By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
It’s the final puck drops of the season.
The Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team wrapped up their regular season recently with an overall record of 4-13 after losing both games against Arizona State University, but still clinched a spot in this weekend’s Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League Playoffs at City National Arena in Las Vegas.
“We’ve really focused on our defensive zone, and our neutral zone play,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi. “Our practices and our game will look pretty similar. We will be more contained in the defensive zone and playing smart in our offensive game.”
The first puck drop will be Friday, February 22 at 8:45 pm against No. 7 University of Colorado, then the Lopes and Sun Devils will clash Saturday afternoon.
“We love playing against ASU,” said Rossi. “For us, though, we’re going into the game with a chip on our shoulder. We just lost two games against them, and we don’t want to lose another one. Going in with that attitude and that grit we were missing before, we have high hopes.”
GCU goaltender Haylee Gannaway played in all 17 games this season and averaged 37 saves per game (641 total saves), which ranks fifth in American Collegiate Hockey Association Women’s Division I.
“We talked a lot about stepping up as defensemen, and not allowing teams to take clear shots,” said Rossi. “We have Haylee, and she is amazing, but Colorado is great at picking corners. We want to make sure that we’re not letting them get shots off without stepping up to them.”
While their overall record doesn’t show it, Rossi had a lot of positive things to say about their season.
“Overall, I’m proud of the improvement that we’ve made in two short years,” said Rossi. “We talked about the shots on net and our offensive zone. The amount of goals that we scored this year compared to last year is huge. Our team, all over the ice, has come together really well.”
This 2018-19 season, the Lopes accumulated 26 goals, ten more than last season. Defenseman Megan Brodfuehrer has been the leading scorer and point producer for the Lopes with seven goals and eight points this season.
“I love being a part of creating traditions,” said Rossi. “When you look at each year and see what we’re doing to build the program, it is exciting. Just looking at our individual players and the skill we have, especially the players that returned last year, they have improved so much over the two years.”