Friday night, the No. 1 ASU hockey team barely squeaked out a win against a one-win Colorado team.
Saturday night, it took until the third period, but the real Sun Devils (16-0-0) showed up and beat the Buffaloes 7-0.
Five of ASU’s goals came in the third period, and coach Greg Powers said it was a much better than Friday’s game against CU (1-6-1).
“The guys were really good tonight,” he said. “We were clean in every facet of the game. No mistakes, and just good hockey.”
Freshman forward Sean Murphy had the first goal of game, going five-hole after a flurry of passes. Freshman forward Chris Burkemper and freshman defenseman Jarrod Levos recorded the assists, but all five Sun Devils on the ice passed it around that shift.
The Sun Devils would not score again until the second half of the game. In between goals, they simply dominated CU in every aspect of the game. In the first period alone, they outshot the Buffaloes 26-1.
With 9:15 left in the second period, freshman forward Ryan Ostertag made the best of his new line assignment. For the first time this season, he was teamed with senior forwards Colin Hekle and Brian McGinty, and Ostertag took a pass from the two seniors and put it in the net to extend the lead to 2-0 ASU.
The second period wasn’t much better for the Buffaloes’ blue line. CU allowed 25 shots in the second, bringing the total to 51 for the game. The only reason the game was even close was because of the play of CU freshman goaltender Alex Palumbo.
Palumbo was simply fantastic in net for the second straight night. The first two periods were brilliant, and he appeared to run out of gas in the third.
“He’s good, he’s really good,” Powers said. “I’m glad we broke through in the third. If you’re going to break through, that’s when you want to do it.”
The third period is when the wheels came off for the Buffaloes. Five pucks found the net in the Sun Devils’ favor, and all were in bunches. Three of them came within 2:11 of each other, two of which also came in a span of 13 seconds.
The final two goals were scored in the last minute of the game.
The first two periods were a struggle for the Sun Devils offensively, but something just clicked when the third period began.
“I think we just kept playing a strong, hard game and finally got the goalie to break down a little bit,” Hekle said. “The kid played amazing, my hat’s off to him.”
Hekle had two of those goals in the third period. Murphy also added his second goal of the game in the final period. ASU finished with 75 shots to CU’s 11.
ASU is back at it Thursday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the ACHA, when No. 2 Minot State comes to Tempe. The puck drops at 8:00 p.m. at Oceanside Ice Arena.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson