Arizona State men’s ice hockey met with the Princeton Tigers for the second and final game of the series on Saturday night. The Sun Devils battled back to win in thrilling overtime fashion, 4-3.
ASU (4-9-3) found much improvement after being shut out by Princeton (6-7-1) Friday and it showed. Redshirt senior David Norris turned into the hero with a big-time unassisted goal to win in extra time. Norris finished with two goals on the night for the Sun Devils.
“I thought every guy, top to bottom, played their hearts out and left it all out there,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “We are a good team if we play that way, but we have to play that way. We don’t have the high-end skill to play any other way but hard and heavy and physical and we did that tonight.”
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Game two of the series became a back-and-forth rollercoaster. After the Tigers went down 2-1 due to Norris’ first goal of the game, junior Ryan Kuffner scored two straight goals in less than two minutes apart to give Princeton a 3-2 lead.
With time ticking down in the third period, ASU pulled goaltender Joey Daccord for an extra attacker and freshman Johnny Walker tied the game with :57.4 on the clock of a shot from Brett Gruber.
The Sun Devils were also awarded a power-play opportunity in the last two minutes because of Walker after Tigers’ senior Matt Nelson was called for roughing. Walker, a Phoenix-native, was the recipient of the shove from Nelson and fell to the ice grabbing the attention of officials.
“Johnny’s an agitator,” Powers said. “He’s going to get under teams’ skin and do that. Tonight, it helped us. He’s learning how to channel his inner-Johnny Walker and if he can continue to do that, it’s going to help us more than it hurts us.”
Daccord stood on his head and make some big saves to keep the Sun Devils in it. The sophomore saved 38 of the 41 shots he faced in Saturday night’s victory.
“Anytime we can win at home, it’s a really fun time,” Daccord said. “It’s just way better winning.”
It was an exciting match-up between the pipes as the Tigers started senior Ben Halford. He had a big performance as well, coming up with 32 saves on 36 ASU shots on goal.
The power play finally broke through for the Sun Devils as they netted two scores with the man-advantage. ASU also killed off all three of Princeton’s power-play opportunities.
ASU’s first goal of the game came on a power play after the team went scoreless for more than 80 minutes in the series. Sophomore Tyler Busch ripped one from the left side with assists from defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk and Gruber.
“We won the special teams battle and that’s why we won the game,” Powers said. “Our kill was tremendous. The power play was really good tonight, really sharp. Even when we didn’t pop one, we were controlling the play and wearing them down and keeping momentum.”
The Sun Devils go back on the road next weekend to take on Colorado College (7-7-2, 3-5-2 NCHC) in a two-game series.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.