ASU holds off UMass-Amherst, wins NCAA opener 5-3

The Sun Devils begin their season undefeated with a win in the home opener

The NCAA Division I opener for ASU men’s hockey ended with the Sun Devils coming out on top, 5-3, over the UMass-Amherst Minutemen at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. Entering the program’s second full season of NCAA competition, it is the first time the Devils have started 1-0. 

“We really wanted this one so we could try and play downhill,” ASU head coach Greg Powers said.

Deadlocked at 1-1 late in the second period, the Sun Devils had a 5-on-3 power play advantage when sophomore defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk tallied at 18:15 to give the lead back to ASU, 2-1. Just 1:23 later, the Devils would score again, as redshirt junior forward Louie Rowe got the puck by Minutemen goaltender Ryan Wischow. 

After two periods of play, ASU took a 3-1 edge into the locker room. 

“Louie (Rowe) just wants to win,” Powers said. “He’ll do whatever it takes. I think he’s going to have a big year.” 

In the third period, a 3-1 Sun Devil lead became 4-1 when junior defenseman Joey Raats scored at 13:57. The captain, redshirt junior forward Dylan Hollman, and Rowe picked up assists on the goal. 

The Minutemen made it close late in the third, as two goals at 15:38 and 17:37 closed the gap to 4-3. 

However, with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Hollman buried an empty-netter at 19:42. 

ASU sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord made 18 saves in the victory. 

“We’re always confident with (Daccord) back there,” Rowe said. “I think you see us being more aggressive… maybe taking more risks, but more knowing we have a solid guy back there that we trust and we can lean on when we need him.”  

With the win, ASU is now 3-0 all-time versus UMass-Amherst. The Sun Devils won both games in Amherst last season, outscoring the Minutemen 8-2 in the two-game series. 

Unlike the first full season of NCAA play, the Devils have started their second season in D-I undefeated at 1-0 for the first time in program history. It was also the first opportunity ASU’s freshman class had the opportunity to experience NCAA competition. 

“I thought they handled it great,” Rowe said. “I thought our speed was great. I thought our decision-making was fast … we pushed the pace and I think those guys are fitting in with our program perfectly.”  

One of those freshman was defenseman Jacob Wilson. Wilson finished as a plus-1 on the evening in his NCAA debut.

“It was nice to get out there and get a feel for the game,” Wilson said. “I was able to get into the game and feel it more than I expected.”

The Sun Devils battle UMass-Amherst in the second game of the two-game series Oct. 7 in Tempe. 

“Tomorrow’s a big game for us,” Powers said. “They have got to be desperate to get our first home sweep tomorrow and we’re going to engrain that into their heads, and I think you’ll see a better 60-minute effort out of our guys.” 

Saturday's face off at Oceanside Ice Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. 

 Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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