(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Despite dropping both games to No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend over the weekend, head coach Greg Powers and the Sun Devils made a big statement to open their second NCAA season.
Although Arizona State opened the series with a 9-2 loss, the team came back and looked far more prepared for the Irish in its second crack at live action. In fact, Arizona State looked to have even taken a 3-2 lead late in the second period of game two, only to have Wade Murphy’s goal waved off due to an interference penalty called on David Norris.
The penalty was the 41st called against the Devils on the weekend – they were called for a total of 43 penalties in two games and allowed seven power play goals.
While the number of penalties and power play goals dipped in the second game, Powers still didn’t feel the officiating was up to par, and thus, played a role in the surplus of infractions.
“I’m just baffled by the officiating all weekend, I really am,” Powers said. “I never blame officials and I never have, and never thought I would. But it’s hard not to when we get a blatant goal called off and get a penalty called in the process. So we go from a lead to then down a man.”
Freshman Tyler Busch made his presence felt in his NCAA debut, finishing the weekend with a goal in both games. Jakob Stridesberg, a sophomore in his first year with the program, also added a goal in game two, marking a promising start for the team’s new additions.
As far as new additions are concerned, freshman Joey Daccord fell victim to a slow start. He got the nod in game one, but allowed nine goals on 42 shot attempts. Robert Levin, now in his senior year, fared better in his first start – he posted 33 saves while allowing just three goals.
Despite the plethora of penalties and the various growing pains, Arizona State took a massive stride between their first and second game of the season.
The team may be 0-2 to start year two, but Powers feels his team is only going to improve on the promising start from this point on.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Powers said. “I told our guys we feel we won that game and right now in the first year of our program, it’s not about the tick in the ‘L’ column or the tick in the ‘W’ column. That’s a benchmark effort this program can build off of. We just proved we can play with anybody, no problem.”