TEMPE, Ariz.— Arizona State continues to roll in their second season in Mullett Arena as the No. 14 Sun Devils swept Alaska Anchorage with a 4-3 on Friday and a 3-0 win on Sunday. With two more wins on home ice, head coach Greg Powers and his team improved to 9-2-1 and moved up one spot in the USCHO Men’s Division I Ice Hockey rankings to No. 13.
Friday: Arizona State 4, Alaska Anchorage 3
The Sun Devils secured the victory Friday night after an even-strength goal from sophomore forward Charlie Schoen beat the UAA goaltender’s glove side. Freshman forward Kyle Smolden won a puck battle at the half board, a crucial defensive play in the attacking zone. His pass to Schoen produced a slap shot from the slot and gave the Sun Devils their lone in the third period.
Powers said the third line for ASU struggled throughout the night, but he is well aware of the capabilities the third line can provide in a game like Friday’s.
“Really proud of them,” Powers said. “They know they have to be a little bit better and give us a little bit more consistently over 60 minutes, but when push came to shove, they got it done for us tonight and helped us get a win.”
Arizona State held on for the win in the final 11 minutes behind junior goaltender TJ Semptimphelter’s 25-save performance. Alaska Anchorage only managed two shots on net in the final 11 minutes even with a power play. The ASU penalty kill was 1-4 on the night and only faced a total of four shots while on the kill. Two of the four Sun Devil goals Friday came with a man advantage which raised the team total of power-play goals to 16 for the season.
“I thought our special teams were great,” Powers said. “Our power play got two for us. I think that our kill was really good. I mean, I think that we had three kills where they didn't get a shot.”
Two goals in the first period gave the Devils a one-goal advantage. With each team burying one in the second, ASU put the game away with their fourth midway through the final period and extended their home record to 8-1 on the season.
Sunday: Arizona State 3, Alaska Anchorage 0
Following a rare day off, the Sunday matinee matchup produced a shutout win for ASU behind a masterclass of defensive and goaltending plays from the maroon and gold.
Semptimphelter made 21 saves during his seventh career shutout and faced only one power play from Alaska Anchorage in the afternoon. Semptimphelter made 11 of his 21 saves in the third period after he saw only two shots in the second period.
“He was locked in,” said Powers. “That’s what you want to see when you're cold and then all a sudden you get a flurry over a good four or five minutes which he did and he locked it down. It was really impressive and happy for him to get his second shutout of the year.”
The Sun Devils scored three goals, one in each period behind 34 total shots.
Sophomore forward Ryan Alexander scored his first goal of the year. A breakout pass through the neutral zone from senior defenseman Tim Lovell sprung a streaking Alexander who buried the breakaway goal. This is the fifth consecutive game-opening goal for the Sun Devils.
“It feels great,” said Alexander. “It’s been a rough start to the year but I tried to keep a positive mindset and just tried to believe I can do it.”
Alexander underwent a hip surgery in the offseason that held the freshman star out for over four months. With Alexander back to regular skating speed, ASU’s depth increases greatly.
The second-period goal came on a power play rebound from senior forward Dylan Jackson. Although the Sun Devils’ offensive power play was only 1-4 on the night, the defense played a clean game and only committed one penalty.
An empty net goal from the Sun Devil defensive zone by graduate student defenseman Brandon Tabakin slid into the net and killed the game late in the third period.
“It’s a great record and and great start through 12 games,” said Powers.
A top-15-ranked series comes to Tempe on Thanksgiving weekend when No. 13 Arizona State plays against No. 7 Providence at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 24 and 2:00 p.m. on Nov. 26, both at Mullett Arena.