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The Weber State University hockey team had its work cut out for it as it took on Division I powerhouse Arizona State University Friday night. The Wildcats fell to the No. 2-ranked Sun Devils 10-0.
“I think that the 10-0 score doesn’t reflect what went on,” said WSU sophomore Dax Hobbs, “especially when you take on one of the best teams in the nation. It all boils down to 10 mistakes, and they capitalized on all 10 mistakes. The difference between the Division I level and the Division II level is that every mistake you make they capitalize on.”
The Sun Devils got on the board early as they took advantage of the power play with 15 minutes left in the first period. The Wildcats had just gone a man down after a penalty, and it took just 20 seconds on the power play for ASU to score. Junior Liam Norris took the puck off of a pass from sophomore Kale Dolinski and found the back of the net.
The Sun Devils doubled their lead five minutes later as junior Brian McGinty put the puck over the stick of WSU goalie Ian Frank, with the assist going to sophomore Ryan Ostertag.
“It gives those boys a little bit of a taste of what it’s like to play at the next level,” said WSU head coach Joe Pfleegor. “They get to see the actual play itself. They can see how much faster the game is. There were three penalties in the whole game; the game is that fast.”
The Sun Devils scored three more goals in the first period, the second coming as WSU had a one-man advantage on a power play. The score at the end of the first period was 5-0.
WSU had a few chances early in the second quarter. Hobbs had a few open shots, but all were saved by Sun Devil goalie Robert Levin.
“When we came into the second period, everybody settled in and realized that we could play with them,” Hobbs said. “Everyone skated harder, moving a little bit quicker. We had a few opportunities that we couldn’t bury. It’s one of those games where you have to bury every chance you get, but unfortunately we couldn’t.”
The Wildcat defense clamped down after the goal in the second period, holding the Sun Devils to just one goal early in the period. The Sun Devils had a few good attempts, but Frank made some stellar saves to hold ASU to just one goal. The score at the end of the second period was 6-0.
“Believe it or not, it was only a 1-0 game in the second period,” Pfleegor said. “There was only a power play goal and that was it. We played with them. That period was the best we’ve seen them play all year long. That is because they were forced to play at that higher level.”
ASU scored another goal early in the third period, as Dolinski received from the puck from Norris and found the net.
Sun Devil captain Colin Hekle added two more goals mid-period. ASU added one more goal to end the game with the score at 10-0.
“For the boys to get a little bit of a taste of it, to see what it’s like, it’s good for them,” Pfleegor said. “They can actually see the goal that we are striving to get to. Rather than just hear it, they can actually live it. You got to start somewhere. That’s the bottom line.”
The Wildcats had just 14 shots on goal in the game. The Wildcats had more than 60 shots on goal in their game last week against the University of Utah. ASU had more than 40 shots on goal. The Wildcats pulled their goalie in the late third, giving a chance to freshman Colby Atkinson, who gave up the final two goals of the game.
“It makes us realize that everything we do needs to be a little bit quicker,” Hobbs said. “Hopefully we can take this in right away and put the hammer down on their D2 team. A lot of kids stepped up this game, and it was a confidence-booster for them. From here on out, I think we will start rolling.”
The Wildcats played the Division II ASU team Saturday and Sunday. Those games will be covered in the Wednesday issue of The Signpost and on www.wsusignpost.com.