ASU hockey completed the series sweep against Colorado College on Saturday night with a 4-0 shutout victory behind two goals from Johnny Walker.
When warmups finished before Saturday night’s game, sophomore Johnny Walker was the last one to step off the ice for the No.15-ranked Sun Devils. His demeanor illustrated a calmed focus for the 60 minutes ahead.
After a two-goal night on Friday, Walker repeated the feat like it was nothing in the second game of the series against Colorado College (7-9-2). The hometown hero’s two goals came in the third period, both on power plays, that propelled ASU to its sixth sweep and 14th win of the season.
“It was a good sweep,” Powers said. “I told the guys we are obviously really proud of them.”
Walker’s first goal was a crafty one as he banked the puck in off the back of Tigers goaltender Alex Leclerc to make it 3-0 early in the final period. The second was a rebound tucked through the legs of Leclerc off a shot by co-captain Brinson Pasichnuk from the point to put the exclamation point on the win near the end.
“He’s just too smart,” Powers said of Walker. “He knows where to go to get the puck. He finds quiet areas or soft areas, whatever you want to call it, better than anybody in the country.”
With 17 goals on the season after the weekend, Walker climbed the ladder even more as the leading goal-scorer in NCAA Division I hockey. The next best being 13 from Penn State sophomore Evan Barratt.
The first period on Saturday yielded the same result as the night before when neither team found the back of the net. However, the second period was owned by the Sun Devils thanks to a huge performance from freshman PJ Marrocco.
Just under three minutes into the middle frame, the Edmonton-native sent a shot on net and the rebound came back to his stick. The freshman then lifted the puck under the crossbar for his sixth goal of the season and it was all ASU from there.
“When I move my feet and shoot the puck, I’m more successful,” Marrocco said. “That’s all I was kind of thinking about tonight. I talk to Johnny Walker quite a bit and he tells me if you get 10 shots a game, you’ll score at least one, so that’s the mentality I go with.”
Nearing the end of the second period, Marrocco scooped up the puck and led an odd-man rush. The Colorado College defender took away the shot angle and kept his stick in the passing lane, but Marrocco made a magnificent saucer pass across the zone to redshirt freshman Austin Lemieux who placed his shot into the top-left corner of the net.
Lemieux, ended with a two-point night, thought he had a goal earlier in the game back in the first period. But upon further review by the officials, it was waived off to keep things scoreless due to a kicking motion.
“The first thing that went through my head was, ‘Lemy, don’t kick this one in,’ Marrocco said humorously about the two’s scoring play.
Although the Sun Devils had their success offensively, the team proved why it has a top-ten penalty kill in the nation on Saturday night. Colorado College had seven power-play opportunities and ASU extinguished all of them.
“[Brett] Gruber won some big draws on the kill tonight,” Powers said. “The kill was very good. Obviously, Dacs was tremendous on it, made some big saves. Like I’ve said all year, our kill is really good when your best killer is your goalie, you’ve got something.”
‘Dacs’ is the nickname of ASU goaltender Joey Daccord. The junior kept up his stellar play by registering his NCAA-leading fifth shutout on the year after facing 31 shots from the Tigers.
Daccord has started in every game this season for the Sun Devils and his 14 wins are the most in the country. He added to his highlight reel heavily on Saturday night to preserve the clean scoresheet.
“It was a great team win,” Daccord said humbly. “Fortunate enough to get a shutout. Any night the guys are doing what they’re doing, blocking shots like that and making my life easy, it gives me a good chance to be successful personally. And it gives our team a good chance to win.”
The Sun Devils completed back-to-back sweeps to improve to 14-6. Their historic season continues to reach new milestones.
“Now it’s time for them to go enjoy their families some and come back nice and rested and focus on whats ahead,” Powers said.
Ahead for ASU is the Desert Hockey Classic at Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. The highly-anticipated tournament is comprised of four ranked teams as the Sun Devils host No. 3 Minnesota State, No. 4 Minnesota and No. 19 Clarkson and starts on Dec. 28.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.