A Long Journey Concluded with 5-0 Shutout Victory
Recap by Ana Sniffen, Sun Devil Media Relations Intern
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Head coach Greg Powers called it "poetic justice" as Sun Devil Hockey closed out the 2020-21 Big Ten all-road season with a 5-0 shutout over Ohio State on Friday at Value City Arena. The program traveled over 15,500 miles and were on the road for 74 days of the 113-day season.
It was a passing of the torch as four of the six seniors in the lineup found the scoresheet, two freshmen added late goals, and rookie goaltender Cole Brady posted his first collegiate shutout with 41 saves.
"It feels really good to go out that way and we're thrilled with that game," said head coach Greg Powers. "It was awesome to see [James] Sanchez get that first goal and then Knierim get the second, so it was a good team effort."
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Sun Devils were first on the scoreboard as James Sanchez's slapshot found the back of the net for the 1-0 lead 8 minutes into the first period.
- Two minutes later, Willie Knierim stole a pass from Ohio State's goaltender Evan Moyse for a shorthanded goal to extend the lead, 2-0.
- Just before the Sun Devils first powerplay expired, Chris Grando buried a rebound for ASU's third goal in the first period.
- Matthew Kopperud ripped a quick shot from the top of the circle to make it a 4-0 lead early in the second period.
- With only two minutes left in the third period, Benji Eckerle fired one past Moyse to solidify the 5-0 win for the Maroon and Gold.
- Brady earned his first collegiate shutout in his 12th start this season for the Sun Devils with 41 saves.
- The last time the Sun Devils had a shutout on the road was Feb. 8, 2020 at Bentley with Evan DeBrouwer in net.
- ASU's penalty killing unit negated all six penalties, including a 5-minute major.
- Sanchez's goal in the first period was his first since Jan. 17 at Wisconsin. Sanchez also had an assist on Chris Grando's power-play goal. It was his third multi-point game of the season.
- Johnny Walker's assist on Sanchez's goal was his 110th career point.
- The last time ASU scored a shorthanded goal was on Nov. 28 at #14/15 Wisconsin and was scored by Willie Knierim, who also had the shorthanded goal tonight.
- With his goal tonight, Grando has scored three goals in the last five games played. He finished the final seven games of his season with a point per game.
- Kopperud's goal in the second period was his first since Jan. 10 at Notre Dame, and his 13th of the season. Kopperud finished the season leading the Sun Devils in scoring with 19 points. He's the first freshman since Walker to lead ASU in scoring.
- Eckerle's goal was his second of the series against Ohio State, and fourth on the season.
- Six out of the seven seniors were able to dress for senior night and the last game of the season. Four of them found the scoresheet.
- "They deserved it for everything they went through and all the insane adversity that we fought, from start to finish and then to finish for you know the guys especially Dom that aren't coming back." -Head coach Greg Powers on the team's performance
- "He was just solid. They obviously had most of their shots on power plays and we controlled the puck really well, limited second chance opportunities. We got some bounces tonight in front of them. At the end of the day, he just competed, and he really ended the season on a really positive note. I think it shows a lot of how mentally tough he is and can be bouncing back like you did after that game last night." -Powers on Cole Brady's 41-save shutout
- "Our freshmen were huge parts of our best moments this year. You know Kopperud and Mancinelli were unbelievable tonight, O'Reilly's got just a tremendous upside and future in front of him, Benji had a goal tonight, and a goal last night. He's just a minute eater, and of course Kosobud got some time this weekend and looked really good, and then obviously Cole. So our freshmen, it's never going to be harder for them than it was this year and everything that we all learned. Now we have to apply it, and turn the page and focus on really coming back and getting back to the NCAA Tournament next year." -Powers on the freshmen class
- "We've got to catch up now. We've got to get bigger, faster, stronger and and not accept losing more than we win. That's not how we built this, it's not a culture. But again, at the end of the day, I think this is this is a chapter in our story that we're going to be able to look back on and be proud of and be able to tell how we're one of the only collegiate teams probably in Division I sports, especially with the nature of this way this happened, that didn't have any cancellations on their own accord." -Powers on the takeaway and focus into the offseason
- "It's been a long season. We took on something a lot of people didn't think was possible and we gave ourselves a challenge, but we earned everything we got this season. We worked as hard as we could. And just going into tonight, we knew it was the last one so we just want to make sure you left everything on the table like we did all year and we're happy with how it ended. It was a long process but it's all worth it." -Cole Brady on the season and going into tonight's game
- "No one signed up for this type of year. Everyone expected it to be a normal senior year, so for them to have to go through this especially on the last year, it shows the character of them and all they put forth. So it was nice for them to have that moment, because they didn't get it in front of any fans, but it was nice that they got to appreciate it for all they've done." -Brady on the seniors being acknowledged by Ohio State
- "It feels right right now just to finish with the win. I know a lot of guys are emotional and some guys are just looking forward to the offseason resting up and then we'll see where it goes. But yeah, it was it was nice to have that for sure." -Dom Garcia on tonight's final game for him
- "I think it was more like I was a bit sad, but I mean for good reasons. Obviously we wanted to go out like this, but I think it's just a lot of the love in the locker room came out there. Now obviously it's not the same team. Powers kept reminding us that it's never gonna be exactly the same, so I think that really hit once we walked into the locker room. So, it just seems a little emotional but I was happy as well for good reasons." -Garcia on the postgame locker room
- "I like to think I contributed the most away from the scoresheet, so it's little things like the block shots to penalty kill -- things like that. But hopefully, whenever anyone talks about me, they say I was a good leader and I earned the right to wear the letter for three years and I worked hard every day." -Garcia on reflecting on his career
- "Each year we've had adversity and this is just another one, so I think it really just goes back to the type of locker room we have. We just don't make excuses. So, I think, ultimately that's what I look back on, is just everyone's willing to work and no excuses." -Garcia on the adversity faced over his four years