ASU splits two-game series with UMass-Amherst, drops finale 4-2

The Sun Devils fell for the first time in the 2017-18 season

ASU men’s hockey fell for the first time this season 4-2 to the UMass-Amherst Minutemen at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. The Sun Devils were tied 2-2 with the Minutemen during the first two periods of play, but failed to find the back of the net in the final period of play. 

“At the end of the day, we didn’t deserve to win that game,” ASU head coach Greg Powers said. “UMass outplayed us. They played harder, and they got rewarded. That’s how this game works.”

UMass-Amherst struck first at 6:30 when freshman forward Jake Gaudet found a rebound right in front of the net and buried it at the back of the net against ASU sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord. 

Daccord made the second of back-to-back starts for the Sun Devils in goal. 

However, just 1:09 later, the Sun Devils responded when freshman forward Johnny Walker fired the puck by UMass-Amherst freshman goalie Matt Murray, tying the game 1-1. The goal was Walker’s first of his collegiate career.  

“It was a good experience,” Walker said. “(It) would have been real nice to get the win tonight ... something we wanted to check off was a home sweep, but we’ll have more opportunities this year, and we’ll definitely close in on that.” 

The second period saw a 1-1 score until sophomore forward Griff Jeszka broke the deadlock at 7:59 of the second period and the Minutemen retook the lead, 2-1.  

ASU countered when junior forward Anthony Croston raced into the offensive zone and backhanded a puck by Murray at 12:06. The game was knotted 2-2.  

However, the Minutemen broke the 2-2 tie at 9:06 of the third period when freshman forward John Leonard tallied. 

“I think there was a little desperation (down the stretch),” Walker said. “I don’t think that there was any panic. We have a lot of good leaders. They just kept the boys under control and said stick to our game plan.”

The Sun Devils had opportunities down the stretch, but UMass-Amherst scored an empty netter with less than a minute to go. 

Powers said that the Sun Devils played well in spite of the loss. 

“There’s not a guy in that room that can’t look themselves in the mirror and say they could’ve done something a lot better and played a lot harder,” Powers said.

In the loss, Daccord made 28 saves. The Sun Devils were outshot 32-24, including 26-16 in the final 40 minutes. 

“We told our guys before the game, 'It is so hard to sweep in Division I hockey,'” Powers said. “We were in our first full year last year."

Prior to tonight’s game, the Sun Devils had won their first three games in NCAA D-I program history against the UMass-Amherst Minutemen.  

ASU now takes to the road for the first time this season and embarks on a six-game road trip that will last the remainder of October. The journey begins Friday, Oct. 13 in Colorado Springs when the team faces No. 17 Air Force in a two-game series. A two-game series with Nebraska-Omaha and Colgate follow before the Sun Devils return to Arizona.  

 Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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