Skip to main content

Devils Start Second Leg of Season at #1 Minnesota

Dec 31, 2020

Game Notes | Watch Sunday | Watch Monday | Live Stats

MINNEAPOLIS, MN. -- Sun Devil Hockey kicks off the new year with the second half of their all-road Big Ten schedule with a two-game series at No. 1 Minnesota (8-0-0) airing on FOX Sports Arizona. Sunday's puck drop will be 3:05 p.m CT / 2:05 p.m MT, while Monday's game is set for 7:05 p.m. CT/ 6:05 p.m MT at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
The Sun Devils (4-6-2) look to get their first program win against a No. 1 ranked team as well as their first against Minnesota. The last meeting between ASU and the Golden Gophers was at the end of the 2018-19 season with the Sun Devils losing both games in Minneapolis before eventually making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
"They're really good," said head coach Greg Powers. "Bob (Motzko) and their staff have done an incredible job getting that program ramped up and they are there. It's going to be a huge challenge."
Sun Devil Rewind
Just shy of the halfway point of the season, the Sun Devils' top scorer is freshman forward Matthew Kopperud with 13 points (7G-6A) as he continues to fill in for senior forward Johnny Walker, who has been out with an injury the last 10 games. He remains tied for the most goals in the country with seven. Behind Kopperud are sophomore forward Jax Murray and junior forward Demetrios Koumontzis, who are tied for second in scoring with eight points each.
The Sun Devil offense started the season with some scoring woes during the Michigan trek but has since averaged 4.25 goals in the last eight games. When comparing year-to-year through 12 games, the Sun Devils are averaging about the same goals scored per game (3.00 vs. 3.08) but the three one-goal losses and two ties being the main difference in record from last year to this year at this point.
After starting the 2020-21 season 0-3-1, the Sun Devils fought back with a road sweep at No. #14/15 Wisconsin – the first road sweep of a ranked opponent in program history – and have gone 4-3-1 since the two Michigan series'.
Gophers Still Golden
The Gophers (8-0-0) have remained undefeated throughout the first portion of the 2020-21 season and are currently the only team in the NCAA with an undefeated record. Minnesota most recently played at No. 5 Michigan where they shut out the Wolverines, 4-0.
A key piece to the Gophers success comes from senior goaltender Jack LaFontaine, who was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes 75th overall in 2016. LaFontaine spent two seasons with Michigan before transferring to Minnesota with a stint in the BCHL in between. LaFontaine currently ranks first in the nation with a .965 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average with two shutouts this season.
The Gopher roster carries 14 NHL draft picks as well as the return of all their top six scorers from last year. Senior Scott Reedy and sophomore Ben Meyer currently lead the returners in scoring with nine points each. Despite the depth of their roster, the Gophers will have to adjust without three of their top defensemen in Jackson LaCombe, Ryan Johnson and Brock Faber, who are with the U.S National Junior Team competing in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.