No. 13 ASU hockey failed to pick up a split of the two-game series against No. 17 Cornell as the Big Red defeated the Sun Devils 3-2 Saturday night.
Thus far, it has been a season to remember for the Arizona State Sun Devils. Being ranked since as early in the season as anyone can remember, there have been very few low points for the team from Tempe.
The calendar has rolled over, and ASU has looked to carry over their success from 2018 into 2019. Early on, it’s looked promising. After a shootout win over Minnesota State in the Desert Hockey Classic and a series sweep of college hockey powerhouse Boston College, Arizona State has shown no sign of slowing down.
Fast forward one week, and the team from the desert packed their winter coats and headed to Ithaca, New York. In 30-degree colder weather than in Tempe, the Sun Devils of ASU would get ready for battle against the Big Red of Cornell.
Following their lackluster loss on Friday night to a dominant Cornell team, past series would tell you the team from the desert was poised for a bounce back win. Much like they did against Penn State and Harvard.
However, just 61 seconds into the game, it appeared as if the two teams hadn’t left James Lynah Rink. Cornell forward Cam Donaldson curled around the front of the net and fired a shot past Joey Daccord to put the Big Red up 1-0.
The first period would be more of the same as ASU had many close calls where Daccord would bail the team out to keep them within a goal.
With just minutes left in the first period, it seemed as if Arizona State would squeak out of their abysmal first period, only down one goal.
However, Donaldson had other plans as he fired his second goal of the period by the Sun Devils netminder to put up the team from out east 2-0 heading into the break. To make matters worse, the Devils were outshot 12-5 in the opening 20 minutes.
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Greg Powers’ group regrouped in the intermission, clearly. They came out firing in the opening minutes of the second frame as they peppered Cornell goalie Matthew Galajda.
However, it seemed like trip through the portal back to the first half of the season for ASU, taking two back-to-back penalties, breaking any momentum the Sun Devils were able to muster up. Despite outshooting Cornell 13-9 in the second frame, Arizona State still found themselves trailing heading into the 3rd.
This season, ASU has had its fair share of comeback victories late in the game. Proving their worth in the final frame and sending a message that no lead is safe against them.
However, just eight minutes into the third period, Morgan Barron would add some insurance for Cornell, potting a power play goal to lead Arizona State by a field goal.
Despite the odds being stacked against them, the team from Tempe wouldn’t let up. With five minutes remaining in the game, Jarrod Gourley would net an Austin Lemieux feed to bring ASU within two, setting up an interesting end to the game.
Arizona State would continue to throw pucks toward the net, often being blocked, an area of the game, this Cornell team is ranked the best in the nation. “
We knew they are the best shot blocking team in the country…we have to take a page out of their book and pay the price like those guys do.” ASU coach Greg Powers said post game following the 24 blocked shot performance by the Big Red.
Powers attributed some of their struggles early in the game to the inability to get pucks to the net, “Once our D started to adjust and make some of the adjustments that we asked them to, they started to get pucks through.”
With Joey Daccord watching on from the bench, and the extra attacker on the ice, captain Brinson Pasichnuk would fire a slapshot past Galadja bringing ASU to within one goal with just 20 seconds remaining.
Arizona State would get one more chance, however, Cornell was able to prevail to sweep the series and help strengthen their spot in the pairwise ranking.
A hard-fought game, where the Sun Devils showed much more compete than just 24 hours prior.
“A couple critical mistakes that you just can’t make on the road and a slow start… that cost us the game,” said Powers.
This will be a weekend to forget for ASU, their third time being swept this season.
It really has been a Cinderella story for the relatively new college hockey program. However, anything short of an NCAA tournament berth, will be considered a failure for this group.
They must realize that the success they have experienced this season is a never-ending task. Just because they have beaten the likes of Penn State, Harvard, Boston College and Princeton won’t matter if they can’t finish the season as strong as they started.
Their schedule won’t ease up down the stretch with trips to Boston University and Minnesota still slated for later in the season. Wins against those teams, will be crucial in securing their Pairwise rank and more importantly a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
Coach Powers will continue to have a positive outlook for this team moving forward.
“As we continue to grow and try and accomplish what we want to,” Powers said. “You can’t make those mistakes, and this is one we can learn from and build from.”
Time will tell if this team can continue to defy the odds stacked against them and accomplish what they want to.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.