Arizona State Can’t Keep The Pace With UMASS-Lowell, Shutout By The Riverhawks

By Seth Askelson // NCAA Hockey Beat Writer for Blaze Sports 

Arizona State forward Filips Buncis wins a face-off attempt against UMASS Lowell // (Photo: Weston DeWitt / Blaze Sports)

TEMPE, Ariz  —  The Arizona State hockey program took a huge step forward last weekend when the won the Ice Vegas Invitational, the first tournament win in program history. The first game since that milestone did not go the way the Sun Devils were hoping.

UMASS-Lowell’s Kenny Hausinger scored two third period goals to put ASU away, and the River Hawks used their speed to keep the Sun Devil offense at bay in a 4-0 win on Friday night.

Arizona State had their opportunities to find the back of the net throughout the night. They had six power plays and put 24 shots on River Hawks goaltender Tyler Wall, but many of their chances were stymied after just one shot.

After turning in a solid performance last weekend, head coach Greg Powers said the feeling in the locker room was one of frustration after the defeat.

“[UMASS-Lowell] is a good, good hockey team,” Powers said. “They just work, and if you’re not committed to playing to our gameplan and keeping things really simple and hard against that team, they’re going to make you pay.”

Arizona State played an even first period outshooting the River Hawks, 9-6, in the frame. UMASS-Lowell showcased their talent in the second period, taking over the game and the momentum. The visitors dominated the shot chart in the middle period, as they put up 14 to the Sun Devils’ 5, and added a goal to take a 2-0 lead into the third.

Arizona State forward Jake Clifford moves the puck into the offensive zone against UMASS-Lowell // (Photo: Weston DeWitt / Blaze Sports)

The Sun Devils also found struggles on the power play.

Despite having six chances on the man advantage, ASU did not score and gave up multiple opportunities to the River Hawks. While the chances came as a surprise to those in the stands, it was a factor of the game Arizona State knew was coming.

“We looked at their [penalty kill] a lot on film before the game,” freshman defenseman Max Balinson said. “We knew they were going to be really aggressive and we just couldn’t manage the puck when we got it in. We couldn’t get it up to the points and our plan was to get shots through and it wasn’t happening for us tonight.”

Losing the first game of a series has been the reality for ASU all season long. It means the Devils know how to pull out a series split in the final game, but Powers expects an even tougher test from the River Hawks tomorrow.

“We generally play pretty well on Saturdays,” Powers said. “[That] doesn’t mean we just get to wake up and automatically play well. [UMASS-Lowell] is a team pushing to get in the NCAA Tournament, so tomorrow is a huge game for them. We’re probably going to get an even better effort from them tomorrow.”

The Sun Devils will get their chance at the series split against the River Hawks tomorrow at Oceanside Ice Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05pm. The game can listen to the game on Blaze Radio Online Mixlr with Josh Schaefer and Nick Badders on the call.

Seth Askelson is a beat writer for ASU NCAA Hockey. Reach out to him at seth.askelson7@gmail.com and be sure to follow Seth on Twitter @saskelson96 

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