By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Lopes outshoot Sun Devils in all six periods despite outcome
What the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team lacked in wins, it didn’t lack in performance. Despite dropping the season-opening series this past weekend to rival Arizona State University, the Lopes highlighted their ability to keep possession of the puck.
“We talked a lot about being a puck possession team, and that was our expectation going into this series,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi. “We made them play at our pace, and I believe that we met that goal.”
ASU came into the series having pitched back-to-back shutouts against the University of Denver, and had outscored them and Colorado State University in four games by a combined 21-2 score. However, the Lopes outshot the Sun Devils both games, 42-30 in Game 1, and 42-23 in Game 2.
In the 4-1 loss Friday night, the Lopes came out early with a goal by Lopes’ forward Kylie Kramer at 6:38 of the first period. Outshooting the Sun Devils wasn’t enough. The Devils came back with a pair of goals in the second and third period to close out the first game.
“The girls got a little mentally tired – especially our newer players,” said Rossi. “We have players who haven’t played 60 minutes of hockey. We’re working on mentally preparing our team to play that full 60 minutes and making sure we aren’t making small mistakes.”
It was another loss, 3-2, on Saturday, but the Lopes still saw progress. The Lopes had trouble finding the execution they needed to come out with a win, but still kept the Sun Devils moving at GCU’s pace. The combination of looking to control the pace and bringing a strong mental game still wasn’t enough. ASU scored a goal in each of the three periods, while the Lopes were left scoreless after the first period. Lauren Welsch would net an unassisted goal for GCU at 11:50, following with another unassisted goal by Lopes’ Faith Casola just 25 seconds later – her first as a collegian.
“Our three key points of focus was controlling what we can control, aggressive play and puck possession,” said Rossi. “We are in a unique position where we have four lines to roll through when we play. We are able to do 30-second shifts of a hundred percent. This will wear teams down and continue to be our game plan for the rest of our season.”
International Girls Hockey Weekend
Their reputation precedes them.
As the program continues to build on the ice, GCU continues to grow their reputation outside the rink and into the community.
The Lopes were recognized last season with the Community Service Award in American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Women’s Division I for their efforts in the community for a second consecutive year.
The Lopes were not only accompanied by the Arizona Kachinas youth team at their home opener, but took the time to give back to the girls hockey community.
“We got to talk to young girls about hockey and serve as role models,” said Rossi. “Saturday morning, we had some of our girls help younger girls try on skates and take them on the ice. It was a cool experience.”
The Lopes will be on the road next for a four-game series in Colorado. The first puck drop will be Friday, Oct. 11 at 1 pm against Colorado State.