From GCU Club Sports
By Jim Howell
Finally seeing the light at the end of the marathon.
The Grand Canyon University D1 Men’s Hockey team used stifling 3rd-period and overtime defense to beat the University of Oklahoma in back-to-back 4-3 wins Friday and Saturday in Edmond, Oklahoma. An Anthony Petrotto goal with 32 seconds left in overtime helped GCU win Game 1, then the Lopes had to go the shootout route after a scoreless overtime period Saturday to win by the same final score. The wins finished a 2-1 Oklahoma road trip for the Lopes, who began the trip with a 6-1 loss to No. 5 University of Central Oklahoma. The victories also snapped a five-game losing streak for GCU – their longest of the season.
Thursday: (5) Central Oklahoma 6, (24) GCU 1
The start to the trip was a slow and rough one, to say the least. The Lopes’ offense managed just two shots on goal in the first 20 minutes and never really picked up speed after that. Preston Larson’s goal three minutes into the second period wasn’t by accident, since eight of the Lopes’ 13 shots on the night came in the second frame. While the Bronchos only managed 23 shots on goal themselves, the UCO attack was consistent, scoring a pair of goals in each period, including a shorthanded goal midway through the second period, and a power-play goal in the final 90 seconds of play.
Friday: (24) GCU 4, Oklahoma 3 (F/OT)
The hangover of Thursday’s lack of offense bled into Friday when the Sooners outshot GCU, 15-5, in the first period. The Lopes took the early lead, though, thanks to Gavin Uckele’s first career goal as a Lopes with 12:29 left. Then the Sooners proceeded to slap three goals past GCU netminder Riley Morgan to take a 3-1 lead after one.
It was the wake-up both the offense and defense needed for the Lopes, since from there, Morgan was steadfast, posting a total of 32 saves on 35 OU shots, and allowed the Lopes’ offense to slowly wind their way back into it. Despite being down a man, the Lopes’ Luke Wright took a pass with Dylan Dent and cashed it in to bring GCU back within a goal midway through the 2nd period. The score remained 3-2 until the Lopes’ Trey Ponto tied it with 4:30 left in regulation on assists from Kory Potach and Colin Stewart to send it to extras. The defensive stalemate in OT was finally broken with half a minute left – thanks to Petrotto, who put the gamewinner in the net on Jacob Cummings’ 8th assist of the year.
Friday: (24) GCU 4, Oklahoma 3 (F/SO)
It was a game that seemed destined for a tie, since neither team gave any extra ground to the other for over 2 ½ hours. 1st period? William Blake scored in the first minute for the Sooners. GCU’s Triston Tabucol answered in the final minute of the period. Period 2? Cameron Neaylon gave the Lopes their first in-game lead of the weekend 2:21 into the frame (on Dent’s 10th assist of the season) – only to have OU’s William Baird neutralize it ten minutes later. Luke Busher’s breakaway goal on the GCU power-play put GCU back in front, 3-2, a minute later, but Blake tied it at 3-3 with 1:20 left. 3rd period and overtime? A scoreless slog, with each team coming up dry on 11 shot attempts (and the Lopes overcoming 26 minutes in 3rd-period penalties – thanks to a pair of 10-minute misconducts). Finally in the shootout, the first four sets of players came up empty on each side until Lopes’ junior forward Justin Rudyk broke through to give the Lopes the thrilling W.
GCU freshman goalie Chase Golden truly lived up to his last name between the pipes, enduring the entire 65 minutes-plus, and stopping 36 of 39 Sooner shots (including the last 28 in the second and third periods and overtime, and the five shots in the shootout to hold down the win).
The current six-week road trip is finally down to its last few days for the Lopes (5-6-1 overall), who stay within the Grand Canyon State borders to finish it off in Tucson against 12th-ranked University of Arizona – a team they swept for the first time ever earlier this season – this Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19. The Lopes will then return home to AZ Ice Arcadia on Saturday, December 3, when they host a quick two-game set against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas starting at 6PM.
(Originally published at https://gcuclubsports.com/news/2022/11/15/mens-ice-hockey-overtime-shootouts-help-gcu-mens-hockey-win-twice-in-oklahoma.aspx)