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ASU hockey splits home-opening series against UMass Lowell

The Sun Devils played their final home-opener at Oceanside Ice Arena on Saturday and will move to the new ASU Multi-Purpose Arena for the 2022-23 season

ASU Hockey v UMass Lowel.jpg

ASU junior defenseman Jack Judson (22) passes the puck to ASU redshirt senior forward Chris Grando (13) at Oceanside Arena in Tempe on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. ASU won 5-3.

ASU hockey split its opening weekend series at Oceanside Ice Arena against the University of Massachusetts Lowell, winning 5-3 Saturday and losing 4-2 Sunday.

Game one

Oceanside was sold out during its final home-opener Saturday night, with the student section selling out an hour before game time and a filled arena surrounding the rest of the ice.

After a quick goal by UMass Lowell freshman forward Matt Crasa less than one minute into the game, ASU scored on its first power play opportunity of the season, thanks to sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud. ASU would go on to score four of its five goals from the power plays.

"We love both units (power play and penalty kill)," said ASU head coach Greg Powers. "We believe in both of them, and we're going to need both of them because we’re not going to get that out of that (power play) unit every game."

Kopperud, who led the team with 13 goals and 19 points during the 2020-21 season, picked up right where he left off, scoring two power play goals during the game. Although Kopperud stood out in the box score, he said there was still room for improvement on his end.

"My gameplay probably wasn't the best it could be," Kopperud said. "The power play was good, but five on five, I mean, you didn’t really notice (since) it was a hard-fought game. So, I got to be better for sure five on five."

ASU came out of the locker room looking a step behind UMass Lowell to start period two of the game, trailing 2-1 at the end of the first period.

After a slow start, freshman forward Jack Jensen got his first goal wearing the maroon and gold at 9:41 in the second period. With Kopperud's second power play goal coming at 16:24 in the second period, the game was tied up 3-3 heading into the final period.

ASU defeated UMass Lowell 5-3 after a face masking penalty from junior forward Andre Lee cost UMass Lowell a five-minute penalty in the third period. The Sun Devils went on to score two goals in the power play from sophomore defenseman Tim Lovell and graduate student forward Jack Becker.

"All the boys wanted redemption, not being able to play here (last year). We play so well here and it was infectious," said graduate student forward and captain Johnny Walker. "We saw freshmen step up and feel that energy … it just went through that whole locker room and the boys are embracing it."

Game two

The Sun Devils could not complete the home sweep on Sunday night as they fell to the Riverhawks 4-2. The game had even back-and-forth physical action, but it was the Sun Devils who were playing catch-up for most of the game.

The Riverhawks netted two power play goals in the first period, putting the Sun Devils in an early hole. The second of the two goals came off of a five-minute major penalty that resulted from a boarding call on Jensen. 

"We dug a hole and, like I said, after the first we had to find a way to come back and then we did," Powers said. "So, I'm proud of the guys for that. We were just chasing and chasing that team all weekend. Last night we were able to pull it off, tonight we almost did."

The Sun Devils rallied in the second period, by taking control of the pace of the game. The team secured two goals to tie the game — Becker secured the first goal for ASU, followed by Kopperud's third goal of the two-game series.  

Those two goals had Oceanside excited, until Crasa deflated the energy in the building by scoring the go-ahead goal a minute and 15 seconds after Becker's game-tying goal.

"Yeah I mean we came out scoring powerfully," Powers said. "I think that goal just took the wind out a little bit, and unfortunately it took the wind out of our bench."

Riverhawks junior foward Zach Kaiser sealed the game with an empty net goal in the final minute of the game. The game finished 4-2 in favor of the Riverhawks. 

The Sun Devils will head to Denver, Colorado, to take on the University of Denver in a two-game series on Oct. 8 and 9 at 6:00 p.m. MST and 5:00 p.m. MST. The team will return to Oceanside Ice Arena on Oct. 15 and 16 against the University of New Hampshire.

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Shane BrennanEditor-in-Chief

Shane Brennan is the Editor-in-Chief at The State Press. He was a sports and politics reporter, before becoming the editor of the politics desk. He has covered local and state politics for the Arizona Capitol Times and Cronkite News.

Austin ScottSports Reporter

Austin Scott is a sports reporter majoring in Sports Journalism, and has been writing sports stories for three years. He looks to continue writing impactful, engaging sports stories for years to come. In the future, Austin wants to use his outgoing personality to do play-by-play and live sports production or sports radio and podcasting.

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