It couldn’t have been scripted much better for Arizona State (22-9-3) defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk on Saturday, as he recorded his first collegiate hat trick on his senior night to defeat Alaska Anchorage (4-21-5) 5-2.
Two of Pasichnuk’s goals came from slap shots from the top of the point, and the third strike to cap off the memorable night provided a glimpse of some of Pasichnuk’s speed and skill.
While on the power play, the blue-liner corralled the puck below his own goal line. He left his zone with speed, evaded a couple of Alaska Anchorage forecheckers, then had a full head of steam entering the neutral zone.
Pasichnuk split the Sea Wolves defenseman, then got in all alone on the goaltender. He snapped a wrist shot on the blocker side to light the lamp and cap off a coast-to coast display. A couple of hats came onto the ice, and it marked the fourth goal of the series for the senior captain.
“That was such a cool night. I never in a million years would have expected to go out with something like that,” Pasichnuk said. “It was just incredible. I’m not taking credit. That’s another incredible team win and these seniors beside me battle their rear ends off all season and all four years here. I love these boys and it’s about all of us, not just one of us tonight.”
Both Brinson and Steen Pasichnuk had a whole grove of family and friends in attendance from the small town of Bonnyville, Alberta this weekend.
All of the seniors were honored prior to Saturday’s puck drop, and after the game in the postgame press conference, they all sat alongside one another in a crowded room.
While there was certainly a lot of emotion, the group downplayed the night knowing that there is still a road ahead.
“It’s emotional but we still got a lot left to accomplish,” Steen said. “It’s obviously emotional in your last game at Oceanside Ice Arena but we still know that we got a lot of hockey left, so I think most of us are going to try and save those emotions until we win the Frozen Four.”
As for ASU’s play itself on Saturday, their matchup with Alaska Anchorage wasn’t the most complete game they’ve played all season, but once again, they got the job done.
The Sea Wolves outshot ASU 34-23, and they were in striking distance of tying the game multiple times. After going down 2-0 in the first period, they trimmed into the deficit courtesy of a late goal from freshman forward Zach Nazzarett.
The Devils went up 3-1 in the second, but once more the road team responded. Off an ASU turnover, freshman forward Nick Wicks buried a breakaway goal.
But perhaps the biggest turning point of Saturday’s contest came late in the second period. Up 3-2, and during 4-on-4 play, ASU junior defenseman Jacob Wilson was the last man on defense as he back-trekked through the neutral zone.
He had Anchorage senior forward Luc Brown pressuring from his back hip, and he attempted to lift the stick of Wilson to snatch the puck.
In a tussling match near center ice, Brown took the Sun Devil defenseman down and stole the puck. The Sea Wolves proceeded to come into the offensive zone and wire a top shelf slap shot that made its way into the goal.
It would have tied the score, but a late whistle came in. Brown was called down for hooking, much to his displeasure.
ASU went to a 4-on-3 advantage, and that is when Brinson cashed in on his second goal of the evening, providing a back-breaking sequence of events for the Sea Wolves. From that point on, the Sun Devils took the reigns and cruised to the finish line in the third.
The power play was 2-3 on Saturday with both goals coming from Brinson. Head coach Greg Powers addressed the way that the unit has been firing as of late.
“It’s just having guys that you know you can call on to execute in the big moments,” said Powers of the power play. “Tonight, Brinson’s unit was really good and got two for us, and it won us the game.”
As good teams do, they take advantage of opportunities when they are presented. That is exactly what the Sun Devils did with the 4-on-3 advantage on Saturday, and with their third period power play goal, too.
Besides Brinson Pasichnuk, sophomore forward PJ Marrocco and junior forward James Sanchez added goals on odd-man rushes as part of the five goals as well.
The home sweep gave the program its 22nd win of the year, surpassing last year’s win total of 21. Additionally, at Oceanside Arena, ASU is 23-4-2 over the last two seasons.
The Sun Devils have won seven straight, and 11 of their last 12 games. Their postseason aspirations are nearly secured, and just one win over two games at Wisconsin next weekend can all but guarantee a postseason bid.
“I just think we learned a lot from last year and losing in the tournament,” said senior forward Brett Gruber. “We focused a little bit more, worked a little harder, and we don’t take a second for granted. I just think that this year if we make it to the tournament, if we are lucky enough, we are going to come out on top.”
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