By: Garrett Osterode/GCU Staff
North Dakota. The Peace Garden State. Home to less than 1 million people. Unbearably frigid weather and some of the best collegiate hockey in the nation.
The Grand Canyon University DI Men’s Ice Hockey team packed up their gear and made the trek north to take on the Jimmies of No. 25 Jamestown University and the reigning ACHA DI national champion Beavers of No. 8 Minot State University this past weekend. The upper Midwest proved unfriendly to the Lopes as they dropped both games to Jamestown, 5-0 Thursday and 7-2 Friday before dropping Saturday’s contest to Minot by a final of 7-1.
Thursday: Jamestown 5, GCU 0
Thursday’s game was the start of the first true road trip for the Lopes this season. Being over 1,500 miles away from Phoenix in small-town North Dakota didn’t help the Lopes get off to the greatest start.
“(In) the first game, we were worn out from all of the travel, and it showed,” said Lopes Head Coach Daniel Roy. “It was almost 24 hours with no sleep. We were just mentally drained.”
GCU had difficulty generating any type of offense on Thursday, firing off only 15 shots on goal, and allowing Jamestown goalie Tyson Brouwer to shut down the opposition for his third shutout of the season. On the defensive side of the ice, Chad Duran was able to stop 30 of the Jimmies’ shots, but was getting pressured all night long by a consistent attack. Jamestown’s Dylan Haney led the charge surpassing a ‘hat trick’ with a four-goal game.
Friday: Jamestown 7, GCU 2
The Lopes started Friday’s game with more urgency, but it did not translate on the scoreboard right away as the Jimmies jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period.
However, after Jamestown made it 3-0 early in the second period, the Lopes finally found the net with back-to-back goals by Drew Cronin and Kory Potach to cut the lead to one. For Cronin, it was the defenseman’s first goal of the season, while Potach connected with his second.
Unfortunately, that was the only offense the Lopes could generate, once again held to under 20 shots on the night as they were outshot, 35-17.
“Friday night, we were a little better, but did not execute defensively,” said Roy. “We did not compete at all.”
The Jimmies ran away with a three-goal final period, including one from Haney, pushing his total to five for the two-game set and seven on the season. Jamestown’s Aidan Potas was the leading goal scorer on the night with two.
Saturday: Minot State 7, GCU 1
“We were trying to survive,” said Roy. “There wasn’t a ton of good this past weekend and three games in three days is taxing physically.”
Another 170 miles west to Minot for Saturday’s clash with the reigning ACHA DI national champion Minot State Beavers yielded a 7-1 Lopes’ loss, but it could have been much worse as GCU allowed a season-high 61 shots on the night. The Lopes had 14 shots of their own, one of which found the back of the net – courtesy of GCU’s Matt Mezik with his third of the season.
The Lopes have taken on plenty of high-end competition this season, but according to Roy, Minot stood out among the rest.
“Minot is at a completely different level,” said Roy. “It is important to face teams like this. It gives us a wake-up call. If that is somewhere we want to be, we must build an organization that is structured like they are.”
When asked about how GCU can climb the mountain of the ACHA DI ranks, Roy was clear.
“We have to have everyone contributing,” Roy said. “We are still in the learning phases. It gives us coaches a baseline on where we need to go, and it lets the players know how good the top of the division really is.” The DI Lopes are back in action after a week off on Nov. 14 as they travel out of the state once again – this time to Utah for another three-game set. They’ll battle Utah State University in Logan, Utah, before heading to Salt Lake City for the final two games of 2019 against the University of Utah Nov. 15 and 16.
Division II Lopes swept by UTEP
On the Division II side, the Lopes’ six-hour drive for a weekend series with the University of Texas-El Paso wasn’t much more rewarding than the DI trip north. The Miners dominated the weekend, taking Friday’s game, 9-3, before scoring 11 goals in the first two periods Saturday to coast to a 14-4 victory.
The DII Lopes will spend the next two weekends at their home ice of AZ Ice Arcadia. They’ll host Northern Arizona University for a pair of games this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8 and 9 before seeking revenge on UTEP in a two-game set Nov. 15 and 16. The puck drops at 7 pm each night. General admission at the door is $8, and GCU students and faculty get in free with a valid ID.
Interested in joining GCU Ice Hockey? Contact the coach for the men’s ice hockey team to learn more!