5th-Straight Series vs. Ranked Team as Hockey revisits #4 Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn -- After suffering back-to-back losses at the hands of the Badgers to split the season series, Sun Devil Hockey makes the return trip to face No. 4 Minnesota (11-3-0) for the second time this month on FOX Sports Arizona. Thursday's puck drop is set for 7 p.m. CST / 6 p.m. MST, while Friday's matinee will be at 4 p.m. CST / 3 p.m. MST.
The Sun Devils (5-11-2) are looking to even out the season series with the Golden Gophers after coming up short in both games earlier this month at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Following the series, the team will return to Tempe for a 21-day travel break and two home exhibition games.
"They are a tremendously talented and well-coached team after they just got swept at home," said head coach Greg Powers. "We're going to get their very best."
Sun Devil Rewind
This past weekend, the Sun Devils faced yet another obstacle this season starting with the series being postponed a day and then having to play without three key starters, including top power-play unit forward Ryan O'Reilly. Jarrod Gourley and Jacob Wilson, two of the team's top-four defensemen, were also out for the series. An already thinned out offense then had to play game two without the nation's leading scorer Matthew Kopperud. The team has also been without Willie Knierim since the final game at Ohio State, Cole Brady since the last time they met Minnesota, and Sean Dhooghe is likely out this weekend after taking a hit against Wisconsin. That brings the total to seven players out for this weekend's series.
Despite being shorthanded against the red-hot Badgers, the Sun Devils came back on Sunday scoring first with a power-play goal, but couldn't stop the Badgers from getting two on the power play shortly after. Wisconsin extended the lead in the middle frame before ASU came within one goal before they tallied two empty-net goals in the final minutes.
With the absence of Cole Brady, the team added junior goaltender Bronson Moore to the roster, per protocol, in case of an emergency. Moore played two seasons with ASU's Division I ACHA team where he posted a .909 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average.
Gophers Not So Golden
The previously undefeated Golden Gophers have lost three of the last four games since playing the Sun Devils, and have fallen to No. 4 in the USCHO rankings after sitting at No. 1 for four-straight weeks. Their first loss came at the hands of the Badgers, but they were able to split the series with a win the next night. This past weekend, Notre Dame was able to secure a road sweep against then-ranked No. 1 Minnesota and was the first team to do so this season.
Before playing ASU, Minnesota had never allowed more than two goals in a game with only nine goals against in nine games. The Sun Devils put together five goals on the weekend and were the first team to score more than three goals in a game on the nation's top-ranked defense. Despite the return of their top-three defenders from the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, the Golden Gophers have allowed 11 goals in the last four games while scoring nine.