Stridsberg’s two goals propel ASU to much needed win
By Seth Askelson // ASU NCAA Hockey Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
TEMPE, AZ Alabama-Huntsville had been the only NCAA Division I ice hockey program in the Sun Belt, until 2015 when Arizona State started their program. It has been two years, but the two teams have finally met to determine who the best team in the region is.
Arizona State got the leg up in the battle, as they defeated the Chargers 3-2 Friday night in the first game of the weekend series. The Sun Devils got two goals from defenseman Jakob Stridsberg and sophomore Joey Daccord made 20 saves to pick up the team’s second victory of the season.
The first period was a strong defensive for the Sun Devils. They limited UAH to just one shot in the first period and it came on the power play. The Chargers did not record an even-strength shot until the 1:05 mark of the second frame.
While ASU was able to keep shots away from their goaltender, it did not necessarily benefit Daccord. However, he found other ways to feel the puck and keep himself in the game.
“The way I try to stay in (the game) is by playing the puck,” Daccord said. “I had a couple of nice passes when they dumped the puck in. I just try to make plays and stay engaged.”
The victory was officially the second win of the season for Daccord, and he has on lost one game in his last four starts. Over that stretch, he has a .933 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average.
The second year man out of North Andover, MA was brought onto the new program to be the rock solid starter in goal. Being the consistent player in the crease is big for ASU coach Greg Powers as the team starts to grow.
“That’s why he came here, because he knew he was going to get the games and an opportunity to build (the program) and be the guy,” Powers said. “Right now, he’s stepping up.”
The Sun Devils were able to neutralize the Chargers’ opportunities despite UAH being the faster team. It showed most in the power play numbers, as Alabama-Huntsville mustered up only five shots on six man-up situations.
What helped the most defensively for the Sun Devils was taking away time and space.
“When you see teams with speed like that, you have to gap up and be close to them so they cannot skate around us,” Stridsberg said.
Arizona State was not much better on the power play Friday night. They only had one shot on goal in three opportunities, and that blast from the right point opened the scoring as Stridsberg grabbed his fourth of the season.
Brennan Saulnier tied the game at one just 1:45 into the second period, but ASU regained the lead not even four minutes later when Stridsberg struck again.
The Devils tacked on one more in the third when Hollman collected his second tally of the season at the 5:13 mark. While the Chargers pulled within one with an extra attacker, Arizona State had done enough to secure their second official victory of the season.
The finale of the series is Saturday at Oceanside Ice Arena, puck drop scheduled for 7:05. You can listen to the game on Blaze Sports Mixlr with TJ Mathewson and Alex Gaul on the call.
Seth Askelson is a beat writer for ASU NCAA Hockey. Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow Seth on Twitter @saskelson96