By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Lopes outshoot their opponents in three out of four games
Traveling 13 hours to play four games in the span of just three days, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team went an impressive 2-2 at the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League Showcase in Colorado. The Lopes went 1-1 in a Friday doubleheader, coming back from an overtime 6-5 loss against Colorado State University in the morning with a 4-2 victory over the University of Denver later that night. On Saturday, the Lopes gave up another game to Colorado State with a 4-2 loss before closing the showcase with a 5-3 win against Denver Sunday morning.
“We were focused on working hard and making both teams play at our pace,” said Lopes Head Coach Natalie Rossi. “We know we’re a fast team with a lot of skill.”
GCU began the weekend Friday with a 6-5 overtime loss to Colorado State despite outshooting the Rams, 63-44.
Late Friday evening, GCU pulled away with a 4-2 win against the Denver. The Lopes’ Megan Brodfuehrer opened the scoring 11 minutes into the first period, and was helped with a strong defensive effort as sophomore goaltender Grace Huegler saved 21 shots on goal.
“We stay true to being a puck possession and aggressive team,” said Rossi. “We are going to continue to improve setting up, and now, we need to fine-tune those opportunities around the net to score more goals.”
GCU came back Saturday with an afternoon matchup against Colorado State, scoring two goals in the first period but getting shut out the rest of the way in the 4-2 loss. GCU freshman forward Gracie Komarek scored in the first period to put the Lopes up first, then senior forward Kylie Kramer followed with an unassisted goal with three minutes left on the clock, but it would be the final tally for the Lopes. The Rams completed a late comeback with three goals in the second and an insurance goal in the third to seal the win.
GCU outshot CSU again, 52-23.
“Scoring my first collegiate goal was special,” said Komarek. “My teammates and my linemates were very supportive. When it finally happened, it was awesome to feel that support and excitement from my team and coaches. I am so excited for the rest of our season and to see how far we can take our program this year.”
Sunday, after a scoreless first period, the Lopes’ Cassidy Niemi broke the tie in the second, then the game exploded in the third period with four goals from GCU and three from Denver.
GCU’s Anabelle Koethe finished the game with two goals and an assist.
“We have always had a good team where the girls work hard together,” said Rossi. “This year, all the players are bought in and having fun in games.”
“Our team chemistry was already strong for being the beginning of the season,” said Kramer. “We consistently executed plays in the offensive and defensive zone that were crucial to our wins.”
The Lopes (2-4 overall) will be on the road next for a two-game series in Salt Lake City versus the University of Utah. The first puck drop will be Friday, Nov. 15 at 4 pm. The Lopes don’t return to AZ Ice Arcadia until Dec. 7 when they play Kachinas High School for an exhibition game.