Second period proves costly for the Lopes
By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – When this season’s schedule was released, Grand Canyon University Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Danny Roy once called these games against University of Nevada-Las Vegas a “beast of a weekend.” Saturday night in Las Vegas, the No. 10 Rebels showed their teeth, and proved why they are a top-ranked Division I team.
Two late first-period goals by UNLV paved the way for a second period downfall, ultimately leading to a 9-3 defeat of GCU at City National Arena.
“The defensive zone is where we saw the biggest problem,” Roy said. “There were a few times where we had the chance to get the puck out, and couldn’t. We need to learn how to come back from getting scored on, and coming out with a higher tempo when we score to get another one.”
UNLV’s Eric Williams broke through first midway into the period, but unlike Friday evening, the Lopes kept moving forward, getting pucks to bounce their way, pushing their own pace. GCU capitalized on multiple failed clearing attempts by UNLV with just over two minutes remaining in the opening period when freshman forward Andrei Yanovich picked off one of those attempts and fired a wrist shot five-hole on Rebels goaltender Erik Eidessen, tying the game at 1.
The ensuing two minutes to end the first, though, would begin the Lopes’ fate. One minute after Yanovich’s goal, Cody Williams slipped behind the GCU defense, finishing off a lengthy possession to put UNLV back in front. Then Tristan Mayer roofed in another one 18 seconds later, off the subsequent faceoff, to quickly give the Rebels a 3-1 lead at the intermission.
Whether the end of the period played a role or not in the second, the game continued to unravel for GCU. UNLV’s aggressiveness and attack kicked up a notch in the second, and the Lopes couldn’t find an answer. Jonah Pearson stuffed in the fourth goal three minutes into the period, before Jared Turcotte scored twice 15 seconds apart, the first of which on the power play, to give UNLV a commanding 6-1 lead, and forcing Roy to call an immediate timeout.
“The issue with that second period was when we got scored on, the morale just went downhill,” Roy said. “The reason for that timeout was to tell the guys that we can’t erase a goal that goes in on you, but you can always come back and do something about it.”
After a 12-7 shot disadvantage in the first period, the Lopes were outshot 15-4 in the second. Sophomore defenseman Nick Marolda cashed in with under three minutes left in the middle period, but the Rebels made the outcome official with three more in the third period, scoring twice three minutes apart early in the period. Declan Carter finished off a 2-on-1 with Travis Burrow late in the third to give GCU its final tally.
“Any time we played them tough, they would turn the puck over and it would disrupt their offense,” Roy said. “But the times they just skated around us and got the puck moving, we were just planted in our feet.”
The Lopes fall to 6-5-1 on the season, losing for just the second time on the road. The Rebels improve to 8-2 on the year, remaining undefeated at home in seven games.
Next up, GCU looks to rebound at home against Northern Arizona University on November 2 and 3 at 6:30 pm both nights at AZ Ice Arcadia (38th Street and Thomas Road, behind the Sprint Store). With two big rivalry games coming up, Roy sees a large lesson to be learned from the toughest weekend of the season thus far.
“The reason for these DI games is that it is a challenge,” Roy said. “This is the level we want to get to. We haven’t been very good at home right now, so it’s time to learn how to get some wins in front of our home fans. (NAU) is our in-state rivals, so we can’t let them come in and do what we did to them in their house.”