By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
Speed was clear from the start. Unfortunately for the Grand Canyon University women’s ice hockey team, they were on the wrong end of it.
GCU fell behind 7-0 after the first period and never recovered, ultimately falling 11-0 to the No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes.
“We just weren’t mentally (or) physically prepared, and the girls know they should be prepared for Sunday,” GCU women’s ice hockey coach Natalie Rossi said.
Colorado’s barrage of shots kept the Lopes pinned in their defensive zone for most of the night. Kathleen Ash for the Buffaloes scored six of the seven opening period goals with Maura Keift assisting on five of them.
Colorado tacked on three more in the second and one more in the third, outshooting the Lopes 42-20 overall. Leah MacArthur and Mariah Dally each had two goals for Colorado.
GCU was outshot 36-8 in the first two periods, where Rossi saw many negatives, but she also saw reasons for hope in the final period.
“We did a lot better in the third period holding them to 1-0,” Rossi said. “I thought our power play was pretty good with some good chances, so we can definitely take that and bring it into Sunday.”
Rossi’s positivity of the third period extended off the ice where she knows her team can and should bounce back.
“We just try and stay as positive as possible, but at the same time try to kick them a little bit,” Rossi said. “We can play with that team. We’ve been able to compete with teams that are better than them. It starts with being mentally and physically prepared.”
GCU matches up again with Colorado Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. at AZ Ice Peoria. The day will be bookended with the Lopes taking part in Girls’ Hockey Weekend, a global initiative put together by the International Ice Hockey Federation that aims to bring to the sport of hockey to girls who have never tried it before. The event will begin after the game at 1:30 p.m. and will include a free skills clinic and learn-to-play sessions.
GCU Swept by Colorado
Finishing the weekend at home, GCU played with an increased effort and drive, but couldn’t find the goals, falling to the Buffaloes 9-1 Sunday afternoon.
The Lopes cut into a 3-0 deficit in the second period off a power play goal from Rebecca Sanda. Her shot and goal from the left point ignited the GCU bench and faithful in the crowd. Colorado, though, scored six unanswered goals the rest of the way to sweep the weekend.
“It was awesome to finally break through [on the power play],” Rossi said. “Our power play is really starting to come together.”
Leah MacArthur had four goals to lead Colorado while Kathleen Ash added another hat trick.
GCU next plays at AZ Ice Peoria Sunday, Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. vs. Colorado St. With Rossi seeing constant improvement from her team, there is an expectation for greater effort as the Lopes seek their first victory.
“Just taking the small wins and continually improving,” Rossi said. “In practice having high tempo and playing small-area games, we’re making sure we’re giving them an opportunity to be successful in order to carry that over into our games.”