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Kopperud Dubbed Nation's Leading Goal-Scorer with Two vs. UAF

Feb 5, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. – Sophomore Matthew Kopperud scored two goals against Alaska Fairbanks (9-16-1) on Saturday night. The feat earned him the title of the nation's leading goal-scorer with 19 on the season. Despite Kopperud's offensive energy, Sun Devil Hockey (15-16-0) fell to the Nanooks, 4-3, at Oceanside Ice Arena. The ASU-UAF rivalry is just getting started as ASU looks for vengeance in enemy territory in two short weeks. 

The ASU power play unit made a comeback this weekend with four power play goals from Kopperud (2), Jack Becker, and Colin Theisen. Kopperud's 11 PPG on the season also leads all skaters. 

"I thought the effort was good for 60 minutes, the energy was good, the effort was good," said head coach Greg Powers on the team's effort tonight. 

Junior defenseman Tanner Hickey made his first start of the season for the Sun Devils.

"I was really happy with Tanner Hickey," Powers said. "Hell of an effort by that kid for his first game of the year and he gave us a lot of good energy."  

UAF got off to a quick start with a goal 50 seconds after puck drop. It didn't take long for the scoring machine, sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud, to find the back of the net and tie the game at one a piece. Three minutes later, the Nanooks responded with a goal of their own to head into the locker room with the one-goal lead. Through the first 20 minutes of play, both teams put up 11 shots and committed zero penalties.  

The second period was a little bit chippy. Seven minutes in, UAF drew a whistle for holding which sent out the Sun Devil power play unit. Captain Colin Theisen took the opportunity to even out the scoreboard and converted on the man-advantage for a 2-2 tie. In similar fashion, the Nanooks answered with a goal for themselves. In the last few minutes, there were some roughing calls on both sides, but ASU ended up sending out its PK unit for the first time which they eventually killed.

With four minutes left in the game, ASU sent their power play unit back out on the ice and Kopperud sealed his second goal of the night, shortening Alaska's lead.  

Next up for the road warriors is a two week break before their last away series of the 2021-22 season. The final two games in a four-match series with Alaska Fairbanks are set for Feb. 25 and 26 at 9:07 p.m. MST. 

"Just keep going, we know what we are up against now, the guys know its not going to be easy, and we just got to keep going keep fighting," said Powers on how the team will prepare for the return trip to Alaska. 

First Period
0:50 - UAF (0-1): Alaska's Didrik Henbrant cracked the scoresheet early on with a goal in the first minute of play. 
09:56 - ASU (1-1): Kopperud forced a turnover in the neutral zone and took it up ice for an unassisted goal, and his 18th of the season. 
12:15 - UAF (1-2): The Nanooks were quick to take the lead back, Markuss Komuls found empty space and was able to sneak one past netminder Ben Kraws.   

Second Period
07:50 - ASU (2-2): With some traffic in net, freshman forward Josh Doan fired one at Alaska's netminder, who got a piece of it, but Theisen was there for the rebound. 
09:01 - UAF (2-3): Shortly after, Alaska found themselves with a 3-on-1 opportunity and converted it into another lead. 

Third Period
07:30 - UAF (2-4): With four seconds remaining on the penalty, Alaska's Anton Rubtsov found a rebound and some open space to extend the lead.
16:57 - ASU (3-4): On the third power play of the night, graduate forward Jack Becker set up Kopperud for his second goal of the night. Theisen earned the secondary assist. Kopperud and Theisen lead the team in scoring with 36 points each.    

Head Coach Greg Powers 
On players missing: 
"I don't think it affected us. We're deep. I honestly thought we played pretty well tonight. We played with pace and the effort was there. The energy was there, like I said. We didn't get the timely saves we needed when we needed them. Just some key mistakes – not getting the puck deep there, with all of the momentum tied up 2-2, simple play and if we get it in we're good and we don't get it in and we have a d-fall… and they put it in the back of the net. It just wasn't our weekend. It's that simple.  

Overall thoughts on the team:
"I thought the effort was good for 60 minutes, the energy was good, the effort was good. It's a good hockey team, like I said last night, again microcosm of our year: kinda chasing it, not executing between moments, simple defending off the rush a couple times to get down. 2-1 on those first two goals and we just couldn't climb out of it."

How they're going to prepare:
"Just keep going, we know what we are up against now, the guys know its not going to be easy, and we just got to keep going keep fighting."

On improved D men play:
"I was really happy with Tanner Hickey. Hell of an effort by that kid for his first game of the year and he gave us a lot of good energy. It was just three mistakes that you can't make and they capitalized on all of them."

On message for the rest of the season:
Just finish with over a .500 record. I would imagine and hope after how this series transpired that the guys are going to be foaming at the mouth to go up there and do to us what they did to us down here."

On conversation with the officials after the game:
"I just thought they were awful."

Graduate forward Colin Theisen
On the scrappy game carrying over to the away series: 
It's all emotional. They want to come in here and shove it up us and win the game hard, and that's exactly what we're gonna do when we go there.

On the power play's performance:
Yeah it's good. We just stuck together and we knew what we had to do and we've done it in the past obviously, like you guys have seen. We just need to stick together and do it together as a unit and that's what we did today. We moved it quick. They pressured hard so we had to move it quickly and we knew, that we're always going to have a guy open."