Arizona State suffered its fourth one-goal loss of the season on Saturday night, falling 5-4 at the hands of No. 18 Notre Dame.
Entering the third period knotted at three, the Sun Devils were in for a battle going into the final 20 minutes. However, a few defensive zone miscues would be the difference for a Fighting Irish victory.
Notre Dame netted two goals in the opening five minutes of the period off of ASU mistakes in its own zone.
“We made a couple of puck management errors that cost us,” said head coach Greg Powers. “We scored four goals and didn’t find a way to win.”
The go-ahead goal for Notre Dame in the third period came on a turnover behind the Sun Devil net. Defenseman Jacob Wilson went to reverse a puck back to his defense partner, but it was intercepted by Fighting Irish forward Max Ellis.
With two defenseman caught below the goal line, forward Max Silianoff was wide open in front of the net with only goaltender Evan DeBrouwer to beat. He tucked a shot five-hole and into the back of the net.
Then on the fifth goal, ASU lost another battle below the goal line, leading to another wide open player in front for Notre Dame. Forward Jesse Lansdell put a wrist shot past DeBrouwer to add to the lead.
In the first period too, the Sun Devils were also out of position and gave up a 2-on-1, odd-man rush that led to a Notre Dame goal. All of the miscues, along with goaltending trouble, was too much to overcome.
“For the last 11 or 12 games, we haven’t had an issue putting the puck in the net,” Powers said. “That’s not what it is. We’ve got to figure out a way to limit mistakes that are leading to goals, and it’s all just habits that we practice everyday. It’s guys making them (mistakes) that can’t make them, and then we aren’t getting the timely saves. We got to get those timely saves and when we do, we’ll start winning games.”
As for the ASU goals on Saturday, Matthew Kopperud added to his standout freshman campaign, burying two power play goals in the first period. He continues to lead the team in goals with 10.
“He’s a tremendous player and he’s really smart,” said ASU senior forward Johnny Walker, who assisted on Kopperud’s second goal. “Great shot, headsy player, and he makes the right play. I really like being on the power play with him and he’s just a really solid player who is way ahead of his time for being a freshman. We’re lucky to have him.”
Along with Kopperud, another freshman in Michael Mancinelli registered ASU’s third goal.
Then in the third period with the Sun Devils trailing by two, Walker made things more interesting with a rifle of a slap shot that appeared to possibly ramp up off a Notre Dame stick and beat Fighting Irish goaltender Dylan St. Cyr.
It was Walker’s 100th point at ASU, making him the second player in program history to join the 100-point club. Only Walker and former defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk are in that category.
In the end though, ASU couldn’t mount the comeback after the sloppy start to the third period.
Freshman Ryan O’Reilly had a glorious opportunity to tie the game at five on a one-timer in the low slot with just over a minute remaining, but St. Cyr swallowed the puck and allowed no rebound to help secure the Notre Dame victory.
With three straight losses to start 2021, ASU will be entering Sunday’s game two with a hungry mindset.
“It’s just taking care of pucks better and managing games, and understanding that every little mistake, especially in a conference like this, is going to cost us,” Walker said. “It’s cost us games so far and we need to clean them up.”