A 4-0-0 record to begin the season is officially the best in program history for Arizona State (4-0-0), following a series sweep against Northern Michigan (0-3-1). With the Sun Devils scorching start, they have seen the largest jump in standings in the NCAA, climbing five spots to No. 13 in the latest USCHO rankings.
Friday’s contest ended in a 3-2 narrow victory for the maroon and gold after the Sun Devils scored three goals in the second period to secure the victory. All of ASU’s damage in the night came in just over three minutes as Arizona State was able to fend off a Wildcat comeback that came in the third period.
Northern Michigan claimed the lead in the second period but was soon answered with a goal from senior defensemen Tim Lovell at the 08:25 mark.
Moments later, it was freshman forward Kyle Smolen’s first collegiate goal that gave the Sun Devils the lead. Smolden cleaned up a rebound by roofing a backhand to give the young Devil his first in front of the fans.
A goal from the captain, graduate transfer student from Penn. State, Tyler Gratton, extended the momentum with the man advantage for ASU. Gratton played four years for the Nittany Lions, skating in over 120 collegiate games.
A goal in the third period for Northern Michigan made things interesting late, but another display of reliability came from junior goaltender T.J. Semptimphelter who made 23 saves, 11 of them coming in that second period.
ASU’s 5-1 win on Saturday was perhaps the Sun Devils most complete game played thus far. A goalless first period from both sides led to an explosion of offense for Arizona State.
Sophomore forward Charlie Schoen got the Sun Devils the lead with a power play goal after he beat the Wildcat goaltender with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle at the 06:39 mark.
A tripping penalty by graduate student forward Brian Chambers gave the Wildcats a man advantage. 20 seconds later, Northern Michigan scored to even up the game.
Another penalty committed by Northern Michigan resulted in another power play goal for ASU. Senior forward Matthew Kopperud found the back of the net to give the Devils the lead and set the new ASU record for power play goals with 26.
Later in the third, the Sun Devils scored an even strength goal off the stick of senior forward Alex Young. Young took advantage of a misplayed puck behind the net by the Wildcat goaltender. Young dashed to the front of the net and was on the receiving end of nifty passing from freshman defensemen Josh Niedermayer and graduate student forward Tyler Gratton.
In the third, the Sun Devils scored two goals, including one on the power play yet again, to sink Northern Michigan and propel the hockey program among the nation’s best early in the year.
Arizona State will hit the road for the first time this season with a series against Miami (Ohio). Both games are at 4:05 p.m. MST from Oxford, Ohio.