ASU hockey's offense surges, sweeps No. 14 Wisconsin for first wins of season

The Sun Devils picked up their first and second wins of the 2020-21 season against the Badgers

The Arizona State men's hockey team recorded its first two wins and sweep of the 2020-21 season, defeating No. 14 Wisconsin 8-5 and 3-1.


The Sun Devils continued their streak of allowing the first goal in the game to their opponent, with Wisconsin forward Brock Caufield capitalizing on a breakaway to put the puck past freshman goaltender Cole Brady just 2:35 into the game. 

ASU, though, answered the call and scored its first goal in either of the first two periods on the season just a few minutes later, as freshman forward Matthew Kopperud scored the first goal of his college career.

"It was really big," head coach Greg Powers said of the first goal. "It just felt like we were going to break out tonight. They were confident, their attitudes were great, they were positive. It was a different feeling."

Kopperud finished the night with a goal and two assists.

ASU and UW traded goals again later in the period, coming from Badgers' forward Owen Lindmark and Sun Devils' Demetrios Koumontzis at 13:06 and 13:46 into the first, respectively, to enter the second period knotted at two goals each.

"Two goals in four games, nobody was happy with (that) at all," Koumontzis said. "We just needed one or two to get our team going, and that happened tonight. We needed that especially against a team like Wisconsin. It was just a big breakthrough for our offensive power."

The difference-maker came in the second period; ASU dominated the middle frame, scoring three goals to take a commanding 5-2 lead.

"We were good in from the of the net, we were good in front of our net," Powers said. "It was a huge point of emphasis all week, just get low to high and fight to get to the front of the net."

Transfer defenseman Tanner Hickey scored his first goal in an ASU uniform just on the goal that increased the Sun Devil lead to three.

The Badgers showed some life in the third period but wasn't able to stifle ASU's offense. Freshman forward Benji Eckerle continued the scoring surge for the Sun Devils with a goal early in the period.

Wisconsin answered ASU's five-goal streak with three of their own in a late-stage attempt to climb back into the game.

However, two goals from ASU forward Willie Knierim — the second an empty-netter — cemented ASU's first win of the 2020-21 season, after losing three of the first four to begin the year and tying the other.

"Our practices all week were really good," Knierim said. "We were sharp ... making crisp passes, getting to the net, scoring goals, positive energy, it carries over. I thought it did tonight."


The Sun Devils began Sunday's marquee matchup on a similar footing to how they began the first game of the series. 

Kopperud got ASU on the board first, scoring at 6:18 in the game; it was ASU's first game of the season in which they scored first.

"It's a huge confidence booster," Kopperud said of the team's scoring increase. "We have all four lines scoring goals which makes it a lot easier (down the road)."

The goal was Kopperud's team-leading fourth point of the series.

"Hopefully this charters our course for the rest of the season," Powers said of the win. "This result does not surprise us ... it's a really good step in the right direction."

Sophomore forward Jax Murray doubled ASU's lead with 2:03 remaining in the opening period.

Junior goaltender Evan DeBrouwer played in place of Brady, who played the first game of the series. DeBrouwer let in an own goal that was accidentally sent into the net by ASU forward Sean Dhooghe at 3:21 into the second period, which reduced the lead back down to one.

The goal was credited to Wisconsin forward Sam Stange.

DeBrouwer finished with 28 saves and a .966 save percentage in the game.

Murray scored his second of the game on a redirected shot from Jacob Wilson a second shy of the 10-minute mark in the second to bump ASU's lead back up to a pair of goals.

The second score for Murray marked his first and second collegiate goals and the second and third points of the weekend.

"We knew we just needed to play hard ... and the rest of the game would take care of itself," Murray said.

ASU was able to hold off Wisconsin from finding the net a second time, ending the game with a 3-1 win and securing their first sweep of the 2020-21 season.

ASU originally planned to travel back to Arizona in between the series against Wisconsin and Notre Dame but elected to stay on the long road trip.

"We love our depth," Powers said. "We have four lines that can score. Everybody is a threat and when we are playing the right way, we are not going to be fun to play against."

The Sun Devils will travel to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame on Thursday and Friday. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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