TEMPE, Ariz. -- Life is all about change.
That is, except when it comes to the hockey rivalry between Arizona State and the University of Arizona.
The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 5-1 on Friday night, marking the 33rd consecutive victory by ASU in the series. Arizona's last win over the Sun Devils came on February 21, 2009.
In a game defined by the expected hard, physical, and frequently illegal style of play the series has become known for, ASU used a hot start to grab a lead that they would never relinquish.
The hard-hitting was evident from the opening faceoff. Both teams finished their checks hard and played sound defense early on, limiting the number of shots in the opening minutes.
Slowly, ASU began to earn an edge in possession and fired in a few quality shots on Wildcat goalie Dylon Hojnacki. Soon, a rebound off of Hojnacki fell off to his stickside, where ASU freshman Patrick Yudez was able to slap it in for the game's first goal.
Less than two minutes later, a hard shot from the blueline by ASU's Jared Levos was redirected by captain Colin Hekle past Hojnacki for a quick 2-0 lead. Hekle nearly had another goal a minute later, but his backhander off a breakaway chance was saved by Hojnacki.
The intensity of the rivalry boiled over near the end of the period, when two separate fights erupted, although only a pair of roughing minor were issued.
The referees continued to be busy in the second period in a variety of ways.
A Wildcat highsticking penalty gave the Sun Devils their first power play of the night, and it looked like the Sun Devils cashed in quickly.
ASU fired a shot off the left circle that initially hit Hojnacki but rolled over the line. However, the refs lost sight of it after the initial save and blew a quick whistle, waving off the goal.
The Sun Devils got another chance with the man advantage shortly thereafter following an Andrew Murmes hooking call. This time, ASU made it count. Defenseman Jordan Young received a pass from Kale Dolinski at the blueline, evading a sliding Wildcat defender and unleashed a furious wristshot that found the net.
That gave the Sun Devils a nice cushion as they found themselves on the penalty kill for long stretches in the rest of the period, including a prolonged 4-on-3 penalty kill. To their credit, the Sun Devils were able to kill each Wildcat power play.
The Wildcats were able to strike late in the period. With under five minutes left in the period, Alex Vazquez took a shot on D'Elia that was deflected. As it bounced to D'Elia's gloveside, Grant Nicholson managed to get a piece of the puck and redirect it in for the goal.
Given new life, Arizona dominated the remained of the period, as the Sun Devils compounded their difficulties with some uncharacteristic mistakes, although no further damage was done in the period.
The Wildcat momentum continued into the early minutes of the third period, as they were able to dominate possession, helped in part by more Sun Devil turnovers.
With ASU needed a spark to reverse the tide, they got in the form of a trio of freshman.
Running a 3-on-2 break to perfection, Zack Holstrom was able to get a wrister past Hojnacki to return the lead to three.
The Wildcats then lost their composure.
Forward David Rizk was called for a checking from behind penalty and given a game misconduct. On the ensuing five minute powerplay, ASU was able to score early thanks to a slapshot by Alex Temby.
D'Elia made 18 saves to improve to 2-0-0 on the season, while Hojnacki fell to 1-1-0 while making 49 saves.
These two teams will complete the weekend series tomorrow night at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, with a 7:30 p.m. opening faceoff.
1st - ASU, 13:39: Yudez (3), assists Holstrom, Temby
1st - ASU, 11:41: Hekle (3) , assists Levos, Dolinski
2nd - ASU, 13:32: Young (2), assist Dolinski Power Play
2nd - UA, 4:31: Nicholson (1), assist Vasquez
3rd - ASU, 15:41: Holstrom (2), assists Burkemper, Yudez
3rd - ASU, 10:53: Temby (1), assist McAuliffe, Prechel Power Play