ASU hockey welcomes in the UMass-Lowell River Hawks for a two-game series this weekend at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
The Sun Devils (6-12-4) are fresh off their first tournament win in program history after winning the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational Championship last weekend. But now the team turns its focus on what lies ahead in a tough test against the River Hawks.
“We are proud of the guys and it was a great moment for them to experience together, but now it’s time to put it behind us and go to work and use it as a building block,” ASU coach Greg Powers said.
This is just the third meeting between these two teams and the first time they have played at Arizona State. The last time they played, UMass-Lowell dominated the match-up and swept the series with 4-1 and 8-1 wins.
Two Sun Devils once played for UMass-Lowell. Redshirt junior and captain Dylan Hollman played one game for the Red Hawks during the 2014-15 season before suffering a season-ending injury. He then transferred to ASU and sat out a season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Graduate student and forward Gage Hough played 40 games as a River Hawk. He scored six goals and ten points before graduating and coming to ASU.
“It’ll be a fun time,” Hough said about playing his former team. “But at the end of the day, it’s really just another set of games. It will be nice to see some old friends, but I just want to go out and get a win like any other day.”
Hough found the net for the first and second time of his Sun Devil career in the first game of the Ice Vegas Invitational last weekend.
Sophomore defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk was named the Ice Vegas Invitational Most Valuable Player. He tallied five points in the two games to help the Sun Devils along with their victory.
“We had a big weekend but can’t get too excited about that,” Pasichnuk said. “It was a really exciting time but now it’s time to come back this week and refocus and act as this weekend is another tournament. If we come in with the mindset that each game is an elimination game, I think we are going to be very successful.”
Pasichnuk now dons the assistant captain ‘A’ patch on his sweater. He was awarded the letter midway through the 2017-18 season.
“I think everyone is starting to elevate their game now,” Pasichnuk said. “They see what we can do as a team. I think if we all elevate our game; our personal game is going to come along with that and those points are going to come.”
Pasichnuk and sophomore forward Brett Gruber pace the Sun Devils with 14 points each through 22 games played. Tyler Busch leads the team in goals scored with seven.
ASU has found much improvement on special teams as of late. The Sun Devils now have the 15th-best penalty kill in the country.
“Our discipline is better this year,” Powers said. “We are way down on penalties per game. That’s contributing to our success on the kill because our killers aren’t as tired and our goalie’s not as tired. Again, when your best killer is your goalie and he is playing well, you have a top-15 kill in the country.”
Sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord is having a standout year for the Sun Devils. Daccord has recorded 30-plus saves in his last 11 of 12 games played and has a .911 save percentage on the season.
“He’s the kind of goalie that needs action to stay engaged and to build his confidence early in his career here,” Powers said. “He is making big saves, and now what he is doing when we have success is he is making all the saves that he should make.”
This weekend’s two-game series is the first of three in a row at home for the Sun Devils. ASU will play two of those games at Gila River Arena.
“We are back home here for a good three weeks and we are going to enjoy and try to have success here at home,” Powers said.
ASU and UMass-Lowell will face off at 7:05 p.m. MT Friday and Saturday. Both games will be played at Oceanside Ice Arena.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.