(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
For the second consecutive weekend, Arizona State played up to their competition on the road against a ranked team, reaffirming that they have what it takes to compete with anyone in the country.
Even though Saturday went down as a tie, the Sun Devils won the shootout over No. 9 Western Michigan, which followed up a close defeat on Friday.
This weekend marked the conclusion of ASU’s Division I slate for the season. They finished 10-19-3, a stark improvement over last season, when they went just 5-22-2.
Friday: Western Michigan 4, Arizona State 2
Despite somewhat of a reputation of struggling on Friday, ASU stayed in the game for nearly the entire 60 minutes. It was even closer than the score would indicate, as the Broncos scored their final goal on an empty net.
Friday was one of the cleanest games that the Sun Devils played in all season long. They committed just four penalties throughout the night. In addition, they only had one opportunity on the power play. However, ASU did convert on its one chance with a man advantage, when Wade Murphy scored his ninth goal of the season in the second period.
The Sun Devils other goal scorer, alternate captain Anthony Croston, overtook the team lead with his 10th goal of the year.
WMU did not break away until the third period, when they scored the empty net goal plus another one. A few players stood out in the final box score, with Colt Conrad netting two goals, and Hugh McGing and Wade Allison adding two assists. McGing is the brother of ASU defenseman Liam McGing.
Goalie Joey Daccord had a consistently strong three periods, and let up only three goals in 35 shots. After an inconsistent start to the season, he has seemed to find his footing the past few weeks, and earned the vote of confidence to start on Saturday as well.
Saturday: Arizona State 2, Western Michigan 2
Daccord’s impressive follow-up effort and Murphy’s shootout goal forced the NCAA to take note of the Sun Devils, and gave them the confidence boost they need heading into next season’s slate.
Tyler Busch was able to breaking the scoring drought in the second period. Up until then, both teams had remained scoreless. Jack Rowe went on to convert what looked like would be the game-winner, but Allison tied sent it to overtime with under one minute left.
In a rare occurrence, ASU committed less penalties than its opposition. Despite seven shots on four power plays, the Sun Devils were shut down, making their even strength goals even more important.
The Broncos won the shot battle 7-6 in overtime, and 56-35 overall, but Daccord was able to outduel Ben Blacker.
Saturday’s victory and the weekend as a whole should give ASU some momentum headed into their final four games of the season, when they face off against Simon Fraser and the USA U18 team.