In its first home game in over a month, ASU hockey overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat Colorado College 4-2 in the first game of a two-game series.
Coming off a road sweep against Princeton last weekend, the No. 15-ranked Sun Devils were back in action at Oceanside Ice Arena. ASU found itself in a hole early down two goals but scored four unanswered for a 4-2 victory over Colorado College.
Sophomore forward Johnny Walker reclaimed his spot at the top of leaderboard for goals in NCAA Division I hockey with two crucial goals in Friday’s game. Freshman defenseman Josh Maniscalco added the other pair to secure ASU’s third-straight win to improve to 13-6 on the year.
Colorado College (7-8-2) got on the board first thanks to senior Trey Bradley halfway through the second period and then increased its lead just 42 seconds later with 10:19 on the clock courtesy of Ben Copeland. But the Sun Devils found a way to respond.
“It’s a credit to the players and our leadership,” Powers said. “There was zero panic on the bench whatsoever. It almost was like a wake-up call. It felt like we were fine.”
Co-captain Tyler Busch won a face-off in the offensive zone and the puck was put on a platter for Maniscalco who wound up and blasted a rocket over the head of Tigers goaltender Alex Leclerc. The comeback was on for ASU only down one.
Later in the second period, Walker scored his first of the game and his 14th of the season. He came flying down the right side of the ice on an odd-man rush, then patiently waited for the far side of the net to open up and snapped a wrist shot into the twine that tied the battle up at two apiece.
The game-winner came at 9:28 in the third period when Walker sent a one-timer on net off of a feed from his roommate Jacob Wilson. The call on the ice was a goal but further review was needed to confirm. Walker was awarded his 15th score of the year.
“In order to win, you have to learn to lose,” Walker said. “That’s a game last year that we fight back, and we don’t have any quit in this program no matter what, but the difference is we win those (this year). Good teams find a way to win and it might not have been pretty from start to finish but we got the job done.”
When Walker was asked about his accomplishment of leading the nation in goals, he responded humbly.
“I try not to think about that,” Walker said. “I don’t score without my line mates or anyone else out there. It’s more of a team accomplishment than it is personal for me.”
Maniscalco proved to be a major contributor to the Sun Devils’ come-from-behind win. While hustling and blocking shots on the defensive end, the freshman tallied his second and third goals of the season after sealing the deal with an empty-net score to make it 4-2.
“He’s not playing like a freshman,” Powers said. “He hasn’t all year and we’re thrilled he’s here.”
After two goals on Friday night, Maniscalco now has six points in his last six games.
“He’s dynamic. We let him play. He’s gonna make a couple of mistakes here and there but he’s a dynamic player. He makes us look smart.”
Other freshmen displayed their worth on Friday as well. Forward Jordan Sandhu started on the first line and provided speed all night. Defenseman Connor Stuart played in his third-ever collegiate game and found himself blocking shots and giving the team energy.
“We’re just trying to all contribute as much as possible,” Maniscalco said about the freshmen. “Looking down the bench, we think we got a very deep team. We’re just trying to follow the leadership that we have.”
Although ASU goaltender Joey Daccord only faced 25 shots, he had some spectacular saves in his NCAA-leading 13th win of the season. The junior finished with 23 stops and added to his highlight reel.
“I say it all the time, I think we have one of the best goalies in college hockey and he proved it tonight,” Powers said.
The Sun Devils and Tigers meet again for round two Saturday night at 7:05 p.m as ASU eyes its sixth sweep of the season.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.