ASU men's hockey shuts out the Alaska Fairbanks 3-0 in season opener

Sun Devils Demetrios Koumontzis, Johnny Walker and Brinson Pasichnuk all recorded goals in the home opener

The Sun Devil men's hockey team got off to a good start its 2018-19 season with a 3-0 shutout of the Alaska Nanooks in Tempe on Saturday.

The Sun Devils had two of their three goals within the opening frame, and that would be all they needed behind a solid defensive effort that left a goose egg on the scoreboard for Alaska Fairbanks.

"We were sharp," ASU head coach Greg Powers said. "For being in our first game, you could see the jitters in our first shift, but then they settled in. It was a good effort."

In the first period, ASU outshot the Nanooks 17-4. The Sun Devils held possession of the puck throughout the period, leading to their first goal on a rush from the forward first line of junior Tyler Busch, freshman Demetrios Koumontzis and redshirt freshman Austin Lemieux.

Lemieux dropped a pass to Busch in the slot, who then proceeded to put it on net. Parked to the side of the goal was Koumontzis, who picked up a rebound and slid it into the goal for the first strike of the season.

"I have been looking forward to this for the last three years. To come here was my dream, so I was really nervous coming into it," Koumountzis said. "I can be better than what I was tonight ... but I think I got my legs under me and I will be better off tomorrow."

ASU's second goal of the first period came on a rare occurrence — a highly coveted lone assist from a goaltender.

With sophomore forward Johnny Walker to set up the goal, ASU junior netminder Joey Daccord sent a long stretch pass that split two Nanook defenders and landed on the tape of Walker for a breakaway. Walker then deked, went to the backhand and buried a shot to give ASU a 2-0 advantage.

"Me and Johnny (Walker) kind of have this good chemistry going, and it started last year toward the second half of the year," Daccord said. "It was funny, he had told me that he heard my voice in the back of his head saying that I was going to (give him a hard time) if he didn't score. He made sure to put that one in."

Following the first period, ASU's defensive prowess went into effect. Alaska Fairbanks produced 12 shots in the second and seven shots in the third period, but it would come to no avail as the Sun Devil defense was able to keep the Nanooks to the outside, allowing Daccord to see the shots on net with limited traffic.

ASU had two penalties during the game that they killed off with ease, and Powers was pleased with both of his special team units, with the Sun Devil power play generating solid scoring opportunities in the first period.

"I thought we closed out really well," Powers said. "I thought we controlled the third period for the most part. I don't think they had many (scoring chances) in the third, and it was stuff that (Daccord) is going to handle all day. I was really proud of how they locked down."

Late in the third period, junior defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk added a late empty net goal to seal the victory. 

Going for the series sweep on Sunday, ASU will host Alaska Fairbanks again, with puck drop set for 3 p.m. MST.

"Everybody is really good. It's hard to sweep anybody," Powers said. "I think the biggest thing is experience and having veteran leadership and understanding what it takes to close out games ... as a young program we now have that, so the expectation is to close opportunities out."

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