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ASU hockey sweeps two-game series against St. Thomas University

Sun Devil hockey improves to 6-4 on the season, with an impressive 5-1 record at Oceanside Ice Arena

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Spectators watch ASU and University of St. Thomas players bump into each other at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. ASU won 5-2.

ASU hockey swept its two-game series against University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), winning 5-2 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.

St. Thomas, which became the first athletics program in the modern NCAA era to jump from Division III to Division I, kept it close on Friday night until the third period and ultimately got outshot 50-17. The Sun Devils are now 5-1 at home.

Game one

ASU head coach Greg Powers said the team played well overall from start to finish, crediting graduate student St. Thomas goaltender Peter Thome for playing a hard-fought game.

"We weren't getting in his eyes and we weren't getting bodies to the net," Powers said. "We were getting pucks to the net and we were playing the way we want to play other than that. In the third, we got some bodies at the net and took the lead."

In the first game of the series, sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud scored the first goal, 01:33 into the second period for his eighth goal of the season, assisted by sophomore defenseman Tim Lovell and freshman forward Josh Doan. Kopperud continues his dominant start to the season with 17 points, 8 goals, and 7 power-play goals. 

ASU had all but 31 seconds to celebrate their lead as St. Thomas senior forward Grant Loven responded with a goal 02:04 into the second period. The offense would die down after that, with a 1-1 tie heading into the third period.

ASU found its offensive groove in the third period, putting four pucks between the pipes and solidifying the game to push them over .500 for the first time since their season-opening win against the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Sophomore forward Benji Eckerle netted his first goal of the season 02:17 into the third period; the goal was ultimately confirmed after a review for possible offsides. After that, Lovell, graduate student defenseman Tim Theocharidis and graduate student forward Johnny Walker all got goals of their own.

"I thought it was a really nice goal," Lovell said about his goal, the second for ASU in the third period. "[The play was] made by Johnny Walker so unbelievable look by him and it was good to capitalize on it."

ASU defeated St. Thomas, 5-2 on Friday night.

Game two

ASU closed out their weekend series against St. Thomas with a 4-2 win on the back of a hat trick from graduate student forward Colin Theisen.

The Sun Devils started the game fast and aggressive, putting up two goals in the first ten minutes of the first period. Powers said he thought it was the "best ten minutes of the season."

They lost their momentum in the second period when freshman forward Jack Jensen and graduate student Tim Theocharidis both committed game misconduct and contact to the head penalties, leading to the Sun Devils on the penalty kill for half of the second period and allowing one goal.

Despite the major penalties, Powers was impressed with his team's ability to kill both major penalties, only allowing one goal.

"We were able to get a ton of confidence in our kill. We had a lot of guys do it and a pretty good mojo with the rotation we have going," Powers said.

Sophomore goaltender Cole Brady was solid in the net, however, only allowing two goals on 37 shots from St. Thomas. He did not see a lot of action in the first period, with St. Thomas only getting six shots off in the first period before firing 16 and 15 shots in the second and third periods, only getting two goals out of their efforts.

"Just constant mental reminders, always is a bit tougher when you don't see as much action but just got to keep reminding yourself what's common and just use the mental keys to stay on," Brady said when asked about how he stayed locked into the game.

But the Sun Devils offense was carried by a three-goal effort from Theisen. He scored two straight goals, one halfway in the first period, and another one right out of the gate in the second period to make the ASU lead 3-0.

"We just needed to get the puck out there, and it's just what I did and I found an opening and took it," Theisen said.

The Sun Devils improve to 6-4 on the season and have two weeks to rest before heading to Hamden, Connecticut to face No. 5 Quinnipiac University on Nov. 12 and 13. 

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Shane BrennanPolitics Reporter

Shane Brennan is a politics reporter at State Press. He also works for Cronkite News and Blaze Radio.

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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