ASU men's hockey takes advantage of season's first off-weekend

The Sun Devils are ready to rebound after an intense 3-1 loss

ASU men’s hockey (2-6-2) is on its first off-week of the season after splitting last weekend’s series against the University of Alabama-Huntsville (2-6-0), with a 3-2 win on Friday and a 3-1 loss on Saturday.

This is in form with the Sun Devils' pattern – winning on Friday and losing on Saturday when at home and doing the exact opposite when on the road. 

“There’s no answer. It’s just mindset and they’ve got to figure out a way to consistently play the kind of hockey we need to play to be a consistently winning program, and we just haven’t done it yet,” head coach Greg Powers said. “The last four home series at Oceanside, we’ve won on Friday and lost on Saturday. Every game on Saturday, it’s either been tied or within a goal late in the third, so that makes it even a little bit more gut wrenching because we know how close we are.”

That was certainly the case last Saturday, as ASU played its best hockey in the third period and kept the score at 2-1 until an empty net goal was scored in the last minute.

The Sun Devils took 11 of their 19 shots in the third period as well and had a lot of opportunities.

“We just kind of stuck with it, I think for a whole game,” freshman defenseman Jacob Wilson said. “We had the chances, we just weren’t burying them ... We don’t need to focus much on winning games – we just need to focus on playing the right way.”

Saturday’s game was also ridden with penalties for ASU. The second period alone had four penalties, two of which that overlapped for a nearly two-minute long 5-on-3 penalty kill. 

The Sun Devils almost killed the penalty, but Alabama-Huntsville scored three seconds before the penalty expired for what would be the game-winning goal.

“If they’re going out there 5-on-3 sacrificing the body, when it gets to be 5-on-5 or a power play, you’re going to want to do the same,” freshman right wing Johnny Walker said.

ASU’s penalty kill percentage is currently 81.4 percent, while the power play has improved to an 11.4 percent after the two goals scored on it over last weekend.

The first was by junior defenseman Jakob Stridsberg in the first game, who scored two goals that night. Stridsberg still leads the team in goals with five and in points (goals and assists) with seven.

The other power play goal was scored by sophomore defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk in the second game.

“Our penalty kill right now is really strong and there is a lot of confidence on it,” Powers said. “The 5-on-3- we were three seconds away from being perfect on the weekend, and so it's heading in the right direction. We got two power play goals this weekend too so there’s a lot of positive to draw from.”

However, this loss was particularly difficult for the Sun Devils as they have yet to complete a home sweep. 

“I think it’s a step in the right direction ... I didn’t have to say anything to our guys after Saturday, that it really stung them. They really wanted to get a home sweep and they’ve let another opportunity slip away and I think they’re tired of it," Powers said. "Getting collective buy-in in our second full year – it’s a process. Every day, we’re closer and with every little piece of adversity they go through together, the closer they come together and that’s what it’s all about.”

The buy-in from the Sun Devils on Saturday was impressive, and it was noticed by the entire bench. 

“I just think there was overall commitment from the guys. There was a big buy-in and I felt like, especially after one that really stung, we feel like we’re getting there and making steps along the way," Walker said. "We’re just missing the results, but we played a good game ... that’s something to build off of going into this off-weekend.”

The off-week for ASU is coming at an opportune time, and the Sun Devils are taking advantage of it. 

“You just got to take it one day at a time. You’ve got to prepare a certain way and you just have to be ready,” Wilson said. “Just work hard, have fun and enjoy it – enjoy the process of getting better and make sure we’re ready to go when Penn State walks in here.”

The Sun Devils will face Penn State at Gila River Arena on November 17th and 18th, at 8:00 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.

Reach the reporter at or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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