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ASU hockey suffers a disappointing series sweep against the University of Denver

The Sun Devils' lackluster offense proved to be not enough against Denver on Friday and Saturday

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ASU sophomore defenseman Tim Lovell (27) looks for a clear shot at Oceanside Ice Arena on Oct. 29, 2021. ASU won 5-2.

The ASU men’s hockey team fell to 12th ranked University of Denver 6-2 on Friday night at Oceanside Ice Arena.

Despite Denver being the best scoring offense in the country, the Sun Devils outshot its opponents 33-29, but only found the back of the net twice with a stellar performance from Denver junior goaltender Magnus Chrona. Denver was also helped by a hat trick from senior forward Brett Stapley.

Denver jumped out to a 4-0 lead going into the third period. Graduate transfer forward Colin Theisen struck first for the Sun Devils in the third period, followed by a shorthanded goal by senior forward Jordan Sandhu to bring the deficit to 4-2 in the third period. The Pioneers then scored two straight goals towards the end of the period to seal the game.

ASU’s first line on the power play is one of the most potent units in the country, but they went 0 for 3 on the first night.

Saturday night’s rematch was a similar story for the Sun Devils, losing 7-1. 

Denver jumped out to another quick two goal lead in the first period and never looked back, despite the shot totals through the first two periods being even. Head coach Greg Powers said the game was closer than the scoreboard would indicate.

"The result of that game, the scoreboard, I don't think it was just," Powers said. "Certainly not saying we deserve the win, but it wasn't a 7-1 game."

With another great performance from Chrona, Denver capitalized on the shots that they took as the best offense in the country. Denver freshman forward Massimo Rizzo scored two, and Stapley added a goal to his four goal weekend. 

Late in the third period, emotions from both teams boiled over after a big hit from freshman defenseman Ty Murchinson with a Denver player, causing order to break down with several fights. Graduate student defenseman Jacob Wilson was disqualified from the game, while another major penalty was handed out to Murchinson for contact to the head.

"I honestly thought that was a clean hit. I don't know why it got a penalty, let alone head contact," Powers said. "It was low, with a hip; I felt like it was a good hit. I mean anymore in college hockey, it's like you're not allowed to hit anybody."

The penalties gave a 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 advantage to Denver late in the third period, which allowed them to add two goals to extend the lead from 5-1 to 7-1.

The Sun Devils were outscored 13-3 in the series against the 12th ranked Pioneers, with its powerplay unit not getting any goals in the series. 

"There's a series every year you probably just want to crumble out and throw out," Powers said. "Last night, we had some really good stretches. Tonight, we had some really good stretches ... When (the Pioneers) were as opportunistic as they were this weekend ... it seems like you know a lot of the chances are just going in."

The Sun Devils will look to bounce back at home against Clarkson University next weekend in a two game series on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at 7:05 p.m. MST at Oceanside Ice Arena. 

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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.

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