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GCU Women’s Ice Hockey Drops Final Game on Senior Night

Three GCU hockey players drive past opponent
March 29, 2021

Lopes rally around senior class for fuel to succeed

By: Maria Adams/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff

Photo Credit: Becca Lynne

Fresh off a win and fired up for the seniors.

Despite an inspired mindset, Grand Canyon University Women’s Hockey fell 2-1 to a team from the College Hockey Elite League in its last game of the year on Saturday at AZ Ice Arcadia. The Lopes hit the ice still elated from their overtime victory the night before and motivated to honor their three seniors, but still couldn’t produce the desired outcome.

Friday night’s game against CHEL at Tempe’s Oceanside Ice Arena was a thrilling, nearly scoreless game that ended as a 1-0 GCU overtime win when Lopes’ junior Lauren Welsch scored the only goal of the night in the extra frame.

The Lopes hoped to carry the momentum of a two-game winning streak into a third and final victory over CHEL for Senior Night.

“Going into the game, the energy was high,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi. “We talked about how these are our seniors, this is our game, and this is our ice.”

Though GCU entered the game with an agenda, it was CHEL that claimed the first goal of the night. CHEL had already recorded eleven shots on goal – to GCU’s 2 – but it was the twelfth shot that finally stuck when CHEL’s Erin Rawls scored with just over five minutes left in the first period. That finally kicked the Lopes’ offense into gear as Lopes’ freshman Sydney Boucher, on an assist from sophomore Emmie Wahlgren, found the back of the net in the final minutes of the first period to close out the period in a 1-1 tie.

“That was a big deal,” said Rossi. “It was her first goal of her college career, and that will be the first of many in her time at GCU. She will be huge player for us going forward.”

Though both teams had offensive opportunities, the second period came and went without any additions to the scoreboard. Period 3 stayed scoreless as well until Finn Larson secured CHEL’s second goal with less than three minutes left in the game. The Lopes had a final chance to tie with 11 seconds left, but sophomore Rian Braun’s shot was gloved by CHEL goalie Hallie McClelland to seal the GCU loss.

It was a tough loss, but the game was about more than final scores.

“Our three seniors were just huge players for us, not only today, but for the last three and four years,” said Rossi. “We will continuously stand on their shoulders.”

Saturday’s game featured pregame festivities to honor seniors Emily Martinho, Alyssa Stanton and Tuesday Chavez. The three seniors entered the rink escorted by family and showered with flowers and applause. In the postgame locker room, the team crowded around the seniors and met them with tearful goodbyes and words of thanks.

“Now we start building for next year,” said Rossi. “We understand as a team that although tonight was a very good effort, it was not good enough. We are not satisfied. We want more.”

Interested in joining GCU Women’s Ice Hockey? Contact Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi to learn more about the program!