Photo Credit: Garrett James
TEMPE, AZ — A night after a tough 8-1 loss against their Division I foes, the SFU Men’s Hockey Team closed the gap and played a competitive game against the Arizona State Sun Devils in a 4-2 loss. SFU struck first and held them scoreless In the third frame of the second game of back-to-back exhibition matches.
“Our guys came in prepared and mentally focused, they played hard — nothing else can be said about the effort our guys gave tonight,” said head coach Mark Coletta. “It was all hard work and grit. They should be proud to wear an SFU jersey.
“The guys made SFU proud. It was pleasure to watch.”
At the tail end of a power play, Jaret Babych put up the first goal, getting the puck in the slot and beating goaltender Robert Levin blocker-side, after a good forecheck by the team just before the halfway point of the first period. Darnel St Pierre and former Sun Devil Mak Barden collected assists on the goal.
However, the Sun Devils responded with four unanswered goals.
Former Salmon Arm Silverback Anthony Croston opened the scoring on the Arizona State side three minutes after Babych’s tally. Jakob Stridsberg gave them a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission, assisted by Ottawa Senators draft pick Robbie Baillargeon and Riley Simpson, the son of Craig Simpson, former Edmonton Oiler and current Hockey Night in Canada colour commentator, and brother of Dillon Simpson, a defenceman prospect in the Oilers system.
Five penalty calls — 7:22 on the penalty kill — hampered SFU in the second period. Former Victoria Grizzlie — teammate of Mike Sandor — and Nashville Predators draft pick Wade Murphy put up the first of two power play goals in the second. 2014/15 Victoria Grizzlies leading goal scorer Brett Gruber added the Sun Devils fourth and final goal, his second in two nights.
SFU rebounded in the third, applying some good pressure in order to attempt to erase a three-goal deficit.
Goaltender Jordan Liem made 39 saves on 43 shots (.907 SV%).
“We learned what it takes to play at that level. Anytime you lose games, you’re unhappy, [. . .] but our guys carried themselves well,” said Coletta.
The Clan return to BCIHL play this weekend, with a tough back-to-back series. First, they play the University of Victoria on Friday on the road. Saturday, they return home and face a rematch with Eastern Washington.
Puck drop is at 7:30 pm for the UVic game and 7 pm for the home game. At the Bill Copeland Sports Centre, tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under 6 or for SFU students with valid ID. The game will also be streamed live on HockeyTV.