6th-seeded Lopes and 7th-seeded Cougars to meet in first round for 2nd straight year
By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director
The Grand Canyon University Men’s Hockey team is officially seeded No. 6 in the ten-team, single-elimination American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 2 West Regional Tournament, which begins next Thursday, February 28 at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. The Lopes’ first matchup of the tournament happens Friday, March 1 as they battle the 7th-seeded Cougars of Brigham Young University (Utah). It’s the second time the two teams have met this season, and it’s also the second consecutive time that the two squads will square off against each other to commence regional tournament play. The announcement was made earlier tonight on the ACHA’s D2 Regionals Selection Show online.
The Lopes will actually start the tournament one step further towards nationals than they were last year. In 2018, the Lopes were seeded No. 9, which meant that they had to start tournament play in the opening round in a “play-in” game against the then-12th-seeded Cougars for the right to advance to the main eight-team bracket. It also means that the Lopes will only have to win two games to automatically qualify for the ACHA D2 National Tournament, which begins March 21 in Dallas, Texas, but their coach isn’t concentrating on anything past the opener – especially since their regular season matchup back on November 9 at AZ Ice Arcadia resulted in a 2-1 Cougars’ win.
“It’s going to be a tough path for us starting off with BYU – knowing that they’ve played extremely tough every time we’ve played them,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Daniel Roy after seeing the bracket. “BYU is a very disciplined team that plays very tough and doesn’t quit. We’re going to have to play our best hockey to get by them.”
Since the top two seeded teams in the West Region, No. 1 Northern Arizona University and No. 2 University of Northern Colorado, earn automatic bids to nationals and don’t need to participate in regionals, the Lopes are actually the fourth-highest seed at the tournament (behind No. 3 Boise State, No. 4 Metro State-Denver and No. 5 Williston State College (Montana)). The Lopes can’t say that their regular season schedule didn’t prepare them for this moment, since – including games against NAU and UNCO, GCU has played 14 regular season games against the field, and have posted five wins –including two victories over NAU, and a single victory over Boise State and Williston State. The Lopes also have the knowledge that they defeated the Cougars in last year’s opening-round game, 2-0, at BYU’s home ice in Provo, Utah, to send GCU to the Elite Eight.
The Lopes and BYU will play the final game of the four-game schedule on Friday, March 1 at Oceanside Ice Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm. A win there sends the Lopes to Saturday’s final round games, which will be played at 4 pm and 7 pm.
The full schedule of games for the ACHA D2 West Regional Tournament is below:
|ACHA D2 West Regional Tournament Schedule|
|(all games played at Oceanside Ice Arena-Tempe)|
|Thursday, February 28 (Play-In Round)|
|4PM||#9 Utah State vs. #12 Texas-El Paso|
|7PM||#10 CSU-Northridge vs. #11 Montana State|
|Friday, March 1|
|10AM||#3 Boise State vs. Lowest Remaining Seed|
|1PM||#4 MSU-Denver vs. 2nd-Lowest Remaining Seed|
|4PM||#5 Williston State vs. #8 Oregon|
|7PM||#6 Grand Canyon vs. #7 BYU|
|Saturday, March 2|
|4PM||2nd-Highest Remaining Seed vs. 2nd-Lowest Remaining Seed|
|7PM||Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed|