(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Brinson Pasichnuk said on Friday that the Sun Devils were a better team than Air Force and he expected a win on Sunday.
His prediction held up, as Arizona State won its first game of the season, upsetting No. 18 Air Force 5-2 at Gila River Arena. ASU is now 1-3 on the season.
“First home NCAA win, first win over a ranked opponent,” head coach Greg Powers said. “Those are two huge benchmarks for us. We’re still looking for a home sweep, but if we play like that we will get that.”
Even though the Sun Devils got off to a strong start in regards to putting the puck in the net, they were hampered by two early penalties, a big factor in their losses last weekend, that could have also put them in a hole on Sunday.
“It was almost a flashback to my last start against Notre Dame,” freshman goalie Joey Daccord said. “It felt really good to get a couple shots in, a couple saves in, and after that I feel we really took off from there.”
However, it was the man who was recently christened captain, Dylan Hollman, who righted the ship before it could hit the hypothetical iceberg. Boston University transfer Robbie Baillargeon, who was moved with Hollman to the third line, assisted on the goal, along with one of the returners to the team, defenseman Joey Raats.
Powers decided to start Daccord, who also played the majority of the game on Friday. For the first time all season, Ryland Pashovitz was listed as the backup goaltender. Daccord played a major role in staving off the pair of Falcon power plays to keep his shutout going throughout the first period.
He ended up saving 23 of 25 shots that came his way. Powers acknowledged that Daccord’s strong game started back during the previous game, when he was inserted midway through and delivered an impressive effort.
Brett Gruber, who scored his first career collegiate goal on a backhand breakaway shot with less than a minute left in the first period, aided Daccord’s strong effort.
The Falcons got a goal back in the second period to halve the lead, but the Sun Devils responded with a huge insurance goal on a power play from Tyler Busch. The ability to bounce back is something that is a difference from last year’s team and this year’s squad.
Busch has been the MVP thus far for ASU, scoring four goals in his first four collegiate games. His goal was also the first that Air Force had allowed on the power play on the season.
ASU’s success on the power play continued on in the period, when grad transfer Robbie Baillargeon scored his first goal of the season. The Sun Devils were successful on two of their four power play chances of the period and were blank-for-blank total in the game.
Entering Sunday afternoon, they had converted on only one of the 16 chances with a man advantage.
The third line consisting of Hollman, Baillargeon and Wade Murphy were the most instrumental part in the victory, scoring three goals and adding four assists.
“Robbie and Waro, that’s what we call Wade Murphy, they struggled Friday,” Powers said. “They needed some grit and energy and that’s what Dylan Hollman provides. He’s probably going to be our line doctor. He will just fix whatever line he is on. He just injected confidence into those two kids.”
Shortly after the Falcons had cut the lead down to two, it was Murphy’s goal a little past the midway point in the third period that put the icing on top of the cake of the ASU victory.
“We are really happy with where we at,” Powers said. “We certainly would like to be better than 1-3, but you have to start somewhere.”