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Inaugural Desert Hockey Classic Creates Busy Weekend at Gila River Arena

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Hockey fans in Arizona were treated to five games in three days at Gila River Arena this weekend.

The Coyotes, of course, played on home ice on Saturday night and beat Nashville 4-0. On Friday and Sunday, the rink and Arizona State University hosted the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic.

Michigan Tech and Yale skated to a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s title game with MTU claiming the trophy via a shootout win. UConn blanked ASU, 3-0, in the consolation game.

ASU, which is playing its first season as a Div. I team, also lost to Yale, 4-0, on Friday, but this season and this tournament are more about welcoming the Sun Devils into big time college hockey.

ASU defenseman/captain Jordan Young said it best after Sunday’s defeat: “We would have liked some better results but it’s all about learning and growing.”

UConn’s Jey Ferris scored two goals and goalie Rob Nichols stopped all 20 of ASU’s shots in the consolation game. ASU goalie Ryland Pashovitz, a freshman, gave the Sun Devils a chance by making 26 saves.

“He was great,” ASU Head Coach Greg Powers said. “I don’t think he let in a bad goal all weekend. Tonight he did what he had to do in order for us to have a chance to beat a Division I team. He held us in the game.”

Coyotes prospect Max Letunov, who is UConn’s leading point producer with 23 in 21 games, notched one assist vs. ASU.

Beyond the scores and stats, the tournament succeeded in terms of growing the sport of hockey in Arizona. That is a huge reason why the Coyotes and ASU recently forged a working relationship that will bring ASU hockey back to Gila River Arena again this season – on Sunday, Feb. 28 vs. the U.S. National 18-U Team – and likely beyond.

The attendance for ASU’s game vs. UConn on Sunday was 3,798 fans. The attendance for ASU’s game vs. Yale on Friday was 5,028 fans.

“ASU hockey games (at Gila River Arena) just makes a whole lot of sense for both entities,” Coyotes CEO and President Anthony LeBlanc said when the partnership was announced last summer. “It's really all about just growing the game in Arizona.”

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