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ASU women's hockey fends off Denver 3-2 on senior night

The ASU women's hockey team swept the Denver Pioneers on Saturday night in Tempe


ASU senior defenseman Amber Galles (22) plays the puck along the boards during the second period of the Sun Devils' 5-2 win over Denver on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Arizona.

The ASU women’s hockey team brought out the brooms on Saturday night and picked up a series sweep over the Denver Pioneers by recording a 3-2 victory at Oceanside Arena.

Dating back to last season, the win was ASU’s fourth consecutive victory against Denver, and the program has yet to lose a game to its Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) foe.

In addition to the sweep, ASU honored its four senior captains on Saturday night during their final home game at Oceanside Arena. 

“They are a good, hard, physical team and I think they are really evenly matched with us,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “To have a three-goal differential (in last night’s game), obviously, both programs are better, but it just shows how much better we have gotten as well (compared to last year).”

Prior to the game, the seniors were honored with their parents in attendance, and all four players had a special moment on the ice when they started the game on the same line – something that they have not been able to do throughout the majority of the season with different players shifting into different roles.

“Last year, those four were able to start quite frequently,” Ellis said. “This year, they haven’t been able to play as a line as much, and I know they were really excited to be able to play a little bit more on the same line together.”

All four players registered a point en route to the victory, and ASU senior forwards Amber Galles and Dannika Borges both lit the lamp for the second consecutive night

Borges’ goal marked her fourth point over the course of two games and her goal on Saturday proved to be the game-winner for the Sun Devils.

“I was just ready to play,” Borges said. “I want those goals and the feeling of getting back on the board like that yesterday was just amazing, and I want to continue that with the rest of the season that we do have.”

Although Borges’ goal provided a nice touch on senior day, she was not the only player who stepped up. On a night that was all about the seniors, a freshman came up big for the Sun Devils.

In the first period, ASU freshman forward Catherine Jones gathered a loose puck in front of the Denver net and slid it past the goal line to give ASU a 1-0 lead.

This was her second consecutive night with a goal and, with the tally, Jones became the first freshman in program history with 10 points or more.

“I love all of them,” Jones said of the seniors. “I have been on lines with all of them all year, and it’s just that the bond is so strong. Whenever I score, they score and we are just the happiest people out there. It’s the best time.”

Despite the success for Jones and the rest of her teammates, Denver did not go down without a fight. 

After going down by two goals twice in the game, Denver came back with a response.

In the second period, Denver defenseman Zoe Smith buried a puck in front of the ASU net that trimmed the ASU lead down to one goal in the third period. 

After an ASU goal from Borges made the score 3-1, Denver struck yet again late in the third period with a goal from Sophia Cianfrani to make the final score 3-2.

Although the Pioneers put forth a valiant effort, their bid at a comeback came up just short against an ASU team that is 5-0-1 when leading after two periods.

With the win, ASU grabbed its seventh victory in the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL), giving the Sun Devils an upper hand on two teams behind them in the league rankings--Denver and Colorado State.

With the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) League schedule dwindling down and the conference playoffs in sight, ASU is nearly a shoe-in to make the league tournament.

Pending other games around the league this weekend, ASU could find themselves in a clinched playoff spot by as early as Sunday afternoon.

Until that time, ASU will get ready for a daunting road trip next weekend when the team travels to a place where their head coach won a national title: Miami-Ohio. 

The Redhawks are currently the No. 7 team in the nation, and they are the defending ACHA National Champions.

“Hopefully we can crack the top-15 (in the ACHA) this week,” Ellis said. “Going into next weekend playing a team that has played in the national championship title game for the last four years, I think it’s going to be our biggest test in program history.”

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