GLENDALE – Arizona State University is not easing into its first season of Div. I hockey.
On Friday, ASU took on 12th ranked Yale in the nightcap game on the first day of the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic at Gila River Arena.
Yale scored a breakaway goal less than two minutes into the game and then took control in the second period by out-shooting ASU, 22-3, and outscoring them 2-0 to turn a one-goal lead after one period into a 3-0 lead after two. The Bulldogs won 4-0.
Andrew Gaus, Frankie DiChiara, John Hayden and Joe Snively scored for Yale, which won the national championship just three years ago.
Goalie Ryland Pashovitz made 38 saves for the Sun Devils, who know building a competitive program at such a high level will take time.
"That is a good team," ASU Head Coach Greg Powers said of Yale. "They are going to go to the NCAA tournament. The process is hard. It's hard to keep focused and toe that line with these kids. Nobody likes losing, but that is a really good team that will probably play in the postseason and could easily make a run, especially with that goalie. He is arguably the best goalie in the country. He didn’t have much work tonight, but he is really good. We have decided to schedule really good teams. When these kids are all upperclassmen, the process that we are going through now will yield the results when they are older and more experienced."
Five players on ASU’s roster are from Arizona, a strong indication of how the game of ice hockey has grown in the state.
The game, attended by 5,028 hockey fans, was aired live on the Pac-12 Network. Coyotes rookie Max Domi dropped the ceremonial first puck.
"We had some good fans out there tonight," Pashovitz said. "Throughout the course of the season we have played in some really nice rinks so I am kind of used to big rinks and big crowds. It is always fun playing in something like this for sure."
Michigan Tech defeated UConn, 4-2, in the first game earlier Friday. The four-team tournament concludes Sunday with Yale playing Michigan Tech for the title at noon, and ASU playing UConn, for a third time this season, in the consolation game at 3 p.m.
"It is not over for us," Powers said. "There are three great programs that we are thrilled are here to share this weekend with us. We thank them all for coming. We are looking at it as a great opportunity on Sunday and hopefully the third time's the charm against UConn.”