TUCSON — For No. 2 ASU hockey, the 31st win of the year was also the 31st win in a row against No. 20 UA, as the Sun Devils (31-7-1) prevailed 2-1 Friday.
Three different periods were three different games in Tucson.
The first period was evenly matched with both sides missing scoring opportunities. After 20 minutes of play, the game remained scoreless.
The Wildcats (15-21-1) came out ready to play in the second period and the Sun Devils did not. UA took a lead when sophomore forward Michael Ferreira found the back of the net and the crowd in Tucson came alive, alternating between cheering Ferreira and jeering ASU junior goaltender Joe D’Elia.
Despite only outshooting ASU 11-9 in the period, the second period was owned by the Wildcats and they spent a majority of it in the Sun Devil zone.
The ASU team that skated off the ice down 1-0 was not the same team that exploded out of the locker room to start the third period.
ASU coach Greg Powers never lost faith in his team.
“I told them what was going to happen,” Powers said. “I said somebody’s going to go out and get a quick one, and then we’re going to get a lead and then we’re going to win. I told them without a doubt, that was what was going to happen and it did.
Within 28 seconds, the game was knotted up again. Freshman forward Kyle Bowen took a back-handed flip of the puck and slotted it into the net. Someone in the locker room area remarked that if Bowen tried that again in practice with an empty net, he wouldn’t have been able to repeat it.
From there, the action went back and forth until just over two minutes left in regulation.
That was when senior defenseman Ryan Clark scored the eventual game-winner.
“I saw (sophomore forward) Liam (Norris) cutting to the net,” Clark said. “So I just said, “Hopefully this gets there,” and it went off a guy’s skate and went right in.”
The goal silenced the Tucson Convention Center. The last 2:16 passed by and the Sun Devils raised their sticks in victory.
“We never wavered,” Powers said. “We never lost any confidence or faith.”
The Wildcats will undoubtedly come into Saturday night’s game with much intensity. They do not have nationals to look forward to and will presumably play a rough brand of hockey.
“I’m actually not too worried about it,” Bowen said. “With our team, I think we can handle a lot.”
The Sun Devils return to the ice Saturday night for their final regular season game of the season before heading to the national tournament.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com