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ASU Hockey: Improvement becoming more noticeable for Sun Devils after series against Ohio State

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

In a pair of games that without a doubt helped Arizona State’s exposure, the Sun Devils bounced back from a tough initial performance to settle for a tie and shootout victory on Saturday.

No. 10 Ohio State was the opponent, and ASU went from looking overmatched to looking like a ranked team themselves. As Greg Powers continued to reiterate during the week, challenging games like these will only make his team better in the long run, and the Sun Devils are already starting to reap the benefits of their schedule.

Friday: Ohio State 6, Arizona State 1

The opening game was over almost as soon as it started, as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first ten minutes, which essentially put the game away for them.

One week after ASU’s defense was shredded by Trey Terry and Henrik Borgstrom, two of the top players in the country, the Big Ten’s leading scorer Nick Schillkey, delivered a similar performance, scoring two of the Buckeyes’ six goals.

OSU goalie Christian Frey delivered an impressive performance in net, saving all but one of the 35 shots that came his way. The Sun Devils found themselves on the other side of the spectrum in net, as Ryland Pashovitz, who was making his third consecutive start, surrendered three goals in the first seven minutes. His replacement, freshman Joey Daccord, played the other 52 minutes.

Considering how badly ASU struggled putting the puck on net last week in Denver, its 35 shots on goal was not something to hang its heads about. Jakob Stridsberg, Brinson Pasichnuk and Robbie Baillargeon each had four shots, and Pasichnuk scored the lone goal of the game for the Sun Devils, which came in the second period.

Another contrast from the pair of games against the Pioneers was the penalties from both sides. After committing 17 penalties in two games last weekend while going on just four power plays, both ASU and the Buckeyes found themselves making five trips to the penalty box.

The Buckeyes were able to capitalize more on their opportunities, converting on their first three opportunities, which was a big catalyst in the blowout victory.

Saturday: Arizona State 3, Ohio State 2 (OT)

ASU looked like a completely different team on Saturday, finally achieving what Powers has wanted them to do all season; play well for 60 consecutive minutes.

Despite it technically going down as a tie due to the fact that it went to a shootout, the contest was not short on suspense. After goalie Robert Levin was pulled in the final minute of regulation, former OSU commit Tyler Busch scored a game-tying goal with 26 seconds remaining.

After a scoreless overtime period, Wade Murphy scored in the shootout and Levin saved all three shots to give the Sun Devils a “win.”

Levin, who had not started since Dec. 30, was outstanding all game, even making a tremendous save late in the third period that kept the one-goal deficit intact.

The Sun Devils jumped out to a lead in the second period after Murphy’s shot benefitted from a screen by Louie Rowe and a couple of deflections.

However, the Buckeyes flexed their muscle and scored two goals within the span of a minute. It looked like the score was going to finish off a 2-1 win before Busch’s goal dashed those hopes.

Even though ASU had only four penalties to the Buckeyes five, the man advantage backfired on the OSU goal that gave them the lead. Mason Jobst’s goal came 10 seconds into the Sun Devils’ power play.

Saturday’s action-packed thriller should be a huge building block going forward for ASU, which returns home for the first time in 2017 on Friday to face Southern New Hampshire.

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Jacob Janower
Jacob Janower is a junior sports journalism student at Arizona State. You can follow him on Twitter @JanowerJacob or contact him by email jjanower@gmail.com

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