From GCU Club Sports
By Jim Howell
Emphatically breaking a 2-2 tie with a pair of shorthanded goals, the Grand Canyon University Women’s Hockey team split their weekend series with the University of Utah with a 4-3 victory Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah. The win upped the Lopes’ overall record to 2-3 after losing to the Utes Friday afternoon, 3-2. The weekend series began an eight-game road trip that will take the Lopes to Tempe and two Colorado cities before coming to an end November 13 in Boulder.
Friday: Utah 3, GCU 2
Picking up where she left off after scoring the final goal of the Lopes’ homestand last weekend, GCU senior Sydney Boucher helped stake the Lopes to a quick 2-0 lead after one period, setting up teammate Belle Lacombe for a power-play goal just 81 seconds into the contest, then slapping through a goal of her own seven minutes later on an assist from Morgan Butler.
Unfortunately, that’s where the GCU offense got bogged down, managing just 15 more shots. The Lopes’ defense kept GCU in front until midway through the second frame, when Utah’s Grace Cruikshank capitalized on the Utes’ second power-play goal of the period to tie the game at 2-2. While GCU’s defense limited Utah to just five shots on goal in the final period, Ava Kistner’s team-leading 7th goal of the season proved to be Utah’s gamewinner with just over six minutes remaining in the game. GCU goalkeeper Hannah Schneidmiller registered 24 saves for the Lopes in the loss.
Saturday: GCU 4, Utah 3
The third period will be as memorable for the Utes in losing as it was for the Lopes emerging triumphant – especially since Utah entered the final frame with the momentum. For the second straight day, the Lopes got their offense on track first, breaking a scoreless tie five minutes into the second period on Riley Benson’s first goal of the season, then adding insurance with 4:26 left in the second – thanks to Alyssa Olson’s power-play score. Cruikshank then brought the Utes back with a pair of goals in a 23-second span to send the game to the third period knotted up again at 2-2.
Olson picking up a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct early in the third should’ve put everything in Utah’s favor, but no one told the Lopes, who enjoyed their own ‘two goals in 23 seconds’ rally – shorthanded, no less – from Elaine Richardson and Micah Summer to take another two-goal edge. Utah scored a power-play goal less than a minute later but got no closer. Annabelle Koethe had two assists to help GCU’s cause on offense (three overall for the weekend), and this time, Schneidmiller’s 33 saves in goal were just enough.
“We talked about how it’s a full 32-player commitment that allowed us to win,” Lopes’ Head Coach Natalie Rossi said. “We focused on communication, aggressive play and utilizing open ice. We definitely won more battles today (Saturday) than yesterday, and it made a big difference.”
The road trip takes a weekend off before resuming November 4 and 5 much closer to home. The Lopes will return to Tempe for the second time this season (they lost their season opener to Arizona State University October 12 to christen the new Mullett Arena) to face off against ASU – this time as ASU’s usual home of Oceanside Ice Arena. The Lopes will finally return home to AZ Ice Arcadia on Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19, when they’ll host Colorado State University in a two-game set. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:15 PM on November 18, and 7 PM the next night.
(Originally published at https://gcuclubsports.com/news/2022/10/24/womens-ice-hockey-shorthanded-goals-help-gcu-womens-hockey-earn-split-at-utah.aspx)