No. 20 ASU hockey splits high-scoring series against No. 16 Notre Dame

The Sun Devils scored 10 goals in the series split with the Fighting Irish

No. 20 ASU hockey split its two-game series against No. 16 Notre Dame on Thursday and Friday in South Bend, Indiana to pick up its third win and fourth loss of the 2020-21 season.

Thursday

The Sun Devils entered the series having picked up their first two wins of the season the prior weekend against a ranked Wisconsin team, scoring 11 goals over the two-game series.

Unfortunately for Notre Dame, ASU came into South Bend at a similar pace. 

ASU struck first just 11 seconds into the game, the quickest goal in program history, via freshman forward Ryan O'Reilly.

"He has a natural skill-set that we haven't had," head coach Greg Powers said of O'Reilly. "He's going to be a good one."

Freshman forward Matthew Kopperud scored just over a minute later to quickly put the Sun Devils up to an early two-goal lead.

"There's a reason why (the freshmen) are a top-five class," Powers said. "They're all tremendous players. They have the (purest) talent and skill of any freshman class we've brought in."

After allowing Notre Dame to get on the board later in the first, sophomore forward Jax Murray scored on an assist from freshman forward Benji Eckerle with 6:11 left in the first.

Notre Dame would score a second time with under a minute remaining in the period to head into the first intermission with ASU up by one.

Junior forward Demetrios Koumontzis, who had assisted on Kopperud's first goal, scored one of his own in the second period. Kopperud would follow up with another goal in the third period.

"I'm playing with a lot more confidence in my shot," Kopperud said. "It's working, so I am going to keep shooting."

Murray scored his second goal of the game on an empty net to stretch ASU's lead to 6-3; it was his fifth point in his last three games.

Junior Evan DeBrouwer, who got the nod in net, stopped 31 of 34 shots to earn a .912 save percentage and pick up his second win of the season.

"I think our team has capitalized on a lot of our shots," O'Reilly said. "Every time we put pucks on net, good things happen."

Friday

It was the Fighting Irish (3-3), not the Sun Devils (3-4-1), who got the early jump in Friday's game, scoring at 5:10 and 5:23 into the first period on goals from junior forward Alex Steeves and freshman forward Landon Slaggert, putting ASU in a hole early.

ASU got on the scoreboard with less than a minute remaining in the first, with junior forward Jordan Sandhu scoring on assists from Kopperud and Koumontzis to reduce the deficit.

Kopperud scored his fifth goal of the season in front of the net at 12:51 into the second period to tie the game.

Less than five minutes later, Kopperud scored his second game of the night — his fourth of the series — on a power-play to give ASU a 3-2 lead.

"We had a rough first period," Kopperud said. "In the third period we let off the gas (after a strong second), and it cost us."

The score was just the Sun Devils' second power-play goal on 26 total chances this season.

O'Reilly knocked home a loose puck on the back door a minute following Kopperud's second goal to flip the score on Notre Dame.

But the Fighting Irish came back in the third period strong, scoring twice after the halfway point of the period to knot the score.

Notre Dame junior defenseman Nick Leivermann scored on a turnover with five seconds remaining in the game to give the team the go-ahead goal.

"Credit to Notre Dame. We were as good as we could possibly be in the second, they were as good as they could possibly be in the third," Powers said of the game. "We were a couple of shifts away from grinding the clock out."

Leivermann's goal was reviewed for a potential offsides, and sophomore forward Solag Bakich's goal to initially tie the game was reviewed for potential goaltender interference, but both goals stood.

"Reviews or no reviews, we lost that game because we stopped doing what was working for us," Powers said. "(We) let them back in the game; that's on us. The nature of how we didn't get a sweep, it hurts. It has to be a loss that we learn from, not one that sets us back."

ASU will head to play against the Penn State Nittany Lions (1-5) on Friday and Sunday.


Reach the reporter at aklatsky@asu.edu and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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