(Photo: Alexis Ramanjulu/WCSN)
Never wanting to be outdone by their NCAA counterparts, the Arizona State ACHA Elite hockey team (23-2-2) exploded for eight goals in an 8-1 thrashing of rival Northern Arizona University (12-11-1) at Oceanside Ice Arena.
Less than 24 hours after the NCAA Sun Devils put eight goals on ACHA Division 1 powerhouse Ohio University, Head Coach Dennis Leclair’s squad played fast and tough and was in control from the opening faceoff.
The usual suspects found their way onto the score sheet for the Sun Devils, as Wesley Starr recorded a goal with three assists and Ryan McNeely added to his team leading 56 points with two goals and an assist, his first goal coming on a penalty shot late in the first period.
McNeely was taken down by NAU defenseman Connor Darr coming down the left wing side off a stretch pass from Starr which led to the call for a penalty shot.
Coming at 13:19 in the first period, McNeely’s tally capped a four-goal outburst in the opening 20 minutes for ASU, with Starr, Ryan Francis and Garret Eversole getting in on the scoring as well.
Things only got worse for NAU in the second period as Austin Penzone was able to sneak a puck past ASU goaltender Jordan Gluck at 3:22 of the period, but McNeely answered back just 75 seconds later to restore the four-goal lead.
From there, Austin Ehrlich added his second goal of the day on a power play with NAU down a man on a hooking penalty and Engbar doubled his season scoring total with his second goal on a deflection off a Stefan Valvur shot from the high slot.
Ehrlich’s power play tally was the 43rd in 27 games for ASU as a team this season.
The game was the second in as many days for both teams as the Sun Devils walked away with a 5-1 win on Friday night in Flagstaff, with Ehrlich collecting two goals and an assist.
Defenseman Zach Bayer and forward Garrett Eversole also scored for Arizona State.
On the defensive side, Gluck continued his ACHA dominance as he improved his record to a spotless 10-0-0, stopping all but one of NAU’s 22 shots.
The sweep of the Icejacks improved the Sun Devils’ winning streak to 14 as they continue to lead the ACHA Division 2 West Division over the University of Utah.
The Sun Devils will get some much-needed rest before welcoming the Northern Colorado Bears to Tempe on Jan. 28, followed by two games in the next two days against ACHA Division 1 foe Arizona.