ASU hockey's path to the national title runs through Stony Brook on Monday afternoon
NEWARK, Del.– Two down, two to go.
That’s how the top-seeded ASU hockey sees what it has done so far in the national tournament.
It took out No. 16 Rhode Island in the first round Friday night, then skated past No. 9 Minot State on Sunday to advance to the semifinals.
Now, No. 5 Stony Brook is waiting.
“They’re good, they’re really good,” ASU coach Greg Powers said of the Seawolves. “They have some really high-end talent and they’re aggressive, they play hard and they’re here to win. So we have our work cut out for us.”
Like every remaining team, Stony Brook has advanced because of goaltending. Sophomore Brendan Jones has been superb, allowing only two goals in his team’s two games. His .968 save percentage is top among goalies in the tournament who have allowed at least one goal.
Offensively, senior forward Dan Cassano has been the playmaker. He has four assists, which is tied for a tournament-high.
ASU had to go through defending champion Minot State, but it’s not as if the Seawolves have had an easy ride to the final four. They shut out No. 12 Davenport on Saturday then ended the storybook ride of No. 13 Navy, which beat No. 20 West Virginia then pulled a shocking upset of No. 4 Liberty.
As good as Jones has been in net for Stony Brook, freshman Robert Levin has been even better for ASU. He has not allowed a goal, blocking all 37 shots to come his way.
Offensively, it was ASU’s fourth line that led the way past Minot State. The trio of freshman Patrick Yudez and seniors Troy Scott and David Jantzie combined for all four goals and eight of the nine offensive points.
Jantzie’s four points are tied for second among all tournament skaters.
If the Sun Devils have any outside advantage, it’s in the scheduling. Monday’s game will be the Seawolves’ third in three days after playing Saturday and Sunday. ASU played Friday, then had Saturday off before playing Sunday.
“We should be more rested,” Powers said. “When you’re as deep as us, it actually plays into our favor and we like it.”
– The winner of Monday’s contest will meet the winner of No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Robert Morris. Oklahoma needed a third-period rally to get past No. 10 Iowa State on Sunday night.
– Robert Morris easily disposed of No. 11 Central Oklahoma, winning 6-0 earlier in the day. Robert Morris also beat No. 14 Oakland by the same 6-0 score and is the only team beside ASU to not allow a goal in the tournament.
– ASU will be without senior forward Brian McGinty, who will be serving the second of a two-game suspension. He will be eligible to return Tuesday if ASU advances to the national title game.
– Puck drop for ASU and Stony Brook is set for 2 p.m. Arizona time.
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