NAU energy overwhelms ASU

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Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2018 8:46 pm

The NAU Ice Jacks D2 won their first home game of the season against ASU D2 on Oct. 12 with a final score of 4-2. Perhaps due to the packed house at Jay Lively Activity Center, the Ice Jacks found and kept their energy throughout the game, ultimately beating ASU on stamina alone.

From the beginning of the first period to the final seconds of this game, there were strong hits against the boards, words to be had between NAU and ASU players, and a few fights where referees were struggling to pull apart players. All in all this resulted in a fairly aggressive game.

Ice Jacks’ coach Travis Johanson believes this mentality is just part of the game in order to stay focused. 

“That’s hockey,” Johanson said. “You just got to keep pushing forward at all times. You can’t dwell on your mistakes and you just have to take that next step forward and keep pushing.”

Even though this game favored NAU, ASU scored the first goal in the middle of the first period with the puck slipping in-between the legs of NAU goalie, Jaxson Gosnell. However, NAU’s Malachi Bushey was able to respond right back by attacking the glove side of ASU’s goalie, Mark Becica, and hitting the top corner of the net, tying the game 1-1 in the first.

The fact that NAU’s energy seemed stronger than ASU’s was evident in the second period when ASU was on a power play. The Ice Jacks’ defense was working well as they had a very close short-handed goal opportunity after stealing the puck away from ASU during their power play. Out of the five power plays ASU had throughout the entire game, no goals were scored because of NAU’s solid defense blocking goals and sending pucks down the line to take away some of ASU’s time. 

One of the best examples of solid defense for NAU was toward the end of the second period. Ice Jacks’ Tegan Harrington went to shoot the puck but ended up breaking his stick’s handle, and instead of going straight to the bench to recover a new stick, he blocked an ASU player against the boards with his body, allowing NAU to retrieve the puck. This hit let NAU’s Max Mahood score a goal, with assist from Jordan Nolan, making the game 2-1. With this momentum, this encouraged Zaven Bablouzian to score shortly after making the score 3-1 at the end of the second period.

Bablouzian’s line worked well tonight with two goals scored throughout the game. Bablouzian thinks they have been getting more comfortable and understanding how they work best together. 

“As far as that line goes we have been playing for a little while now and we have some chemistry going,” Bablouzian said. “We always just talk about having energy and trying to keep the pace up because that is the worse thing for the other team — when there are guys working as hard as they can. So we focus on trying to do that, and up until now we haven’t been getting our bounces, but today the bounces were our way so it was pretty rewarding.”

The third period began with a four-on-four power play after a fight broke out between NAU and ASU, when Desmond Conley fell into the goalie trying to put the puck in the net at the end of the second period. This four-on-four penalty ended with nothing too exciting coming out of it; however, ASU scored a few minutes after in full strength making the score 3-2. If anything, this goal for ASU made the Ice Jacks fight back even harder by pressuring and peppering the ASU goalie with shots. However, ASU’s defense was able to hold back any more goals for awhile by blocking pucks with their bodies and diving on the ice. ASU’s defense could not ward off penalties forever though, and NAU was able to get another opportunity for a goal on a power play after ASU was caught cross checking. With four seconds left in the power play, NAU scored, making the game 4-2.

ASU had one more final push in the game by taking a time out, pulling their goalie with a minute and 30 seconds left, and also encouraging NAU to get a penalty. This made the final battle with six ASU players against only four NAU players. NAU was able to waste time off the clock and the final score stayed 4-2 in the third period. 

The Ice Jacks play ASU again tonight at 6:30 p.m., and coach Johanson believes the team has got to keep the energy they found within themselves to be successful in the second game of this weekend.

“I think we got to come out like we did in the second and third period,” Johanson said. “We were a little slow and made some dumb passes in our zone in the first period. We didn’t pressure in the neutral zone so well either. So tomorrow we just got to come out and keep going where we left off.”

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