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ASU Hockey: No. 17 Sun Devils sweep Lindenwood series in scrappy fashion

Arizona State collected two wins in physical games against the Lions

2024 Desert Hockey Classic Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. — No. 17 Arizona State (18-6-6) claimed two victories over Lindenwood (5-15-4) in Mullett Arena, securing a shootout win on Friday followed by a hard-fought rout on Saturday. The Sun Devils notched their 14th and 15th wins at home this season to maintain their position in the postseason berth discussion.

“We’ve got to keep stacking wins if we’re going to have a chance to get into this thing,” said head coach Greg Powers. “We’re not going to throw in the towel. Our guys are going to fight until the very end.”

Despite their two victories, Arizona State fell to the No. 18 spot in the USCHO Division I Men’s poll and currently sits at No. 19 in the latest PairWise Rankings.

“We’ve got one hell of a record,” Powers remarked. “We’re 18-6-6; it’s one of the best records in college hockey, and we’ve got to just keep getting wins.”

Friday: Arizona State 4, Lindenwood 4, ASU shootout win

Arizona State welcomed Lindenwood to Mullett Arena on Friday night for the Devils’ eighth consecutive home game. With the score tied after the first three periods, teams headed into overtime with three skaters each. After two periods of overtime, the score officially went into the books as a tie, with the Sun Devils winning the eventual shootout.

Each team scored two goals in the first period, with ASU’s senior forward Matthew Kopperud finding the back of the net twice, and the Arizona State offense buzzing early. Kopperud scored his 100th career point with his second goal on the night on the power play.

Senior defenseman Tim Lovell set up the cross-ice pass for his 24th assist of the season, establishing a new single-assist record in program history.

Each team scored one goal in the second period to keep the game tied heading into the third. Senior forward Ryan O’Reilly beat the Lions’ goaltender in front of heavy traffic to capitalize on the Sun Devils’ game management. Through two periods of play, ASU dominated the game in everything but the score column. Powers’ team produced nearly double the Lions’ shots, 25 to 14, through two periods.

Despite being on the penalty kill late in the game and trailing by a goal in the third period, ASU had a late answer, coming shorthanded. A turnover in the neutral zone from Lindenwood led to a 3-on-2 rush, resulting in O’Reilly’s second goal of the night at the 15:39 mark.

Throughout both overtime periods, both teams took only five shots, leading to the shootout result.

In the shootout, O’Reilly, who had already punished Lindenwood twice in the game with two goals, put it past for the third time to secure the victory over the Lions.

Saturday: Arizona State 5, Lindenwood 1

Mullett Arena was a madhouse of scrums in the second game of the series, with the Sun Devils’ offense overpowering the game with five goals. Sophomore goaltender Gibson Homer got the start in net and produced perhaps his best performance of his collegiate career with a 32-save effort.

ASU took command of the game late in the first period when they scored two goals in the final five minutes before the first intermission. Senior forward Lukas Sillinger was joined by Kopperud on the scorer’s sheet in the first after Arizona State knocked on the door early.

In the second, junior forward Jackson Niedermayer got into the action with two goals as the physicality began to become a factor. Niedermayer’s tap-in goal to give ASU a four-goal advantage set the tone for a raucous third period.

Meanwhile, in the net for Arizona State, Homer barely wavered. He made 19 saves through two periods and stood tall against some point-blank chances, giving the Devils’ offense an opportunity to explode.

“He was great,” Powers said. “He was steady, athletic, and competed, making some really big saves early. He made all the saves he was supposed to make, and that’s what we want from our goalies.”

In the third, hockey became less of the entertainment inside Mullett as penalties and brawls took over the ice. At times, the penalty boxes were comically overcrowded as the product on the ice dwindled to open-ice hits and melees after whistles.

In total, referees on the night called 33 penalties, with 26 in the third period alone. One hundred thirty-six penalty minutes were logged in the official book to the entertained Mullett crowd, who stood and cheered seemingly after every stoppage of play.

“It got chippy, but at the end of the day, we’re really just defending ourselves,” said Powers. “You never like to see the penalty minutes get that high, especially in the third, on either side.”

Powers said it’s the nature of the sport and was proud of the way his fourth-line freshmen handled the situation.

“It galvanized us,” said Powers. “We’ve got some kids that play hard. Some of the freshmen that will continue to climb and find roles as they advance their careers here, like Cole Gordon, Cole Helm, and Tony Achille; they’re animals. They play hard, they’re great teammates, and they know their role.”

Arizona State will continue their home stretch with a series against Alaska Fairbanks beginning at 7 p.m. MST on Feb. 9 and concluding at 5 p.m. MST on Feb. 10.