TUCSON — Brian Parson has ridden the streak since the beginning.
Parson, Phil Sansone and Dan Anderson were here when ASU hockey had zero consecutive wins over UA. They were freshman then.
Saturday night, they completed their collegiate hockey careers with 32 straight victories.
They have never — and will never — lose to the Wildcats.
Parson was watching when freshman forward Kyle Bowen blocked a shot, carried down ice and dumped into the empty net, which finished off a 3-1 victory for the Sun Devils. He was asked what was going through his mind as he watched.
“You better score this,” he said with a laugh. “And then when he did, I just said, ‘Thank you so much,’ because that sealed the deal right there.”
While Parson and his fellow seniors feel the best about the streak, it was Bowen who scored the empty netter, and junior forward Danny McAuliffe who gave the No. 2 Sun Devils (32-7-1 ACHA) the lead that they would not surrender.
No. 20 UA (15-22-1 ACHA) started the scoring in the first period, when freshman defenseman Bryan Dazner slid the puck past junior goaltender Joseph D’Elia on a power play goal.
Minutes later, sophomore forward Faiz Khan answered with a power play goal of his own.
From then until the third period, it was a battle of the goalies.
It was senior night in Tucson, and senior goalie Robert Schultz played a game that impressed even ASU coach Greg Powers.
“Their goalie played one hell of a game,” Powers said. “Hats off to him.”
Deep into the second period, UA had penalty after penalty, leaving Schultz facing near constant penalty kill pressure, including a full two minutes of 5-on-3.
Schultz finished with 41 saves.
The first half of the third period crept by with very little action, locked in a 1-1 tie. After more pressure, McAuliffe took a shot on goal. It was deflected by Schultz, rebounded by senior Dan Styrna, who shot and was denied. McAuliffe was there and slapped the puck past an outstretched Schultz for the goal.
With a 2-1 lead, time was expiring. UA went on the power play then pulled its goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage. D’Elia blocked shot after shot, until Bowen got in the way of one. He took the puck, skated down next to a desperate Wildcat and pushed the puck in for the third and final goal. Under half a minute left, the sold-out Tucson Convention Center knew the game was over.
“Thirty-two in a row is very, very hard to do,” Powers said. “They’re a good hockey team, it’s 32 in a row, and we’re really proud of that.”
While the seniors have the glory and celebrate the achievement of the streak, Bowen, a freshman, has even loftier goals.
“We plan on making it 64 by my senior year,” he said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org