(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
The Arizona State and Assiniboine Community College women’s club hockey programs competed against each other Friday night for the first time in the programs’ history. For the first game of the three-game series, the Cougars skated away successful, earning themselves a 4-1 win.
In the midst of it all, Assiniboine’s own Rachel Charles earned her first career hat trick in Tempe. Her dad even made the trip fromManitoba, Canada, so he was able to see the accomplishment first hand.
The forward tied the game in the second period and had two goals in the third period.
Even though the Sun Devils lost 4-1 in the first game of the series, the game was much closer than the score. In the first period, the game was scoreless.
Arizona State’s offense was almost nonexistent during the period with most of the time being spent in its own defensive zone and Assiniboine constantly attacking the defense.
Shots continued to fire at Jordan Nash-Boulden, but she held on for every save to keep the Sun Devils in the game. Nash-Boulden wasn’t alone with the team’s strong defensive efforts.
ASU had a difficult time being able to clear the puck out of the zone, leading Assiniboine to total 20 shots in the first period.
“A lot of that is about confidence and we can’t give that puck away right as we get it,” said coach Lindsey Ellis on her team’s play in the first period. “We need to gain possession and keep possession, so we talked about that before the second period and we got better at it, but we need to get better at it as the weekend goes forward.”
Amidst all the pressure, the Sun Devils were still able to muster up the power for six shots on net during the period.
The second period picked up for both teams and the Devils regrouped in the intermission and came out a different team.
They were able to create a more offensive pushes, including a few led by Taylor England.
“We’re keeping up with this team, it’s just a matter of who wants it more,” forward Dannika Borges said on the team’s play Friday night.
With less than six minutes left in the second period, the first goal of the game was scored, as Megan Mroczek was assisted by Borges. Assiniboine, however, did not rest as Charles tied the game up at one a piece a minute later.
The third period was tied until there were six minutes remaining in the game and Charles scored her second goal of the night to make the game 2-1 and push the Cougars ahead.
With a minute remaining in the game, Alyssa Neufeld scored her second goal of the season to pull the game away to 3-1. Charles then capitalized once more as time expired to earn her hat trick.
“Overall, there were certain parts we played really well and there were certain parts that obviously need improvement and that’s why the score was 4-1,” said Ellis.
“We definitely have to keep our heads up, we can’t get ahead of ourselves with one win in the bag, but we know now that we can do it and keep confident and play like we can,” said Charles.
The two teams go back at it again Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. start time and conclude the series on Sunday at 9 a.m. in Tempe.