Before the game, the new ACHA standings had ASU ranked No. 2.
The Sun Devils played like a No. 1 Friday night.
An all-around dominant effort by the No. 2 Sun Devils resulted in a 4-0 victory over the No. 17 Rhode Island Rams.
Once again, the starting line of junior captain Colin Hekle, senior Dan Styrna and sophomore Faiz Khan stole the show.
The trio have combined for 25 points in the last five games they were on the ice together. They added seven more Friday night. All three had a goal, Khan had an assist and Hekle had three assists.
Hekle’s four points on the night elevated him to 51 on the year, which leads the team and is a new career high.
“It’s a nice feeling,” Hekle said. “It’s always nice to make personal bests.”
Rhode Island (17-8-3) senior goaltender Paul Kenny started off the game frustrating the Sun Devil offense. He made some fantastic, acrobatic saves early on that left head coach Greg Powers with nothing to do but tip his cap to him.
“Joe played very well,” said Powers. “He shut a team out, and they’re a top-20 team.”
ASU (26-6) was finally able to get on the board with 2:10 left in the first period. Styrna with the goal, assisted by Hekle and Khan.
Though senior defenseman Darcy Charrois was credited with the game’s second goal, assisted by Hekle, it was really Rhode Island’s sophomore defender Kyle Bodine who scored. Charrois shot the puck, it took a crazy bounce off the backboards, rebounded off Bodine and into the net.
It was with 4:10 when the floodgates opened. ASU scored two more times in the next 12 minutes, extending its lead to 4-0, which it would not give up.
The third goal was on an ASU penalty kill scored by Hekle, his sixth shorthanded goal of the season. He explained how that was possible.
“When I’m out there, I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to be able to get a goal on this penalty kill?’” said Hekle. “Not, ‘How am I going to stop a goal from happening.’”
He was able to block a shot, then score on a 2-on-1 breakaway.
Last week junior goaltender Joe D’Elia played one of the three games, allowing six goals before taking the last two games off. Tonight he was back in the net, and he recorded his second shutout of the season.
“I owe it to the guys for sure,” D’Elia said. “My game wasn’t too clean, but they took care of me.”
With the starting line of Hekle, Styrna and Khan back to stay and D’Elia returning to his normal self, the Sun Devils won’t be ranked No. 2 for long.
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