The last time the No. 1 ASU hockey team lost was in last season’s ACHA Final Four. Ten months and 24 games later, the Sun Devils (24-1-0) fell to No. 5 Oklahoma, 3-1.
The last time ASU met the Sooners (17-4-3), it pulled out a win in overtime after tying it with under a minute left. The Sooners would not allow that to happen this time around, grabbing a lead and finishing the job with an empty-net goal and a 3-1 win.
“We just didn’t get it done,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “You’re not going to win many games scoring (only) a goal, simple as that.”
Trailing 2-1 late in the game, the Sun Devils (24-1-0) pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but with 19 seconds left Oklahoma tossed it into the empty net from center ice to seal ASU’s first loss of the season.
Friday night, ASU’s opponent scored first for the first time at home and only the second time all season. Both times it was the Sooners.
With time expiring on the hooking penalty against ASU freshman forward Chris Burkemper, OU won the draw, and after a flurry of sticks, it was sophomore forward Jordan Greenberg who scored the game’s opening goal. ASU freshman goalie Robert Levin got a piece of it, but of all it crossed the red line to light the lamp.
ASU had its own chance with the man-advantage later in the period. ASU senior captain Colin Hekle was slashed by OU junior defenseman Joe Adams. It led to to scrum in front of the net in which five players were sent to the penalty box, three for OU and two for ASU leading to the Sun Devil power play.
ASU was unable to convert, and entered the first intermission trailing at home for the first time, 1-0.
Midway through the second period is when ASU showed its first signs of life. During a frame thoroughly controlled by the Sooners, ASU senior forward Brian McGinty battled for the puck behind OU’s net, releasing a centering pass which was batted home on a one-timer by junior forward Faiz Khan. It was Khan’s sixth goal of the season and his third in the last two games.
The tie would not even make it out of the period. OU sophomore forward Ryan Stouffer found himself open in front of the net, and his teammate, junior forward Brandon Dennis, didn’t miss him.
Dennis’ pass hit Stouffer as Stouffer skated across the crease and Stouffer’s back-hand beat Levin up high.
ASU’s biggest chance came in about halfway through the third period. ASU went on the power play after an interference call, then went onto the 5-on-3 after a slash. ASU had 1:12 with two extra men and were unable to capitalize.
Powers said the problem on the power play came from an inability to win offensive-zone faceoffs. OU won them and cleared the puck, killing the clock and eventually the penalty.
After the 5-on-3 was was when ASU pulled Levin, and when Greenberg scored the empty-netter, his second goal of the game.
Levin made 24 saves and and OU senior goalie Nick Holmes only allowed one of ASU’s 28 shots to beat him in his winning effort.
The Sun Devils will have a chance at redemption Saturday night when the teams meet for the third time this season. ASU won the first meeting in overtime in Norman, Okla., on Oct. 17.
“We’ll be ready to go (Saturday), I know that,” Powers said. “I’m excited to see how our team bounces back from a loss.”
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