ASU hockey rallied to prevail over Boston College, 5-2, with vital goals from the new and old in the first game of the series on Friday night.
With time winding down in regulation, it seemed as if ASU was on pace for its second-straight overtime game. But freshman PJ (Pietro) Marrocco was in the right place at the right time on Friday night.
ASU’s Brett Gruber sent a shot on net at Boston College goaltender Joe Woll, who gave up a juicy rebound right in front of himself. Marrocco wasted no time and found the bouncing piece of rubber before anyone else could and he buried it in the back of the net to give the Sun Devils a 3-2 lead with just 1:38 left in the game.
“I kind of just blacked out a little bit there… just a speechless kind of moment,” Marrocco said afterwards about his late-game heroics.
The clutch goal was Marrocco’s sixth of the season and proved to be the game-winner where the Sun Devils improved to 15-7-1 on the season.
However, for ASU, the rally had already commenced earlier in the third period after entering the final 20 minutes down 2-1. Senior Anthony Croston, a piece of the third line that showed out on Friday, worked the puck away from the boards and tried his luck with a wrap-around attempt.
The shot was initially ruled no goal, but ASU head coach Greg Powers knew it had gone in and demanded the officials take a look at it, and they did.
Upon further review, the Sun Devils were awarded the point to tie things back up, 2-2, after replay showed the puck exited the back of the net as it was bumped off the surface of the ice.
“We know when we are down a goal or something, we got to play our game,” Croston said. “We have a character team, and we have all the right guys. We don’t have a problem coming out with a one-goal deficit and coming back.”
Boston College (6-8-2) got on the board first early in the second period after a scoreless opening frame full of back-and-forth physicality and speed from both squads.
Senior JD Dudek rung a shot off the post and in at the 16:55 mark. But just over two minutes later, ASU senior Dylan Holman responded with the team’s first goal of the game short-handed with a quick wrist shot that found the top-right corner of the cage over the glove of Woll.
The Eagles finished off the five-minute span of scoring in the middle period with a goal from sophomore Aapeli Räsänen to put BC ahead again, 2-1, with 12 minutes on the clock.
The lead carried into the final period where ASU scored four goals, including two empty-netters, to come out victorious in the first game of the series.
Croston played alongside fellow senior Dylan Hollman all night and the two displayed undeniable chemistry. Hollman’s short-handed goal was as crucial as Croston’s game-tying one to keep the Sun Devils in it when Boston College put on the pressure.
“Me and Dylan have good chemistry and we know what our role is out there, so you always try to stick to that,” Croston said. “I thought we did well tonight and came out with a win.”
The play of ASU’s veterans set the tone and it trickled down to the newcomers, like Marrocco, who are performing at a high level.
“We go as those guys take us,” Powers explained. “Their energy and the way that they play just seeps confidence in the rest of our young team.”
ASU also found success in staying out of the penalty box, an area where it wanted to see improvement. In the 60 minutes on Friday, the Sun Devils only gave up the one power-play opportunity to the Eagles.
“We have to play 5-on-5 hockey,” Powers said. “We have to play downhill and use our depth and bang bodies and wear teams out, just like we did tonight. We kind of grinded them out, that’s our game. I think the guys finally now, from top to bottom, understand that and truly buy into it.”
Goaltender Joey Daccord continued his stellar play for the Sun Devils by denying 35 of the 37 shots that Boston College sent his way. On the other end, Eagles’ Woll made 31 saves.
ASU’s new and old, freshmen and seniors, combined for the comeback performance, illustrating the depth of a team pushing for its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
“I had two freshman on the ice with under two minutes to go in a tie game against Boston College up front,” Powers said. “I trust everybody in that lineup. Most importantly, they trust each other and don’t question who goes out and they believe in the plan and they execute it.
“From day one, that’s what this team’s been all about. We have genuine, true, veteran leadership for the first time. It takes time to develop that, the culture.”
Now, the Sun Devils will try for their seventh sweep of the season on Saturday night. Game two of the ASU-BC weekend series will be played at Gila River Arena in Glendale with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m. MT and can be viewed on Pac-12 Networks.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.