Last year, the Colorado Buffaloes defeated the ASU women’s hockey team by a combined score of 15-2 in Boulder. On Friday night, the Sun Devils had their chance for redemption when the Buffaloes came to Tempe.
However, the Sun Devils fell to Colorado 4-2 in a game that went late into the night at Oceanside Arena.
Colorado came into this season as the No. 11 team in the nation in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Despite the loss, ASU managed to stay close and contend with one of the elite ACHA hockey programs in the country.
“It will be those quick feet that we have to keep up with this weekend. We know exactly who those players are,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said prior to Friday’s game. “We saw them last year, and now we know who they are and now we know how to keep up, so we just have to have the confidence.”
One of those players with quick feet who the Sun Devils would have to compete with on Friday night was Colorado forward Kathleen Ash.
On Thursday night, Ash started her 2017-2018 campaign with a six-goal outburst against Grand Canyon University. Last year, Ash tallied 46 points in just 21 games, and was the leading goal scorer for the Buffaloes. However, on Friday, she was not the only player who got involved on the offensive end for Colorado.
Colorado Junior forward Leah MacArthur picked up a hat trick in the Buffaloes 4-2 victory on Friday. She picked up a goal in the first, second and third periods.
“Being our first series of the season, we are all really excited,” MacArthur said. “We are excited to play together as a team for the first time … it was great to be on the ice again.”
While MacArthur was able to find the back of the net throughout the evening, she knew she wasn’t the sole reason for the Colorado victory.
“My linemates, my teammates, my coaches -- they all push me, and we push each other, and that’s how we get those goals in the back of the net,” MacArthur said.
Ash had the other goal for Colorado when she buried a one-timer in the low slot on a pass from forward Maura Keift. The assist was Keift’s seventh in just two games for the Buffs.
As for ASU’s offensive attack, the Sun Devils notched their first goal of the game in the second period, when junior forward Taylor England buried a shot on the power play. England had a goal and an assist in the game.
“I definitely think that we have improved from last season, playing them (Colorado),” England said. “Building chemistry throughout all of last season and then coming out this season, I think that we came out stronger.”
Nearing the end of the game in the third period, ASU trailed Colorado 4-1, but the Sun Devils did not quit, as ASU senior forward and captain Amber Galles put home another power play goal with 3:53 remaining in the third period.
The goal was Galles third of the season, and she has now scored in every game thus far. After practice on Thursday, Galles discussed her game and what has been working for her so far.
“I like to shoot left shoulder, top shelf," Galles said. "That’s my goal, but that doesn’t always happen, so I just kind of always look for their goalie’s weakness and open spots to the net.”
Among others, senior defenseman KC McGinley had an assist on Galles’ goal, and sophomore goaltender Jordan Nash-Boulden made 51 saves on 55 shots from Colorado. The sophomore netminder made a plethora of saves to keep her team in the game against a fast and lethal Buffs offensive attack.
“Jordan has been incredible,” Ellis said. “She has come up big now in her third game in a row, and we fully expect her to continue this performance.”
As for Colorado’s goaltending, Natalie Warnes made 27 saves on 29 shots in a solid performance between the pipes.
Up next, ASU will have another chance to take on the Buffaloes in the second game of the series between the two teams. Puck drop is set for 10:10 p.m. at Oceanside Arena Saturday night.
Although ASU might be playing with a limited roster against one of the best ACHA teams in the nation, England made it apparent that the Sun Devils always have something to skate for.
“With girls that are out, I think that we skate for them, and we skate for the fans. This is a great opportunity to have, to play women’s hockey, especially in Arizona … I think all of us know that this is a privilege and that skating our butts off, even to the last minute of the hockey game, is a big thing for us.”