After an overtime win against Western Michigan last weekend to wrap up NCAA play, the ASU Hockey team returned home to Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe for one final home series against the Simon Fraser Clan.
As they conclude their first full NCAA season, ASU hockey saw a schedule with four non-NCAA opponents, the first of them being British Colombia’s Simon Fraser. SFU came in with a record of 15-3-0-2, which on paper, appears much better than the 10-19-3 of the Sun Devils. However, that daunting record did not phase the Devils at all, as they scored early and often en route to a 8-1 victory.
The man of the evening, Brinson Pasichnuk, started the scoring for the Devils early on in the first, as he gave ASU a 1-0 lead on a pass from Riley Simpson that found the stick of Pasichnuk and snuck it’s way into the net, a secondary assist was given to Brinson’s brother Steen, who got the puck to Simpson.
The 1-0 lead would stick for the rest of the first, with the Nicholas Gushue high sticking penalty before the goal and the Brett Gruber elbowing minor at the 15:18 mark not affecting the outcome of the first frame.
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ASU only took 9 shots on goal in the first twenty minutes and were able to hold Simon Fraser to 2, making senior goalie Rob Levin’s life much easier on the opener of Senior Weekend.
The second period began with a 1-0 Arizona State lead and stayed that way until just over 3 minutes in, when Brett Gruber extended the lead to two after a pass from the game’s first goal scorer, Brinson Pasichnuk.
It was at this moment that the game exploded, as ASU stretched their lead further less than two minutes later, when Anthony Croston scored his 11th goal of the season, becoming the team leader in goals scored thanks to an assist from the team’s literal leader, captain Dylan Hollman.
Things continued to click for the Sun Devils as the packed crowd in Tempe only had to wait 44 seconds, as freshman Tyler Busch matched his season goal total to his jersey number and Brinson Pasichnuk picked up his second assist of the game, his third point of the game too.
The Devils did not stop there, as assistant captain Louie Rowe increased the lead even further with still over half of the period to go. Dylan Hollman picked up his second assist of the game on the play as well.
ASU did not let up on the gas pedal in the second period, as Steen Pasichnuk stretched the score gap to 6-0 only 70 seconds later, putting the game further and further out of reach for the Simon Fraser Clan.
Arizona State had a power play opportunity shortly after the game’s sixth goal, but the Sun Devils were unable to capitalize, with the power play coming and going, but they got another chance as the second period came to a close with SFU’s Robert Izask drawing an interference penalty, a penalty that carried into the third period until Brinson Pasichnuk found a way past Simon Fraser goaltender Lyndon Stanwood for his second goal of the game, the Devils’ first power play goal of the evening.
ASU went back on the power play two minutes later and capitalized after just 6 seconds of the advantage, as Brinson Pasichnuk put it away for his third goal of the game, giving him his first collegiate hat trick.
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From there, the game settled down in terms of scoring, but the aggressiveness continued, with Simon Fraser going on the power play less than a minute after Arizona State made it an 8-0 lead. While they could not convert on special teams, SFU did break the shutout eventually, with Brendan Lamont whipping the puck past Robert Levin and decreasing the Sun Devil lead to only seven goals.
The remainder of the game was uneventful, with several shots being taken, but no goals being scored or penalties awarded. Arizona State not only converted with two of their four power play opportunities, but finished with 42 shots on goal, compared to 20 for Simon Fraser.
For head coach Greg Powers, his team focused on finding their identity as they look to finish their first full NCAA campaign on a strong note.
“All week we’ve talked about finding our identity and I think we found it… it doesn’t matter who you play, your identity is who you are and you can never stray from it… you have to play to your identity and our guys did tonight and they have to do it again tomorrow… that’s how you build winning cultures is show up no matter who you’re playing and play the same way,” Powers said.
Brinson Pasichnuk, who turned up the gas in the third period to finish off his hat trick says that while they’re trying to soak in the last few exhibition games, they’re still playing their hardest for the seniors.
“Even though they’re not counting towards stats and stuff, still have to come out as hard as you can every game, it’s our seniors’ last three games of their college career, possibly their whole career so we owe it to them to bring our best effort every night,” Pasichnuk said.
Coach Powers confirmed that senior Rob Levin will be starting in goal for Senior night tomorrow, but in the post-game press conference, he also mentioned that he believes Pasichnuk is his team’s best player.
Moving forward, Arizona State plays at home one final time tomorrow evening, puck drop against the Simon Fraser Clan is at 7:05 in Tempe.
Make sure to follow @BadderUpSports, @TheEthanSchmidt and @Devils_Detail for all things ASU-hockey related. To catch the game tomorrow, tune into the Blaze Radio broadcast, where Nicholas Badders will be on the call.