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ASU men's hockey picks up a series split against Harvard

Following a 4-1 loss on Friday, the Sun Devils won 3-2 in OT on Saturday

Junior forward Brett Gruber (27) handles the puck during the Sun Devils' 5-4 victory against Michigan State in Tempe, Arizona on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.

Coming off its first USCHO top-20 ranking in program history earlier in the week, the No. 18 ASU men's hockey team went on the road to Massachusetts to take on Harvard. The Sun Devils dropped Friday's contest before rallying and picking up a big overtime victory on Saturday.

Game One: Friday

In the first game of the series, ASU fell 4-1 at the hands of the Crimson. 

Harvard netted two goals in a first period that was controlled by the home team, and at the end of 20 minutes, Harvard outshot ASU 14-2. 

Sophomore forward Jack Badini tipped home the first goal of the game while parked in front of ASU junior goaltender Joey Daccord, and the second goal came courtesy of Harvard junior defenseman Adam Fox, who scored on the power play. 

Fox leads the Crimson in points this season, following a season where he was an AHCA All-American.

After a slow start, ASU trimmed the two-goal deficit in half in the second period after a snipe on the power play from sophomore forward Filips Buncis. With the strike, Buncis created a three-game goal streak. 

However, the momentum from a special team's goal would be short lived after ASU gave up a goal of its own while they were shorthanded, giving Harvard a 3-1 edge. 

The Crimson added another goal in the third period and would end up skating away with a 4-1 win after a solid defensive performance where they were able to limit ASU's skill and speed for most of the game. 

Game Two: Saturday

Game two between ASU and Harvard ended in another dramatic overtime victory on the road for the Sun Devils as they earned a come-from-behind 3-2 win.

Just a couple weeks ago, ASU picked up a similar overtime game-winner against No. 5 Penn State, and Saturday's game against Harvard once again displayed some late-game heroics. The Sun Devils are now 2-0 in games that go to OT, and they have yet to sustain a tie this season.

Harvard scored one goal in the first period and another late in the second. The first goal came on the power play from senior forward Lewis Zerter-Gossage and added to what has been a lethal Crimson power play that is firing at nearly 50 percent with the man-advantage this season.

Zerter-Gossage banked in the first goal after it clanked off the skate of ASU freshman defenseman Josh Maniscalco and into the back of the net.

After the power play goal, ASU responded late in the first period on a goal down low from redshirt senior forward Dylan Hollman on an pass from senior forward Anthony Croston. The veteran duo would then swap places in the third period to tie the game at two when Croston scored a goal on an assist from Hollman. 

That set the stage for overtime. 

ASU had to kill a penalty to begin extra time, and after being the culprit of that penalty, Maniscalco would then change his own fortune with one shot. Out of the sin bin and back on the ice, the freshman picked up a puck that trickled his way near the point. 

He proceeded to pick it up and wing it towards the front of the cage. With a screen, the puck buzzed past the glove side of the goaltender and into the net, thus giving ASU the 3-2 win and a series split. 

It was ruled that the game-winner actually went to sophomore forward Johnny Walker after his screen on the Maniscalco shot, but regardless, the only thing that mattered for the Sun Devils was the win. 

Now at 10-4 on the season, ASU will get ready for a trip to Omaha during Thanksgiving weekend when they take on a University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks team that they have already beaten twice this season. 

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