By: Matt Dresens
Looking to build off their 7-2 shellacking of Merrimack, Boston University hosts Arizona State for a two-game set in the Sun Devils first ever trip to Agganis Arena. The two schools met last year in the desert with BU sweeping the weekend series with wins of 8-0 and 4-3.
Since elevating to the Division I level in 2016, ASU’s 2018-19 campaign has far and away exceeded anything the Sun Devils have accomplished in their first few seasons. So far on the year they are 16-9-1 and sit in the 12th spot in the PairWise. Not too long ago, they even were in the top 10, but they have only won two of their last six.
“They are just a good team,” stated head coach Albie O’Connell. “They have good goaltending and they obviously have a couple guys who can make a difference. They are highly competitive and very willing to go to the dirty areas and play a physical brand of hockey.”
Among common opponents, ASU swept Boston College in Tempe, tied Minnesota State and split with Harvard at the Bright Center.
ASU, much like Minnesota State is a much older team than the Terriers. The average age on the Sun Devil roster is over two and a half years older than the average age on BU’s roster. ASU may play a grinding style, but don’t let fool you into thinking they can’t score. Coming into this weekend Arizona State has scored 81 goals on the year. That is good for seventh in the country. They also average 3.12 goals per game.
In contrast, BU is 36th in the nation in goals scored with 60 and only average 2.86 per game.
The Sun Devils do most of their work at even strength, as their power play only works at 15.7%, which isn’t terrible, but not great either. All of it makes sense, too. ASU has yet to land the big name recruits like BU, BC, North Dakota (you get the point). Instead, they rely heavily on the older aged junior players much like Lowell and Mankato have done in recent years. They can beat you up five on five, but special teams, especially power play should be an advantage for BU.
“They are heavy,” added O’Connell. “They are big and they have a couple guys who can really make a difference. They play a good team game and they are organized, strong and big. They are a lot bigger than we are.”
Scouting the Sun Devils
Johnny Walker leads the nation in goals scored with 19. The sophomore from Phoenix, Arizona has also added eight assists for a total of 27 points and a seven-point lead on the rest of the ASU roster.
“I think its hard to worry about one individual,” added O’Connell. “Obviously on the special teams, we are going to need to be aware of him. Any time a team has atop player, you have to be aware. We have to make sure we are playing on the right side of the puck with him and not cheating for offense.”
Defenseman Branson Pasichnuk is second in scoring with 8 goals and 12 assists for 20 points. Pasichnuk is one of seven Sun Devil skaters who as amassed double-digit assists thus far. Other players to watch include Anthony Croston, Tyler Busch and Dylan Hollman.
In goal junior Joey Daccord has seen time in all 26 games played. In that time Daccord has a 2.24 goals against and a .930 save percentage. He has also posted six shutouts, which leads the nation by a two-game margin.
Arizona State is not the first Arizona based team to travel to Boston and play the Terriers. On January 3rd, 1984, BU beat Northern Arizona 6-5 at Walter Brown Arena. Northern Arizona only had a Division I programme for five years, from 1982 until 1987.