TEMPE, Ariz. -- The buzzer sounded, and it was over.
David Jantzie's Arizona State career had just come to an end, but he didn't have time to reflect upon that now.
He had just become a national champion.
On Tuesday, Jantzie and his Sun Devil teammates beat Robert Morris University 3-1 to capture the program's first ACHA national title. For Jantzie, it capped off a career that had previously come oh-so-close to being fulfilled.
“Sheer excitement," Jantzie said of his emotion as the game ended. "Everyone just threw their gloves up in the air and piled on top of each other. It was a really great moment especially after the three years that we didn’t quite get the job don’t. That was the moment that I realized that we finally did it.”
The championship capped and up-and-down year for the Alberta native. While ASU went through most of the season as the ACHA's top-ranked team, Jantzie posted career-lows in games (21) and goals (five).
But when the light were brightest and the games mattered in the ACHA National Tournament, Jantzie and his fellow physical fourth line grinders—senior Troy Scott and freshman Patrick Yudez—took over.
“A lot of times in the playoffs everyone gets tougher," said Jantzie. "For our team, we like to play a little more wide open. The style of play being brought to the table was a tougher style and grind it out every shift, so that played right into our hands. It translated from what we were doing all season and allowed us to get lucky a few times in putting the pucks in the net. It wasn’t so much a surprise as much as being nice to bring what we did in the regular season to the final round.”
Knowing that his team had greater depth than any other in the nation, ASU head coach Greg Powers rolled out his fourth line early and often. But even he didn't think that they would dominate in the manner that they did.
"I knew the fourth line was going to contribute, and I had every intention of playing four lines, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that through the first three games them carrying us," Power said. "Yudez was incredible, Troy was incredible, Jantzie was incredible. All three were workhorses in every sense. They got to the net, forechecked to perfection, put pressure on the opposition and just wore them down. When a line plays that well, they are hard to stop. I don’t think anyone was prepared for that because they haven’t seen it. It was funny how it worked out. I started them every game. I hadn’t started them once all season. They started all four at nationals and essentially winning us our first national title."
It wasn't just that the line scored goals, it was that they scored the goals when the team needed them most.
In their semifinal matchup against No. 5 Stony Brook, ASU had managed to rally from a rare third period deficit to tie the game, but the Seawolves showed no signs of laying down. As the clocked neared the four-minute mark, Jantzie stepped up to score the season's most important goal.
“We were in the middle of the line change, and they were in the middle of a line change as well," Jantzie remembers. "Jordy (ASU defenseman Jordan Young) found me on the outside wing. I came around the defenseman and tried to slip it through his stick and shoot it quick off the rush. One of their defenseman stepped up on me and hit me and got off-balance. When I shot the puck, it ended up behind the net. The goalie didn’t quite see where it went. Troy was the next guy in the corner, and he fired it right in front of me. I had one second where I wasn’t tied up and the goalie was still searching for the puck. It was a bang-bang play. A lot of people didn’t realize that it actually went in. I actually thought it got banged off a shin pad. It happened so fast."
That was one of three goals Jantzie scored over the four tournament games, and his five points tied for the team lead. As a result, he earned a spot on the prestigious All-Tournament first team.
“That was not really expected," said Jantzie. "I just tried to do my part and chip in. It didn’t really cross my mind as far as accolades go. I just wanted to make sure we won the final game, and we were able to do that.”
Four years, 135 games, 100 points, 39 goals, and one national championship later, Jantzie leaves behind a tremendous legacy. Four years ago, he joined an ASU program that was, in his words hardly on the map". Now, he leaves having played a major role in elevating ASU into the elite of college hockey.
“As far as accomplishments go, I’d say that we finally got it done," reflects Jantzie on his career. "I had a really great start and got to play with a lot of great players over my four years here. It really hasn’t quite hit me yet that it’s over. It’s so great that we ended the way we did. After the three years that we gave away pretty good shots at winning other national championships, it’s good to win the way we did.”
So what is next for Jantzie? He doesn't know as of yet, but knows that the maroon-and-gold is forever with him.
“At this point, it’s not quite decided on a lot of things. I’ll probably find out in the next couple of months. I don’t want to leave Arizona. It’s pretty much my home now. I just want to remain involved in the ASU community and hockey community here.
"I’m just excited for whatever the next chapter might be.”