Despite the tournament’s short history, Arizona State’s matchup with Brown was the wildest game in the Desert Hockey Classic. It took 60 shots, 17 goals, and two five-minute overtimes to decide a victor in the semifinal matchup, with Brown coming out on top 9-8 in double overtime at Prescott Valley Event Center over ASU.
Officially the game is listed as a 8-8 tie, but for tournament purposes the overtime determined the bid to the championship game. Needless to say, it was a rare game and both coaches recognized the lack of defense.
“It was a crazy game,” ASU coach Greg Powers said. “I don’t really know how to comment on it because I’ve never been a part of a game like that.”
Brown coach Brendan Whittet quipped he had a similar game when he was an assistant at Dartmouth “many years ago.” He added, “It was one of those nights where everything seemed to go in.”
The first period ended with a level 2-2 score and the Bears were led by a career night for Charlie Corcoran. He scored the first two goals for Brown en route to four goals and two assists (including one on the game-winner) on the night.
Corcoran was slow to accept praise of his remarkable night. “Just lucky bounces, right spot at the right time, and I play with good players; it worked out,” the junior said.
In the second period, Brown rolled to a hot start with a power-play goal by Corcoran followed by a short-handed goal by Tyler Bird only 90 seconds later. A 4-2 lead shrunk from two, to zero, and into a two-goal deficit by the end of the period.
ASU managed four goals in eight and a half minutes from four different scorers and it led to starting goalie Gavin Nieto getting pulled for the third period.
“It’s one of those things where you just have to be able to manage the game a little bit better,” Whittet said. “You can’t go from a 4-2 lead to allowing four goals in a row to end the period.”
There were still fireworks available in the third period with six more goals between the two clubs, with Brown netting three equalizers in the final 20 —- including the goal from Sam Lafferty with 15 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.
After the first overtime period of five-on-five was still stuck in the stalemate, next was three-on-three for overtime number two. Halfway through the five-minute session, Max Willman netted his second goal of the night to seal the win for the Bears.
“We don’t practice it too much in that situation, but [Lafferty] made a good play and [Willman] buried it so all good all around,” Corcoran said.
Connecticut 4, St. Cloud State 3
The second annual Desert Hockey Classic began with a tug-of-war between two Huskies, with No. 18 St. Cloud State and Connecticut battling. Connecituct came out on top, 4-3.
“It was an extremely close game,” according to Connecticut coach Mike Cavanaugh. “After two periods the shots were close, the faceoffs were close, special teams were close —- it was just a really good hockey game.”
Connecticut’s Spencer Naas netted two goals, including one that put UConn up 3-2 heading into the third period.
The third period was a draw for the first 14 minutes before Maxim Letunov netted a vital insurance goal to put Connecticut up 4-2 with time dwindling.
With just two minutes to play, St. Cloud State pulled starting goalie Jeff Smith and looked for an avenue at a remarkable comeback. Thanks to a six-on-five opportunity without its goalie, St. Cloud State pulled within one on Jacob Benson’s goal.
Acting St. Cloud State head coach Mike Gibbons said, “Even when we were coming back our guys were not frustrated, they stayed the course, they competed, and really never gave up.”