The DII Ice Jacks fell to the first place ASU Sun Devils 4-2 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series between the in-state rivals. But what led to the defeat? Here are a few things that stood out:
Ice Jacks goalie Anthony Caruso allowed way too many rebounds in the matchup Friday night, which directly led to the final 2 goals for the Sun Devils. Had Caruso controlled his rebounds like we’re accustomed to seeing from the veteran goalie, the game would have been much closer.
The Ice Jacks allowed the first two Sun Devils goals within the final minute of the first period and the first period of the second period. Goals at the end of a period almost always allow for a huge shift in momentum. Friday night, the goal at the end of the first clearly gave ASU the momentum heading into the second period, leading to a goal right out of the gates.
In a matchup between in-state rivals with first place on the line, tensions were sure to be at their highest. However, the Ice Jacks seemed more focused on putting the Sun Devils into the boards than putting the puck in the net all night long. If they want a different result in the box score, they need to focus more on their passing and offensive execution and less on laying the big hits.
The Silver Lining:
If you’re an Ice Jacks fan, it wasn’t all bad on Friday night. A few Ice Jacks played very well in the defeat. The offensive line of Matthew Mehlhaff, Ryan Thompson, and Ben Russell accounted for both Ice Jacks goals on Friday night (Russell’s goal came on the Power Play). This line has been a force to be reckoned with all season long and they did not disappoint on Friday night.
Another player who played very well for the Ice Jacks was defenseman James Takacs. The senior defender was everywhere on Friday night, getting in the way of the Sun Devils forwards all night long, including a sprawling play to break up a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Sun Devils in the second period.
If these players keep up their strong play, Caruso corrects the rebound issue that arose on Friday night, and the Ice Jacks get the usual production from their front line of Fader, Park and Giovannetti, the result could wind up in the Ice Jacks favor. We’ll find out Saturday night at Jay Lively Activity Center.