By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
Already playing one of the tougher schedules in the west region, competition didn’t get any easier as the No. 10 Grand Canyon University Men’s Ice Hockey team traveled to northern Utah to battle in the Beehive Showcase. Of the 12 schools that competed, 10 were ranked, and GCU took on two of them in their four games, going 1-2-1 overall.
GCU’s toughest game of the weekend came in their final matchup Sunday afternoon against No. 4 Williston State College. The Lopes fell behind, 3-1, late in the second period, but fought back to make it a close game. Trey Greene brought GCU to within one in the final 30 seconds of the second period, then Noah Cascio tied the game in the first minute of the third frame. GCU’s Marvin Simmons scored his team-leading sixth goal of the weekend halfway into the period to give GCU the lead, but it wouldn’t last long as the Tetons scored two in the final four minutes to come away with the 5-4 win.
The Lopes’ first game matched them up with No. 13 Brigham Young University at BYU’s home ice, in Provo, Thursday. GCU built a 4-1 lead going late into the second period, but could not sustain the lead as the Cougars roared back with five unanswered goals for a 6-4 victory.
“We definitely were in our own way for that one,” Lopes’ Head Coach Danny Roy said. “We allowed them to keep the game close going into the third period, and we just started going into panic mode.”
With four games in four days, it was important for the Lopes to shake off the loss quickly. Roy spoke to his team about consistency and playing a full 60 minutes before their next game against Montana State University. Any disbelief from the previous night was hastily removed as the Lopes routed the Bobcats, 10-2. Simmons completed the hat trick, while Gabe Rankin added two goals, including one 30 seconds into the game.
“We played hard and much better than we did [the night before],” Roy said. “We were able to get some work for guys who aren’t normally on the score sheet, and play around with our lines, too. It was a good opportunity for a lot of guys.”
The Lopes found themselves in a tight game Saturday afternoon when they faced off with the University of Colorado. After a scoreless first period, the Buffaloes opened the scoring three minutes into the second period, but GCU found their game again and scored a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead into the third. Trey Greene gave the Lopes more momentum with a goal less than a minute into the next frame, but Colorado would tie the game with two goals a minute apart from one another midway into the period. The game continued into overtime, but neither team could find the game-winner. Colorado ended up winning the game in a shootout, but by rule, the game would officially end in a 3-3 tie.
Gabe Rankin added three goals on the weekend, while Matt Tweten, Luke Wilson and Trey Greene, each tallied two more.
Putting all four games together, Roy found a central theme in the weekend that he hopes his team can learn a valuable lesson from.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Roy said. “Every game we played, we were up in third period. We have to look back on this to when it counts in a must-win type atmosphere so we can finish it the right way.”
GCU Men’s Ice Hockey is now off for Thanksgiving break, but return to AZ Ice Peoria for their final games in 2017, December 2 and 3, against Weber State University.