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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hockey drops rivalry match to ASU 8-1

Cullen Hamblen

The Arizona Wildcats celebrate after their win against NAU on Saturday, Sept. 26. The Wildcats lost their match against ASU 8-1 at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

An NHL goal horn is one of a kind. The loud, thunderous foghorn immediately brings fans to their feet in celebration. 

Arizona hockey had to hear this goal horn a whopping eight times as they fell to ASU by a score of 8-1 on Saturday night.

The historic game marked the Sun Devils’ first game as a Division I team. The game was played at Gila River Arena, the NHL home of the Arizona Coyotes, in front of a crowd of 5,385.

“It’s a great day to be a Sun Devil,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers. “We came into this game and all the way through the game really focusing on detail and execution and our systems.”

The Sun Devils’ game plan was executed near perfection as they dominated the Wildcats in almost every facet of the game. ASU outshot the Wildcats by a margin of 49-9, won 50 of 73 face-offs and scored two goals on eight power-play opportunities. 

The Wildcats certainly didn’t help themselves throughout the game as they committed 13 penalties. 

“Definitely not the performance we were hoping for, but it was exactly what we deserved,” said Arizona head coach Chad Berman. “We had 25-plus minutes in penalties—that’s almost half a game in penalties against a Division I team. It’s not possible to beat them.”

ASU got off to a quick start as Connor Schmidt fired a wrist shot that banked off Arizona’s Garrett Patrick and into the goal to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead 7:35 into the first period. The Sun Devils’ captain, Jordan Young, responded with a power-play goal less than two minutes after ASU’s first strike. 

Just when things were about to get out of hand, Arizona’s Robbie Wilkinson gave the Wildcats some hope when he retrieved a nice chip in from Alex Nespor and fired an absolute strike to cut the lead in half. 

“That was a good shot,” Powers said. “[Wilkinson] went bar down and buried it.” 

Following Wilkinson’s goal, things got ugly quick for the Wildcats as they allowed six unanswered goals. 

ASU showed why they are the newest D-I program: the team dominated in possession time, allowed minimal opportunity for Arizona in its own zone and baited the Wildcats into committing penalties when both teams mixed it up after the whistles.

Berman said he is not going to tolerate that type of behavior from his players moving forward.

“This program has had a history of discipline issues [on the ice,] and it’s not going to continue,” he said.

One of the few bright spots for Arizona was the play of backup goaltender, Austin Wilson, as he entered the game after Patrick allowed his seventh goal of the night.

Wilson was under siege from the Sun Devils but stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced. 

“Wilson played well. Hats off to him,” Powers said. “It’s a great way to build into the rest of their season with a kid that played well.”

ASU has won 48 out of the last 49 games against rival Arizona.

The Sun Devils will head to Anchorage, Alaska, this weekend as they play their first D-I opponents in Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks. 

Arizona will hit the road to Flagstaff to battle NAU on Saturday night. 

The Wildcats will meet ASU’s squad once more this season Feb. 19, 2016, at Tucson Convention Center.

Follow Seth Pines on Twitter.

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