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Assiniboine sweeps ASU women's hockey 4-0

The ASU women's hockey team dropped game three to the Assiniboine Cougars on Sunday morning


ASU sophomore defenseman Brooke Kelsall (8) pressures Assiniboine's forward Lauren Blight (8) during the second period of the Sun Devil's 4-0 loss to Assiniboine Community College on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Arizona.

After dropping the first two games of the series with the Assiniboine Cougars of Assiniboine Community College, the ASU women’s hockey team was looking to salvage a game from the three-game set with a 9 a.m. puck drop on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the team's bid at avoiding a series sweep could not be made as they fell 4-0 to Assiniboine.

“One thing we need to be able to do is make tape-to-tape passes,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “That’s going to help us out in the neutral zone, being able to make those breakouts out of the zone.”

Over the weekend, ASU was stymied by an Assiniboine juggernaut that controlled the puck. The Cougars' structure and execution on breakouts and in transition led to three consecutive victories.

Assiniboine held possession of the puck for the majority of the three games, and it had a variety of different players step up and make plays.

“With a lot of the teams that we have faced in Division I (ACHA), they are fast,” Ellis said. “With a team like this (Assiniboine), they are great passers and that’s what beat us this weekend.”

On Friday and Saturday, it was Assiniboine forward Rachel Charles who had big scoring nights-recording five goals over the course of the first two games of the series.

However, on Sunday, the Cougars got production from other areas. In the first period, defenseman Blair Bodie notched the first goal of the game on the power play. Bodie finished the game with two goals.

Among others, forward Sierra Parenteau finished Sunday’s game with three points, and she assisted on three of the Cougars four goals.

“There isn’t one person who is way above other teammates,” Parenteau said. “It’s really nice. That’s just what kind of team we are with everyone scoring.”

Assiniboine recorded one goal in the first period, two goals in the second, and one more in the third to round out a productive offensive day.

The Cougars are a relatively young American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) team in Division II of the league. The program joined the ACHA in 2015, and the weekend sweep over a Division I opponent marked the fourth consecutive victory for the team from Manitoba, Canada.

“We rely on a total team effort,” Assiniboine head coach Terry Arksey said. “If we roll our three lines, and one line usually contributes each and every game … that’s what we are looking for from top to bottom is a balanced attack.”

As for ASU, the Sun Devils rounded out a tough weekend with their first shutout on home ice this season.

The games with Assiniboine will count as league games and they are recorded, but they will not affect ASU’s rankings in the next coaches poll, nor will they affect ASU’s look on the Division I playoff picture.

With that in mind, the Sun Devils decided to experiment on Sunday morning. ASU senior defenseman and captain KC McGinley was assigned a different role to say the least.

McGinley played for stints of Sunday’s game as a forward and was thrown into the face-off circle to take some draws for her team. 

The idea of McGinley remaining as a forward seems unlikely with ASU’s small roster, but it did create for some quality scoring chances and some valuable ice time for the senior, who seemed to enjoy her time away from the defensive zone.

“That was so fun. I love that. I love to just get out of my head and to change it up,” McGinley said. “That works for me, so I had a blast playing forward.”

Among others, ASU sophomore forward Alyssa Ayers dropped back into the defensive zone along with senior forward Dannika Borges.

The forwards have been rotating and splitting time in the defensive zone this season with a limited roster size, but Sunday was the first time McGinley had moved into the offensive zone.

"It was a learning experience for everyone who was playing different positions,” Ellis said. 

Although the Sun Devils were on the wrong side of a series sweep on Sunday, it is worth noting that it was the team’s first game action in over a month. 

The games against Assiniboine likely served as a valuable learning experience against a worthy and skilled opponent.

Up next, ASU will host Denver for a two-game series in the final two home games of the year at Oceanside Arena. Puck drop for game one is slated for Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. MST.

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