For the first time this season, the Arizona State University men’s hockey team took the ice at Gila River Arena in Glendale, but fell to the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-3.
The Sun Devils got off to a slow start, after a tripping penalty from Tyler Busch in the opening minutes of the game. The Bobcats took advantage of the opportunity, as Alex Whelan deflected a Craig Martin pass into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
ASU had killed 25 of its opponents’ last 28 power plays, but Whelan’s goal broke the seal. Quinnipiac capitalized on ASU mistakes all night, converting three of four power plays.
“It just had a different feeling,” Sun Devil head coach Greg Powers said. “Our penalty kill wasn’t sharp. On one of their power plays, they had the puck in our zone seven times. Their power play grossly outworked our penalty kill.”
Busch slashed his way back into the penalty box later in the first period. And while the Devils were unable to clear the puck during the power play, some stout defense, including two saves by Joey Daccord, kept the Bobcats out of goal.
Daccord has faced a barrage of offense all season, leading the NCAA in shots faced and saves. Saturday was no different.
Quinnipiac attempted 61 shots on goal in the first two periods, 31 more than ASU. Daccord, an Ottawa Senators draft pick, managed to save all but five of them, but was replaced at the start of the third period for junior Ryland Pashovitz.
“Joey wasn’t sharp,” Powers said. “He wasn’t sharp in the second period, and that’s fine. He’s been really good for us. This just gives him an opportunity to reset.”
The Sun Devils tried to scrap back into the game in the second period with goals from Anthony Croston and Dominic Garcia. It was Garcia’s first goal of the season, but he didn’t have much time to celebrate, as the Bobcats answered with a score shortly after.
“It was a little short lived because they scored like 25 seconds later, but it was good to get the monkey off the back,” Garcia said. “We’re going to have to tighten up our system. A lot of these skilled teams don’t like a physical game, so we’ve got to work harder at that.”
The Bobcats kept ASU at bay in the second, unloading four goals in the period, three of which were scored in the last five minutes.
A slap shot from Johnny Walker, the only goal of the third period, wasn’t enough to pose any serious comeback threat.
ASU went 3-1-1 in the five games leading up to Saturday. But with the loss, the Sun Devils fall to 7-14-5 on the season.
Sophomore Brinson Pasichnuk said games like this one will only better prepare the team, which only plays one senior, for the future.
“I thank god we do have a young team,” Pasichnuk said. “Between the second and third, we just settled down. Everything we’re going through now is going to translate into next year. It’s going to be something special.”
The Sun Devils typically play several games at Gila River Arena each season. Saturday marked the team’s first appearance in Glendale of the 2017-18 campaign.
Powers didn’t think the change of scenery contributed to what he called, “a lack of energy.”
“There’s no excuse,” Powers said. “We’re at home. It’s a 40-minute bus ride. That was a good crowd. It’s not like our guys had to come out and create their own energy.”
Saturday was the second of two matchups between the teams. ASU tied Quinnipiac 2-2 in Tempe Friday night.