The No. 2 ASU men’s hockey team took the ice Friday night with the highest ranking in the team’s 30-year history.
No. 6 Lindenwood came to Tempe Oceanside Arena bearing a 3-1 record, and head into Saturday’s game with another “L” in the loss column after falling to ASU 6-5.
The Sun Devils entered the game still unbeaten at 5-0 after two important road victories over then-No. 11 Iowa State.
Lindenwood came out of the gate fast and strong, pressuring ASU in its own zone.
It didn’t take long for that to change.
Four minutes into the first period, junior forward David Jantzie scored his first of two goals on the night.
The rest of the first period was dominated by ASU’s high paced offense.
Captain and junior forward Colin Hekle put ASU up 2-0 with a breakaway goal on Lindenwood sophomore goaltender Linus Ahgren.
Hekle totaled three points on the night with two goals and an assist, who now leads the Sun Devils with seven goals on the season.
The captain attributes his scoring streak thus far to his line and team around him.
“The penalty kill with Kale Dolinski … we work so well together,” Hekle said. “My linemates are such talented players with (Brian) McGinty and (Stephen) Collins.”
Ahgren had a rough time attempting to save the Sun Devils’ pristine shots on goal all night.
As for ASU junior goaltender Joseph D’Elia, the five goals given up may be deceiving if you’re just looking at the box score.
Being at the game would show that four of Lindenwood’s five goals came on the power play, which is a problem ASU has faced multiple times this season.
“We got to stay out of the (penalty) box,” coach Greg Powers said. “It was an ugly game, but at the end of the day, you got to win ugly too.”
Powers wasn’t the only one who noticed the penalty problem, as the players know they need to avoid them to stray from making games closer than need be.
“We need to tighten up our positioning and keep out of the penalty box (tomorrow night),” Hekle said.
McAuliffe helped the Sun Devils to its victory after scoring on the power play with 2:30 left in the game.
Lindenwood never gave up scoring three goals in the third period to take a 5-4 lead.
It wasn’t long before ASU battled back against adversity to take the huge win over its first top-5 ranked opponent.
“It was a good test for us to see what a top-5 ACHA team is about,” McAuliffe said. “To take the lollipops home felt good.”
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