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ASU Hockey: Penalties plague Sun Devils in 3-1 loss to Minnesota State

ASU is 0-6 against the Mavericks since joining Division I

ASU head coach Greg Powers
Zac BonDurant, House of Sparky

TEMPE - The numbers weren’t adding up on Friday night at Mullett Arena.

Minnesota State (13-9-1) was winning almost every corner of the box score against Arizona State (11-13-0). For starters, in the first period, the Mavericks played with a man-advantage for six more minutes than ASU. They outshot ASU 9-8, and they dominated the face-off game 11-5.

But it was the Sun Devils who walked away with a 1-0 lead at the first horn, following a short-handed goal from Christoper Grando.

Minnesota State would tie things up, but for the vast majority of the game, this was the story. The Mavericks dominated every statistic that didn’t matter while neither team gained an edge on the scoreboard. As the underdog, ASU was walking on eggshells.

In the third period, the shells cracked, and Minnesota State scored, tilting the scale. The Mavericks would not give up their lead, and they finished the series’s first game with a 3-1 win.

Devils are sinners, how surprising?

No team has spent more time with players in the penalty box than ASU has in the 2022-2023 season. They added to the exorbitant collection with a whopping seven penalties (14 minutes) to Minnesota State’s two (four minutes).

“The kill has been tremendous,” Powers said. “They were really good tonight. I mean, they got us a goal. They were really, really good. So (I am) proud of those guys, but you know, the guys got to find a way to stay out of the box.”

“A lot of the penalties tonight were lazy stick penalties,” ASU forward Christopher Grando said. “We stopped moving our feet, and anytime our sticks are parallel and you come across their hands, they’re going to call it.”

As Powers mentioned, you can’t note the penalty struggles without mentioning in the same breath that ASU kills penalties at an alarmingly-high rate. Coming into the evening, ASU carried the No. 9 power-play defense (85.7%) in Division I. They neutralized 5-of-7 penalties Friday.

In two power-play opportunities for ASU offensively, the Sun Devils generated just four shots.

“(I am) really dissapointed,” Powers said. “We worked on a lot, we put (Matthew Kopperud) back out, our power-play specialist, he’s working his way back in. He’s still pretty limited but we expect him to hopefully be back full-go next weekend...He was wide open on the backdoor twice.”

Numbers never lie

Minnesota State, along with leading the penalty battle, outmatched ASU in most important categories. The Mavericks outshot the Sun Devils 37-31. Minnesota State, the best face-off team in the nation (58.9%), won 33-of-54 face-offs. In the defensive zone, 17 blocks beat ASU’s 15.

On a positive note, TJ Semptimphelter continues to handle high-volume in a strong manner. Semptimphelter corralled 34 saves, including 18 in the second period. He has only allowed one full-strength goal in the last six periods.

Back to the power-play defense, defensemen Jacob Semik and Ty Murchison led the way with three blocks each, some of which had clear angles toward the twine.

The Sun Devils fall to 0-6 all-time against Minnesota State.

“We know our backs are against the wall now,” Grando said. “We got to play to the standard that we set earlier in the year, and you know, if we do that, a win will happen tomorrow and it will be really huge for the program.”

Three Stars: Ours vs Theirs

Official Three Stars:

  • First Star: Brendan Furry, Minnesota State
  • Second Star: Christopher Grando, Arizona State
  • Third Star: TJ Semptimphelter, Arizona State


House of Sparky’s Three Stars:

  • First Star: Brendan Furry, Minnesota State
  • Second Star: TJ Semptimphelter, Arizona State
  • Third Star: Benji Eckerle, Arizona State