully we learn from it.”

After trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, the ASU second period comeback began with a goal off the stick of forward Sean Dhooghe.

Then on an odd-man rush, junior forward PJ Marrocco got off the schneid with a wrist shot that beat Minnesota netminder Jared Moe. It was Marrocco’s first goal of the season, and it was a big one to knot the game at two.

“He’s been doing all the right things and getting chances,” said Powers of Marrocco breaking his goal drought. “...It’s nice to see him ripping the puck and for one to finally go in. It’s a big, big monkey off his back.”

Marrocco also described what it meant to get back in the goal column.

“It felt pretty good, especially at that time in the game,” Marrocco said. “I love scoring goals and it was just nice to get on the score sheet.”

Marrocco’s goal tied things up, but the goal of the night came on the ensuing Sun Devil goal from Johnny Walker.

In just his second game back in the lineup after a prolonged injury and with limited ice time in his recovery, Walker pulled off a possible goal of the year in college hockey, replicating “The Michigan” goal pulled off by former Wolverine Mike Legg in the 1996 NCAA Tournament.

Picking up a puck off the end boards all in one motion, Walker lifted the biscuit onto his blade, then winged it past Moe for the highlight-reel goal that went viral on social media during the game and earned top play on Sportscenter’s top-10.

Walker nearly pulled off the move last year during a game, but it was to no avail. This time, he pulled it off, and he discussed the play during his postgame press conference.

“It just kind of happened and that’s something you mess around with in practice,” Walker said of the move. “It was just good to see one go in the net, I don’t care how it does. You always mess with pucks in practice and you just have to be ready to use it when the time comes.”

Walker’s goal electrified the ASU bench, but the momentum of the three-goal swing would be short-lived. Minnesota responded with two goals from forwards Sampo Ranta and Blake McLaughin to conclude a wild second period.

After the goal from Ranta, ASU freshman goaltender Cole Brady was pulled from the net for his second time in his last two starts. Evan DeBrouwer checked in.

“He just didn’t have it, and that’s okay,” Powers said of the goaltending decision. “Cole is going to be a great goalie and he’s already really good, but he’s just had two tough starts in a row. My confidence in him though, isn’t going to waiver...It’s a tough position for Evan to go in and he made some saves, but Evan probably wants the fifth goal back, and Cole wants the first two back. The third goal when I pulled him, it was just a momentum thing.”

In the third, the Golden Gophers got two daggers to put the game away. ASU would be left feeling with another, “what if?” game as the Sun Devils had a lead against the No. 1 team in the nation but couldn’t hang on.

Up next, ASU takes on Notre Dame next weekend for a two-game series.

“I know the character that we have and what we have in that room, and we’ll be better for this series. There’s no doubt,” Powers said. “It just stings right now because it feels like we let one get away...We have an opportunity to beat the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in program history, and especially with such a great storied program like Minnesota, it stings. But we have to bottle it up and learn from it.”