We had a great weekend in Arizona, competing against a team ranked 11th in the country. Over the last couple of weeks, I felt our team has been developing their identity, but needed to get better. In Arizona, we protected pucks and won more battles. We developed better offensive and defensive habits, and the same time, we continue to adjust offensive line combinations.
On Friday night, junior forward Ondrej Psenicka scored at 8:47 of the opening period, off a rebound from a shot by freshman defenseman George Fegaras to put us in front, 1-0. Then, we thought we scored two more goals, but Arizona State challenges wiped out both tallies. In the second period we made it 2-0 when sophomore forward Nick DeSantis scored his first goal of the season. Freshman forwards Jake Kraft and Jonathan Castagna were credited with assists. We had a five-minute power play opportunity near the end of the second period and extended into the third, but couldn’t capitalize. In the middle of that 5-minute power play, we committed a penalty that divided the major into two segments.
At the beginning of the third period, we still led, 2-0, but Arizona State scored twice at 3:30 and 6:22 to send the game into our third consecutive overtime! In overtime, we controlled the play, out-shooting the Sun Devils, 4-0. At 3:25 of the extra session, freshman defenseman Ben Robertson scored his first collegiate goal with a neat wrist shot to secure the victory. Senior forward Gabriel Seger and junior forward Kyle Penney assisted on the winning goal. Four of our last five games vs. Arizona State were decided by one goal or less (2-1-1).
Junior goaltender Ian Shane, who was named to the watch list for the 2024 Mike Richter Award by the Hockey Commissioners Association, was called upon for just 15 saves, while we had 25 shots on net. We were 0-for-5 on the power play, and Arizona, one of the best power-play teams in the country, went 0-for-1. Great strategy: stay out of the penalty box!
On Saturday night, we jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first 15 minutes. At 12:40 of the opening stanza, DeSantis scored his second goal of the weekend, converting a loose rebound in front of the net, with assists to freshman defenseman Hoyt Stanley and Seger. Less than three minutes later, junior defenseman Hank Kempf made it 2-0, with assists credited to Penney and Seger.
Just 14 seconds into the third period, Robertson scored his second goal of the weekend (and career) to make the score 3-0, and chased the home team’s outstanding goalie to the bench. We still had a couple of outstanding offensive opportunities, but to no avail. At 10:12 of the third period, we were two men down, and Arizona State’s Matthew Kopperud scored his Division I-leading 11th power-play goal of the season. With less than three minutes remaining, Arizona State pulled its goaltender, and sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft sent a pass to freshman forward Ryan Walsh who deposited the puck into the empty net for a 4-1 victory.
Shane stopped 19 shots and the two Sun Devils net minders stopped 33. We were 0-for-2 on the power play and the home team was 1-for-6.
We now are 7-1-0 this year when scoring at least three goals and we are 8-1-3 when conceding two or fewer goals. When we have the lead after two periods, we are 7-0-2.
While we have had success on the road, it will be great to be back home in the friendly confines of Lynah Rink. This weekend we play Princeton (6-9-2) Friday and #3 Quinnipiac (15-4-2) on Saturday. Both games are at 7PM; Friday is Fan Appreciation Night, Saturday in Minor Hockey Night. We appreciate your support and hope to see you at Lynah.