A week after its overtime win over No. 2 ranked Minnesota, ASU hockey traveled to Colorado to take on No. 1 ranked Denver Pioneers.
The Pioneers started the scoring last Friday less than a minute into the second period with a goal from junior defenseman Mike Benning. Junior defenseman Tim Lovell scored roughly five minutes later to put the Sun Devils on the board and tie the game at one.
Less than four minutes into the third period, freshman forward Ryan Alexander added a goal of his own to give the Sun Devils their first lead of the night. However, sophomore forward Massimo Rizzo responded two minutes later to tie the game up again.
The Sun Devils and Pioneers remained tied until a goal from sophomore forward Carter King put the Pioneers on top with less than two minutes left to play. The goal was immediately overturned for high sticking from sophomore forward Jack Devine, but the Pioneers challenged the call. After a lengthy review, the call was overturned, and the Pioneers were given the goal and the lead. ASU head coach Greg Powers challenged that, but the call and the goal stood to give the Pioneers a 3-2 win.
While the scoresheet on Friday suggested a fairly even game, the Sun Devils struggled to keep up with the Pioneers. Sophomore goaltender TJ Semptimphelter faced 56 shots throughout the game, only allowing three goals to keep the Sun Devils in the game. The Sun Devils were only able to get 20 shots on goal on Friday.
The Sun Devils struggled to find the back of the net on Saturday and found themselves down 4-0 after the second period. Junior forward Ryan O'Reilly opened up the scoring for the Sun Devils in the third period to make the score 4-1 with just over 10 minutes to play. Sophomore defenseman Sean Behrens responded to put the Pioneers up 5-1. Teddy Lagerback scored the final goal of the game to make the score 5-2, but the Sun Devils could not catch up.
ASU once again struggled to get shots on goal on Saturday with 20 shots. Semptimphelter faced 30 shots and allowed four goals through the first two periods. Senior goaltender Ben Kraws replaced Semptimphelter for the third period, facing 13 shots and allowing one goal.
The Sun Devils struggled on the power play all weekend. In three power play opportunities on Friday, ASU had only three shots on goal. In four opportunities on Saturday, ASU had no shots on goal. The Sun Devils have not scored a power-play goal since Nov. 19 in their 5-3 loss to Clarkson.
The Sun Devils also found themselves shorthanded on more occasions than the Pioneers. The Sun Devils were on the penalty kill 13 times in two games. In six power play opportunities on Friday, the Pioneers found the back of the net twice. The Sun Devil penalty kill was much more effective on Saturday, not allowing any goals on seven opportunities.
The Sun Devils will look to get back to their winning ways when they travel to New Hampshire this week to take on the Wildcats.
The Wildcats have struggled all season and are currently on a 10-game losing streak. The Sun Devils have outscored opponents 50-47 while the Wildcats have been outscored 57-29. The Sun Devils have been outshot 578-477, but Semptimphelter has held down the fort in his first season in Tempe. The Wildcats have also been outshot but by a closer margin of 509-471.
The Sun Devils have struggled on the road and have an away record of 2-7. However, the Wildcats have struggled at home with a record of 1-5-1. The two teams have met three times before and the Sun Devils have won every matchup. With one of the deepest Sun Devils teams in program history and an outstanding goaltender like Semptimphelter, ASU should be able to extend its win streak against UNH.
The series kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m. MST and continues Saturday at 2 p.m. MST in Durham, New Hampshire.
Edited by Piper Hansen.
Kathryn Field is a sports editor at The State Press. Kathryn has previously worked as a full time reporter at The State Press, covering women’s basketball and lacrosse.