# 1 ASU Sun Devils Sweep # 3 Liberty Flames

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ASU Sun Devils vs Liberty Flames — 

Game 1:  Jan. 24, 2014 —

ASU – 5   Liberty – 2

Physicality on the ice can be a blessing and/or a curse for a team.

The 3,000 strong at LaHaye Ice Center in Lynchburg, VA provided the catalyst for No. 3 Liberty’s costly penalties, resulting in a 5-2 loss at the hands of the No. 1 Devils.

The Flames accounted for eleven penalties on the night, with ASU limiting its reactions for much of the night.

“They responded the way they needed to, and no one is going to push us around,” coach Greg Powers said. “ … We can win in a variety of ways and we proved that tonight.”

While the ASU Sun Devils only scored on one power-play opportunity, the Flames took themselves out of opportunities and position to make the next play.

Powers highly emphasized getting on the board first, something ASU hadn’t done in three-straight games.

ASUvsLib“Obviously in an environment like this you need to get out to a lead,” Powers said. “You need to try to minimize the crowds involvement as much as you can.”

They did that on Friday night.

Freshman defenseman Drew Newmeyer struck first from the slot, taking the boisterous home crowd down a notch.

“It’s very crucial,” Powers said of getting the first goal.  “A lot of teams don’t deal with the adversity and the craziness that we do when we go down to Tucson.  So our guys are very well trained and mentally prepared for what they saw tonight.”

Not minutes later, senior forward Danny McAuliffe crashed into the slot and put a one-timer from linemate Liam Norris past Liberty senior goalie Blair Bennett.

The Devils would enter the 2nd period with a 2-0 lead and momentum.

Liberty tallied its first goal early in the 2nd period, as freshman forward Robert Ward won the faceoff, skated through and went top shelf.

But the deficit would go back to two as freshman forward Eric Rivard ringed one off the post on a beautiful wrister.

Much of the second period continued to go back and forth physically before the Devils struck again, displaying a passing clinic.

Freshman forward Ryan Ostertag led the charge into the zone before throwing it up top to freshman Sean Murphy, who immediately thru a pass to senior David Jantzie crashing up the middle.  Jantzie made a highlight-reel blind, backhanded pass to Ostertag for the one-timer and a 4-1 lead.

The third period contained just about everything you could imagine in a hockey game: penalties, goals, checks and even a small scrap.

Nonetheless, the Devils prevailed in the third period, capped off by another wicked wrister by freshman forward Michael Cummings.

The ASU Sun Devils won its first game against Liberty without having to see overtime.

Game two starts at 5 pm in Arizona on Saturday evening.

ASU Sun Devils vs Liberty Flames  

Game 2:  Jan. 25, 2014

ASU – 6   Liberty – 2

After the 2013 season, coach Greg Powers made it a mission to acquire as much depth as possible.

The deeper the season gets, the more that depth continues to shine through.

It wasn’t any clearer than in the No. 1 Devils 6-2 blowout of No. 3 Liberty in Lynchburg, Va.

“This is a tough place to come in and play,” Powers said. “Nobody has swept them here all year (and) we’re the first to do it … we’re starting to hit our stride at the right time.”

Scoring on 20 percent of its shots, ASU struck first just three minutes in.  Freshman forward Michael Cummings put a wrister on Liberty freshman goaltender Matt Pinel and the puck found its way through the five hole.

The Arizona Sun Devils controlled the puck for much of the first period, putting 10 shots on goal compared to the Flames’ two.

But it was the power play that would tally the eventual tying and winning goal in the first period.

ASUvsLib2At the 12-minute mark, the return of senior forward Kale Dolinski shined through, as he threw a backdoor, circle-to-circle pass to freshman forward Ryan Ostertag for the one-timer. The Devils were up 2-0.

Seven minutes later, déjà vu would occur in favor of the Devils.

Dolinski and senior forward Brian McGinty reenacted the give-and-go one-timer that Liam Norris and Danny McAuliffe performed the night before, thus resulting in the game winner.

“This is one of the teams that’s ranked in the top-five (and) it’s big for us coming off a loss last weekend,” McGinty said.  “We wanted to turn things around and get some momentum going into nationals.”

That momentum slowed up a bit in the 2nd period, as Liberty initially did a nice job staying out of the box and controlling the puck.

Nearly nine minutes in, freshman forward Robert Ward fired a shot from the top of the slot and senior forward Jackson Kuhn deflected the shot over ASU goalie Robert Levin. There was nothing he could do.

But just as the crowd began to get back into the game, the Devils silenced them for the second-straight night with a highlight-reel play. Sean Murphy tossed a beautiful saucer pass to Colin Hekle who netted the one-timer for the Devils’ fourth goal.

After another — and ultimately last — Liberty goal to make it 4-2, ASU were given two more power-play opportunities.

McGinty tallied his second goal — and power-play goal — of the night after throwing a shot on net and deflecting through Pinel.

ASU finished the night scoring on 50 percent of their power-play chances.

“We’ll take 50 percent all night on the road,” Powers said.

The first half of the third period remained quiet on both ends, as the Devils only got off nine total shots.

A bad Liberty pass in the offensive zone turned into a turnover and a 2-on-1 breakaway for McAuliffe and Ostertag.

Ostertag patiently waited on the defender to slide by, held up and threw the puck over to McAuliffe for yet another Devils’ one-timer top shelf.

The one part of ASU’s game that extinguished the Flames weekend was the fluidity of their transition.

Powers beat it into the guys’ heads this week in practice and it paid dividends.

“We’ve been working on it in practice a lot,” Dolinski said.  “Coach Powers and Bloss have been harping on us to get back because we’ve been pretty lazy in the neutral zone … if we come down and help (defensemen), it makes the game so much easier.”

The Devils’ 11-4 smothering of the Flames resulted in the first series sweep Liberty has suffered at home since February of last year.

“It’ll help us a ton,” Powers said in regards to preparing for nationals.  “It was good timing to play a good, physical top-five team and get a good sweep.

“Nationals is still a way off – we still have seven games before then – but we’re almost there and I like the way we’re playing right now.”

The ASU Sun Devils return home for a two-game series against our rivals, No. 13 UA, on Friday and Saturday.  Both games will be a blackout as the Devils will wear their all black jerseys.

courtesy of SunDevilHockey.com

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