The Arizona State Sun Devils played the first two of their three premier games this season at Gila River Arena and by most accounts, were ones they’ll likely want to forget.
Although both of these games go into the loss column equally, they were drastically different and wild games.
Let’s take a look at the unholy mess that was Friday night.
Game one in Glendale had a lot of hype surrounding it. Penn State was to be the measuring stick ASU would hold itself to.
“Could we skate with them?”
“Could we shoot with them?”
“Could we play with them?”
Those answers were all yes right up until halfway through the second period when the Nittany Lions broke the 0-0 tie and subsequently took a 1-0 lead on the power play.
Not too much longer after that, the same culprit, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Evan Barrett, slammed in another power play goal to extend their lead.
Heading into the third, a 2-0 lead isn’t too hard to overcome. Come out strong, grind hard, get to loose pucks and maybe put something home.
Unfortunately the Sun Devils did none of those things in the third and ended up looking like a third rate junior bantam squad.
In the span of 20 full minutes, the Sun Devils managed to allow five goals by five different Nittany Lions and the Devils’ seemingly had zero scoring opportunities, while simultaneously leaving Joey Daccord out to dry. It was an embarrassment, in front of 2,842 fans, to say the least.
The previous night’s loss left the Sun Devils angry and looking for vengeance.
The Devils came out of the gate flying, one line in particular. Brett Gruber, Johnny Walker and Dominic Garcia. These three are probably the fastest guys on the team and their chemistry is undeniable.
Dominic Garcia did was he does and hounded the Penn St. puck carrier until he coughed it up. Listen to Johnny Walker (and his magnificent “Movember” stache) describe the play:
Penn St. didn’t waste too much time responding as they put up two of their own goals from Brandon Biro and Chase Berger.
The Sun Devils continued to play well as Joey Daccord continued to stand on his head, as he does. Unfortunately, the Devils’ affinity for the penalty box got the best of them, as Penn St. went up 3-1 just as Jack Rowe’s penalty expired.
ASU was determined to make sure this game didn’t turn into another avalanche of goals and came out in the third period accordingly.
There is only one word to describe how ASU played in the third.
The Devils’ forecheck was unrelenting and viscous as they wore down the Penn St. defense and it paid off.
At the 9:51 mark in the third, Tyler Busch, looking to make up for his frequent sin bin appearances, slammed home a rebound from a Joe Lappin shot to draw the Devils to within one.
Despite a heroic effort, the Devils couldn’t buy another one as they came this close to tying the game, late:
They just couldn’t buy another goal.
With the goalie pulled, a Brinson Pasichnuck turnover at the blue line cost the Sun Devils the game, falling 4-2.
After their effort here’s what Coach Powers had to say about the group:
Coach again noted the solid play of one Dominic Garcia, his line and hinted at his future role:
Notes from the Inferno:
-The last time the Sun Devils were beat as bad was a 7-0 Harvard win at Gila River Arena
-Also ASU fell to Penn St. in University Park, PA 8-0 last year, a pattern they will look to halt when the two programs meet next.
-Friday and Saturday’s match-ups yielded the Sun Devil’s highest NCAA attendance at Gila River Arena of 2,842 and 3,104 respectively.
-Dominic Garcia’s hard play finally paid off as he registered is first NCAA point on Saturday night, assisting on the Brett Gruber tally to open up the game.
-The “Captains Line” was reunited for Saturday night’s game and played well, but all three players failed to register a point on the weekend.
-Joey Daccord faced 40+ shots on goal in each game this weekend, stopping 35/42 (83.3%) on Friday and 42/45 (93.3%) on Saturday.
The Sun Devils travel to Worcester, Massachusetts this Thanksgiving weekend to take on Holy Cross. Both games, 11/24 and 11/25, start at 5:05pm and will, unfortunately, not be live streamed.