(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
2016 ended the same way that it started for Arizona State: with a loss.
No. 18 St. Cloud State never trailed and staved off a late Sun Devils rally for a 4-2 victory. After the rough weekend, ASU’s record drops to 7-15 on the season.
“We didn’t feel in any phase of the game that we were getting outmanned in any major way,” Greg Powers said, as the Sun Devils continue to take huge strides forward from earlier in 2016.
Because they lost in back-to-back days, the Sun Devils settled for fourth place in the second annual Desert Hockey Classic.
Most of the suspense left with the first game of the night, when Connecticut defeated Brown 3-1 to win the tournament.
The Sun Devils and Huskies were simply playing in a consolation game in order to come away with a positive from the weekend.
ASU lacked a lot of the fight that it showed in the first game during the opening two periods, but its fortunes started to turn around as the game started to conclude when Tyler Busch and Steenn Pasichnuk captained a late rally, but the Sun Devils were unable to score any more.
According to Pasichnuk, it took Powers yelling at the team to get them going, something he admitted should not have happened.
Powers chalked up the late rally to desperation.
“In the first 40 minutes we weren’t desperate,” he said. “In the last 20 we were desperate, and we almost pulled it off. I was proud with how our guys battled back. They (SCSU) are one of the best teams in the country. They are really good and I think that third period is something that we can grow from and springboard off of into the new year.”
Considering they had seven goals in Friday’s loss, it was a little surprising to see that the Sun Devils were unable to convert on a lot of the early opportunities they were given.
In the first period, Busch and Wade Murphy both missed prime opportunities to score on the power play. Those were the only two shots ASU was able to generate on three power plays in the first 20 minutes.
The Sun Devils finished 0-for-5 total for the night on the power play.
Robby Jackson ended up making them pay when his shot past goalie Joey Daccord put the Huskies in the lead.
In the second, Jack Poehling doubled the Huskies’ lead to steal even more momentum.
Daccord, who snapped Robert Levin’s streak of three straight games started, has continued his inconsistencies in net. Despite occasionally looking like a future full-time starter, he has been the winning goalie in just two of the nine games that he has started.
Powers called his goaltender’s effort “solid.”
Jackson made it a three-goal game with his second score of the night, which seemingly put the game out of reach, but it instead led to the Sun Devils fake rally.
In the final seconds of the game, Jackson earned a hat trick on an empty net goal to put the contest away for the Huskies.
Even though the Sun Devils ended the calendar year with two losses, they found positives from the tournament that they can take into the new year.
“We scored eight goals against Brown,” Powers said. “That was a game we all felt we let slip away. “They have to play desperate, with the competition that we are playing from here on out: Denver, Ohio State, Western Michigan, Quinnipiac. If you don’t play desperate for 60 minutes you are going to get embarrassed, so that’s the way we have to play.”