COLUMN: Special Teams guides ASU to victory over NAIT
By John Mendoza / ACHA Hockey Reporter for Blaze Sports
Coaches often say how important winning the battle on special teams is.
For the Sun Devils that was especially true on Friday Night.
If the Sun Devils wanted any chance at upsetting the NAIT Ooks, they needed to play a strong game on special teams, which is exactly what they did.
The Ooks took 10 penalties for a total of 42 minutes. Those penalties for the Ooks included two five-minute majors and game misconducts. The first was called on Ty Stanton for charging early in the first period. The second was called on Tanner Dunkle for cross checking at the 15-minute mark of the third period.
The Sun Devils scored on two power play chances. Preston Ames scored on Devon McAndrews penalty at 10 minutes in the second period and Ben Mack scored in the dying seconds of the second period on Matt McNeil’s roughing penalty.
The Sun Devils were unable to capitalize on either of their five-minute power play chances. However, they outscored the Ooks 2-0 on the power play overall.
On the other side, the Sun Devils only took five penalties for a total of ten minutes. They held the Ooks off the board, but Coach Joshua Brown believes there can still be improvement.
“It was ok tonight. I know they didn’t score but we’re not where we want to be,” he said.
ASU goaltender Jack Burkel made some huge saves throughout the game, especially while the Sun Devils were a man down.
“He was outstanding tonight,” Brown said. “It starts from the net out and he gives us confidence out there and we’re going to rely on him all year.”
In total Burkel made 38 saves on 41 shots for the Sun Devils
“Our first weekend against UNLV we weren’t very disciplined,” said Brown. “And we weren’t very disciplined against GCU, and hopefully we figured it out (tonight.”
He also hopes the Sun Devils will continue to play disciplined hockey as they head into their next game in Tucson against rival Arizona.
John Mendoza is a beat writer for ACHA Hockey for Blaze Sports. You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow John on Twitter @JohnVMendoza.