ASU Sun Devils Take Two In Tucson

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ASU Sun Devils Head To The Nationals On a Winning Note —

The ASU Sun Devils D1 hockey team travelled to Tucson this past weekend to close out their regular season schedule versus state rival Arizona Wildcats.

Game 1

Sun Devils — 4     Wildcats — 2

Just three weeks after the fateful winning streak against the University of Arizona came to an end, the Sun Devils knew they had an opportunity for redemption.

Friday started the two-game series, and No. 1 ASU started it off the way they wanted.

After an early goal-for-goal matchup, senior forward Dave Jantzie and freshman forward Ryan Ostertag tallied the two go-ahead goals for the 4-2 victory.

“It feels pretty good,” Jantzie said of his game-winning goal.  “It’s really nice to score here, especially when you can bury a team like that.”

Much of the 1st period consisted of back-and-forth play, with ASU eventually striking first late in the period.

Sophomore defenseman Brett Blomgren looked to fire a shot from the right point, but instead had the state of mind to see freshman forward Sean Murphy camped back door.

The bang-bang play put the Devils up 1-0.

But not a minute later, a loose puck in front caught a deflection and fluttered over freshman goalie Robert Levin’s shoulder.

The period ended in a 1-1 tie.

ASU coach Greg Powers must not have been pleased with the Devils’ start, as they came out firing in the 2nd.

Senior captain Colin Hekle wanted to stake his claim in one of his last games in Tucson, driving up the ice and burying a wrister past UA freshman goaltender Garrett Patrick.

Once again, UA senior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson answered back with the Wildcats’ second goal of the game, tying it up again.

“It was a close game and we fell down there a little bit after we scored,” Jantzie said.  “It was good that we battled and got the lead back right away.”

Sure enough, Jantzie and the fourth line gave the Devils the last lead they needed.

For insurance, Ostertag decided to play bartender, going top-shelf on the power play for ASU’s fourth goal.

Not only did ASU avenge their last meeting with the Wildcats, but are continuing their hot streak at the right time.

“Essentially these are our prenup games right before we get into the national tournament,” Jantzie said.  “So we want to get all of our good habits and everyone kind of pulling in the same direction going into nationals.”

Saturday night is UA’s senior night, the same night ASU suffered its first loss to the Wildcats in nearly five years.

“Well I think now it’s always on our mind,” Jantzie said.  “Definitely stung after we lost that game, ending the streak. But now all we can do now is start a new streak against these guys.”

Game 2

Sun Devils — 8     Wildcats — 2

After the bounce-back victory over UA on Friday night, there may have been just one takeaway from Saturday’s 8-2 blowout of the Wildcats: ASU has depth, and a lot of it.

Coach Greg Powers sat his top two lines, which included the team’s top-five scorers, stating he wanted to give his younger players a taste of Tucson.

“It was good to get a look at our young guys and show the depth of our program,” Powers said.  “Using some call-ups and using guys that don’t get the usual opportunities that they got tonight, they performed. That’s a good sign for our future.”

Two of those call-ups were senior forward Justin Havriliak and sophomore forward Coda Engbar from the ASU DII Elite team.

Playing on the fourth line with freshman forward Tommy Cooney, Havriliak and Engbar accounted for three of the Devils’ three goals on the night.

“It was awesome to see,” Powers said.  “It didn’t surprise me because we knew how good of players they are and our D2 team is full of great players so it doesn’t surprise me Coda and Justin stepped up like that.  They’re great hockey players.”

Engbar, who tallied two of the three, took in the entire experience, and hopes his performance will ignite his chances of being a permanent lineman next season.

“I’ve obviously heard what the fans bring down here at UA, and never experience it before, so I was pretty excited before the game,” Engbar said.  “Hopefully I have a good offseason but I definitely want to be here next year.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Havriliak will unfortunately not be able to make the move to DI next season, as his senior season will be behind him.

But the spectacle and talents he showed on the ice is one he should remember forever.

“It was a fun game and all the guys treated us awesome,” Havriliak said.  “It’s (been) an unreal ride so far, and hopefully it doesn’t end.  But ASU hockey has done so many things for me and I was glad I could help them out tonight with a big win.”

While it is his senior season, Havriliak is hoping to return for another year of eligibility with the DII team.

The contributions didn’t stop with them, as four other freshmen tallied at least a point against the Wildcats.

But considering it was UA’s senior night, and the ASU seniors’ final matchup with their four-year foes, it was only fitting a Sun Devil senior led in points.

Senior forward Danny McAuliffe, who has flown under the league’s radar all season, let his almost-team have all he had left in the tank.

“My last time I wanted to go out with a little bit of a bang, and I’m glad we did that with a convincing victory,” McAuliffe said.

On his new line with freshman forwards Sean Murphy and Eric Rivard, McAuliffe is averaging two points per game — 10 points in five games.

That included his four-point performance on Saturday night.

“(Murphy) is incredibly skilled and (Rivard) likes to muck and do the dirty work, so I think we’re clicking pretty well,” he said.  “I hope we take that into nattys.”

His line isn’t the only one that’s been moved around since the Colorado series four weeks ago.

The first line now includes senior forward Colin Hekle, junior forward Faiz Khan and senior forward Brian McGinty.

The second line is McAuliffe’s old line, featuring ACHA leading scorer Kale Dolinski, junior forward Liam Norris and freshman forward Ryan Ostertag in his spot.

“I like what I see (and) I think we know what they are,” Powers said.  “We got those guys out (and) we didn’t sustain any injuries tonight. So we’re going into nationals literally 100% healthy. We’ve never done that.”

A completely healthy ASU team was rarely something one could say for the latter half of last season, especially entering the national tournament.

Hekle was nursing a sore upper body injury that was re-injured in the semi-final game, and other key players were banged up during that last stretch of games.

Now that the Devils are and have been healthy for a majority of this season is a critical element of their status entering Delaware.

These two big wins — which started a new streak — were also imperative prior to their national tournament bound trip.

“It’s absolutely necessary,” McAuliffe said.  “We needed to win these two so we can get a full head of steam going into the national tournament, and I like where we are at right now.”

ASU will participate in its typical practice schedule for this week, but will include a intersquad exhibition game on Saturday at 4:55 pm at Oceanside Arena.

They will also make the trip across town to AZ Ice Peoria to practice on an Olympic-size sheet in preparation for the one they will play on for the national tournament.

Both events are open to the public, and will give fans a last opportunity to wish the team good luck.

The Devils first tournament game will be on Friday, March 7 at 8 pm EST. They will play the winner of Rhode Island and Lindenwood.

The game will be broadcast live on Fasthockey.com.

You can also follow live updates on the team’s Twitter (@ASUD1Hockey) and on our Facebook page.

 courtesy of  SunDevilhockey.com

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