(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
In game one of the Arizona State Sun Devils final two games of the season, ASU fell in a shootout after ending regulation with the score even at two. The game is officially ruled a tie.
“We played hard,” head coach Greg Powers said. “No complaints, that was a really good team that we went toe-to-toe with and it could have gone either way. Hopefully tonight will give the guys the confidence they need going into tomorrow and they will get a win.”
The Sun Devils are officially finished with their NCAA slate of games after posting an underwhelming 5-22-2 record, but are playing a pair of exhibition games against a team loaded with high school talent before they begin their offseason. The game was the final one for the season in Oceanside Ice Arena, as the Sunday game will take place at the Coyotes’ Gila Rivera Arena.
With a bevy of players committed to high profile schools, ASU showed no signs of a struggle against some of the future stars of the NCAA, even though they got off to a slow start.
“I think the biggest difference between them and a Division I team is their strength,” Powers said. “We could outmuscle them a little bit.”
The Sun Devils’ lead took a bit of time to develop, as a smashmouth first period ended in a scoreless tie.
The physicality was ramped up more than usual, as ASU and the U.S. National Team were involved in more than one tussle over the first 20 minutes. Jordan Masters specifically was letting his emotions get the best of him, as he drew a penalty and exchanged blows with multiple opposing players. Powers did not mind the physical play, as he remarked that it was the best way for them to win.
Despite having one more power play than the National Team in the period, ASU was outshot 10-7 and did not have many great chances near the net.
From then on, the Sun Devils maintained relative control of the game. They built a 2-0 lead by scoring multiple goals within a minute of each other in the second period. The first was on the power play off the stick of Joe Lappin. Ed McGovern followed that up with a goal shortly after. Masters and Ryan Stevens each assisted on both goals.
Kieffer Bellows, the leading goal scorer and a Boston University commit, cut the lead in half during the second period.
The lead stayed steady during the early stages of the final period, but a soft backhand goal from Patrick Khodorenko, his fourth goal of the season against NCAA teams, tied the score.
Each team had their fair share of opportunities to score in the closing minutes, but neither could take advantage.
The physical game resulted in a grand total of 10 penalties by ASU and 11 from the U18 team. The most frequent offender was National Team defenseman Chad Krys, who committed four penalties during the game.
Robert Levin faced a heavy attack throughout the game, but was stout in net. He saved 28 of 30 shots during the game, including all 10 in the opening period. Joseph Woll, the opposing netminder, was nearly as efficient, making saves on 22 of 24 shots.
“Rob held the fort down,” Powers said. “He played a really good game tonight.”
After a scoreless overtime, the game went into a shootout. The lone goal was scored by the team points leader, Clayton Keller, also a Boston University commit. With some help from the post, Woll shut down the Sun Devils shooters, Ryan Ostertag, Masters, and Michael Cummings.
ASU won’t get much of a break between games, as their regular season finale will be against the same opponent at 7:00 on Sunday night.