ASU drops final game of WWCHL tournament

The ASU women's hockey team fell to Grand Canyon University 1-0 on Sunday morning

Earlier this season, the ASU women’s hockey team defeated Grand Canyon University 4-1 to secure their first win of the season. While the Sun Devils came out victorious on that night, GCU had its chance for redemption on Sunday morning in the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) showcase tournament.

GCU defeated ASU 1-0 in Boulder, Colorado to obtain its first win in program history. For GCU head coach Natalie Rossi, the game served as a very special moment for the entire program in their inaugural season.

“It definitely gives me chills. It’s exciting and something that I am so proud of that I was able to help build,” Rossi said. “… That cross-town rivalry is definitely there, and it’s exciting to play against them." 

GCU's freshman forward Emily Exner played a huge part on Sunday as she buried a shot in the first period from the slot – giving GCU a 1-0 lead. 

While the goal came early, it would go on to be a game-winner and aid in giving the Lopes their first win in school history.

“Coming here from Wisconsin, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this team and kind of make history,” Exner said. “That’s what we are doing, and I go out there and give it my all, but my teammates back me up and work hard, too. I just so happen to be the one who put it in the net.”

ASU nearly outshot GCU by a 2-1 margin with ASU recording 39 shots on goal while GCU had 19.

However, GCU sophomore goaltender Haylee Gannaway proved to be the difference. Gannaway came up with 39 saves en route to a shutout – the first of her collegiate career, and the first in program history.

“She really stepped up, and we definitely played with that intensity from the net out,” Rossi said of Gannaway. 

Although Gannaway provided a stellar performance for the Lopes, ASU felt that they could have done more to try and find the back of the net, especially in the goal-scoring areas.

“We kept shooting, but we weren’t necessarily in front of the goaltender,” ASU senior forward Dannika Borges said.

With the loss, ASU fell to 0-4 in the tournament, and 3-6-1 overall. Sunday’s contest was ASU’s fourth game in three days, and the team will now return to Tempe where they will wait two weeks until they drop the puck with Midland University on Nov. 17.

“Our goal in games is to be first to the puck, and I feel like this weekend, there are times when we do that, and then most of the time that we don’t,” ASU junior forward Taylor England said. 

Similar to ASU last season, GCU is in their first year as an American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) program, and ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis knows that the Lopes will not be a team to overlook.  

“The first series we had with them, it was their first games in program history,” Ellis said. “Coming out this morning, they have improved a lot and they are going to continue to improve over the next month until we play them again, so we can’t overlook that growth." 

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