ASU hockey swept by No. 1 Minnesota in competitive, offense-filled series

The Sun Devils suffered 4-1 and 6-4 losses against the undefeated team

ASU hockey suffered two losses against No. 1 Minnesota on Sunday and Monday, losing 4-1 and 6-4, respectively. ASU is now 4-8-2 after its first games of 2021.

Sunday

The Sun Devils applied offensive pressure early in their first game against the Golden Gophers, who came in having allowed just eight goals in eight games.

Freshman forward Matthew Kopperud scored his eighth goal and 14th point of the season, both team-high marks, just under five minutes into the game on a power-play to give ASU an early lead.

The Sun Devils took the lead into the second period, with junior goaltender Evan DeBrouwer stopping all 10 shots he faced in the first period to keep Minnesota off of the scoreboard.

Minnesota quickly jumped out in front of ASU with a strong second period, scoring three goals in five minutes in the first half of the frame to take a 3-1 lead.

"It was a bad five minutes against a really good team," head coach Greg Powers said. "I thought we played really well. Minus the five minutes, and even in the third, I thought we were playing really well."

Minnesota junior forward Sampo Ranta scored 16:25 into the third period to add to his team's lead, handing ASU a 4-1 loss to open the new year.

The game saw the return of senior forward Johnny Walker, who played in his first game since Nov. 15, where he sustained a lower-body injury against Michigan in the opening series of the season.

"I really wish we came away with the win, but it was nice to get back out there," Walker said. "(The injury is) not how you want to start your senior year, but this program is all about adversity and learning to deal with it, and I've taken a lot of the teaching points ... and used that to fuel me."

ASU held Minnesota's power-play scoreless for all 11 minutes in which it possessed a man advantage. Conversely, the Sun Devils' lone goal came on one of their two power-plays, ending the 100% penalty kill percentage the Golden Gophers held coming into Sunday's game.

Monday

Minnesota reversed their woes from the first period on Sunday's game and scored on freshman goaltender Cole Brady just under 10 minutes into Monday's matchup.

"We had spots where we were going and other times we weren't," Walker said. "We can't come out flat against a team like that or any time. We got better as the game went on but we have to (be) better in the first period."

The Gophers scored again with 3:48 left in the opening period on a wrap-around goal from sophomore forward Jonny Sorenson.

ASU found life in the second period, scoring another power-play goal against Minnesota, this time a redirect from senior forward Sean Dhooghe, his second goal and point of the season.

Over six minutes later, ASU junior forward PJ Marrocco received a feed from freshman forward Benji Eckerle on an odd-man rush and buried the puck past Minnesota sophomore goaltender Jared Moe to tie the score.

Less than two minutes later, Walker scored a tricky, lacrosse-style goal from behind the net to give ASU a 3-2 lead.

"We all knew Johnny (Walker) coming back was going to be a key," Marrocco said. "After he (scored the goal) ... we dominated the whole second period off of it."

Ranta tied the score for Minnesota at three goals apiece shortly after Walker's highlight-reel goal.

Brady was pulled from the net after Ranta's score and was replaced by DeBrouwer. 

The Golden Gophers regained their lead with a goal thrown on net that got past DeBrouwer with under four minutes left in the second period.

Minnesota senior forward Brannon McManus scored his team's fifth goal of the game 12:25 into the final period. Another goal from Minnesota with 2:28 left in the game extended the lead to 6-3.

ASU junior defenseman Jarrod Gourley tacked on a late goal to decrease the deficit to two points, scoring in front of an open net with Moe out of position.

"Aside from the (rough) start, I thought we played a really solid 40 minutes," Walker said. "Once we put three periods together, we are going to be a really dangerous team."

ASU will travel to play Notre Dame on Jan. 9-10 for what will be the first rematch series of the season. ASU is 1-1 against Notre Dame this season, with a 6-3 victory and 5-4 loss in early December.


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

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