This weekend the Arizona State Sun Devils faced off against the only other NCAA program south of the Mason-Dixie Line. In the “Battle of the Sun Belt” the Devils competed against the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers.
Both southern teams were off to similarly horrendous starts, UAH 1-5-0, ASU 1-5-2. Not much net change occurred over the weekend as both teams collected one win and one loss.
Both games were actually quite similar in terms of the way the games were played.
Huntsville seemed to have the Devils hemmed in their own zone for long periods and vice versa. The only real difference came on the special teams. Special teams won ASU game one and lost them game two.
Game one saw an opening goal from the leading point scorer on the team, Jakob Stridsberg. Stridsberg received a crisp pass from Joey Raats and powered as wrist shot through the netminder sinclair for a power play goal.
The Devils have struggled on the power play and this goal was a welcome respite from their magnificent dry spell.
Not long into the 2nd Nicholas Gushue turned the puck over behind the net and the Charger capitalized on it to tie the game.
ASU responded well going through four full line changes of good play and sustained pressure. Then it came the other way where Pasichnuk found Gruber who found Stridsberg who buried his second of the game and team leading 5th goal.
Unfortunately, ASU kept taking penalties. Fortunately, their penalty kill was simply outstanding. Lead by Captains Dylan Hollman, Anthony Croston and Louie Rowe, the Devils were a perfect 6 for 6 on the PK.
Croston at one point had a shorthanded breakaway that he was hauled down on. He missed his penalty shot, but his defensive play was what really mattered.
The common theme in the Devil's’ constant penalties were stick infractions. I even heard Coach Powers yell “Move your f*cking feet!” after Johnny Walker took his second penalty on the night, 2 for tripping.
Then in a 3-on-1, precipitated by the smooth skating of Brinson Pasichnuk who sent a pass to Dylan Hollman, put another one past Sinclair.
Then more penalties and more kills by the PK unit.
It comes down to 1:34 left in the game as Sinclair skates to the bench for the extra attacker and Kurt Gosselin, who leads Huntsville in shots, gets a cheap rebound, open net and Daccord was helpless to stop it.
Humorously enough, Gosselin took an immensely stupid tripping penalty allowing the Devils to shut down the rest of the game and take game one 3-1.
Coach had some kind words about Dominic Garcia:
The Chargers and the Devils had the strategy in game two as they had in the first one. UAH fast and lots of shots, ASU play the body and good defense leads to offense.
It just so happens that the score went the other way this time.
The Devils kept on taking penalties which then led to Grade-A chance for UAH that went off the crossbar.
That close call had the Devils puckered up for the rest of the period. They blocked shots and more importantly, when mistakes were made, Daccord was there to bail them out.
A little over five minutes into the second, ASU finally catches a break on penalties and they get a power play. The power play has looked sharper as the season has progressed and they’re starting to see the results. Brinson Pasichnuk, one of the most noticeable guys on the ice this weekend, had had enough of trying to set up their power play. He turned on the jets and streaked into the offensive zone and went five-hole on Uheski.
Immediately after that a defensive breakdown leads to Christian Rajic ting it up at 1.
Later on in the second, Steenn Pasichnuk took a bad boarding penalty receiving a five minute major. A scrum ensued and a long delay took place.
During that delay former Muskegon Lumberjacks teammates, ASU goalie Joey Daccord and UAH goalie Jordan Uhelski played a little cross ice catch.
The parade to the sin bin continued as the Charger took a penalty and when that one was almost up, Stridsberg landed himself in the box.
A 5-on-3 for almost two full minutes. The Chargers were zero for their last eight power plays. When you have that many chances, something’s bound to cross the line. And it did.
With just three seconds remaining in the 5-on-3, Saulnier, their top scorer, lights the lamp to give the Chargers the 2-1 lead.
The third period was fairly uneventful.
Lots of stoppages, ASU’s power play wasn’t clicking and UAH went into shutdown mode. And shut it down they did.
They played the 1-3-1 through the neutral zone. They clogged the slot and other shooting lanes. They kept the Devils to the outside. Textbook.
ASU tried to get some traction with Daccord to the bench but it wasn’t enough as Josh Kestner put the final nail in the coffin with an empty netter. 3-1 UAH Final.
Coach Powers was not thoroughly impressed with the officiating job, having this to say:
When asked about Balinson drawing into the lineup for Gushue he said the following:
Notes from the Inferno:
-The Sun Devils added another win and a loss to their season totals now 2-6-2 this year.
-Dylan Hollman, Anthony Croston, Louie Rowe and Dominic Garcia led the Devils in PK time and were very effective. The Devils killed off all but 1 of 14 penalties.
-ASU’s power play struggled this season but was 1/2 on Friday and 1/5 on Saturday.
-Brinson Pasichnuk had a solid outing posting 3 points (1-2-3) on the weekend.
-UAH’s goaltending was shaky in game one as Mark Sinclair stopped only 16 of the Devils 19 shots (84%). Jordan Uhelski was stringer stopping 17/18 (94%)
-Joey Daccord had himself another strong weekend as he stopped 46 out of 50 UAH shots on goal, good for 92% on the weekend.
The Devils have a bye week this weekend but go back at it against No. 19 Penn State @ GIla River Arena in Glendale. Start times 8:00 and 7:05 respectively. Make sure to be there, they’ll be good ones!