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ASU hockey finishes off strong in last series at Oceanside, sweeping LIU

Junior goaltender Ben Kraws had 35 saves Friday against the Sharks in the last series at Oceanside


The ASU ice hockey team celebrates after scoring a goal against University of Massachusetts Lowell at Oceanside Arena in Tempe, on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Long Island University — March 11-12 (W 2-1, W 5-1)

ASU hockey (17-17-1) ended its season on a high note against Long Island University (10-21-3) on Friday and Saturday evening in Tempe.

The Sun Devils came away with consecutive victories for the first time since early January.  

LIU was only able to muster two goals in the series as the Sun Devils won 2-1 and 5-1 over the weekend. 

LIU came into the matchup on a one-game losing streak as well as a 5-18 record on the road. 

The first game took place Friday evening as graduate student forward Colin Theisen and freshmen forward Josh Doan scored a goal each in a 2-1 slugfest.

Junior goaltender Ben Kraws has a masterful performance behind the net with 35 saves on the night.

The second game in two nights was all ASU, dominating from the jump, after a 1-1 tie in the first period the Sun Devils scored four consecutive goals to wrap up the series and their season.

Sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud added to his team leading, goal scoring total as he finished the season with a team high 22 goals. 

Theisen also added his 18th goal of the year as he finished his lone season in a Sun Devils uniform. 

ASU hockey finished off its last season at Oceanside Ice Arena with a 17-17-1 record as the team collected their first wins since mid January. 

Written by Nikash Nath, March 12, 8:47 p.m. 

Alaska Fairbanks — Feb. 25-26 (L 3-2 OT, T 2-2 OT)

ASU hockey continues its downward trajectory, dropping to 15-17-1 after a loss and tie to Alaska Fairbanks, 3-2 in overtime on Friday and a 2-2 tie in overtime on Saturday at the Carlson Center. This series makes it six straight games without a win, with its last victory coming on Jan. 15 against RIT.

Sophomore Matthew Kopperud showed out in the first game on Friday after he netted two shots in the first period to make his total 21 goals on the year. That puts the Hobey Baker award nominee at third in the NCAA scoring rankings.

Despite a good night from Kopperud, ASU couldn’t hold on toward the end after leading for the first two and a half periods. Sophomore Filip Fornaa Svensson tied the game at two a piece on a power play goal with ten minutes left in the third to send the game to overtime. The Sun Devils couldn’t stop the comeback in the extra period as Fornaa Svensson scored his second goal to win the games for the Nanooks.

Game two had a more defensive feel to it. ASU outshot Fairbanks 35 to 23 in the second game, but couldn’t capitalize on their advantage. Fairbanks got an early lead off of a Roberts Kalkis goal with five and a half minutes left in the first period. ASU didn’t let them lead for long, however, tying the game in the second period with a goal from graduate student Colin Theisen

Theisen’s goal was the last score of the night after both teams went to overtime again and didn’t score, leading to ASU’s first tie of the season. Junior Ben Kraws had an outstanding night in game two, saving 22 shots and shut down the Nanooks three power plays. 

ASU will go into another bye week and try to finish the season on a high note with its last series in Oceanside Arena against Long Island University on March 11 and 12.

Written by Walker Smith, Feb. 27, 11:35 a.m. 

Alaska Fairbanks — Feb. 4-5 (L 5-3, L 4-3) 

ASU hockey earned a season high fourth straight loss after they were swept by Alaska Fairbanks 5-3 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday and Oceanside Arena. It was the third time this season that the Sun Devils have lost three or more games.

"Just keep fighting, that's all you can do. Just keep fighting," head coach Greg Powers said. "It's hard to win in college hockey.”

Game one was close for the first two periods. Going into the third period, ASU and UAF were tied 2-2 thanks to goals from Jordan Sandhu and Matthew Kopperud in the second. Despite ASU outshooting UAF 41-32, the Nanooks  slammed the door on the Sun Devils with three straight goals from Caleb Hite, Anton Rubtsov, and Didrik Henbrant.

“We had all the momentum in the third and they didn’t generate any possession and didn’t have any zone time at all,” Powers said. “They had a couple of scoring chances and they scored them. It's just a couple of big mistakes by our D and they capitalized.”

Heading into game two on Saturday night, the Sun Devils looked to get back over .500. The game started with Alaska's Henbrant scoring in the first minute of play. It was a slugfest from then on with neither team going up by more than one goal heading into the third period, but UAF went up 4-2, after 7:30 into the third from a Rubtsov goal. 

Kopperud had a good game despite the loss after he netted two goals to make him the NCAA leading scorer with 19 goals on the season. ASU again outshot the Nanooks 42-35 in the second game. With the ASU season taking a bad turn, coach Powers still believes his team is ready to bounce back.

"Just finish with over a .500 record,” Powers said. “I would imagine and hope after how this series transpired that the guys are going to be foaming at the mouth to go up there and do to us what they did to us down here."

The rivalry between ASU and UAF will continue in two weeks as the Sun Devils travel to Alaksa to take on the Nanooks in another two game series. 

Written by Walker Smith, Feb. 5, 12:54 a.m.

Minnesota State — Jan. 28-29 (L 4-2, L 5-3)

Coming in on a three-game winning streak, ASU hockey went into Mankato, Minnesota to take on No. 1 Minnesota State for a two-game road series. 

After scoring first in both games ASU came up short as they lost both games against a top-tier Minnesota State team. 

In the first matchup, ASU sophomore forward Mathew Kopperud had a standout performance  for ASU, scoring two goals in what would be his third multi-scoring game of the season.  

Along with graduate student forward Colin Theisen, Kopperud is the only other Sun Devil to score double-digit goals this season, he is now up to 16 on the year. 

Freshman forward Jack Jensen assisted Kopperud on both goals as he brought his assist total to seven on the season after the weekend. 

ASU kept the game interesting for a majority of the first two periods however, MSU pulled away after scoring two goals in the second period as they won the first matchup against ASU 4-2. 

The second matchup between the Mavericks and the Sun Devils was reminiscent of the first meeting. The Sun Devils jumped out to another early lead, however, the Mavericks were simply too much for the ASU to handle, and after three goals in the second period, Minnesota State cruised to a 5-3 victory. 

Freshman forward Josh Doan had a solid game for ASU, with his two goals in under two minutes in the third period, helping keep ASU in the game, but wasn’t enough to come back.

Doan has been superb for the Sun Devils this year, with 11 goals and 20 assists on the season he has now cemented himself as a top-10 point scorer in the entire NCAA. 

The Sun Devils were simply outmatched in both games against the Mavericks as they were outshot 33-26 in the first game and 47-24 in the second meeting. 

Despite the losses Ben Kraws was impressive in front of the net, Kraws posted back-to-back 25 plus saves for the 11th time this year. 

After two consecutive losses to the No. 1 team in the country, ASU will look to bounce back as they will host Alaska Fairbanks next Friday and Saturday in Tempe. 

Written by Nikash Nath, Jan. 30, 10:39 p.m. 

RIT Jan. 14-15 (W 2-1, W 5-1)

The ASU men’s hockey team has secured three straight road wins after the team swept  RIT, winning 2-1 on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday. 

The Sun Devils dominated the 2nd period in both contests, scoring six of their seven goals to move to 6-0 all time against the Tigers.

ASU scored the fastest back-to-back goals in program history during Friday’s contest after graduate student forward Johnny Walker and sophomore forward Ryan O'Reilly scored ten seconds apart to put the Sun Devils up 2-0, 1:29 into the 2nd period. RIT’s freshman forward Carter Wilkie scored its only goal of the game at 17:15 in the 2nd.

Game two between the teams was less of a contest. Sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud put ASU up early on the power play after RIT senior defenseman Dan Willett was called for tripping in the first period. 

The Sun Devils secured the win after the team went up 5-0 at 11:22 in the 2nd period courtesy of goals from forwards Josh Doan, Colin Theisen, Jack Jensen and Benji Eckerle. Junior goalie Ben Kraws tallied 43 saves this weekend while allowing only one goal while he was on the ice. 

ASU will look to continue its hot streak as they host Lindenwood University at home next Friday and Saturday.

Written by Walker Smith, Jan. 15, 7:59 p.m.

Northeastern — Jan. 11 (W 6-2)

For the first time in program history, ASU men's hockey defeated No. 11 Northeastern Huskies in a dominant 6-2 fashion.

This was only Northeastern's second loss at home all season and the Sun Devils’ third road win of the year. 

In his first year with ASU, graduate transfer Colin Theisen continued his hot season, adding two  goals to bring his team-leading total to 15.  ASU also got contributions from sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud who had one goal and two assists on the night. 

Freshman forwards Josh Doan, Jack Jensen and redshirt senior forward Christopher Grando also added a goal to contribute to the team's offensive outburst. 

Offensively, the Sun Devils dominated right from the jump and controlled the puck all game long as they outshot the Huskies 46-29, constantly putting pressure on the Huskies. 

ASU also had an impactful game on the defensive side of the puck holding Northeastern to only two goals, limiting their offensive game plan right from the start.

Junior goalie Ben Kraws had a very impactful game in front of the net, saving 27 shots on 29 attempts helping the Sun Devils maintain their large lead on the road.

With this victory, ASU snapped its two-game losing streak and put an end to Northeastern's six-game winning streak. The Sun Devils improve to 13-12 and .520 on the season as they head to Rochester, New York to take on RIT for a quick two-game weekend series starting this Friday. 

Written by Nikash Nath, Jan. 11, 9:04 p.m.

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Walker SmithSports Editor

Walker Smith is a sports editor in the digital department of the State Press. He has previously worked as a reporter on the sports desk and works for Blaze Radio and interned at Big Slate Media in broadcast productions.

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