(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Arizona State finished its season with a 1-1 exhibition series spit against the U.S. Under-18 National Team on Saturday night, winning the final game 6-3 after being beat 5-3 on Friday.
The team finished the season at 10-19-3, including three wins against ranked opponents. That mark is up five wins from the team’s 5-22-2 record in its first season.
Saturday’s game, which served as the final time Robert Levin and Ryan Belonger would don the Maroon and Gold, couldn’t have gone much better for the seniors. Levin made 34 saves, while Belonger scored in the contest.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” head coach Greg Powers. “What a great exclamation point on what we think is a really good season to get our program heading in the right direction. Couldn’t be happier for the way this ended for our seniors. It’s poetic justice for some great kids and great all-time Sun Devils.
As the torch was passed from some of the program’s longest tenured players to the younger guys, freshman Tyler Busch offered a glimpse into a promising future for the budding team.
Busch scored three goals in the series and finished the season with nine goals and 11 assists in 32 games.
Brinson Pasichnuk, a freshman who Powers referred to as the team’s “best player” toward the end of the season, also added an assist in the team’s game one loss.
The defenseman scored 14 points this season by way of seven goals and seven assists.
Looking at next season, the Sun Devils currently boast the No. 17 recruiting class in the country and have two year’s worth of NCAA experience under their belts. After spring signing day on April 12, this team will likely continue to trend upward – first on paper, then on the ice next September.
“We took a huge step in the right direction this year,” Powers said. “We started out with a young inexperienced group that played against an incredibly tough schedule and we cut our teeth and learned everything the hard way. As soon as the new year hit, the guys really bought in to how we need to play and it showed. We have some huge wins that this program can hang its hat on and catapult into the future with.”