(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Arizona State wrapped up its first NCAA hockey season at Gila River Arena on Sunday, falling to the U.S. U18 National Team 5-2.
The Sun Devils finished the year at 5-22-2.
“The energy was down for whatever reason,” head coach Greg Powers said. “I think a lot of that had to do with three quick penalties.”
The U18 got the scoring starting early after forward Kieffer Bellows scored just 1:14 into the game.
Bellows has scored 37 goals on the season, including 13 against NCAA teams. He leads the team in both categories and is committed to Boston University next season.
He finished with two goals on the night.
“They scored on the first shift,” Powers said. “Those kids, that line they have is just dynamite.”
After a Jordan Masters slashing penalty, defenseman Luke Martin scored on the power play to make it 2-0 within the first five minutes of the game.
However, in the spirit of senior night, Liam Norris didn’t leave his final game in the maroon and gold scoreless.
Norris has been a member of the team since its ACHA days and has been instrumental in the development of this program.
“He had a couple of shifts there late that kind of summarized his career,” Powers said. “I love the kid; we will be close forever. I was proud of him.”
Norris netted home a feed from Drew Newmeyer and Ryan Ostertag at 7:05.
“It was nice to score,” Norris said. “It was big at the time of the game. Obviously it wasn’t enough, it would’ve been nice to win but it was definitely nice to get a goal tonight.”
47 seconds into the second period, Bellows scored another goal that made it a two-score game yet again, but Ostertag’s unassisted goal at 4:28 would bring the Devils back within one for a short time.
After goals from both Adam Fox and J.D. Greenway, the U18 team remained in the driver’s seat.
In Powers’ eyes, though, just playing this team was important for the confidence of his young team heading into next season.
“We just played a team full of, literally, world-class talent,” Powers said. “They have a couple kids that are probably going to be top-10 picks and we we’re right there.
“They willed themselves to give themselves a chance and that’s all I can ask from them.”
Overall, this season from a development standpoint was something to be proud of in the eyes of Powers.
“So many positives, we took a lot of good hockey teams toe to toe,” he said. “We figured out I think what it takes and we’re really, really pleased with what we’re going into the future with.”