After splitting their series with #17 Quinnipiac, the Arizona State Sun Devils Hockey team traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where they ended their NCAA season on a successful note, wrapping things up with an overtime win against the Broncos.
With 6 games left in the 2016-17 season, Arizona State had accomplished nearly everything they had aimed to in their inaugural NCAA season. They topped their first ranked opponent (at home no less), they held their own against top opponents like Boston College and Ohio State, and reached the 10-win plateau, doubling their total in the hybrid season prior.
With the end of NCAA play looming ahead, the Sun Devils faced one last hurdle before playing Canada’s Simon Fraser and the USA U18 team: No. 9 ranked Western Michigan.
After minding the net for their 4-2 win over Quinnipiac in Connecticut, freshman Joey Daccord was given the start in the crease for ASU, saving 15 Bronco shots in the first period.
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All things considered, the first period in the Friday night opener featured consistently smooth play for the Sun Devils. They stayed out of the penalty box and took 12 shots, the only bump in the first frame being a Colt Conrad goal for the Broncos just over 8 minutes into the start of the game.
The second period began in an uneventful manner, picking up when ASU’s Steenn Pasichnuk and WMU’s Scott Moldenhauer were given 2-minute minors for unsportsmanlike conduct at the 6:04 mark in the period. Just under four minutes after, they both were let back out onto the ice. Anthony Croston put the Sun Devils on the board, tying the game up at 1 on his team-leading 10th goal of the season, assisted by Liam McGing.
Western Michigan went on the game’s first power play with 2 minutes and 51 seconds to go in the second period, the result of a Joey Raats tripping call. The odd-man advantage for the Broncos only last 50 seconds, with Colt Conrad netting his second goal of the game on his team’s first shot of the power play.
WMU maintained their 1-goal lead until seven and a half minutes into the third frame, when Wade Murphy evened things up after 58 seconds of Arizona State’s first and only power play opportunity of the night.
Less than a minute later, Western Michigan pulled out ahead and maintained their lead for the remainder of the game, as Corey Schueneman gave the Broncos the 3-2 lead. Griffen Molino would put the game out of reach for ASU with an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left in the game.
The two Arizona State penalty kills in the third period did not end up hurting them and the Western Michigan momentum did not carry into the series finale. Joey Daccord stopped all 13 shots taken in the first period of the second game and Arizona State was first on the scoreboard, as a Tyler Busch goal assisted by Brett Gruber gave Arizona State a 1-0 lead at the 8:06 mark in the second period.
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Arizona State was unable to convert on their two power play opportunities in the first period, which proved costly after the Busch goal, as Colt Conrad slapped in his third goal of the series just over a minute after ASU’s top freshman gave the Devils a lead.
Joe Lappin’s interference call in the second period, the only Sun Devil penalty on Saturday, did not have any affect on the game, nor did the Mike McKee slashing penalty called on the Broncos later in the frame.
The game remained tied until the final five minutes, when the non-brother Rowes, Jack and Louie, combined for a goal. It was Jack’s fourth of the season, and it put ASU on top with just minutes to go. Despite the game seeming to be in the bag for Arizona State, the Broncos of Western Michigan jumped back into the game, as Wade Allison tied the score at 2 with 55 seconds remaining, a goal that sent the game into overtime.
The first period of overtime went scoreless, sending the game into a second overtime period, which began with a 10-minute Misconduct Penalty on WMU’s game-tying goal scorer, Wade Allison. The Sun Devils were able to finish the game before the conclusion of the second set of overtime minutes, as a pass from Robbie Baillargeon found the stick of Wade Murphy, who snuck the puck past Western Michigan goalie Ben Blacker for the game-winner over the 9th-best team in the country.
Now that the NCAA slate is complete for Arizona State, who finished with a record of 10-19-3, the next test for the team will be against the first-place team in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, Simon Fraser. These will be the final two home games for ASU, puck drop on Friday, February 10th and Saturday, February 11th will be at 7 p.m. at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.