By David Carter/GCU Club Sports Web Marketing Intern
“We got beat by a team that was playing harder and is a tough team.”
After watching his team struggle to find the offensive rhythm that helped get them two wins away from nationals, GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Danny Roy’s brutal honesty summed up the Lopes’ 4-0 defeat at the hands of No. 7 seed Brigham Young University (BYU) Friday night in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men’s Division 2 West Regional at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. The loss eliminated the Lopes from the tournament and ended their season in the same round as last year.
“It was not a surprise that they were going to play like that,” said Roy. “We were in this situation last year – in this exact same game – and it sucks to lose it twice and be out of the tournament.”
After a scoreless opening 16 minutes of play, BYU struck first when right winger Chase Christensen scored the first goal of the game. Trailing, 1-0, late in the first period, the Lopes were given a crucial opportunity when BYU forward Dimitri Wheeler was called for a tripping penalty with under a minute remaining. The Lopes, however, failed to convert on the power play chance.
The second period belonged to Christensen, who scored his second goal five minutes into the period, then secured a ‘hat trick’ three minutes later to give BYU a 3-0 edge. The Lopes had chances to cut into the Cougars’ lead, but couldn’t capitalize on three different power play opportunities in the final 12 minutes of the half.
The third period continued that theme. Three more power-play chances proved fruitless for the Lopes.
“Ultimately, they have a great goaltender (BYU’s Jared Manzella),” said Roy. “He has been the toughest for us to play against every time we have played them. We knew it was going to be hard to score, and if we were going to win, we’d have to score one goal and keep the puck out of our net.”
Manzella was perfect in saving all 25 shots that came his way. Lopes’ sophomore goalie Michael Barabash did not fare as well, saving 36 of 40 BYU shots.
Although this proved to be GCU’s final game of the season, Roy remained optimistic about the Lopes’ potential growth.
“Even though this is our third year (as a program), we still had 15 brand new players to the program,” said Roy. “That passion and pride for the program is still young and has not fully matured.”
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