By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
Traveling 13 hours to play four games in the span of just three days, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team went an impressive 2-2 at the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) Showcase in Colorado. The Lopes bounced back from a Friday loss at the University of Colorado to post a pair of Saturday wins over the University of Denver and Colorado State University before ending the weekend with a close loss in the rematch with DU.
GCU began the weekend Friday with a 10-0 loss to the University of Colorado, who spent much of last season in the ACHA Top 5. The Lopes never found their grip on the ice, and was outshot by CU, 41-11, but GCU goaltender Haylee Gannaway stopped 30 of 41 Buffaloes shots.
“If you look at last year compared to this year, last year, we did not spend any time in their offensive zone,” Lopes Head Coach Natalie Rossi said. “This year, we were able to maintain possession in their offensive zone, and had quite a few shots on net. It was an improvement from last year-even though the score did not show it, and that’s what we look for.”
GCU came back Saturday with an early morning matchup against the University of Denver, and scored goals in all three periods to earn a 5-3 win. GCU’s Emily Exner scored early in the first period to put the Lopes up first. Freshman forward Marina Tonna followed with her first-ever goal with nine minutes left. Tonna later added her second goal on a power play in the second period. The Pioneers attempted a late comeback with two goals in the third, but GCU’s Lauren Welsch ended DU’s comeback threat, finishing the third period with a pair of goals to seal the win.
The five goals scored were the most scored in a single game in GCU Women’s hockey history.
“On the ice, there are no limitations, and it is all mentality,” said Tonna. “I go out there and play to the best of my ability. Ice hockey is a team effort and no matter what happens, I play for my team.”
Late Saturday evening, GCU pulled away with a 2-0 shutout win against Colorado State University. The Lopes’ Megan Brodfuehrer and Kylie Kramer scored two minutes apart early into the second period, and made it stand up with a strong defense as goaltender Haylee Gannaway saved all 29 shots on goal.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on offense, picking up on rebounds, and puck possession,” said Natalie Rossi. “The girls are responding well to all of our offensive zone systems.”
GCU fell short to University of Denver, 2-1, to end the weekend Sunday. The Pioneers jumped out early with one goal in the first eight minutes of the game. A scoreless second led to a close third period. GCU’s Megan Brodfuehrer scored one minute into the third to tie the game, but DU broke the tie with a goal with 7:28 left, and the Lopes never recovered.
Despite ending with a loss, the Lopes are already ahead of last year’s win total with three wins under their belt in 2018-19.
“It was great to see our team come together as a whole,” sophomore defender Shilo Cederberg said. “Half of our team is new this year, and being a second-year program, it feels good to have some wins.”
The Lopes return home Sunday, November 4 at 10:30 am to take on Colorado State University at AZ Ice Arcadia.