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Hockey Silences The Seawolves in Fifth Straight Win

Nov 12, 2022

TEMPE To close out Salute to Service weekend at Mullett Arena, the No. 20 Arizona State men's ice hockey team achieved its third shutout of the season with a 3-0 win over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. It's the second time in program history the team has notched a five-game winning streak, the first time since a 3-0 victory over Bentley on Feb. 8, 2020.

"I feel like we played a much better game tonight, a much cleaner game. We managed it really well. We never felt like we were under too much duress in any way." said head coach Greg Powers. "We are establishing our identity and how we want to play and what we want to be and how to manage the games and manage the pucks."

The win is another step in the right direction as the team will shift their focus toward Clarkson next weekend.

"The focus is to get as healthy as we possibly can because Clarkson is a hell of a team and they are going to start really getting it going. Tough, place to play, a long ways away," emphasized Powers.

The scrappy game between the two teams featured 11 penalties combined, but the Sun Devil defense remained vigilant, killing off every opportunity the Seawolves had on the power play. ASU controlled the puck for the majority of the game which helped the team a season-high in shots with 43 on the night and moved the team to 5-2 when scoring first. The team now has back-to-back sweeps over the Seawolves. 

Three minutes into the game ASU had a power play opportunity but was unable to capitalize despite getting multiple shots on goal. Semptimphelter and the back-line powered through a five-minute major penalty to keep the game scoreless through the first 11 minutes of play.

The final five minutes of the opening frame consisted of hard-hitting hockey from both sides until the Seawolves were called with a cross checking penalty with 1:59 left in the first period. The Sun Devils outshot the opposition 15-3 going into the second period. The three shots allowed by ASU would be the fewest in a period all season.

Less than a minute into the second period the Seawolves were on their second power play of the evening after a tripping call, but the Sun Devils remained relentless on the penalty kill to keep the game scoreless. Quickly after play returned to full-strength the Sun Devils gained a man-advantage, but weren't able to capitalize as the game remained tied, 0-0.

With 2:30 remaining in the second period, junior forward Lukas Sillinger sent Mullett Arena into a frenzy with the Sun Devils' first goal of the night to break the scoreless tie on the team's power play. Sillinger received a smooth pass from team captain Josh Doan and Matthew Kopperud for the team's 10th power play goal of the season. It's Kopperud's third-straight game with an assist and Doan's sixth assist of the season which is second on the team. The team would notch 16 shots in the period which is tied for the most in a single period so far this season.

"It's always nice getting your first one at Mullett Arena. I think (Josh) Doan did a really good job on pump faking the goalie because it gave me a wide open cage to put that one in," said Sillinger.

About seven minutes into the final period, junior forward Ryan O'Reilly snuck in his third goal of the season to double the Sun Devil's lead with assists by senior defensemen Jacob Semik and Jack Judson, who is on a three-game point-scoring streak. ASU would later kill another Seawolves power play to stay perfect on the penalty kill for the game.

With 1:09 left in the game, graduate Chris Grando secured his first goal of the season with an empty netter to seal the victory for the Sun Devils, giving them their fourth straight victory at Mullett Arena and their second straight sweep. 

New Jersey native TJ Semptimphelter secured the third shutout of his Sun Devil career, keeping all 19 shots he faced out of the net and earning his seventh win of the season along the way. His three shutouts are now third most in program history– behind Joey Daccord's seven and Evan DeBrouwer's four– all three coming in the first six weeks of the season after ASU did not record a shutout during the 2021-22 season. 

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils will be on the road next weekend as they travel to play Clarkson on Friday at 5 p.m. MST. Follow Sun Devil Hockey on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @SunDevilHockey for all the latest news this season.

Arizona State Head Coach Greg Powers:
On special teams: 
"The kills have been really good. It starts with your goalie and really tonight he didn't even have to be that great on it. I think we are forechecking and killing a lot of penalties up ice which is what you wanna do. We are denying a really clean entry and it's executing really well right now and their confidence is up and that's what you need to win games."

On Josh Doan owning the front of the net:
"Yes. He is a big boy with a big body and that's why he's there in the power play. We want to simplify it and he can make plays in tight as he's a 200 foot guy."

On possible missed opportunities with open net:
"I feel like we played a much better game tonight, a much cleaner game. We managed it really well. We never felt like we were under too much duress in any way. You have to just credit their goalie. It was his first college start in this environment against a really good team that threw a lot at him and in grade A's I think we are 15-3 tonight. He held them in the game so credit to that kid he had a hell of a game tonight."

On the five-game winning streak:
"We are establishing our identity and how we want to play and what we want to be and how to manage the games and manage the pucks. The guys are buying into it and it's hard to win five straight in college hockey so we are really proud of them."

On what the "identity" is:
"Being difficult to play against. Tight checking and we held them to 19 shots tonight so that's good. That's two out of the last three that we have held our opponent under 20 shots. If you do that you'll win a lot of games."

On Demetrios Koumontzis:
"He'll be fine. Again, he probably could have gone tonight but knowing how deep we are, you look at a kid like Benji (Eckerle) who came in and hadn't played in a few games, and he was tremendous. He was great on the kill, great on the faceoff dot. He was 85%, which is pretty good. He made the most of his opportunity and when you have a kid like Benji who's chomping at the bit to get in and you know he's going to give you the energy that your team needs when he's 100%, you can rest a kid like Koumontzis until he's 100% next weekend."

Junior forward Benji Eckerle:
On getting better chemistry and potential:
"We all think our potential is a tournament team, going to the Frozen Four. I think we are on an upward slope to try and make that goal and as the season goes on, the chemistry gets better. The goal is definitely in sight."

On what it means to be a deep team:
"It's just a confidence builder. You know whoever's on the ice is going to be able to take care of business and do their jobs. Nobody's ever worried about anything really."

Junior Forward Lukas Sillinger:
On goal:
"It's always nice getting your first one at Mullett Arena. I think (Josh) Doan did a really good job on pump faking the goalie because it gave me a wide open cage to put that one in."

On Josh Doan owning the front of the net:
"He's a big body and a really smart and skilled player so we like to get the puck to him down low there."

On the team identity:
"Absolutely. We are a hard working, blue collar team. We want to approach every week like it's our last game. We build off of momentum week by week and I think we have done a great job of that. We have a couple tough opponents, so we are looking to keep the wins coming."

On the defensive unit:
"Just doing the little things. Winning your board battles, getting the pucks up the wall. Our defense did a great job of using the glass today. Coach Powers preached that, to kind of box out and block shots and keep their shot count down. I think we did a great job of that tonight."

On his comfort zone with the linemates:
"(Robert) Mastrosimone and (Josh) Doan are exceptional players. Obviously they're draft picks, highly talented. Mastro's got a lot of speed and Doaner's got a lot of size so I feel like we are three guys that haven't played each other before so it's nice to build some chemistry and things are starting to click along here for us."

On being on the road coming up:
"Personally, I love being on the road. I think it brings the guys together. It's a fun atmosphere playing at the Mullett. But, it's a different look playing on the road when people are cheering against us, so it will be lots of fun this upcoming weekend."

On what it means to be a deep team:
"It means a lot to have four lines that can all do the same thing. It kind of pushes teams back on their heels a little bit. It keeps guys fresh. There's not anyone laying 30-35 minutes a night, so it's nice to roll with four and six in the back end. Especially having TJ (Semptimphelter) back there it helps us out. Hockey's a team sport and we've got a good team here."