Las Vegas - This weekend marks a historic first for the Arizona State hockey program. The Sun Devils won their first-ever tournament, upsetting the Northern Michigan Wildcats and the Michigan Tech Huskies.
The Devils came in with the worst record of the four teams, with just four wins on the season.
That didn’t stop them from running the tables and coming out on top.
From the onset of game one against Northern Michigan, the Sun Devils were absolutely flying. They were engaged, forcing turnovers and getting opportunities.
It also helped that the 942 Crew showed up in force giving the team a boost of energy.
The first goal came quickly, David Norris forced a turnover found Captain Dylan Hollman and Hollman buried it.
Not long after, Jakob Stridsberg ripped a shot from the blue line and Croston redirected it for his first of the night. Croston then picked up his second of the night on a power play tipping in a Pasichnuk shot.
The first ended with the Devils having a 3-0 lead.
Halfway into the second, the Wildcats got one to bring it to within 2.
With some carry-over power play time early in the 3rd, with 5on3 time expiring, Louie Rowe broke his pointless drought, snapping one over Israelsson.
About 5 minutes later, Gage Hough who broke back into the lineup, put in two goals of his own to make it 6-1 Devils.
The Wildcats got a couple more goals, one that sort of dribbled by Daccord, but nowhere near enough to close the gap ASU had made.
Just for good measure, Brinson Pasichnuk scored his first goal of the tournament and 3rd point of the night to cap it off.
They would face Michigan Tech in the finals.
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Game two was a little bit tougher and so was the competition.
Early on, the Devils were assessed a slashing minor giving Michigan Tech the first chance of the night.
However, outstanding killing by the Sun Devils sprung Anthony Croston on a short-handed breakaway, where he drew a penalty to make it 4on4.
Not much later, Brinson Pasichnuk picked up where he left off. The defenseman found himself on a breakaway and put it home to get open up the scoring.
Both teams had opportunities, Johnny Walker with a breakaway he couldn’t finish and the Huskies with this near miss:
By the hair of Sparky’s chinny, chin chin! pic.twitter.com/gOMgNhAyf1— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) January 7, 2018
End of 1, Devils led Tech 1-0.
Michigan Tech wasn’t going away, they came out of the gate flying.
Daccord was all that was preventing the game from being tied.
Sparking the offense, Daccord shot a pass up to Croston, who delivered it to Walker, who blistered a shot top shelf on the Tech Net-minder, Kero.
The Huskies still fought, getting chance after chance, but Daccord and the back-check were too good.
With 5 minutes left in the 2nd, Pasichnuk scored his 3rd goal of the tournament with a shot that barely squeezed through Kero’s pads.
For the second night in a row, the Devils retired the starting net-minder.
The third period started with the Huskies doing everything they could to crawl back into the game. You could tell the Devils were starting to feel the fatigue.
After a sloppy change, the Sun Devils were called for too many men.
Even though the penalty kill had been perfect, a deflection of off Pasichnuks stick directed the puck past Daccord.
Life and hope re-entered the Huskies game as they attacked the Devils end.
With 3:50 left in the game, Tech got some puck luck as the managed to will the puck past Daccord to draw within one.
The Devils stood tall against the 6-on-5 onslaught and held on to win the game and the tournament.
Notes From the Inferno:
-This was the first time in program history that the Sun Devils have won a tournament.
-3 Devils were named to the all-tournament team: Antony Croston (F), Brinson Pasichnuk (D) and Joey Daccord (G). Pasichnuk also took home tournament MVP.
-Louie Rowe snapped his pointless drought by scoring a goal and an assist against Northern Michigan.
-Joey Daccord stopped 37 of 40 (92.5%) shots in game one and 36 of 38 (94.7%) shots in the championship game.
-Coach Powers had the team over for some fun and activities on Wednesday night before the tournament to get them loose and reset for the weekend.
The Sun Devils return to Oceanside for action against UMass-Lowell on Friday (1/12) and Saturday (1/13). Both games start at 7:05 pm.
Live stream: Watch here