By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
The energy was high. The bench was yelling, waiting for it to become official. The buzzer sounded, and they could finally celebrate.
GCU Women’s Ice Hockey spilled out onto the ice after earning its first win in program history, defeating its rival Arizona State, 1-0, at the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League Showcase in Colorado.
“It’s exciting,” Head Coach Natalie Rossi said. “All the girls were yelling, having such a great time on the bench.”
The lone goal came in the first period when just seconds after a GCU power play expired, Emily Exner received a pass from Rebecca Sanda, and lifted the puck underneath the crossbar.
From then on, it was all defense and goaltending. The Lopes were outshot, 39-19, in the game and had to survive three third period penalties, but each was killed off. On the third penalty, GCU goaltender Haylee Gannaway stopped an ASU penalty shot to keep the Sun Devils scoreless.
“It really started from the net out,” Rossi said. “We understand we play a lot of time in our zone, but we try as much as we can to not let the second and third shot happen.”
Earning the program’s first-ever win is one thing, but doing so in shutout fashion against your in-state rival adds significant meaning for Rossi and her team.
“It’s really good to see that,” Rossi said. “We found passion this week that we have to bring every day to the rink.”
The Lopes played three other games over the weekend, including a double-header on Saturday. The Lopes dropped contests of 4-2 to Colorado State on Friday, 4-1 to the University of Denver Saturday morning, and 7-0 to the University of Colorado Saturday evening. Aside from the win over ASU, the weekend was not without other positives. GCU received two goals from Hannah Joralmon, who leads the team with three goals on the year. The Lopes also added two power play goals, and killed off eight of their 10 penalties over the weekend.
“We went into the weekend with a goal to play all the teams better,” Rossi said. “We were able to watch some pretty good hockey this weekend. We know the level of play we have to bring.”
The Lopes now aim to build off what turned out to be a successful weekend. The Lopes have four games remaining in their 2017 slate, all of which are at home. They’ll first take on Midland University November 16 and 19, then continue their rivalry with Arizona State December 8 and 9.