GCU’s Gannaway stops whopping 106 shots against Golden Gophers in two games
By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff
What they may lack in wins, they don’t lack in heart.
Facing a nonstop offensive barrage but nearly battling their way to overtime in the second game, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey team was swept by No. 10 University of Minnesota Friday and Saturday in the Lopes’ final home series of the season at AZ Ice Arcadia in Phoenix. The Golden Gophers dominated play Saturday in a 5-0 shutout win, but needed a late goal Sunday afternoon to top the Lopes, 1-0.
Despite being unable to break through offensively during the weekend, the Lopes had a few things to smile about from the series. Heading that list were the performances of GCU goalie Haylee Gannaway, who made a whopping 106 saves in less than 24 hours.
“She will argue that they didn’t count all of them,” Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi said with a smile. “She is incredible, and Haylee is the backbone to our defensive system. Sunday’s game would have been a lot different without her. We always give her props, and she saves our butts often.”
Last year, GCU traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota and gave up 13 goals to the Gophers in 5-0 and 8-0 losses. However, Gannaway only gave up six goals this time around.
“It was really fun, and the team played great defensively,” Gannaway said. “We worked really hard against a very skilled team, and we were able to match them with our effort.”
After allowing at least one goal in every period Saturday afternoon, Rossi saw a renewed excitement from her team on Sunday. With an aggressive scoreless first two periods, Gannaway slapped away the first 52 shots she saw before finally allowing the game-winner with 8:46 left in the game.
“It is incredible to watch these girls come together and work as hard as they did today,” said Rossi. “We changed a few things and talked about our defensive zone, cleaning it up a little bit. They were able to outwork Minnesota most of the game.”
Aside from a weekend sweep, the Lopes honored senior forward Hanna Joralmon during pregame Senior Day festivities. Joralmon has been with the Lopes for both of the program’s two seasons of existence, and has been one of the team’s leading scorers in each of those years.
“Hanna is a great kid, and she is such a positive driving force on our team,” said Rossi. “It’s great to see her out there working hard – especially her last home game of the season. She made sure to tell all of us it was not her last game, since we have at least four more games to go.”
During her two seasons with GCU, Joralmon has played in 22 games and has a combined 7 goals, 5 assists, and 12 points.
“I still can’t believe that was the last time I’ll be playing a home game,” said Joralmon. “Since my first practice of last season to where we are now, we have made such great improvement.”
Improvement seems to be a continuous theme for GCU Women’s Ice Hockey, and Joralmon credits the coaching staff as a main component of that.
“Natalie is a great coach, and she really helps us get to that next level,” said Joralmon. “She is a part of the reason – other than the players – why we can play a No. 10 team, and only lose by one goal.”
The Lopes finish out their regular season schedule against in-state rival Arizona State University February 8 and 9 at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
“We are looking for that effort against Minnesota translated into the games against ASU,” said Rossi. “That’s one of the things that we don’t give consistently enough, especially against ASU, and that’s one of the things we can do in order to be the better team.”