By DJ OCHOA
The ASU hockey team remains undefeated 4-0 and extended their winning streak to 18 beating arch rivals UA in a 6-3 victory on Friday, and a nail bitting penalty shoot out win Saturday night.
Being rivals, both teams did not make this a tickling match throwing checks against the glass, hard hits and tension that filled the arena.
In their first match up #9 Sun Devils drew first blood with a goal from Forward Dan Styrna assisted by Defender Ryan Clark.
Dan Styrna said that beating UA has upped their confidence.
“We are absolutely confident after this game, but we have to stick to the basics and stay humble and continue to play hard,” Styrna said. “It means a lot to the people here for us to keep the streak alive, and it’s a pride thing playing UA.”
However, the Wildcats didn’t let the early lead affect their game showing resilience during power plays that the Sun Devils couldn’t capitalize on.
They dug deep during the first period scoring two goals to take the lead 2-1 before sophomore Captain of ASU Colin Hekle answered back with 16.4 seconds left in the first period tying the game 2-2.
“UA is a tough team so we needed to come out strong and stick to our system by staying out of the box,” Hekle said. “We wanted to switch our game plan a bit for UA by using our speed, moving the puck around a lot and getting the rebounds around the net.”
The Sun Devils did just that with an impressive second period give-and-go goal created by Forward Liam Norris, Foward Dan Styrna and Forward Kale Dolinski.
The Wildcats tried to stay in the game but couldn’t catch up to the Sun Devils as they ran with the lead ending the first game 6-3.
“We approach each game one at a time and we have a young team, but against UA I ask the guys to dig a little bit deeper since they are our arch rivals,” said Greg Powers, head coach of the ASU hockey team.
Powers said the key to their game plan is to out work the other team and believes their talent will shine.
The hard hitting continued in the second game as a fight broke out between the Sun Devils and the Wildcats.
Both Hekle and Ryan Clark were sent to the penalty box for roughing during the first period.
But the Sun Devils capitalized on a power play with Danny McAuliffe scoring early on, and Dan Anderson scoring with four minutes left in the first period leading 2-0.
The Wildcats weren’t giving up hope with a close goal during the second period as the puck hit the goal post.
Penalties hurt ASU early on during the second period with Anderson being sent to the box for porting and Jason Maltese for high sticking.
Though with multiple power plays UA couldn’t capitalize, until Michael Ferreira cut the Sun Devils lead to 2-1 in the twelfth minute.
The Sun Devils tried to answer back while getting power plays, but fell short. Hekle had shots on goal during power plays, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Freshman Ben Findlay almost had his first goal of the night, but was stuffed by UA’s goalie.
UA Forward Andrew Murmes kept his team alive with goal in the twelfth tying the game 2-2 and sent the game into overtime.
Both teams could not get a goal during extra time, so the game was decided in a penalty shoot out.
It was the Captain of ASU Hekle popping in the deciding penalty goal to keep the Sun Devils on top of their rivals.
Hekle said that his team kept their focus after losing the lead and their coach told them to stay calm and prepare for the rest of the game. He said it felt great to score the winning goal, and was confident going into penalty shootouts.
“It’s always a little nerve racking when you are up like that so early during the game to lose the lead, but in the end we pulled it off and it feels great,” Hekle said. “We practice shootouts all the time so I made the right move and luckily I got it over his head.”