Arizona Hockey hosted a pair of close games against the Grand Canyon University Lopes D-3 hockey club on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats combined for 12 goals in those two games and mounted a three-goal comeback on Saturday to complete the series sweep.
Arizona Hockey took an early 2-0 lead in the first period. The lead continued into the second period when forward Max Meyer, assisted by Bayley Marshall, gave the Wildcats their third goal of the game.
The Lopes of GCU finally found the back of the net with 11:53 remaining in the second period. They followed it up with a second goal as 1:02 minutes remained. A comeback looked within reach for the Lopes, but then Alex Johanson put an unassisted goal in for Arizona as 6.8 seconds remained to put a stop to the comeback attempt and give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead.
GCU started off the third period with a goal as 11:54 remained, but Arizona’s Meyer answered back with his second goal of the night to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead.
Arizona maintained this led into the tail end of the third period, when star player Anthony Cusanelli found the back of the net, unassisted, as 9.5 seconds remained. Despite the dominant win, head coach Chad Berman felt the team could have played better.
“Absolutely no joking around — I’m excited about what we have, but it all starts with work effort. We just didn’t work hard enough tonight and we need to change that,” Berman said.
After being down by three goals to the Lopes in the first period the Wildcats finally answered, when forward Kevin Bird, assisted Dawson Marshall, scored Arizona’s first goal of the game as 6:58 remained in the first period. Bird was followed by a second Wildcats goal from Joshua Lusby, assisted by Cameron Teamor, as 3:26 remained.
Arizona started the second period on a two-minute power play after GCU was called for hooking. While on the power play, Bird netted his second goal of the game to tie the game up at three. The level score didn’t last for long, as the Lopes punched in their fourth goal of the game with 1:19 remaining in the period.
The third period started with another GCU goal just before Lusby gave the Wildcats their fourth goal of the game to come one goal shy of tying up the game at five with 4:16 left.
It was Cusanelli that was the Wildcats' saving grace as he scored the game-tying goal with 3:49 remaining in the third period. The tie game carried over till the end of regulation.
Arizona’s No. 11 Marshall, assisted by Matthew Hohl, was able to end the nail-biting feel of the end of the game by putting in the tie-breaking goal. Final score was 6-5 Arizona.
Afterward, coach Berman commented on the game.
“You know we were down three-nothing," Berman said. "We’re not capitalizing on a lot. I thought the first period. We got to get healthy.”
The Wildcats will hit the road to take on the Colorado State University Rams at EPIC Blue Rink next Thursday night. They will follow this up with a two-game weekend series at the University of Colorado Boulder Recreation Center as the take on the University of Colorado Buffaloes on the road for the first time this season.
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