ASU hockey erases two-goal deficit, completes sweep in 5-3 victory over RIT

No. 14 Sun Devils score four unanswered goals after falling down 3-1

After falling down 3-1 in the second period, No. 14 ASU hockey (15-8-3) scored four unanswered goals in a 5-3 comeback victory over the Rochester Institute of Technology Saturday night, completing its second sweep in a row.

The Sun Devils came into the matchup controlling the puck and dictating the pace of play, outshooting the Tigers from the very start.

But it was all for naught, as RIT scored first on a backhander that went past graduate goaltender Max Prawdzik just over six minutes into the first period.

This sloppiness plagued ASU throughout the entire first period. The Sun Devils were handed numerous opportunities and while they managed to generate a few decent scoring chances, the group struggled as a whole to develop a consistent attack.

“I thought we played better in the first period tonight than last night,” head coach Greg Powers said. “We just made two mistakes.”

Yet that sloppiness allowed ASU to tie the game 1-1 with 3:40 left in the first, as a deflected shot by junior forward Willie Knierim slowly trickled behind the goaltender for a Sun Devil goal. 

The game remained tied for only a little over two minutes after the score, as senior Tiger forward Shawn Cameron caught Prawdzik on yet another backhander to make it a 2-1 contest with over a minute left in the first period. 

RIT scored a little over a minute into the second period during a scrum by the net that got the puck past Prawdzik, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Prawdzik struggled during his playtime, posting a save percentage of 63%. He would eventually be pulled for sophomore goaltender Evan DeBrouwer in the second period.

“Those three goals weren’t on Max,” said Powers. “I felt kinda bad for him, because he wasn’t seeing much action and they had three grade-A (opportunities), and they essentially scored on all three.”

Knierim helped make up for the team's struggles in the second period by tipping in a shot from junior defenseman Gvido Jansons to make the score 3-2. 

Just a few minutes later, sophomore forward PJ Marrocco fired a shot into the net tying the game 3-3 and shifting the momentum in ASU's favor.

“My linemates (scored) with me,” said Knierim. “If all three or five of us are doing it, we’ll have success.”

ASU scored seven minutes and six seconds into the third, as sophomore defenseman Joshua Maniscalco caught a pass from senior forward Tyler Busch and redirected it into the net give ASU a 4-3 lead.

“He made a great play in the D-zone to break the play up,” Busch said. “He took off on a rush, and I just tried to join him as fast as I could...I was trying to put (the puck) in an area for him. It wasn’t a perfect pass, but he got a good bounce off it.”

Around three minutes later, the Sun Devils put the finishing touch onto their lead, as junior forward James Sanchez scored on a power play.

The Sun Devils play a two-game series next against Clarkson in Potsdam, NY starting Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. MST. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @Connor_VL on Twitter. 

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