DENVER - The Arizona State Sun Devils made their first ever trip to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Pioneers in hockey on Friday night. Both teams had to feel each other out for most of the first period, but once the Pioneers were able to get their grips on the hockey game they were able to overpower the Sun Devils and take the first game of the series 5-1.
"I expected us to be flat and I told the staff that," head coach Jim Montgomery said. "I was worried about this game but I talked about us getting back to the process and playing Denver hockey. I was worried that we weren’t going to have the energy to get back there, but we found it."
The hero of World Juniors 2017, Troy Terry, was unable to play on this night due to having played a lot of hockey over the past week but it was DU's other World Junior competitor, Finland's Henrik Borgström, who was the star of the night with two goals and one assist.
"[Borgström] didn’t look like he was feeling alright in the first, but neither did anyone else," Montgomery said after the game. "Once he scored that shelf for his first goal, wow was he good."
Having never played each other in the history of the two hockey programs, each team didn’t really know what to expect. The first period started with the Pioneers showing off their speed and trying to dictate the pace of the hockey game. That didn’t last long once Evan Janssen went to the penalty box and the Sun Devils were able to convert on the power play after a sloppy penalty kill by the Pios. That goal would come from Nashville Predators prospect Wade Murphy and would seem to give ASU the confidence they needed to dictate the play for the rest of the period.
"That was the worst I’ve seen us play since the first game of the year," Montgomery said about the first period. "We didn’t look like a team, there wasn’t five guys connected."
Whatever Montgomery said in the locker room during the first intermission, worked. The Pioneers came out looking like a completely different hockey team and were able to put the pitchfork into the heart of the Sun Devils. The first goal came with four and a half minutes into the period, and boy was it a beauty. Henrik Borgström was able to get himself open where he fired the puck into the top right corner to tie the game up.
That gave the Pios all the confidence they needed. Matt Marcinew would put the Pioneers up 2-1 after their best power play of the game off of some gorgeous passing between Dylan Gambrell, Borgström and Will Butcher. The third goal would come from another Borgström snipe off of a faceoff win from Marcinew. The Pioneers weren’t done yet in the period, however, they would get a fourth goal from Emil Romig’s chest off of a rebound from Colin Staub’s shot. DU dominated for the entirety of the second period, outshooting the Sun Devils in the period 17-4, and would take a 4-1 lead into the locker room.
The third period was eerily similar to the second with the Pioneers continuing to dictate the pace of the hockey game. They were able to get a fifth goal from Janssen off of a wonderful pass from Romig with about four minutes into the period. The Sun Devils would lose their cool a little bit in the third period and give the Pios nine power play opportunities. Denver was unable to capitalize on seven of those, however, and 5-1 would be the final at Magness Arena.
First star: Henrik Borgström (Denver) Second star: Emil Romig (Denver) Third star: Blake Hillman (Denver)
BY THE NUMBERS:
Denver-Arizona State Shots : 47-19 PPG/PPA : 2/9-1/3 Faceoffs: 39-31
TURNING POINT OF THE GAME:
Henrik Borgström's top shelf wrist shot in the beginning of the second period which really got the Pioneers going.
The Pioneers will have game two against the Sun Devils on Saturday night.