ASU women's hockey ends season against GCU this weekend

The ASU women's hockey team will close out the first half of its regular season this weekend against GCU

At the beginning of November, the ASU women’s hockey team voyaged 882 miles on a bus for its first road trip of the season.

While the 14-hour trek from Tempe to Boulder, CO might have been a long trip, the Sun Devils will have a much easier venture for their second road expedition this season.

This weekend, ASU will take on Grand Canyon University on Dec. 8-9 at AZ Ice Peoria for the two school’s final meetings of the 2017-18 season. 

“It will be really nice staying close to home with no traveling,” ASU senior forward and captain Amber Galles said. “Being at their home rink, I think it will kind of give us a little something … that will kind of get us going and give us that motivation.”

The season series between ASU and GCU is tied 1-1-1. ASU’s last matchup with the Lopes was on neutral ice in Boulder, CO as a part of the Western Women’s Collegiate Hockey League (WWCHL) showcase tournament.

GCU defeated ASU 1-0 to pick up its first win in program history, despite ASU nearly outshooting the Lopes by a 2-1 margin.

With just two more games to play between the cross-town programs, bragging rights will certainly be on the line come Friday night.

“Right off the bat, we said we are going to let the rivalry form, and now it has definitely formed,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “... We are tied with them, and it’s a pretty even series, so going into this, we want to play as hard as we can and we want to finish off our semester strong.”

The 2017-18 campaign has been full of ups and downs for the Sun Devils. After starting the season 3-2-1 and receiving votes to be in the top-15 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, ASU is currently on a six-game losing streak.

Regardless of the outcome, the Sun Devils have been able to play competitive hockey with a small roster. ASU has traveled into unchartered waters as a second-year program, already surpassing their win total from last year and making strides along the way.

On Oct. 13, ASU senior defenseman and captain KC McGinley netted the first overtime goal in the program’s history en route to a 4-3 win against Colorado State.

McGinley and Galles are currently tied for the team lead in points with 12, and Galles began the season with a flurry, notching a six-game point streak to open the season.

“We have a very small roster, but we are not just using that as an excuse,” Galles said. “We are still coming out and playing hard knowing what we can do.”

In addition to the senior captains, the newcomers to ASU’s roster have made significant contributions, with ASU sophomore forward Alyssa Ayers tallying seven points after being absent from hockey for three years.

Freshmen forwards Aubrey Beskid and Catherine Jones have also contributed to the cause, as the two new faces have produced seven points as a whole.

Among other standouts, senior forward Dannika Borges, junior forward Taylor England and sophomore forward Megan Mroczek have combined for 15 points.

“We have made a lot of progress from the beginning of the season,” England said. “I know that chemistry with the new girls takes a little bit of getting used to, but I think the more that we have been playing, especially with more home games this year, we are building that chemistry.”

Along with offensive production, ASU sophomore goaltender Jordan Nash-Boulden has stood tall on the other end of the ice.

Nash-Boulden has been the only player between the pipes for the Sun Devils this season due to the absence of sophomore goaltender Brianna Hersom. Hersom has not played this year due to an ACL tear that stems back to last season.

With the lone spotlight in net, Nash-Boulden has flourished, holding a 2.93 goals against average while recording 505 saves this season.

Although Nash-Boulden and the Sun Devils have had their bright spots, the team is currently looking to snap their six-game skid. 

Five of ASU’s six losses have come against opponents ranked in the top-15 of the ACHA, with those foes having twice as many players as the Sun Devils. 

Nevertheless, ASU can possibly end the first half of the season with a bang against their in-state rival this weekend.

Puck drop for game one between ASU and GCU is slated for 6:30 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 8 at AZ Ice Peoria.

“If we want any chance at being in the playoffs, we need to win these next two games just to show them that we are still here,” Galles said. “We aren’t messing around, and we are ready to come play.”


Reach the reporter at atbell1@asu.edu or follow @AndrewBell7 on Twitter.

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