HOUGHTON, Mich. – Looking for their first road sweep of the season, the Arizona State Sun Devils did a lot of good things.
They scored twice in the last 16 seconds of periods. They fought back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game just 3:37 in the third with winger Johnny Walker getting both goals.
Sun Devils goaltender Joey Daccord, who was stellar on Friday night, was nearly as good Saturday, stopping 40 shots thrown his way by the Michigan Tech Huskies.
At the end of the night, however, it was the Huskies who skated away from the MacInnes Student Ice Arena with a 5-3 win, their first over the Sun Devils in three tries this season.
For the Huskies, a pair of seniors made the difference in the hockey game. Defenseman Mark Auk had a goal and assist in the second period and assistant captain Joel L’Esperance added a goal in the second and an assist in the third on the game-winner.
Auk’s goal at 2:55 of the second evened the game at 1-1. With two Sun Devils’ skaters in the box, Auk took a pass in the high slot from defenseman Seamus Donohue and then waited for an opening before beating Daccord over the blocker.
“We capitalized on our chances, stuck to our game plan for the most part,” said Auk. “It ended up working out. It is nice to get a couple of scoring chances and, of course, to score on those.”
Auk then figured on L’Esperance’s tally at 15:59. The Huskies were on another 5-on-3 advantage when Auk found L’Esperance at the Arizona State blue line. L’Esperance skated in alone and beat Daccord with a wrist shot.
“I think we played a little bit more consistent tonight than we did last night,” said L’Esperance. “It was nice to get the win.”
After assistant captain Dylan Steman put the Huskies up 3-1, it appeared that they were going to head into the third up two. However, on a power play of their own, Walker took advantage of a bad line change by the Huskies and cut the lead to one with just 8.5 seconds left.
Walker then struck again early in the third when he found space in the Huskies’ defense.
“That’s what the kid does,” said Sun Devils coach Greg Powers. “He scores. It’s good to see. He’s really had a good last month of hockey. We are just happy we get him for another three years.”
Rather than collapse, the Huskies got back to work and 3:02 later, L’Esperance hooked with winger Gavin Gould on a 2-on-1 and set up the diminutive forward for the game-winning goal.
Just 14 seconds later, defenseman Dane Birks dumped the puck down the ice from near his own bench and it bounced in front of Daccord, sneaking past him and into the net at 6:53.
Assistant captain Brinson Pasichnuk scored the Sun Devils’ first goal of the night at 19:44 of the first period when he took advantage of a situation where Walker collided with two Huskies’ defenders and got in on a 2-on-0 with winger David Norris.
“Tonight was not actually our greatest effort,” said Huskies coach Joe Shawhan. “Our turnovers were still high. We were fortunate to find a way to win.”
After the game, emotions spilled over from the final seconds of the contest into a shouting match and later punches thrown between players, coaches, and staffs of both squads.