ASU men's hockey finishes the season with two 5-3 losses to Michigan

The Sun Devils finish the season off on a sour note, but are excited for what is to come

ASU men’s hockey (8-21-5) fought back in both of its games against the University of Michigan Wolverines (18-13-5), but its efforts were not enough as both games ended in a 5-3 loss. 

“They pushed back. I'm proud of their effort, their heart (and) their ability not to give up,” head coach Greg Powers said. “(There was) a lot of resiliency in that room so we’re proud of how they pushed back both nights. We didn’t get it done, ultimately, but there’s some positives to draw on for sure.”

Friday’s game started off well for the Sun Devils as freshman right wing Johnny Walker scored 51 seconds into the first period with an assist from sophomore centerman Brett Gruber.

Less than four minutes later, Michigan tied the game with a goal from sophomore forward James Sanchez

The Wolverines made quick work of getting the lead with two more goals before the end of the first period from Sanchez and freshman forward Michael Pastujov, respectively. 

The majority of the second period was fairly even play, but the Wolverines were able to extend their lead with a goal by junior defenseman Joseph Cecconi

Then, with one minute left in the second, the Sun Devils started to fight back with Walker’s second goal of the night, assisted by Gruber and sophomore defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk.

Gruber put the game within one goal with assists from senior left wing David Norris and freshman defenseman Max Balinson.  

Nonetheless, after taking sophomore goalie Joey Daccord out to get an extra attacker, Michigan’s freshman forward Dakota Raabe managed an empty net goal. 

The second game marked an even worse start for the Sun Devils as Michigan scored three unanswered goals before the end of the first period. 

“It was another bad start. That’s what I told the guys after the game,” Powers said. “We’re going to fix how we start games. We pre-scout, we prepare, we know exactly what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. Our guys just waited. They waited again and it was too late.”

Junior forward and the Wolverines leading scorer, Cooper Marody, struck first and was followed by senior defenseman Sam Piazza and sophomore forward Adam Winborg, respectively. 

The beginning of the second period was similar with senior forward Tony Calderone scoring on a breakaway, which gave Michigan a commanding 4-0 lead. 

Once again, the Sun Devils made a major effort to comeback, which started with two second period goals from Walker.

This means a three-game two-goal scoring streak for Walker and with 17 goals, he is now second amongst Div. 1 freshmen in goals. 

The ASU record for goals scored by a freshman in a season is now set at 17 as well. 

“We’re going to have to build around those guys like Johnny Walker and Brinson (Pasichnuk) and Joey (Daccord),” Powers said. “We missed Bushy a lot these last four games. We’ll build around them and be a lot better.”

Calderone added his second goal of the game, and while a goal from freshman forward Filips Buncis closed the gap, it was not enough to prevent a 5-3 Michigan victory.

This is just the beginning for Sun Devil Hockey as the 2-year-old program is prepared to keep building and improving as it comes into its own. 

Powers said the team has made progress, despite not getting the wins they wanted. 

"The biggest thing that we have that we’re going to continue to build on from is that we’ve got some young talent that can really play," Powers said. "All of our go-to guys are all underclassmen. They’re all going to be back, and I love the kids we’re bringing in.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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