GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Battles Through Tough Weekend Homestand
That was the theme for GCU Men’s Ice Hockey’s Division II team this weekend.
They had a win, loss and tie over the three-game series through giving up a total of 31 power play opportunities this weekend. They secured an 11-6 victory against California State University Long Beach Friday night, but lost, 4-2, Saturday night, and tied, 4-4, Sunday afternoon in a pair of games against California State University Northridge.
California State University, Long Beach
The Lopes gave up a total of 10 power play opportunities to the 49ers Friday night, but came up with the victory due to a strong second period. After trailing LBSU, 3-2, after one period, the Lopes came out attacking in the second, and junior forward Cameron Wojnicki scored two goals to give the Lopes a 6-3 lead. Freshman forwards Declan Carter and Andrei Yanovich added goals a minute apart late in the second period to help the Lopes score six straight goals to take an 8-3 edge. The 49ers never got closer than three the rest of the way.
After the game, Wojnicki talked about what the goals he scored did for the team.
“It was huge,” Wojnicki said. “Getting a goal always gets the team riled up and ready to go. We like to switch players right after, so we could get fresh legs right out on the ice and duplicate what we just did.”
California State University, Northridge
The Lopes faced a true test against a physical California State University Northridge team Saturday and Sunday. The story of these two games was even more physicality, with the Lopes allowing 21 of the 35 power-play opportunities between the two teams over the two-game series.
On Saturday night, despite outshooting the Matadors, 35-24, the Lopes never led in 4-2 loss to CSUN. Matadors’ goaltender Vince Sepe proved difficult to score on in goal with 33 saves. After falling behind, 1-0, after one period, the Lopes took advantage of consecutive CSUN penalties early in the second, with Lopes’ sophomore forward Jeff Payne tying the game on a 5-on-3 GCU advantage. From there, though, Northridge wore down the Lopes’ defense, scoring twice in the second period to take control, then adding a goal from Sean Kalbak seven minutes into the third to ice the win. GCU’s Kevin Dunton added the Lopes’ second goal with just under two minutes left.
Following the loss, the Lopes regrouped to secure a 4-4 tie with the Matadors less than 24 hours later. The Lopes got the tie despite again allowing the majority (15) of the 25 power-play opportunities between the two teams. Zach Bennett scored midway through the first period to give the Lopes the lead after a period, but for the second straight day, the Matadors ran off three straight to take the lead. This time, the Lopes battled back with late second-period goals by Sullivan Murphy and Payne, then took a 4-3 lead early in the 3rd with a goal from senior forward Wyatt Grant. Northridge responded with the tying goal with 11 minutes left in regulation, and a mass of penalties and ejections for both sides strapped both offenses the rest of the way.
“We played much better (Sunday),” Lopes’ Head Coach Danny Roy said. “We were physical. We were working hard. We were pushing for some of the play.”
GCU’s Division II Team will play against University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in Las Vegas next Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27 at 7:30 pm each night.
“It’s about soul-searching right now,” said Roy. “Weekends like this is what sports is about. You are never going to be perfect-especially in hockey. It is just a matter of how we deal with it moving forward.”
Men’s Division III Team
The Lopes’ Division III team also had a battle-tested weekend, splitting their two games against Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado Friday and Saturday.
The Division III team will look to build off their win when they play against Northern Arizona University’s DIII team at Jay Lively Activity Center in Flagstaff on Friday, November 2 at 8:30 pm and Saturday, November 3 at 8:15 pm.