This weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - the Arizona State Sun Devils lost consecutive games to #11 Providence Friars and the Lake Superior State Lakers.
In game one of the tournament, the Sun Devils faced off against Providence College, the highest-ranking team ASU has played this year.
Initially, the game was going well in the first period. The Sun Devils allowed an early goal but kept up with the Friars pace for most of the period.
Then there was the second period.
The Devils registered one official shot on goal.
Let me repeat that.
In 20 minutes of hockey, only one puck made it to the Providence goal-keeper. Just one.
That period was when the Devils lost the reigns.
The Friars added two more goals in the second period to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
Nothing continued to go right for the Sun Devils as the third period yielded three more goals, two of which were in less than a minute of each other.
Dominic Garcia had a short-handed breakaway chance, but couldn’t put it past the Providence net-minder, dooming them to their 5th shutout loss of the season.
Friday’s 6-0 routing, lead the Devils to play the “Consolation Game” against the Lake Superior State Lakers.
To say the Sun Devils had missed opportunities, would be an understatement.
The Sun Devils had chance after chance go by the wayside. They had 6 power play opportunities and did not capitalize on a single one. Multitudes of odd-man rushes unfinished. In the end, they out-shot the Lakers 49-21.
The Devils lost 4-1.
So what went wrong this weekend?
Well, we saw that the Sun Devils continue to not perform as well when playing from behind. They didn’t seem to be able to match the speed or physicality of Providence or Lake Superior State. The puck tended to wander off their sticks, maybe some bad puck luck as well.
The most important missing piece I saw, was a lack of urgency, the “killer instinct”, whatever you want to call it. There was no fire.
Guys were quitting on pucks too easily, taking some shifts off and didn’t seem to be engaging.
This has seemed to be a reoccurring problem this season. They can’t find the execution.
There’s going through the motions, but the “killer instinct” just isn’t there.
Line blending hasn’t looked like it’s working much. Maybe they should keep some lines together and let chemistry build.
The fact is, they’re not fast enough yet to play the game Walker, Busch, Garcia, Gruber, and Wilson bring. That’s why I think the Garcia-Gruber-Walker line produced so well, they played the same brand.
For now, the Sun Devils are a big team and they need to buy into that game plan. They should be a hard-hitting team, that makes their opponents pay for being too cute with the puck.
Hopefully, a win or two at the Ice Vegas Invitational will breathe some life back into the team. The pieces just need to come together now and perhaps lead to some sustained success.
Notes from the Inferno:
-This was the first time the Sun Devils played the Providence College Friars, losing the game 6-0.
-Joey Daccord had a rough night in net, stopping 31/37 (84%) shots with 6 goals against in Friday's tilt against the Friars.
-Ryland Pashovitz got his second start of the season on Saturday against the Lakers stopping 18/21 (86%) shots with 3 goals against (the fourth goal was an empty net goal).
-The Lake Superior State Lakers were the first team the Sun Devils completed a road sweep against, both 3-2 victories.
-This is the second time ASU has lost both games in an NCAA tournament, the first time being in the Desert Hockey Classic, losing to Yale and UConn by a combined score of 7-0.
The Sun Devils play in the Ice Vegas Invitational this Friday (1/5) against Northern Michigan and Saturday (1/6) against either #13 Boston College or #15 Michigan Tech. The tournament will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas if you’re interested in a little road trip.