(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Greg Powers said he wanted to see his team put forth a better effort after noting a lack of heart on Friday night.
In the end, it wasn’t the results that he wanted, but Powers was more satisfied with the effort in the 6-2 defeat.
“I loved our effort,” he said. “I thought the last 30 minutes they snapped out of the seven and a half period funk. I thought we were the better team the last period and a half, I really did. It didn’t show on the scoreboard unfortunately, but guys worked, they didn’t quit.”
Much like on Friday, the Crimson got off to a 2-0 first period lead. Power play goals from forwards Seb Lloyd and Luke Esposito were scored on sophomore Ryland Pashovitz, who got his first start of the season in his third game played.
“I thought he played well for 40 minutes,” Powers said about Pashovitz. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Powers hinted at some line changes after last night’s disappointing performance, and followed through with that. Wade Murphy and Joey Raats were scratched for the first time all season, while the potent Dylan Hollman-Robbie Baillargeon-Wade Murphy line that had accumulated for so much of the Sun Devils production over the course of the season was broken up completely.
“It wasn’t happening with their effort last night,” Powers said regarding Murphy and Raats. “It’s a message. Nobody is exempt, even great players like those two.”
Powers assured, however, that there was not going to be any long-term benching for either one.
Baillargeon played alongside Jake Montgomery and Brett Gruber on the second line, while Hollman was paired with newcomers Tyler Busch and David Norris on line number three.
Neither trio put together much production throughout the early going, as Gruber in particular was responsible for two penalties on the night. ASU had five infractions through the first two periods.
Special teams proved to be a difficult facet of the game for the Sun Devils, as they struck out on five power play chances, while the Crimson converted on two of their three opportunities.
ASU’s struggles gave Powers an easy diagnosis for its downfall.
“I thought that is where we lost the weekend,” he said. “We have to get way more organized and shore that up. Our penalty kill wasn’t good. I think a lot of it is because of how good they are on special teams. Older, more experienced, been there done that, and it showed.”
Nonetheless, the second period goal scored by Harvard came on even strength, as Pashovitz’s defense failed to pick him up. ASU was outshot 21-16 through the first two periods, and 33-29 overall.
They did outshoot the Crimson 9-8 in the second period, but were facing one of the best goalies in the NCAA, Merrick Madsen, who has looked nothing short of a brick wall in the two games of the weekend.
ASU was able to get some consolation against Madsen when Baillargeon scored his team leading fifth goal of the season, but any sort of momentum was extinguished faster than you can even say the name “Baillargeon,” when Sean Malone snuck a shot past Pashovitz.
The third period influx of goals continued on, as Baillargeon was the offensive story once again. His second goal of the night made it five straight Sun Devil goals that he has knocked in, dating back to last weekend’s series against Northeastern.
“I think overall it’s a team effort,” Baillargeon said. “It’s not just me. Guys are doing the right things, making plays and I think I’m just a benefactor of that. Just being in the right spot at the right time.”
Harvard had preceded it with their fifth goal of the game and scored their sixth with around three minutes before the final horn was set to buzz, so while Baillargeon’s play was efficient, his goals came in garbage time.
All things considered, it was a disheartening series for the Sun Devils, who were outscored 13-2 over the two games.
“The most positive thing that it taught us, and we always try to take the positives, is that in the back half of the series, we were the better team,” Powers said. “We outskated them, we got physical with them, we got pucks deep, we kept it simple.”
Jacob’s Three Stars:
3-Merrick Madsen, Harvard: 27 saves
2-Robbie Baillargeon, Arizona State: Two goals
1- Sean Malone, Harvard: Two goals, one assist, 16-for-18 on faceoffs.