By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
It’s a storyline that has existed all season, and it unfortunately continued for No. 9 Grand Canyon University Men’s Ice Hockey Sunday afternoon. Less than 24 hours after Saturday night’s inspiring home victory over No. 12 Arizona State University, the Lopes couldn’t find the same groove and fell, 4-2, to the Sun Devils Sunday afternoon in Tempe.
Lopes’ Men’s Hockey Head Coach Danny Roy discussed Saturday night about the team’s inability to follow up an encouraging victory with an equally strong performance the next day. While GCU was able to answer after two separate one-goal deficits, the Lopes couldn’t respond in full, and Roy knew exactly why.
“Lack of determination,” Roy said. “We played somewhat physical here and there, but we just didn’t want to do the extra bit of blocking shots and things that are important to keeping the puck from going toward our net.”
With the game tied at two heading into the third period, the Lopes had outshot the Sun Devils 25-13. Even in a less physical game than Saturday, GCU still found enough extended zone time to keep the game even. But according to Roy, it wasn’t enough. The lack of hits from GCU gave ASU longer looks with the puck for their offensive rushes.
“Us not throwing the body around like we did [Saturday] night really allowed them to have more confidence, which just makes that team more dangerous,” Roy said.
Those offensive rushes proved fatal in the final period, where ASU outshot GCU, 17-11. The Sun Devils’ Marcus Valvur scored the game-winning goal with 7:24 remaining when he pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and pushed it underneath the sprawling pads of GCU goalie Michael Barabash. ASU’s Cameron Ward added the insurance marker with under two minutes left when he sniped a wrist shot from the right point over the glove of Barabash.
Much like the game in whole, Roy only needed one, short reason as to why the third period ended up the way it did.
“They (ASU) wanted to win the game,” Roy said. “We said we wanted to win the game, but their actions proved it more than ours.”
GCU’s Trey Greene scored his team-leading 19th goal of the year when he tipped in a shot from Alec Salotti early in the second period to tie the game at one. Cameron Wojnicki added his seventh of the year, tying the game at two with six minutes left in the second, on a goal assisted by Greene. The Lopes outshot the Sun Devils, 37-30, and were only called for one penalty: a Noah Cascio roughing minor that GCU quickly killed off late in the second period.
Next up for GCU on January 26 and 27 is No. 1 Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, whom the Lopes lost 5-1, and tied 1-1, back in November. GCU will then quickly return home January 28 to AZ Ice Peoria for a Sunday afternoon showdown with Washington State University. Game time is at 1:30pm.