Wildcats score 24 seconds into the game, never trail in 7-1 Lopes loss
By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
Go ahead and file this one under ‘games that shall remain nameless’.
For the Lopes’ home opener, what was supposed to be a raucous Saturday evening at the new home rink at AZ Ice Arcadia, instead turned into a one-sided affair. The University of Arizona Wildcats, ranked No. 16 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I Preseason Poll, quickly took momentum in the game and never relinquished it, skating to a 7-1 victory over the Division II Grand Canyon University Men’s Ice Hockey team.
Lopes Head Coach Danny Roy, with unminced words, provided the clear summary for the matchup.
“We were just playing to their rhythm and their tempo,” Roy said. “We didn’t come out and execute what we had talked about (in the) pregame. (Arizona) basically took the energy and shoved it in our face.”
From the drop of the puck, the Wildcats meant business and created the game’s first scoring chance and first goal. Just 24 seconds in, Ethan Stahlhuth netted home a left-to-right pass through the slot from Bayley Marshall on Arizona’s first shift and first shot. The chances for the Wildcats continued to roll in one after another as the majority of the first period was spent in GCU’s defensive end. Stahlhuth added another from Marshall halfway into the period, and Joshua Larson sniped in the third goal of the period with just under six minutes left to make the score 3-0 after the opening frame.
Much like the score, the shots on goal counter weighed heavily in Arizona’s favor. The Wildcats put up 14 shots in the first to the Lopes’ three.
“There was definitely some lack of determination and compete – especially in our defensive zone,” Roy said. “It seemed like we were waiting more for the puck to do something – rather than us going in and throwing a check and making it happen ourselves.”
Late in the second, the Lopes appeared to gain a spark of life. Thirty seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage, and just minutes after Arizona made it 4-0, GCU immediately set up their first unit and went to work. Cycle play from the blue line to the circles resulted in freshman forward Declan Carter, from a knee, burying a pass from sophomore forward Jeffrey Payne to send the Lopes into the second intermission only trailing, 4-1.
The Wildcats, however, quickly regained any momentum they lost and continued their push up ice. UA’s Devon Langelaar and Marshall, on the power play, scored two minutes apart halfway into the final period, then Justin Dungey added the extra point with four minutes remaining to seal GCU’s fate.
The Lopes were outshot, 45-19, for the game. Any issues GCU had defensively were evident, but Roy already sees another problem with the number of penalties his team has taken in the first two weekends of the season. Saturday night, 24 penalties were called in the game, 14 of which on the Lopes, including a late-game misconduct on GCU’s Carter. Last weekend, in the two games versus Arizona State University, the Lopes recorded 19 trips to the penalty box.
“Discipline and having poise is a regular thing we talk about,” Roy said. “Right now, we have a group that is more focused on the penalties and referees, and thinking that’s the game. We have a good 5-on-5 team, but it kills our rhythm every time we take a penalty.”
Carter’s goal was his second of the year for a team-leading five points, and it was the team’s fourth power play goal this season.
Next Friday and Saturday, the Lopes will do battle with ASU’s Division II team at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. In what will be the first games of the season that count toward ACHA ranking points, Roy knows the turnaround will have to be met with immediate lessons learned from Saturday’s defeat.
“The good thing is that it is still early in the year,” Roy said. “These games are supposed to be tough. They’re DI opponents. We know the problem. We are just going to have to step up and show that we are a different team than what we showed tonight.”
The Lopes’ next home game at AZ Ice Arcadia (38th Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix; building is behind the Sprint Store) for the DII squad happens Saturday, October 13 at 6:30 pm vs. California State University-Fullerton. The Lopes’ DIII team begins their 2018-19 season at AZ Ice Arcadia this Sunday at 11 am against the Colorado School of Mines.