Unfiltered jubilation from the Wildcats and sheer disappointment for the Sun Devils. It took 38 tries, but No. 14 UA was finally able to beat its rival No. 1 ASU, doing so Saturday night, 2-1.
“It’s been a long time coming,” UA coach Sean Hogan said. “It just goes to show we can keep with anybody. ASU is obviously an incredible hockey team.”
ASU coach Greg Powers said his team was fortunate to hit 37 in the streak and it was a matter of time before it ended.
“It is almost impossible to beat a really good hockey team eight times in a year and we’ve done it four years in a row,” Powers said. “It’s been a special streak, it’ll probably never happen again.”
The Wildcats (15-18-0) had to play from behind in order to pull out the victory. ASU senior forward Dave Jantzie scored a short-handed goal at the 2:14 mark in the first period and it looked like the Sun Devils (29-2-0) might pull away.
That was the last time ASU would score thanks to an outstanding effort from UA senior goaltender Steven Sisler. He was the main reason the Wildcats were able to kill all five penalties on the night.
UA answered back at the 8:48 mark on a deflection in front that beat senior goaltender Joe D’Elia. From that point, ASU controlled the pace of the game, but was unable to beat Sisler.
With one minute left in the second period, junior forward Faiz Khan was sent to the box for hooking. Sophomore defenseman Brett Blomgren followed him 30 seconds later on an unsportsmanlike conduct call.
The five-on-three penalty carried into the third period, where the Wildcats capitalized.
It was only fitting that the captain, senior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson, hit the game-winner for UA. He took a feed across the net from senior forward Andrew Murmes and one-timed it into the net. That was all UA would need the rest of the way.
Hogan said it was his defense that won the game for his team.
“You’re not going to beat (ASU) 6-5 or 7-6,” he said. “Get good goaltending and play strong defense and we did.”
It was the seniors’ last home game of their careers; their parents were in town, a former ASU president was in attendance and Powers said all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game led everyone to believe Saturday would not be the night the streak would end.
“It’ll happen when you least expect it,” Powers said. “I don’t think there was a person that walked in this building tonight that thought it would happen tonight, but it did.”
ASU senior captain Colin Hekle said Saturday was a loss that stings a little more than the others in his career, but said the team still has one goal in mind.
“I’d take snapping the streak in return for winning nationals any day,” he said. “It’s kind of sentimental having this be your last game. You’d like to have it as a win, and it being a loss to UA makes it hurt even more than that.”
The Sun Devils now have a 29-1 record vs. the Wildcats since Hekle arrived with two more regular season games to play.
For years, every game was another number to add to the streak for ASU. Now the Wildcats get a chance to do to ASU what the Sun Devils have been doing to them for years.
“Hopefully … we can start our own streak, maybe get two on them,” Hogan said.
UA gets that chance Feb. 21-22 in Tucson.
“It’ll be fun,” Powers said. “Let’s go start a new streak.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson