By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
On the road to redemption.
Nearly battling their way to overtime in the first game, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team dropped two games this past weekend to in-state rival Arizona State University. Friday night, the Sun Devils topped the Lopes with a late goal to clinch a 1-0 overtime win, then controlled each period Saturday evening to defeat the Lopes, 4-2. The Lopes will have the opportunity for redemption later this month as they will take on the Sun Devils at the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League Playoffs.
“They won more battles than we did,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi. “We needed to work a little harder, get a little grittier, and we could have competed better.”
The Lopes had trouble finding the fire they needed to come out with a win early in Friday’s game, but still kept the Sun Devils off the scoreboard.
“ASU outplayed us in the first period,” said Rossi. “Going into the second and third periods, we were able to match their play, but we just couldn’t get the job done in overtime.”
GCU goaltender Haylee Gannaway stopped the first 44 Sun Devil shots to keep GCU in the game, but ASU’s Katharine Jones knocked in the game-winning puck three minutes into overtime.
“One of the biggest things we talked about before Saturday’s game was controlling what we could control,” said Rossi. “The girls were getting frustrated, and that frustration wasn’t leading to positive play. We talked about using that frustration that we had the night before, and translating it into positive energy on Saturday.”
The combination of looking to control the game and bringing positive play still wasn’t enough to avoid the Lopes coming up short in the final regular season game. ASU scored a goal in each of the first two periods, but the Lopes picked up the pace in the third period, and broke through 85 seconds into the period on a goal by Tuesday Chavez assisted by Shilo Cederberg. That would be as close as the Lopes came to tying it as ASU answered back with two goals to put it out of reach. GCU’s Lauren Welsch capped off the night’s scoring with an unassisted goal with just over five minutes remaining.
“We came out harder than we did on Friday,” said Rossi. “The score doesn’t show that, but I think we played better. One of the biggest things I loved seeing the entire weekend was our breakout. That transferred nicely from the Minnesota game to the games against ASU.”
The Lopes and Rossi are ready for another round with the Sun Devils in two weeks.
“We will keep working on rebounds, and our offensive zone needs to be more net focused,” said Rossi. “We didn’t have that sense of urgency, and we are going to work on fostering that.”
The Lopes will be on the road for the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League Playoffs in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first puck drop will be Friday, February 22 at 8:45 pm against University of Colorado, then the Lopes and Devils will clash Saturday afternoon.