ASU tops Delaware 3-2 in overtime thriller, stays undefeated

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A lot can change in one day. In the case of the series between Arizona State and Delaware, that was true. Except for the end result.

A day after top-ranked ASU beat the Blue Hens 7-2 in dominating fashion, Friday's game was a hard fought, defensive battle that went into overtime.

Delaware put Thursday's dismal effort behind them to play a terrific game, led by an excellent performance from goalie Patrick Rochefort. But it was not enough, as Sun Devil captain Colin Hekle won it in overtime, helping ASU recover from a blown third period lead and stay undefeated on the year. 

Unlike in the series opener, Delaware came out strong and dominated the early going. The Sun Devils were put on their heels for the first half of the period, as the Blue Hens pressed their attack and dominated possession. However, ASU's defense limited their quality scoring chances, and goaltender Robert Levin stopped the few shots that made it through.

The physical tone set in the opener was returned in force, as both teams made hard hits and finished checks, sometimes after the whistle. One such play resulted in a five minute spearing major charged to Delaware, but it appeared that the Blue Hens would escape unscathed due to some excellent penalty killing. 

That suddenly changed with just 20 seconds left in the penalty, when ASU's Faiz Khan skated in from the corner, deked by a defender, and fired a hard wristshot that beat Rochefort to his gloveside for the period's only goal.

The second period continue the hard-hitting tone of the series. ASU found themselves on the wrong side of four power plays in the period, but despite some quality Blue Hen chances, Levin held firm and the Blue Hens could not score. 

Neither could ASU in the period. The Sun Devils challenged Rochefort with a number of high-percentage shots, but the sophomore was equal to the task on each occasion, and the 1-0 score carried into the second.

But not for long.

After the scoreless second period, the Sun Devils wasted no time in returning to the scoresheet. Just 21 seconds into period, Danny McAuliffe hit a streaking Kale Dolinski with a perfect pass into the slot that Dolinski redirected in high over Rochefort.

Given how the game had played out, a 2-0 edge seemed insurmountable.

It wasn't.

ASU's sixth penalty of the night gave Delaware yet another power play, and they finally converted. Just six seconds into the man advantage, Alex Guerere knocked in a rebound to get the Blue Hens on the board.

With time running out, it seemed like ASU would be able to hold the lead, but it was not to be. 

Delaware's Wes Bonnell fired a hard wrister that hit Levin on his glove arm, but rolled over and in to the net for the stunning equalizer with just over three minutes to play.

The game then moved to overtime, and Delaware managed to put a few solid shots onto Levin during the opening minutes. ASU struggled to generate a sustained attack, but finally broke through on what proved to be the game's decisive moment. Khan gained the offensive zone along the left side and hit a striding Hekle off to the right side. The captain connected on the one-timer to give ASU their 12th win on the year in as many games. 

Hekle's game-winning goal was his fourth of the season, the most in the ACHA, and his second in overtime, following last week's winner against No. 3 Oklahoma.

Levin made 27 saves to get the win and move to 7-0-0 on the year, while Rochefort got the loss despite his sensational 38-save effort.

ASU hits the ice again tomorrow in Tempe, as they host NAU at 7:30 p.m..

Scoring Summary

1st - ASU, 5:15: Khan (2), assists Norris, Temby Power Play

3rd - ASU, 19:39: Dolinski (9), assists Norris, McAuliffe

3rd - UD, 12:23: Guerere (1), assist Zeszut Power Play

3rd - UD, 3:15: Bonnell (3) unassisted 

OT - ASU, 2:04: Hekle (9), assist Khan