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What we learned: Minnesota trip

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1. Preston Andersen is a stud.

In what was Andersen’s chance to fully prove himself with two starts against tournament-caliber teams, he stepped up. He only allowed 10 goals combined in the two games, giving him a season total of 14 allowed in his four games played.

He also recorded 21 saves on the weekend.

Now, the freshman will take his momentum back home into Tempe, where he has most certainly earned a starting nod versus No. 9 Chapman.

What makes him so effective, though? He’s faced with fewer shots than a typical starting goaltender, but that’s not luck. The defense plays better as a unit with Andersen in the net because of his ability to communicate and coordinate.

2. This ASU defense is the real deal.

The argument could be made that this ASU defense struggled against a Cal Poly team that had lost its top three scorers from last season to graduation. But this team isn’t built defensively, and some of the team’s few defensemen are notable for their clearing more than their on-ball defense.

However, this defense shut down the Mustangs down over the final stretch of Saturday’s game. After letting up four goals in the first half, the Sun Devils’ defensive unit tightened the screws and held Cal Poly to only three in the second.

Usually, these defenders can rely on a potent offense that typically puts up double-digits in every game. This weekend was an exception, and the defense stepped up to the plate.

Against Minnesota-Duluth, the team put up one of the best defensive shut-downs in team history. The Bulldogs came into the game ranked 18th in the country, and they were absolutely dominated by the Sun Devils defensively.

Minn-Duluth came into the game with 58 goals in 4 games, just under an average of 15 goals per game. Holding this offense down was no easy feat, as Cal Poly could prove from their 10-9 overtime loss.

3. The Sun Devil attackmen aren’t perfect.

Arizona State’s offense had been rolling through its two California games, with attackmen Justin Straker, Dan Davis, and most notably Payson Clark tallying up all kinds of numbers with the up-tempo, quick-paced game plan.

Granted, the case could be made that the two opening games were against sub-par defenses in an offensively-driven Cal and just all-around bad San Diego State, who ranks among the worst teams in the SLC.

However, averaging over 17 goals across that two-game span set hopes pretty high for the Minnesota trip, and the attackmen stumbled. Often having trouble penetrating inside and getting open looks in transition, the offense clearly wasn’t clicking right.

If anything, this simply proves that Coach Malone’s game plan is vulnerable to defensive stops. Against UMD, Justin Straker was the focal point of the Bulldogs’ attention, and he was held down well in the first half before finally creating some openings in the second half.

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