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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils split home series with 2-0 loss to RPI

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

Even in a case where both teams do enough to win the game, one team has to lose – that was the case tonight in Tempe.

Arizona State (3-12-0) split its two-game home series with Rensselaer Poly (3-12-1) after Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Oceanside Ice Arena.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net as defense and solid goaltending dominated the narrative.

Still, the lack of finishing in front of the net came back to haunt the Sun Devils when it was all said and done. Of the 28 missed shot opportunities, 19 came from right in front of the net.

“At the end of the day, you can’t miss those backdoor tap-ins that we had in the first period and I think there were three of them, literally three of them that you have to finish,” head coach Greg Powers said. “It was just one of those games.”

Still, Powers was pleased with how his team played overall, but admitted his team didn’t play for a “full 60 minutes,” as was the case in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Engineers.

“We just were struggling to get any real flow or mojo, where last night, you could feel it, really the whole game, like at any given shift we felt like we were going to put the puck in the net,” Powers said. “Tonight, you know, those chances where they don’t go in for you early like that, the guys are struggling a little bit.”

Robert Levin earned the nod in net and turned in his best performance of the season behind a defense effort that Powers applauded.

Levin finished the game with 26 saves and allowed just one goal – he was pulled in favor of an extra skater with under two minutes remaining in the contest.

“I thought he was good, he was solid,” Powers said. “He made some big saves, again, I need to look at the goal that they scored, I didn’t see it, so I have no idea what caused it, but overall he was good, I thought the first two periods he did what he had to do, he kept it to a scoreless game.”

The silver lining in the game proved to be the limited amount of penalties called on the Sun Devils, coupled with the play of the special teams when they were forced to kill an advantage.

Powers had high praise for the unit after the game.

“The penalty kill was incredible,” Powers said. “I think our power play looked crisper than theirs did, we had a couple of really good looks in the second and at the end of the day we had a chance, we had a chance in the third with a tie game on a power play and we didn’t get it done.”

The Sun Devils will stay in Tempe for their series against Colgate next weekend, the first time this season the team has played back-to-back home series.

Powers and Arizona State will look to rebound from Saturday’s deflating loss.

“Those are tough to swallow,” Powers said. “That was a winnable game.”

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