ASU women's hockey drops second game to Midland

The ASU women's hockey team was defeated by the Midland Warriors 4-2 on Saturday night

The ASU women’s hockey team fell to the Midland Warriors 4-2 on Saturday night at Tempe's Oceanside Arena.

Midland, No. 11 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) rankings, dispatched ASU 5-1 on Friday night. With a renewed sense of urgency, the Sun Devils came out on Saturday and entered the third period tied 2-2 with one of the top teams in the ACHA — but the home team couldn't pull off the win.

“I think we played a lot better than yesterday,” ASU senior forward and captain Amber Galles said. “The speed was up, the passing was up, and we didn’t give up as many chances as we did yesterday.”

ASU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game after a shot in front of the net from Galles – her seventh of the season.

The shot was assisted by sophomore forward Alyssa Ayers and freshman forward Catherine Jones. Throughout the game, Ayers and Galles worked in tandem to generate scoring chances for the Sun Devils.

“She (Galles) is one of the best players that we have,” Ayers said. “She makes the game fun. We always connect on the ice, and communication is awesome with her, so that definitely helps. She puts them in (the net), and it makes it easier for the rest of the line.”

Despite a solid performance in the opening frame, Midland would strike back late in the second period with two goals in less than a minute.

Midland junior defenseman Isabelle Uhl-Chmiel would find the back of the net on a rebound in front of the net, and sophomore forward Savannah Wright followed that goal with a tally of her own off of a wrist shot from the right circle to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.

Uhl-Chmiel finished the game with two goals and three points to give the junior blue-liner 25 points in 16 games played. 

Despite a strong push from the Warriors toward the end of the second period, ASU responded with a goal from Ayers. After forcing a turnover in front of the Midland net, Ayers was able to corral the puck and bury a wrist shot off the post and into the back of the net to knot the game at two.

“That was just pure hustle and being able to beat people in those types of situations, and being able to get that puck on net is really important in games like this,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said of Ayer’s goal.

Going into the second intermission, ASU and Midland were tied, but the Warriors wouldn’t keep it that way for long.

Less than 20 minutes into the third period, Uhl-Chmiel was able to dangle through a couple of ASU defenders and find the back of the net on the backhand.

Then, less than five minutes later, Midland freshman forward Robin Hatcher was able to escape on a breakaway and bury a wrist shot to ice the game away.

“Everything was so positive today, and they (ASU) came out fired up,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “Unfortunately, hockey is a game of mistakes, and we made a few more than them.”

Throughout the game, ASU had its chances, but the team was unable to capitalize despite five power plays that resulted in no goals. 

During ASU’s last road trip to Colorado, the Sun Devils were able to take advantage of their special teams, but on Saturday, the team simply wasn’t able to replicate their success.

Despite the tough night on the power play, Ellis knows that the struggles of one night have not exemplified the entire special teams unit this season.

“We have been very successful on our power play this season as a whole,” Ellis said. “Just fine tuning the little things and being able to get those passes down is what is going to help us in the future.”

Following the loss on Saturday, ASU is now on a six-game skid, but that does not tell the whole story. 

Of the six losses, five of the opponents were ranked within the Top-15 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and ASU played four of those six games over the course of three days. In addition to the tough schedule, ASU was outnumbered by nearly a 2-1 margin in roster size.

Overall, the Sun Devils have managed to play competitive hockey with a limited roster against elite opponents in the ACHA in only their second year as a program.

“We still kind of forget sometimes that we are a second year program,” Ellis said. “As long as we get better every single game and give it our all, that’s all we can ask for.”

Up next, ASU will take on a familiar foe when they play Grand Canyon University at AZ Ice in Peoria on December 8-9. The season series between the two cross-town schools is currently tied 1-1-1.

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