Allston, MA- No team has captivated the college hockey world quite like Arizona State. The four-year-old Division I program, and most recent addition to the top college ranks, has surprised with impressive wins over Michigan State, Nebraska-Omaha, and Penn State. Those wins launched the Sun Devils to their first spot in the national rankings, 18th in the USCHO polls this week. They took their top-ten offense, national best penalty kill, and national leading scorer Johnny Walker on the road for a matchup with the Harvard Crimson. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils ran into a hole in Allston and could not dig themselves out of it.
Harvard opened the game pounding the Sun Devils’ defense, outshooting their guests 14-2 in the opening frame. Only one puck got through as ASU’s Joey Daccord kept his team afloat with 13 quality saves. Still, the North Andover, MA, native surrendered one to the Crimson. Reilly Walsh wound up a shot at the blue line and Jack Badini redirected it into the net for a Harvard lead 6:05 into the game. Daccord recovered and kept the Sun Devils down only 1-0 into intermission.
Arizona State failed to help their goaltender with three penalties in the second period and Harvard capitalized, breaking through the country’s best penalty kill. First, Adam Fox squeezed a shot through a tiny window to extend the lead. Later in the frame, Jack Drury banged home another power-play goal to give Harvard a 2-4 night on the man-advantage. The Harvard scores sandwiched a Sun Devil score, where Filips Buncis, ASU’s extra skater, capped a wicked passing sequence on their own man-advantage. Despite surrendering the shutout, Harvard goaltender Michael Lackey made 15 saves and kept his Crimson up 3-1 entering the second intermission.
The ice tilted further in ASU’s favor in the third. The Sun Devils outshot Harvard 13-4 for the final 20 minutes, aided by three Crimson penalties. Fortunately, Lackey played his best period and game of the season. The senior from Washington D.C. and newly minted starter stopped all 13 shots for a game total of 30. On the final successful kill, Adam Fox whipped a half-rink lengthed pass up to Lewis Zerter-Gossage, and the captain took charge. He charged into the offensive end and deked out Joey Daccord for a backhand finish and a 4-1 final.
Arizona State’s winning streak ends at three. Simultaneously, offensive ringleader Johnny Walker was held goal and pointless for the third consecutive game. Ottawa Senators draft selection Daccord recorded 26 saves and helped keep his team afloat the whole night.
Sun Devils Head Coach Greg Powers was disappointed with his team’s performance, particularly in the opening frame.
“Give Harvard credit; they came out and punched us in the mouth in the first period and our guys haven’t felt that at all this year.” Power said. “We’ve been a great team in the first, and tonight they completely dominated us. The good news is that our guys bounced back. I thought we carried the play for the most part in the last two periods. But to beat a good team on the road, you can’t take a period off. And we didn’t take a couple shifts off, we literally took a period off.”
The 18th ranked Sun Devils drop to 9-4-0.
Michael Lackey improves his unbeaten streak to four games with his 30 save performance, the second most saves he’s made in a game this year. Adam Fox had a goal and an assist for his fourth multi-point game in only six Crimson contests this year. Despite the few games, Fox’s 11 assists are third in the nation. He’s averaging 2 assists and 2.40 points per game on the young season. Both are national leaders.
Crimson Head Coach Ted Donato, while happy with the outcome, was wildly disappointed with his team’s back half of the game.
“Happy to come away with the win,” Donato said. “I thought we did some good things in the first 40 minutes. I don’t think we played very intelligently in the second half of the game. Whether it was turnovers or taking penalties, I think we did a lot of things to hurt ourselves. I give Arizona State credit. Bunch of shots there in the second and third. As a staff, we were frustrated because if you’ve got a lead, you need to stay out of the box. I just thought the details and our mindset as a group we’re not where they needed to be.”
Harvard improves to 2-2-2 through six games. The teams rematch on Saturday night again at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Puck drops in Allston at 7 PM. Arizona State continues their road trip each of the next two weekends against Nebraska-Omaha and Princeton. Puck drops at Baxter Arena in Omaha at 7:07 CT on both the 23rd and 24th and at 7 ET at Hobey Baker Rink on both November 30th and December 1st. Harvard travels to New York City to face ancient rival Cornell at Madison Square Garden next weekend. Puck drops at 7 pm ET on the 24th.