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The power play shines for ASU women's hockey in 6-5 victory over CSU

Special teams were a big part of ASU's win over Colorado State


ASU freshman forward Ashlyn Sunderman (21) faces off in a game against Colorado State at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.

Looking to split a series against Colorado State, the ASU women's hockey team came out on Saturday night and took down the Rams in a 6-5 game at Oceanside Ice Arena.

ASU was the beneficiary of five power play goals, and their special teams unit was firing on all cylinders whenever the Rams found themselves in the sin bin.

"For us, it's just about being offensive and trying to be creative," ASU assistant coach Kaley Marino said. "We try to get them feeling comfortable and just say, 'everything to the net.' I think that's where we start to feel a little more comfortable, when our defense is contributing more and we are trying to put everything on net."

As Marino noted, the defense plays a big part on the Sun Devil power play, and that was specifically true for junior defenseman Alyssa Ayers, who registered four assists on Saturday night and was at the forefront of nearly all of ASU's goals.

"I think it was just them getting open for me," Ayers said of her success and her teammates. "It was just having more patience and puck control on my end."

In addition to Ayers, freshman forward Katharine Jones had two of ASU's six goals while also accounting for an assist, continuing her stellar start to the season. Jones leads the team in points with 11 and has been a pivotal factor for the Sun Devils in the beginning of the season.

ASU scored three goals in less than 10 minutes in the first period, leading to a goaltender change for CSU. The Sun Devils primarily controlled the opening 20 minutes of the game, a stark change from the team's performance on Friday night. Coming out of the starting gates, there was some left over frustration that turned into a spark for ASU.

"We were mad about losing yesterday," Jones said. "We were angry and we wanted to get back and not start flat-footed."

The Rams put up a relentless fight, but too much time in the penalty box going up against a potent Sun Devil power play would ultimately lead to the team's demise.

ASU freshman forward Ashlyn Sunderman and junior defenseman Alisa Manny both registered power play goals. Moreover, sophomore forward Catherine Jones and freshman forward Amy Gulliksen both had big insurance goals in the third period that ended up making a big difference.

Gulliksen's goal proved to be the game-winner, and ASU skated away with a victory after fending off a CSU team that wouldn't go away in the third period.

The Rams scored twice in the final 20 minutes, and they were able to cut a previous three-goal ASU lead down to one with just under a minute remaining in the game, as the Sun Devils had to fight hard to earn a series split.

"It was a little rough, just because we lost the period," Marino said. "We try to win every period, and that's how you stay in the game ... I think we just have to be more defensive in our zone."

Nevertheless, a win is a win, and the Sun Devils moved back to 4-4 on the season. Up next, they will have a big test when they head back on the road to return to Boulder.

ASU will take on a Colorado team who is currently No. 3 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings on Sept. 9 and 10.

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