By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Lopes outshoot Utes in weekend series
Same score, different outcomes.
In their first games since early October, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team took on University of Utah for a two-game weekend series in Salt Lake City. Friday, the Lopes fell short with a 4-2 deficit, but was able to come back and flip the score for a sweet 4-2 victory on Saturday.
“The team played very well considering we hadn’t had a game in almost a month,” said Lopes forward Kylie Kramer. “Our offensive zone play was strong. We were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for most of the games, and were able to get plenty of shots on goal, which led to our win on Saturday.”
The Lopes dominated offensively, outshooting the Utes in both games, 43-16 (Game 1) and 45-14 (Game 2).
“The team could work on getting quality shots on net,” said Kramer. “We consistently get around 40-50 shots a game, but due to a lack of quality, those shots did not correlate to goals and two wins over the weekend.”
In the 4-2 loss Friday evening, the Lopes came out with a first-ever goal for Lopes’ freshman forward Kaidon Toombs at 14:10 of the first period. The Utes and Lopes would add on an additional goal each in the first, leaving the Lopes with a 2-1 lead after the first. Outshooting the Utes wasn’t enough, though, since Utah came back with a pair of goals in the second period and one goal in the third period to close out the game.
“We have to capitalize on opportunities,” said Lopes’ Assistant Coach KC McGinley. “We were losing battles that we shouldn’t have lost. I have been preaching to these girls that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
In the final game of the series on Saturday, Utah struck first with a goal from defenseman Kristen Pimentel six minutes into the opening period, but GCU’s leading goal scorer, freshman forward Annabelle Koethe, returned to score the tying goal nine minutes later. With nearly one minute left in the first period, Utah’s forward Grace Cruikshank answered back with a goal making it a 2-1 game.
That would be the last scoring for the Utes as GCU answered back with a goal in the second period and two more in the third period. GCU’s Emmie Wahlgren capped off the night’s scoring with an unassisted goal with just over three minutes remaining, ending the night with a 4-2 triumph.
“We need to keep our positive momentum going,” said McGinley. “Now our girls know we can’t get away with shots in practice. We need to make them count. Continuing to grow as a team and building our team chemistry will help with the games ahead.”
The Lopes and Rossi are ready for another round with the Utes in January. Rossi’s team will resume play Dec. 6 facing their in-state rival Arizona State University at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. The puck drops at 6:30 pm.