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GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Starts 2019 with Weekend Split With University of Arizona

January 8, 2019

GCU Men’s Ice Hockey Starts 2019 with Weekend Split With University of Arizona

By David Carter/GCU Staff

“Last year was a surprise we won. This year, it was an expectation.”

Lopes’ Head Coach Daniel Roy didn’t mince words about the goals for GCU Men’s Ice Hockey going into their weekend series against the No. 7 ranked University of Arizona (U of A) Wildcats.

As predicted, the Lopes delivered.

The Lopes split the weekend series versus U of A in Tucson, winning, 4-2, on Friday before dropping an 11-2 decision to the Wildcats Saturday night.

Friday:  GCU 4, Arizona 2

With only two practices each under their collective belts going into Friday’s game, it wasn’t surprising that the two teams were scoreless until the very end of the first period.  UA defenseman Keelan Ulnick scored a power play goal with 31 seconds left to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead after one.

In the second period, Lopes forward Zach Bennett asserted himself, scoring two goals for the Lopes within the first few minutes.  The freshman forward from Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada scored an unassisted goal 39 seconds into the period, then got an assist pass from forward Declan Carter less than three minutes later to give the Lopes a 2-1 lead heading into the final period.

The Wildcats tied the game just 90 seconds into the third period on a Josh Larson goal.  The Lopes quickly answered back as Lopes defenseman Sullivan Murphy scored a power play goal (on assists from Declan Carter and Wyatt Grant) with just over 14 minutes left to take a 3-2 lead.  A power play goal from forward Richard Bohan less than a minute later gave the Lopes an insurance goal, and then they let Lopes goalkeeper Michael Barabash do the rest, shutting down the Wildcats for the final 18 minutes of the contest, and securing 52 saves overall on 54 UA shots.  The Lopes also saved 2 of 11 power play opportunities to secure the victory.

“It was different from when we played them last year at the same time,” said Roy. “We were able to carry some of the play. Our penalty kill played very well.”

Saturday:  Arizona 11, GCU 2

Saturday’s game was a very different story, but even though the Lopes lost, 11-2, Roy was still impressed with the Lopes’ efforts – particularly early on.

“From an offensive standpoint, Saturday’s first period was the most sustained pressure we had over the weekend,” Roy said.

The Lopes began the game strong with a goal from Carter assisted by forward Wyatt Grant just 1:53 into the 1st period. U of A regrouped and scored two goals later in the period to take a 2-1 lead.

That’s when the Wildcats’ offense exploded for eight goals in the second period to put the game out of reach.  Nick Marolda’s goal with four minutes left in the 2nd period was the only offense the Lopes could muster the rest of the way.

“We could not have expected the second period to happen based off the way we played in the first period,” said Roy.

The Lopes goalies were outmatched on Saturday night as Michael Norris and Gabe Lepper posted 46 saves combined from U of A’s 57 shots on goal.

“The hope from a matchup against against U of A is that we play them well,” said Roy. “University of Arizona is #7 in Division 1. This is the caliber of competition we want to face.”  The Lopes will move up to ACHA Division I next season.

The Lopes will next face off against Arizona State University on January 11 and 12 at 6:30 p.m. at AZ Ice Arcadia (38th Street & Thomas in Phoenix).

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