GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Drops Pair to NAU
By David Carter/GCU Staff
Despite knowing that gaining at least a split of the weekend series would help their playoff standing, the No. 7 GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Division II (DII) team dropped both halves of the ‘home-and-home’ weekend series with No. 3 Northern Arizona University (NAU). The Lopes failed to score until the final minute of the game in a 3-1 loss Friday night in Flagstaff; then scored quickly, but were overpowered in the later periods Saturday night in a 5-1 loss in their home finale at AZ Ice Arcadia in Phoenix.
Friday: NAU 3, GCU 1
NAU used a late 2nd-period barrage to break away for the victory. Both defenses held their opponents scoreless for the first 39 minutes of play before the IceJacks took advantage of a GCU miscue to score two goals within a 40-second span at the end of the 2nd period to take control.
“We almost kept it scoreless going into the 3rd period,” said GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Coach Daniel Roy. “One was a power play goal at the end for a really bad penalty to take, and that put us in a hole.”
The Lopes’ defense regained its composure to hold NAU scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the 3rd period, but despite outshooting the IceJacks in the 3rd period, couldn’t mount an offensive until Lopes’ forward Declan Carter broke through for GCU’s lone goal with 58 seconds left on an assist from senior forward Wyatt Grant.
Saturday: NAU 5, GCU 1
The combination of the revenge factor and the emotion of honoring three Lopes’ seniors prior to Saturday’s game with Senior Night festivities wasn’t enough to stop an IceJacks’ offense that again overpowered the GCU defense in the final two periods.
In his last regular season game, senior forward Wyatt Grant gave the home fans hope for a better outcome by racing through the NAU defense for a break-away goal (on an assist from sophomore defenseman Nick Marolda) just five minutes into the game to give the Lopes a 1-0 lead.
The energy and extra team speed that the Lopes showed in the first period, however, seemed to disappear once they came out of the locker room for the 2nd period. NAU scored a goal three minutes into the 2nd period to tie the game at 1-1. From there, GCU penalties gave the IceJacks opportunities they would capitalize on, scoring the tiebreaking goal on a power play with three minutes left in the second period, then using two more power-play chances in the third to run away with it.
“We had zero fight, and they had all of it,” said Roy. “You could see the way we played and the way they played. For some reason, we are not hungry. I do not know why, but we need to be hungry.”
After a nearly even first period with shots on goal, NAU’s aggressiveness paid off down the stretch, eventually outshooting GCU for the game, 46-24.
The DII team will have over a full week off before travelling to Utah for the MWCHL Playoffs beginning Thursday, February 7.
Division III Team Splits Weekend NAU Series
Unlike the DII team who lost both their games to NAU, the No. 14 Lopes’ Division III team won an overtime thriller Friday at AZ Ice Arcadia before losing in Flagstaff Saturday.
The Lopes defeated NAU 6-5 on Friday night in thrilling fashion as Teddy Havener scored with 3 seconds remaining in overtime to seal the victory for the Lopes.
The Lopes could not carry Friday’s momentum to Saturday night, losing to NAU, 10-2, in a lopsided matchup.
The DIII team will finish the last two games of the regular season at AZ Ice Arcadia (38th Street & Thomas) on February 1 and 2 at 6:30 pm both against NAU’s DIII squad.
Interested in learning more or joining a GCU Club Sports/GCU Men’s Ice Hockey? Follow us on Instagram or Twitter to get connected!