ASU men's hockey looks to continue winning streak against UMass Lowell

The Sun Devils are set to show consistency in their playing style with a matchup against UMass Lowell

ASU men’s hockey (6-12-4) started off the new year with the program’s first tournament win at the Ice Vegas Invitational last weekend.

Now, the Sun Devils are set to face University of Massachusetts Lowell (12-9-0) this weekend and potentially continue their current two-game win streak by playing the same style of game they showcased in Las Vegas. 

“It was a great moment for our guys to experience beating two really good teams and programs,” head coach Greg Powers said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to go up and win that outside of us, and we did it in a pretty convincing fashion. We went 7-3 and had a 3-0 lead going into the third in the championship game, so our guys are confident. We’ve got to carry that over into Friday.”

In the tournament, the team’s 7-3 victory came over Northern Michigan University. ASU followed up that  performance with a 3-2 win in the championship game against Michigan Tech University.

“We just played our game…” freshman right wing Johnny Walker said. “I think as long as we come out and put together three tough periods like we did both games, we should do well.”

The UMass Lowell River Hawks are on a two-game winning streak with 6-0 and 8-3 conference victories against Vermont and UMass Amherst, respectively. 

“They’re going to be a really good challenge for us, but our guys are confident right now, and we’ve got them in our house,” Powers said.

UMass Lowell junior goalie Christoffer Hernberg is currently fourth in goals against average with a 0.667 and fifth in save percentage with a 0.929 among all goaltenders in Div. 1 hockey

Captain and redshirt junior left wing Dylan Hollman said a big focus for the team was to go in for dirtier goals and put more pressure on the goalie. 

“That was kind of a really big focus for us before the break and right here after is shooting off the pad and crashing the net and getting those second opportunities," Hollman said. "Anytime you have a good goalie, getting traffic in front of him is going to be huge and... getting to that greasy area.”

These games are going to be especially important for Hollman, as he used play hockey for UMass Lowell before transferring to ASU.

“I know coach told me pretty much right after I committed here he was going to try to schedule a game,” Hollman said.  “I think he’s done it for most of the guys who have transferred here to get a crack at their old teams, so I’m really excited.”

Additionally, UMass Lowell is 14th in Div. 1 offense with an average of 3.24 goals scored per game(GPG) and are 18th in defense with an average of 2.71 goals scored against the team per game (GAPG). 

The Sun Devils are 55th in offense with a 2.23 GPG and 53rd in defense with a 3.5 GAGP.

The primary issue for ASU continues to be scoring, and with a skilled goalie like Hernberg for UMass Lowell, it is even more important for the Sun Devils to employ their gritty style of play. 

“We’ve got to buy into scoring dirty goals and just getting pucks and bodies to the net, and I think that’s what we did early in Vegas,” Powers said. “We were able to get two shots from the point that we tipped and then a turnover off of the hard forecheck, and that’s how we have to play. We’re not going to score the really pretty, tic-tac-toe, sky-skill goals. Our guys I think are aware of that now.”

The team will attempt to replicate its quality of play from the Las Vegas tournament and must continue to demonstrate that it is a formidable opponent to the rest of the Div. 1 competition and more importantly, itself. 

“We've got to kind of prove to ourselves that last weekend wasn’t a fluke and continue building,” Hollman said. “We definitely didn’t play two perfect games - there’s definitely a lot we can improve upon and hopefully, we can fix some of those things up going into this weekend.”

The games against UMass Lowell will be this Friday and Saturday in Tempe, both starting at 7:05 p.m. MST. 


Reach the reporter at pburnell@asu.edu or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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