ASU men's hockey fights hard, but falls to Penn State 4-2

The Nittany Lions defeat the Sun Devils at Gila River Arena in Glendale

ASU men's hockey fell 4-2 to the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions Saturday at Gila River Arena. The Sun Devils cut the Penn State lead to one with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third period, but could not tie the game.

"I feel like our guys left everything they had on the ice," head coach Greg Powers said. "They had a really good, hard third period. Tons of pressure on (Penn State) in the last five minutes and we just couldn't buy one." 

ASU got off to a hot start, scoring 100 seconds into the game. On a fast break, freshman forward Johnny Walker located sophomore forward Brett Gruber on a tape-to-tape pass and Gruber buried the puck past Penn State sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones. It was Gruber's second tally of 2017-18. 

"I was going to throw it on net and I heard (Gruber) yell for it, so I figure I'd throw it to an area he might be," Walker said. "He had a nice finish. It was a good way to start the game and get things started." 

However, the Nittany Lions would need less than five minutes to counter as they scored twice in 26 seconds to take a 2-1 lead. 

Penn State would hold up all the way until the final minute of the second period, when Penn State junior defenseman Derian Hamilton tallied a goal at 19:13. Hamilton's goal would eventually end up being the game-winning goal. 

"We never want to get scored on in the first two or last two minutes (of the) period because it's such a killer," Powers said. "That one hurts. It's tough to overcome those late goals against – there's no doubt."

ASU was down 3-1 entering the third period, but at 9:51, sophomore forward Tyler Busch found a rebound on the doorstep and brought Penn State's lead down to 3-2. However, an empty-net goal at 18:47 would secure the desert sweep for the Nittany Lions. 

"We can build off that effort, especially in the third period," Powers said. "If they play to our identity like they did, we'll start to find some success. It'll translate to wins."

Neither team registered a power play goal and Penn State outshot ASU by nearly a 2:1 ratio, 49-25. 

Goaltending Shines

ASU sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord was brilliant in back-to-back starts. Daccord made 45 saves in the loss, often stopping multiple shots in a row. 

"Penn State loves to shoot the puck, so I knew I was going to have to be good tonight and try to control my rebounds and just do the best I can with whatever they threw at me," Daccord said. "I'm prepared for a lot of shots, but I like seeing a lot of shots."

"(Daccord) was outstanding. He made huge saves," Powers said. "All you can ask as a new program is your goalie to give you a chance to win every night."

What's Next for ASU

The Sun Devils head back east to face the Holy Cross Crusaders in Worcester, Massachusetts in a two-game series beginning Friday, Nov. 24. Faceoff for both Friday and Saturday's contests are scheduled for 5:05 p.m. MST. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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