By: Garrett Osterode/GCU Staff
(Photo courtesy: Arizona Coyotes)
It wasn’t exactly a championship trophy for hockey.
Defending the title was just as important as if it was.
Vying for the right to call themselves two-time defending champions, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Hockey teams reached the championship game of the 2nd Annual Arizona Coyotes EA Sports NHL Esports Tournament for the second year in a row, eventually falling to their DI counterparts from Arizona State University in the title match. The Lopes’ DI players were joined at the Ice Den Scottsdale by the DII counterparts from both schools as well as the Grand Canyon University Women’s Hockey squad and Sun Devil Women’s team. The grand prize of the tournament was $2,000 and a chance to play against Coyotes’ forwards Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller, who defeated the Sun Devils in the final head-to-head matches of the evening.
“The Coyotes Esports tournament is always a great team bonding experience for our players, since it is held at the beginning of the season,” said Lopes’ Women’s Hockey Coach Natalie Rossi. “The Coyotes have a great reputation for giving back to the hockey community.”
The Coyotes donated $7,000 overall to the participating teams in continuing their commitment to growing the game of hockey in the state of Arizona. In fact, the event was a showcase for current hockey collegians, and those who may succeed them.
“Young kids who were at the rink for practice were able to stop in and meet college players and the NHL players who attended,” Rossi added. “Seeing how excited they were to meet the players and to watch them play video games is exciting.”
GCU Ice Hockey officially opens their seasons Sept. 19 at AZ Ice Arcadia as the Men’s DI team hosts University of Nevada, Las Vegas at 6:30 pm. The Men’s DII team travels to Northern Arizona University for a two-game series on Sept. 27 and 28 for their opening games, while the women’s team plays a pair of exhibition games at AZ Ice Arcadia that weekend. The women officially drop the puck on their season Oct. 4 when they host ASU at 6:30 pm. GCU Ice Hockey and Grand Canyon University would like to thank the Arizona Coyotes and the members of the Coyotes’ Development Team who made this event possible.