(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Greg Powers has worked hard to set Arizona State up with a difficult schedule during its first two years as an NCAA team, with the intention being the second to none experience that the team would gain.
In perhaps the most difficult game since the team’s promotion in the college hockey ranks, ASU played the No. 3 Denver Pioneers tough, but ultimately lost its second consecutive game 5-1.
Despite the defeat, it wasn’t hard to notice the improvement by the Sun Devils, at least during the first half of the game. ASU played up to its level of competition, carrying a lead through the first period. The tide of the game did not start turning in the Pioneers’ favor until about midway through the second period.
Last week, after losing two consecutive games in the Desert Hockey Classic to Brown and St. Cloud State, Powers made sure to engrain in his team that they need to play desperate for 60 minutes each game, rather than only playing well for one period during the game.
While it looked like ASU was turning a corner in that department, it was short lived, as four second period goals locked up the game for the Pioneers.
“The first 20 (minutes) we picked up right where we left off against St. Cloud,” Powers said. “We outplayed them in the first period and for whatever reason we got away from it.
Wade Murphy put the Sun Devils up after scoring a goal on the power play, one of only two opportunities that ASU had all game with a man advantage.
“It was a great power play goal,” Powers said. “That unit has been really good all week. We made a change on it with Gushue out all weekend. Their PK was just completely gassed and we took advantage of it.”
After Ryland Pashovitz fended off a barrage of shots by the Pioneers in the period, 10 in total, it appeared that the Sun Devils had DU in an unfamiliar position.
However, everything changed after the first twenty minutes. Henrik Bergstrom scored two of the Pioneers’ four goals in the second period, proving that despite the absence of Troy Terry, who has been playing for the United States in the U.S. National Junior Team, DU’s offense didn’t skip a beat. Pashovitz held his own in goal despite the fact that the score might say otherwise.
The Sun Devils were outshot 47-18, which was the most of amount of shot attempts they have allowed in a game all season long, so it’s no wonder they lost by four goals. Evan Janssen put the cherry on top of the Pioneers win by giving them another insurance goal in the third period.
Powers thought that Pashovitz played a solid game and gave his team a chance to win.
“That’s a tough game for that many power plays and you get tired,” Powers said. “You’re just crouched the entire game when they are in your zone on the power play. He can definitely learn from it.”
All of the Pioneers power play opportunities did not help Pashovitz’s case. ASU took 11 penalties in total, including two game misconducts at the end of the game, which resulted in ejections.
“We didn’t get much help from the officiating tonight,” Powers said. “Playing here on the road against a top five team, you aren’t going to get the calls. Our guys have to learn that and I think they learned that the hard way. You can’t just parade to the box against a team that good.”
With all of the aggression from both sides, Powers expects a similar game tomorrow.
“I don’t think we made any friends with some of the penalties that we took in the third,” he said. “They’re excited to come back and sweep us out of here. We have to ramp it up and channel our emotion the right way.”