(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
From the moment the puck dropped, Arizona State was outmatched yet again by one of college hockey’s premier programs.
No. 3 Denver downed the Sun Devils 6-1 at Magness Arena on Saturday night, improving to 13-4-4 on the season.
The Sun Devils have now dropped its last four contests after entering last weekend’s Desert Hockey Classic having won three-straight.
The penalties in tonight’s match-up were again a problem, even after head coach Greg Powers mentioned that playing more disciplined needed to be a point of emphasis following last night’s 5-1 loss to the Pioneers.
ASU was called for six penalties, a stark contrast to Denver’s one-penalty game.
“I honestly didn’t feel like we were undisciplined,” Powers said. “I felt like those officials were just looking for things to call. I don’t really know how to explain it, I thought a lot of the calls were really soft, I really did, but that’s certainly not why we lost, we did not come here prepared to work tonight.”
The four Pioneer power plays paved the way such a lopsided shot count – DU put 48 shots on goal, while limiting the Sun Devils to just 18.
In addition, the team was again without defenseman Nicholas Gushue and it wasn’t hard to notice – primarily on the power play.
The penalty kill allowed two goals on DU’s six opportunities.
“I think we missed [Gushue],” Powers said. “Just his size and his presence back there, so hopefully we’ll get him back.”
With the sheer volume of shots alone, Powers didn’t place any of the blame on Ryland Pashovitz, who started in goal for both of the team’s games.
Rather, he felt the guys around Pashovitz let him down.
“I thought he was great, I thought the guys hung him out to dry,” Powers said. “I thought overall, from the drop of the puck, I thought our compete and our effort was pretty much pathetic and they left Pash out to dry. It’s a shame, he competed, he battled, he did what he had to do.”
Pashovitz saved 28 shots in 29:33 before being pulled in favor of freshman Joey Daccord.
“I had seen enough of Pash getting hung out to dry,” Powers said. “He didn’t deserve that. He played a really good game last night, he gave us a chance in that first period tonight to go in, reset and come out and compete and the guys didn’t do it.
“I just felt like he didn’t deserve to be treated that way.”
Brett Gruber prevented a shut-out with 2:16 remaining when the freshman snuck one by DU’s otherwise flawless goaltender Evan Cowley.
Following the two losses to DU, the Sun Devils now hold a 7-15-1 record.
Still, the road isn’t going to get much easier for ASU next weekend when the team travels to Columbus for two games against No. 11 Ohio State.
“I still stand by us playing teams like this,” Powers said. “I do truly believe that we’re going to be better for it. When you take your lumps against teams like these you just learn how to compete and you saw it in that stretch where we played really well against teams that were, you know, below the top 30 and the reason we played so well in those games is because we’re playing teams like Denver.
“Just gotta move on, just gotta move on and continue to grow and learn.”