NEWARK, Del. -- In their opening game of the ACHA National Tournament, top-seeded Arizona State looked every bit the part of the favorite to bring home the championship.
The Sun Devils struck early and often as they powered their way to a 5-0 win over No. 16 Delaware. The Rams had defeated Lindenwood on Thursday night in the tournament's opening round, but were dominated from start to finish.
Five different Sun Devils scored on the night, and freshman goalie Robert Levin, getting the starting nod over senior Joe D'Elia, recorded his ACHA-best seventh shutout of the year.
ASU will now await the winner of No. 8 Delaware and No. 9 Minot State, the defending national champions.
The Sun Devils struck just 58 seconds into the game, when Liam Norris—utilizing the larger Olympic ice surface of the Rust Arena—was able to wait and find Ryan Ostertag open in front. Ostertag then fired a shot past URI goalie Andrew Sherman. Quickly after, Jordan Young's shot from the point doubled ASU's lead. The first period blitz continued when defenseman Jarrod Levos beat Sherman to make it 3-0 just six minutes into the game.
After the Rams managed to keep the relentless ASU offense off the scoreboard for the remainder of the period, the middle frame opened up just like the first period.
ASU entered the period on a power play that carried over from the first period, and they soon capitalized. Danny McAuliffe found a wide open Colin Hekle of the backside, and the Sun Devil captain one timed it in for the goal. Just second later, Norris found an open Kale Dolinski, who wristed the puck over Sherman's glove for the fifth goal.
Then things got a little ugly.
ASU forward Faiz Khan took a hit from behind that did not sit well with his teammates. Brian McGinty and Hekle came to his aid, and a scrum ensued. After the snow had settled, McGinty, Hekle, and URI's A.J. Chua were ejected, and McGinty received a DQ, which would mean he would be suspended for ASU's next game on Sunday. Hekle, however, would remain eligible to play.
With the steam seemingly let out by the fight and the game out of reach, the third period was far less intense than the two prior periods. ASU continued to dominate possession, and despite some quality chances by both sides, neither squad was able to find the net.
The win came at a cost, health-wise, for the Sun Devils. Defenseman Brett Blomgren was hit from behind in the first period and did not return, and forward Sean Murphy left with a hand injury.
ASU will play their quarterfinal game against the Minot State/Delaware winner on Sunday evening with a 7:00 p.m. EST start time.