ASU women's hockey team finds success while making history in program's first games

The Sun Devils took the ice for the first time and sealed their first two victories of the season.

History was made this weekend at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe as the ASU women's hockey team took the ice for the first time in the programs brief existence.

This weekend included a lot of special moments for the team. It marked ASU's first game played, goal scored and win recorded in women's program history.

A lot of work and preparation has gone on leading up to these two exhibition games, which make up half of the teams’ four home games this season. Music blared and fans filled their seats as the anticipation surrounding the team finally came to end.

GAME 1: ASU VS ANAHEIM LADY DUCKS (Friday)

While the first game resulted in a win, ASU had a rough first period. The Sun Devils came out slow and had trouble connecting long passes. Head coach Lindsey Ellis attributed the slow start to the nerves that come with the first game of the season.

Maybe that's really all it was, because coming out for the second period the team seemed to hit its stride and find its groove.

As the girls glided across the ice, shouting to each other and working in sync it was hard to imagine that they had worked as a solidified unit only eight times prior.

Freshman Jordan Nash-Boulden was the starting goalie for game one of the back-to-back before the team would see Brianna Hersom in net in game two.

Around the 14 minute mark in the first period Anaheim found the back of the net to grab a 1-0 lead. It would be the only goal that Nash-Boulden let in the entire night.

A unit made up of junior forward Amber Galles, sophomore forwards Taylor England and Dannika Borges, freshman defenseman Molly Potter and sophomore defenseman Brooke Kelsall was on fire for the Sun Devils. The chemistry between Galles, England and Borges, who also happen to be the team’s three alternate captains, was key in the victory.

Galles scored both goals for the Sun Devils, one goal in the second period and the other in the third. Her second-period goal will go down in history as the team's first goal, as will Nash-Boulden’s win in net.

“It feels good to win our first game, the girls are all very excited right now,” said Ellis. “I like the intensity that we had built by the end of the game. Like I said, they were a little nervous at first but as time went on they became more supportive of each other.”

Despite the excitement around the team's first win, assistant coach Matt Shott acknowledged ASU had plenty to work on going forward against some tougher competition.

"I think our forecheck was a little sloppier than it should have been,” said assistant coach Matt Shott. “I think we could have been a lot harder on the puck, especially since the other team started to get tense, to get nervous. I think that we should have capitalized on that.”

When asked how it felt to score the first goal in the history of the program, Galles wouldn't take all the credit.

“I mean it was really a team effort,” said Galles. “It made me feel really proud to help get this team moving and get everybody a bit more confidence. It really helped get everyone's spirits up."


GAME 2: ASU VS ANAHEIM LADY DUCKS (Saturday)

Saturday's game against the Lady Ducks gave the Sun Devils a chance to sweep their first weekend of the season. With strong forechecking and a consistent pressure on the puck, it seemed they were primed to do just that.

ASU was first to find the back of the net midway through the opening period as Borges scored her first goal as a Sun Devil.

But their lead didn't last long as Anaheim wouldn’t give up easily. By the end of the second period the score was tied 1-1.

Both teams went scoreless in the third until just under two minutes remaining, when junior captain KC McGinley fired a wrister from the point that would tip off the stick of Kelsall and squeak through the goalie's legs.

McGinley then sealed the deal with a goal of her own after the Lady Ducks pulled their goalie, bringing the final margin to 3-1.

Hersom recorded her first win in net, making the path to choosing a starting goalie harder for the coaching staff.

“Honestly there was a lot more passion in this game and wanting to win,” said Ellis. “Yesterday was just filled with so many nerves that I don’t know if they were even focussing on the love of the game. They had a lot more fun tonight and that worked for them.”

Heading into the next two weeks before their season starts in Colorado, the coaches said they hope to improve the team’s play in the neutral zone and increase the girls' stamina. They also hope to encourage the girls to bring the same level, if not more intensity and passion to every game.

ASU Women’s hockey team has had its first taste of victory and they’ll only want more of it.

The team will play its first regular season game on Friday October 7, at 7pm against the University of Colorado. 


Reach the reporter at tsclark5@asu.edu or follow @taylorsedona on Twitter.

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