Different goalie, no problem.
The No. 2 ASU hockey team (5-0) defeated in-state rival and No. 21 UA Friday night 6-0 at the Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, extending its winning streak over the Wildcats to 34 straight games.
Coach Greg Powers couldn’t remember the last time the Sun Devils shut out UA.
“I don’t think I have ever been a part of a shutout against U of A,” Powers said.
ASU started slow in the first period, allowing UA nine shots and several scoring opportunities against freshman goaltender Robert Levin. The rivals battled back and forth, neither side gaining any significant advantage.
“You can’t just show up and go through the motions because I thought U of A outplayed us in the first period tonight, they had us on our heels,” Powers said. “It doesn’t matter how good and how deep and how talented we are, if we don’t show up and we don’t work we’re not going to win a hockey game.”
Junior defenseman Shane Gleason gave the Sun Devils a scare less than a minute into the second period but failed to convert on a one-on-one with Levin.
“He literally played a flawless game,” Powers said. “Everything looked routine and that’s what good goalies do, they make the tough saves look like the routine saves.”
The Sun Devils then settled into form in a much more chippy second period. Junior forward Liam Norris was the first to get on the board, scoring on a three-on-one opportunity with 7:20 left in the second period.
With time winding down at the end of the second, freshman forward Chris Burkemper capitalized on a rebound and found the back of the net, giving ASU the 2-0 lead.
Freshman defenseman Sean Ritchie continued the scoring in the third, slipping the puck through a gang of players and past UA’s sophomore goalie Dylon Hojnacki, increasing ASU’s lead to three.
With 13:00 left in the third period, sophomore defenseman Jordan Young made a picture perfect pass to sophomore forward Kale Dolinski, who slipped it past Hojnacki for the easy score.
Burkemper scored his second goal of the evening with 9:18 left in the game, netting a wrist shot between the legs of Hojnacki for the goal as he was leveled to the ground by UA defensemen.
“I honestly don’t even know (how I scored that goal),” Burkemper said. “I got a great pass from Jantz(ie) and I was getting dragged down by their d-men and I just managed to slide it while I was falling and I guess it went five-hole.”
ASU started to pad the stats late in the third period, adding to the goal total when Hojnacki came out to pass the puck but misplayed it right into the stick of senior forward Danny McAuliffe. He converted for the easy score and gave ASU the 6-0 lead, a score that would hold for the final.
Powers said all the credit was to Levin, who started for the first time against UA.
“In his first start against his archrival, that’s a hell of a start to his career,” Powers said. “He’s such a cerebral goalie. He’s very well trained.”
The Sun Devils travel to Illinois Friday for a two-game weekend series against the No. 4 Fighting Illini.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMargiott.