Arizona State gets back on the winning track, defeats Northern Michigan in Vegas
By Seth Askelson // NCAA Hockey Writer for Blaze Sports
LAS VEGAS, Nev — Coming into the inaugural Ice Vegas Tournament, Arizona State averaged 1.99 goals for per game. The Sun Devils surpassed their average with three goals in 3:03 on Friday evening and defeated Northern Michigan, 7-3.
With the win, ASU has advanced to the finals of a tournament, something that they have not been able to manage in the three seasons at the NCAA level. They have only won a single tournament game in program history which came via a 2-1 over Alaska-Fairbanks in the Kendall Hockey Classic.
In their most recent tournament, the Sun Devils dropped both of its games at the Three Rivers’ Classic in Pittsburgh. The team managed one goal during the tournament, and junior forward Anthony Croston said his squad needed to get back to their identity, which is simple hockey.
While Arizona State is treading into unfamiliar territory, head coach Greg Powers wants his team build on what they did on Friday.
“I think we can play better,” Powers said. “We had some really good things happen offensively but [we had] some defensive lapses, I think we can stay out of the box. We still have to put together a 60-minute effort.”
A championship berth was not the only rare sighting for ASU. Their fast offensive attack stunned the Wildcats, and led to the early exit of starting goaltender Atte Tolvanen. Sun Devil sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord admitted that those types of events swing against his team, and it was nice to see them go their direction.
With the uncanny start to the game, the Sun Devils needed to find a way to continue playing their game. The situation forced ASU to avoid getting to caught up in the quick success.
“It’s upon everybody to keep the energy levels at a good area, and I think everyone did good with that today,” Croston said.
The four goal victory did not stop the usual heavy workload for Daccord. The goaltender once again displayed his consistency, as he stopped 40 of 43 stops. Despite all of the rubber the sophomore has been seeing, he enjoys the amount of work each night.
Northern Michigan began throwing shots on net in the second period, and started to regain some momentum as they finally put on past Daccord before the end of the frame. The Sun Devils turned the game back in their favor when they scored on a 5-on-3 powerplay to start the third period. It was a chance Arizona State wanted to jump on.
“We thought that if we scored right away to start the period, we would kill their momentum,” Daccord said. “We thought that kinda put the icing on the cake.”
Arizona State will look to add a tournament championship to the young program’s resume when they take on Michigan Tech Saturday evening at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. You can here the call of the game on Blaze Radio Mixlr with Andrew Bell and Ethan Schmidt on the call.
Seth Askelson is a beat writer for ASU NCAA Hockey. Reach out to him at email@example.com and be sure to follow Seth on Twitter @saskelson96