Lopes now 4-0 in Division II play
By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff (photo courtesy: Kellie Lotshaw)
However you define the term ‘established program,’ Grand Canyon University Men’s Ice Hockey is well on its way to becoming one.
The Division II Lopes took the next step in its mission toward a national tournament berth by sweeping last year’s West region No. 1 Northern Arizona University in a two-game weekend series, 5-4 and 6-2, Friday and Saturday night in Flagstaff.
This marks the first time ever the Lopes have swept the Division II Ice Jacks in a weekend series.
“It’s exciting because Flagstaff is always such a difficult place to play,” Lopes Head Coach Danny Roy said. “No matter what you think you have coming in, it’s always tough. We battled through in Game 1, started slow in Game 2, but ended up taking control soon after.”
GCU earned the sweep with timely goals and two more outstanding performances in net from sophomore goaltender Michael Barabash. On Saturday, the Lopes came out of the slow start to score five unanswered goals to take a late commanding lead. NAU’s Nick Pizzey opened the scoring with six minutes remaining the first, but sophomore forward Jeffrey Payne’s power play goal – 18 seconds into the man advantage – put GCU on the board two minutes later. Adding to the momentum, freshman forward Brendan Bouvier scored a shorthanded goal with just 29 seconds left in the opening period to give GCU a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
The Lopes continued their pressure on the Ice Jacks with two more goals in the middle frame: a second from Bouvier, and the first of the year from junior forward Matt Tweten. NAU’s second goal came in between two goals from GCU freshman forward Richard Bohan – his first career – and sophomore forward Noah Cascio in the third period.
NAU outshot GCU, 34-26, in the game, but Barabash remained steady in net with 32 saves.
“All lines were contributing,” Roy said. “’Bash’ came up with some pretty big saves and kept us with the momentum.”
On Friday, the Lopes battled through a back-and-forth affair, never leading until their final goal. NAU’s Tegan Harrington scored 49 seconds into the game, but Lopes freshman forward Declan Carter quickly answered with a goal 19 seconds later. NAU and GCU would alternate scoring from there, with the Lopes responding with a tying goal on three different occasions within four minutes after each NAU goal.
Sophomore defenseman Nick Marolda scored a power play goal to tie the game at 2-2 early in the second period, then Cascio knotted the game at 3-3 with a goal later in the period. Jordan Nolan scored with under a minute remaining in the second to put NAU up, 4-3, after two periods, but senior forward Wyatt Grant scored unassisted four minutes into the third to tie the game for the last time. Six minutes later, Cascio popped in the game-winning goal.
“It showed our resiliency (on Friday),” Roy said. “Our backs were up against the wall and we didn’t quit. It’s tough to play (in Flagstaff). To be able to battle back from down 1 three different times to win that game was huge.”
The Ice Jacks outshot the Lopes, 33-29, on Friday. Cascio led the offense with three goals on the weekend, while Carter, Sullivan Murphy, Zach Bennett and Cameron Wojnicki each added two assists.
GCU now stands with a 5-2 record on the season thus far and a 4-0 record in DII play. With the two power play goals this weekend, the Lopes have scored at least one power play goal in each game this season, giving them 10 on the year.
GCU is off this weekend, and resume their schedule at AZ Ice Arcadia October 19-21 to play one versus California State University, Long Beach on Friday night, and two against California State University, Northridge, Saturday and Sunday. Puck drop on Friday and Saturday is at 6:30 pm, while Sunday’s matinee starts at 11:30 am.
Division III Lopes split with DIII NAU
At AZ Ice Arcadia in Phoenix, GCU and NAU continued the rivalry in a DIII battle, with each team taking a game in the weekend series. The Lopes took a resounding 8-4 victory Friday night, but couldn’t sustain an early lead on Saturday, falling to the Ice Jacks, 5-3.
Saturday night, GCU jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, but NAU tied the game with two goals within a minute of GCU doubling their lead. NAU led, 4-3, after the first, and held on for the win.
Freshman forward Ethan Prater scored twice while junior forward Luke Wilson added his first of the year for GCU.
On Friday, the Ice Jacks led, 3-0, after the first period, but the Lopes outscored NAU, 8-1, the rest of the way to earn their first win of the season.
Prater deposited four goals while sophomore forward Marvin Simmons tallied two. Sophomore forward Drew Murchison and junior forward David Slocum also scored for the Lopes.
Prater’s six goals along with two assists on the weekend gives him a team-leading eight points this season.
The DIII Lopes are off this weekend as well, and return to the ice with a pair of road games, October 19 and 20, at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. The next home games for the Lopes are November 10 and 11 when they play host to University of New Mexico.