Arizona hockey (11-22-3) has concluded its 2014-15 season after suffering a sweep at home from upstate rival ASU over the weekend (33-3-1).
The No. 1 Sun Devils won 5-3 on Friday night and beat Arizona again with a shutout 2-0 on Saturday night. A loss to ASU is déjà vu for Arizona as the Sun Devils have won 47 of the last 48 meetings between the two schools.
“I was very proud of the way we performed in our final weekend,” Arizona head coach Chad Berman said. “If we had played with that kind of intensity and attention to detail, we would be in the National Tournament next weekend. ASU is by far the best team in the country, and we had them on the ropes twice.”
The Wildcats came out Friday night ready to break their losing streak against ASU and earn that upset win. Alex Nespor scored the first goal of the night with an assist from Roy Grandov, and Matt Nowicki netted in the second goal to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead over the Sun Devils.
Although ASU ended the first period with donuts on the board, ASU coach Greg Powers didn’t seem worried, as he holds a winning percentage of 97.9 percent.
ASU did what ASU usually does and came back to take the lead 3-2 with goals from Liam Norris, Coda Engbar and Kyle Bowen. Arizona wouldn’t hold the lead again.
With assists from Alex O’Dea and Nespor, Grandov netted in the equalizer to even the score 3-3 at the end of the second period.
Down by just one goal, ASU took two quick penalties and gave Arizona the 5-on-3 power play advantage. Unfortunately, Arizona could not penetrate its offense or capitalize on the power play.
Saturday night, the heated matchup between the two was a more defensive style of play.
Entering the third period of the game, the score was still tied at 0-0. About halfway through the third, ASU scored first when Connor Mailey scored on a deflected save from Arizona’s starting goalie Garrett Patrick. Sun Devil Jordan Young launched the game winning point into the back of the net to shutout Arizona 2-0.
“This weekend, we thought we played very well,” Arizona’s Brian “Toppie” Hogan said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to win but we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win both games and we were able to do that! We were able to go into the third period of both games tied, and that’s what we wanted.”
ASU sophomore starting goaltender Robert Levin blocked all 31 shots from Arizona. This gave Levin a career-high of nine shutouts in one season.
With ASU’s move to NCAA Division I next season, this series marked the last meeting between the rivals as ACHA schools.
Saturday also marked the conclusion of three Wildcats’ collegiate careers: Seniors Shane Gleason, Jason Effertz and Nowicki will all graduate this May.
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