No. 20 ASU hockey knocks off No. 4 Denver in 4-1 upset

Walker's hat trick and DeBrouwer's 33 saves were instrumental in the Sun Devils' victory

ASU earned its biggest win of the season in dramatic fashion by defeating No. 4 Denver 4-1 Friday night. 

Junior forward Johnny Walker scored a hat trick, netting two goals in the first period, helping ASU jump to a lead it would not relinquish. 

Sophomore goaltender Evan DeBrouwer was the other hero of the night, stopping 33 shots, the third-highest total of his ASU career. 

“In a game like this, your adrenaline is flowing the whole time,” DeBrouwer said. “I was busy tonight, but I thought there weren’t a lot of grade-A chances (for Denver). It was one of those nights where as long as I made the first save, that’s all I had to do.”

Coach Greg Powers praised the all-around quality effort by his players in all three periods. 

“What I really liked is that we didn’t sit back,” Powers said. “We stayed playing the way we needed to play if we want to beat a team like (Denver). Really proud of our guys.”

ASU drew first blood as Walker received a pass from sophomore forward Jordan Sandhu, deked a Denver defenseman and fired a wrist shot into the top corner to give ASU a 1-0 lead five minutes and five seconds in. 

“Sandy made a great rinkwide pass. I talked to him about what (Denver) was doing in the neutral zone, and we adjusted a bit,” Walker said. “He just made a great pass, and I just had to put it in.”

Later in the period, after some goaltending wizardry by DeBrouwer, a deep outlet pass by Sandhu to Walker led to an ASU breakaway.

Walker crossed up Denver’s goalie and fired the puck into the wide-open net to give ASU a 2-0 lead.

“I looked at him and he was in (the net) during the breakaway,” Walker said. “And then I saw him come out, and I really just had to get around him. And then, just don’t miss.”

After a scoreless second period for both teams, ASU entered the third frame looking to extend its lead. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, as Denver finally scored a goal halfway through the third to cut the lead to just one goal.

The Pioneers looked to add another, but DeBrouwer did not allow it. And he would need some help from his teammates to get the job done.

“I got a little bit lucky on a few plays with some rebounds,” DeBrouwer said. “My d-men were right there like they’ve been all year. It makes my job a lot easier.”

A costly power play by the Pioneers put the Sun Devils in prime position to score. With under two minutes left, Walker completed the hat trick by tipping in a shot by freshman defenseman Jack Judson to give the Sun Devils a commanding 3-1 lead.

Senior forward Brett Gruber added an empty netter to seal the 4-1 victory for ASU.

And for Powers, it was a victory that validates his faith in his team's potential.

“At the end of the day, it’s belief in ourselves,” Powers said. “We know and we expect to beat everybody we play. It’s a genuine belief.”

ASU improved to 8-4-1 with the win. It will play Denver again on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. MST at Gila River Arena. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @Connor_VL on Twitter. 

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