ASU hockey entered the Desert Hockey Classic riding a four-game winning streak but it came to a screeching halt Friday night as the Clarkson Golden Knights overwhelmed the Sun Devils to a 3-0 shutout in the first round.
Coming into the Desert Hockey Classic weekend, special teams weren’t areas of concern for the Sun Devils. ASU was tied for the tenth-best penalty kill in the country and ranked 23rd on the power play.
But No. 19 Clarkson (10-6) decided to put ASU’s special teams to the test. The Golden Knights notched three power-play goals and killed off all eight of the Sun Devils’ man-advantage opportunities.
“It’s simple, our guys weren’t ready to play,” ASU head coach Greg Powers said.
The team had a holiday break prior to the tournament but Powers noted it didn’t faze his team when they came back to Arizona to prepare for the challenging tournament. However, Friday night didn’t translate into the success ASU was looking for against a gritty Clarkson squad.
“They outworked us,” Powers explained after the game. “They deserved to win that game. If the two teams tonight play that way 100 times, we’re going to lose 100 times out of 100.”
Clarkson jumped out to a lead just under five minutes into the contest after ASU’s Steen Pasichnuk and Dylan Hollman both found themselves in the box for hooking penalties.
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The Golden Knights took complete advantage of the 5-on-3 chance as freshman center Josh Dunne hacked at a rebound that was loose in front of ASU goaltender Joey Daccord. The attempt sent the puck fluttering over the head of Daccord and into the net.
After the first power-play goal, Clarkson still had a 5-on-4 power play to work with. Just under a minute later, junior forward Devin Brosseau sent a slap shot toward the net as he was falling down that passed through the legs of Daccord to extend the lead to 2-0.
With a scoreless second period in the past, ASU had 20 more minutes to potentially cut into the two-goal deficit. But Clarkson began the third period on the power play once more.
Daccord, who has played the puck exceptionally this season, miscued on a clearing attempt and sent the puck right to Clarkson defenseman Aaron Thow who made no mistake to bury it for the final goal of the game.
“If we show up mentally unprepared like we did today, it’s gonna be worse tomorrow,” Powers said. “We gotta play our style of hockey. We gotta stay out of the box. We have to play more five-on-five and gets pucks in behind the D (defense).”
ASU registered only 15 shots on goal which was a season-low for the team. There were many times where shots sailed wide or the Sun Devils failed to put the puck on the net when a lane was open.
“As poorly as we played and as bad as our power play was, we missed a lot of chances,” Powers said. “If one of them goes in, it changes the landscape of the game.”
Since the Sun Devils fell short on Friday night, they will take on No. 3 Minnesota State (14-5) in Saturday’s consolation game. The Mavericks were ousted in overtime against reigning National Champion Minnesota-Duluth (11-4-2) in the first game of the tournament, 4-3.
“It was a bad game,” Powers said. “We haven’t had many of them. We’re 14-7. We have to find a way to bounce back tomorrow and play our game and we’ll be fine. And when we do, we can beat anybody.”
“We got the first game out of the way and I told them to flush it, just completely flush it,” Powers said. “And tomorrow, we gotta show up, we have to stay out of the box.”
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. MST for ASU’s match-up against Minnesota State at Gila River Arena on Saturday. The game can be viewed on Pac-12 Networks.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.