College hockey: Arizona State wins first-ever tournament championship at Ice Vegas Invitational
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Winner, winner, chicken dinner. The Arizona State men's ice hockey team hit the jackpot against a traditional hockey program in Michigan Tech for its first-ever tournament win in program history. The Sun Devils claimed the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational Championship, holding off the Huskies for a 3-2 victory at T-Mobile Arena.
The Sun Devils (6-12-4) dominated the first and second periods, silencing the Huskies (11-9-5) behind a 3-0 lead heading into the final period. Michigan Tech defeated No. 13 Boston College in Friday's matchup for the championship berth.
"I'm just proud of our guys, it's a good moment for those kids they earned it," said head coach Greg Powers. "They've been through a ton of adversity. Every one of them had options to go someplace else, and they wanted to come here and build this program for moments like these. They earned this special moment. I'm proud of them. I'm happy for them, and it's a really good moment for our program."
Three minutes into the championship match-up, and after killing a MTU power play, defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk forced a turnover on his own blue line for a breakaway goal, giving the Devils all the early momentum.
The next 20 minutes went scoreless, with the Sun Devils killing another MTU power play and the Sun Devils' unable to capitalize on two man advantages of their own in the first frame.
At the start of the second, the Devils replicated the first period, as freshman Johnny Walker went bardown with assists from forward Anthony Croston and goalie Joey Daccord to advance ASU's lead to 2-0. The assist to Daccord was his second of the season.
Twelve minutes later, Pasichnuk collected his second goal of the night with a shot cleared through the entire Huskies' squad, and trickled through the five-hole of MTU goaltender Devin Kero. Croston and forward Brett Gruber picked up the apples to help give ASU a commanding 3-0 lead at the end of the second period.
"It all started really with the loss against Lake Superior State," said Powers. "Again, it might have been our sharpest effort of the year, and it just didn't translate into a win. We carried that effort into this weekend and beat two really good hockey teams and came away with a trophy and that was one of our pre-season goals, one of our main goals was to win one of the two tournaments that we went to, and we accomplished that tonight."
A little over five minutes into the third, the Huskies capitalized on a power play for their first goal of the night. Less than 10 minutes later, that same line scrambled in the crease to shove their second goal past ASU goalie Joey Daccord with only four minutes left in regulation.
Daccord would finish the night with 36 saves on 38 shots, becoming his 10th game in the last 11 appearances with 30-plus saves.
Gave ‘em hell! pic.twitter.com/RuhtDaRpdF— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) January 7, 2018
Michigan Tech played the remaining minute and 56 seconds with an extra attacker, as the Huskies pulled their goaltender coming out of a timeout.
Pasichnuk, Croston and Daccord were named to the All-Tournament team, with Pasichnuk being named the tournament's MVP after totaling three goals and two assists in the two games. He is now tied atop the team in points with 14 along with Gruber.
The Huskies had two grade-A scoring chances, but were stymied by Daccord for the victory. ASU now returns home after starting the 2018 half of the season 2-0, and will host UMass-Lowell this coming weekend at Oceanside Ice Arena on Jan. 12-13.