ASU wins the Ice Vegas Invitational with a win over Michigan Tech
By Seth Askelson // NCAA Hockey Writer for Blaze Sports
LAS VEGAS, Nev — For a young NCAA hockey program like Arizona State, firsts are celebrated and used as the foundation for future success.
The past three seasons has seen some firsts: first NCAA game, first win over a ranked opponent, first road victory, and the Sun Devils added a very important one to that list Saturday night.
ASU scored the first three goals of the game, and used those to propel themselves to a 3-2 victory over Michigan Tech in the championship game of the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational. The win marked the first time the Sun Devils have taken home the top hardware from a tournament. Prior to the weekend, Arizona State had only won a single tournament game in eight tries.
The Sun Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead like they did Friday on goals from Brinson Pasichnuk and Johnny Walker. Unlike the first night, the ASU scoring stopped at that point, and Michigan Tech chipped away at the lead in the third period. The Huskies managed two goals, but were unable to solve ASU’s sophomore goaltender Joey Daccord for a third time before the final horn.
New alternate captain Pasichnuk was named the tournament MVP after a five point (3G, 2A) performance in two games. His play was key in a Sun Devil offense that put up 10 goals in the tournament, and he was emotional when the clock hit zeros.
“Not going to lie, I started tearing up after we won that game,” Pasichnuk said. “That’s something special, something that we made history on for this program. We’re definitely going to build off of this.”
The high volume of offense was a change of pace for Arizona State, as they averaged 1.99 goals for per game prior to the weekend. But the facet of their play that stayed consistent in Vegas was the penalty kill.
The 19th best shorthanded unit in the NCAA coming in killed 9 of 10 penalties during the two game tournament, adding to the success that has come from hard work by those on the ice.
“The penalty killers are usually the hardest working guys on the team, so when we come in with that mindset that, work your butt off and work harder than the other guys, good things are going to happen,” Pasichnuk said.
Though Arizona State played away from home, a trip to the Sin City saw members of the 942 Crew, the school’s student cheering section, make an appearance on both nights. They filled up seats behind one goal, and cheered on their team for 60 minutes both nights.
As the Sun Devils were getting ready for their championship moment, head coach Greg Powers called the student section down to the glass to be a part of the picture. He felt that it was important to include those who came to support on the final weekend before classes start.
“They [942 Crew] were huge for our guys,” Powers said. “They gave us that boost of energy there to close out and that’s why we wanted to make them a part of that celebration, and that’s something, hopefully, those kids can remember.”
Arizona State returns home to play UMass-Lowell next weekend and look to build off what they accomplished in the Ice Vegas Tournament. The weekend produced two wins and hardware to add to the trophy case, and hopefully a message that the Sun Devils look to amplify as the season goes along.
“Look out, because we’re coming,” Pasichnuk said.
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