At some point, every winning streak has to come to an end, and for the ASU hockey team, that time came on Friday night in Happy Valley.
NCAA D-I Penn State outshot and outscored the Sun Devils, leading to an 8-3 blistering by the Nittany Lions.
For only the second time in the season, ASU was outshot 52-27 by Penn State. And the Nittany Lions were firing on all cylinders.
“Penn State was absolutely the better hockey team,” coach Greg Powers said.
Before the series started, the Sun Devils had referred to Penn State’s dominance around the net. The Nittany Lions reputation definitely preceded them.
Penn State crashed the net, putting every loose they could scrounge-up passed junior goaltenders Joseph D’Elia and Kyle Dietriech.
“They are really good playing a simple game of throwing shots on net and crashing hard,” Powers said. “We all have off nights.”
Both goaltenders may not have had the greatest of nights, but it may have been the best night of the season to have one.
“It doesn’t count for anything,” Powers said. “It shouldn’t have been that much of a deficit.”
Many coaches and players say once you face defeat following a long winning streak, the team gains some perspective and becomes better than before. The harsh taste in the mouth never wants to be felt again, and for the Sun Devils, that’s definitely the case.
“Losses never feel like they help anything … and its not necessarily the loss, it’s just the nature of the loss,” Powers said.
ASU was plagued by uncharacteristic mishaps, and the Sun Devils just couldn’t seem to find momentum.
“We can’t make the simple mistakes we made tonight,” Powers said. “Mistakes against teams like Penn State are killer … a team this good will make you pay and they did just that.”
Powers reiterated the small things that need to be cleaned up in order for the Sun Devils to escape Pennsylvania with a win on Saturday night.
“We literally can’t blink against a team like this,” Powers said. “I’m focused on making total adjustments from top to bottom to compete (at) a higher level (on Saturday).”
While commentators made it known that the Nittany Lions were executing on the power play, the assumption would be the Sun Devils were constantly in the box. ASU had only three penalties on the night, remaining disciplined despite the large deficit, but it was the power kill that hurt the Sun Devils. According to Powers, two of their power-play goals were not due to breakdowns, but just odd-man rushes by Penn State. Powers isn’t concerned about their time in the penalty box on Friday night, but does want the team to remain out of the box at all costs.
“All we can do is learn from this, and use it to make us a better hockey team, and we’ll do just that,” Powers said.
Game two against Penn State will be on Saturday night in Happy Valley.
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