ASU Hockey: Sun Devils claim first win over top-10 opponent at Penn State

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 10: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs on the field during the fourth quarter of the college football game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Sun Devil Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 10: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky performs on the field during the fourth quarter of the college football game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Sun Devil Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

ASU hockey split a hard-fought series with No. 6 Penn State as the Sun Devils picked up their first win over a top-10 opponent in school history Saturday.

Hockey Valley, also known as Penn State University, is regarded as one of the toughest places to play in college hockey.

The Arizona State Sun Devils marched into Pegula Ice Arena this past weekend, riding a four-game win streak and looking to prove their worth against the No. 6 ranked Penn State team.

Featuring the nation’s leading scorer, and currently having the most USCHO Top 20 votes in program history, it was gearing up to be an exciting weekend for ASU.

On Friday night the Sun Devils went goal-for-goal with Penn State, however, falling short of upsetting the No. 6 team in the nation by a score of 6-5.

The third line for Arizona State continued their early season success as senior Dylan Hollman scored two goals in the second period putting ASU in the lead 4-3 heading into the third period.

However, a late surge by the Nittany Lions would be too much for the Sun Devils to handle, as Penn State prevailed scoring three unanswered goals to maintain their perfect season (6-0-0).

When playing the team second in the nation in goals per game, no lead is ever safe.

Johnny Walker continued his NCAA leading scorer campaign with two goals, including one in the final minute with goalie Joey Daccord on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice.

This has been a season of many firsts for the Sun Devils and that continued Friday night. Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania native Josh Maniscalco made quite the impression in front of friends and family scoring his first NCAA goal giving the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead late in the first period.

This was the first time Penn State had surrendered more than three goals at home. Quite the statement being made by Arizona State in just their third full season in the NCAA.

“We had them right where we wanted them,” coach Greg Powers said. “It’s disappointing but a great learning experience for our guys.”

In years past, a 6-5 loss against a top-10 ranked opponent would be acceptable and considered “a great learning experience”.

But, this Sun Devils team has too much talent to become complacent and settle for learning experiences.

If they want to continue to progress as a program and legitimate college hockey power, moral victories have to be eliminated. Exactly that happened Saturday night.

More from Devils in Detail

As the Sun Devils exited their bus, entering the tunnel at Pegula Ice Arena you could see the anger in their eyes. The anger which mounted just 20 hours prior, after letting a game slip away. They appeared determined to deal with unfinished business before heading back to Tempe.

Arizona State came out firing getting out to a 1-0 lead by none other than the third line as P.J. Marrocco netted Anthony Croston’s feed. Penn State would even it up early into the second period off a power play goal by Denis Smirnov.

Johnny Walker has been exceptional for the Sun Devils this season, scoring goals by the bunches and at the most opportune times.

This continued in the second period as Walker potted his 10th goal of the season off an Austin Lemieux feed to put ASU up 2-1.

That would not be all for Arizona State in the second period. With under two minutes left, Dylan Hollman would score his third of the weekend and fifth of the season to give the Sun Devils a two-goal lead.

However, if Arizona State learned anything from the night before, it’s that no lead is safe against this Penn State team.

Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Evan Barratt would bring the Nittany Lions within one with a highlight reel goal, scooping the puck up on the blade of his stick and putting it by Daccord.

ASU fans in attendance began biting their nails as Penn State peppered Daccord with shots and many scoring chances.

However, with under two minutes left in regulation, goalie Peyton Jones vacated his net as Penn State senior Nate Sucese converted on the 6-on-5 evening the game up and forcing overtime.

The momentum had shifted. The Roar Zone, Penn State’s student section, at Pegula Ice Arena had erupted.

ASU needed to regain and shift the momentum back and needed someone to play hero to leave State College with their first win against a top-10 opponent in program history.

Following a few early chances for Penn State in the extra frame, fortunes would shift back to the team from the desert.

An aimless puck thrown into the air, a few odd bounces and somehow ended up behind the Nittany Lions defense.

An Arizona State forward would be there waiting as he pivoted to gather the puck and go 1-on-1 with Peyton Jones.

Of course, that forward was Johnny Walker, who else would it be?

As he made his way in on goal, you heard the entire arena go silent.

The Happy Valley supporters clenched their hands praying for a stop by their goaltender.

The Sun Devils bench all on their feet watching their offensive leader do what he does best. And, what would that happen to be? Score.

Walker went five-hole and the goal light illuminated as the ASU bench erupted and mobbed Johnny Walker after completing the upset and handing Penn State their first loss of the season.

Just like that, the Arizona State Sun Devils have won their first game against a Top-10 team and Johnny Walker still leads the NCAA in goals and points.

Arizona State will look to continue their best start (7-3) in program history next weekend against Michigan State at Oceanside Ice Arena.

With the expectation of a Top-20 rank looming, the atmosphere and excitement is continuing to grow in Tempe.

The tradition continues to be written, and the Sun Devils are beginning to gain national attention.

dark. Next. ASU Hockey: Offense fueling strong start for Sun Devils

The time for moral victories has ended for this talented group as they eye a much bigger goal, and with their performance this weekend, it doesn’t appear to be out of the question.

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.