ASU throttles Arizona Hockey 8-1 in First game of NCAA Campaign

Division I hockey in the desert got off to a hot start as ASU disposed of in-state rival Arizona 8-1 at Gila River Arena in Glendale

As ticketholders donning the maroon and gold uniform strolled into Gila River Arena in Glendale, players and fans alike awaited a night full of firsts for the newly appointed Division I hockey team from ASU.

Hours later, all those Sun Devils left the arena elated after a dominant 8-1 victory over the Wildcats to begin the highly anticipated inaugural season in Division I.

The first historical milestone did not take long to occur, albeit after a false alarm inside the first four minutes as junior forward Ryan Belonger’s early goal was disallowed for a high stick. 

Following an Arizona penalty, junior defenseman Connor Schmidt etched his name in the history books, rocketing a shot off the left pad of Wildcat goalie Garrett Patrick up and into the net to give ASU and early 1-0 lead 7:35 into the game.

"It really hasn't set in yet, I am starting to think about it and it is an honor" Schmidt said reflecting on the goal. "It's something I can tell my grandkids (about)."

The Sun Devils would strike again less than two minutes later, as defensive senior and team captain Jordan Young would light the lamp for ASU, assisted by freshman forward Joe Lappin and graduate forward Garrett Peterson.

Not to be deterred, the Wildcats showed life early when centerman Robbie Wilkinson cut the Sun Devils lead in half, beating ASU junior goaltender Robert Levin on his glove side. 

ASU would respond quickly, boosting the lead back to two goals when freshman wingman Jack Rowe beat Patrick up high, followed by another from freshman forward Jordan Masters assisted by Rowe to carry the Sun Devils into the first intermission up 4-1.

"We probably won't be in a situation too often this year where we need to have that killer instinct, when we have teams down," ASU head coach Greg Powers said after the game. "We plan on winning games, but not like we are used to at the ACHA level."

That "killer instinct" was shown by the Sun Devils in the following periods, as the lead was stretched to 7-1 following another goal from Masters, one from freshman forward Matt Kennedy 45 seconds later, and one from freshman forward Ryan Stevens 7:35 into the 2nd period. 

Down by six, Arizona coach Chad Berman made a switch at goaltender, replacing Patrick with goaltender Austin Wilson. 

Powers would make a similar adjustment, allowing freshman goalie Ryland Pashovitz some time between the pipes — he would face 6 shots in two periods without allowing a goal helping ASU cruise to an 8-1 finish.

"Great night to be a Sun Devil," Powers said following the game. "For this being the first full in season day for us. ... We are really pleased."

One of the many standout things for Powers to be pleased about was the production of his freshman forwards, cataloging five of the eight goals for ASU during the game, along with freshman defenseman Joey Raats who collected three assists late in the game.

"Proud of the freshman, we knew that moving forward they are going to have to be big for us." Powers said. "(Jordan) was our best player tonight, he was the player who got the player of the game award from our staff."

ASU heads to Alaska for a weekend of hockey versus Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks before heading back to the lower 48 to play Quinnipiac University and the University of Connecticut.

Related Links:

ASU hockey begins Division I campaign versus Arizona

Q&A with The Daily Wildcat: Previewing ASU hockey's Oct. 3 opener against Arizona


Reach the reporter at csafran@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @ChrisSafran

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