Hockey falls to eighth place in NCHA

After an exciting victory over St. Scholastica the previous week, the Lawrence University hockey team (5-15-1, 4-10 NCHA) approached their next opponent Lake Forest College (12-8-1, 9-5 NCHA) hoping to repeat their recent success. But with a huge second period in the first game and a much closer overtime win in the second, the Foresters swept the series and left the Vikings once again in second place.

The series opened on Friday, Jan. 31 at the Appleton Family Ice Center, and after a scoreless first period, the Foresters skated past the struggling Vikings in a frustrating second period. Lake Forest knocked the puck into the net two minutes into the second period, putting the first points on the board and setting the tone for the rest of the game.

Consecutive penalties around 3:30 put Lawrence down two men, and the Foresters capitalized after about a minute to double their lead to 2-0. A pair of penalties two minutes later left each team down a player, and Lake Forest used the 4-on-4 play to widen their advantage to 3-0.

After a fourth goal slid past freshman goaltender Mattias Soderqvist, Lawrence sent junior Anton Olsson into the net, seeking a change of momentum. A sloppy line change led to a fifth goal as the Lake Forest offense outnumbered and easily outmaneuvered the Vikings defense. Olsson allowed one more goal before the end of the period, and the Foresters headed to the locker room ahead 6-0. The Foresters scored a final goal with less than four minutes in the game, securing the 7-0 shutout.

The following night, the Vikings traveled to Lake Forest for an attempt at redeeming themselves. As has become habit for Lawrence, the team flipped every switch to turn out a major improvement from the first game to the second.

Senior Huck Saunders scored an unassisted goal less than 30 seconds into the game, letting the Foresters know this game would not be like the first. Lake Forest retaliated halfway through the first period to even the score at 1-1.

Saunders sent the puck in again near the end of the second period to give Lawrence a 2-1 lead. Sophomore Brandon Boelter and freshman Blake Roubos were credited with assists. Four minutes into the third period, however, Lake Forest leveled the score again to send the teams into high-stakes overtime competition.

The Foresters brought it home with a game-winning goal a minute in, as the Viking suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 OT loss.

As Lake Forest moves on to a home-and-home series against MSOE, next weekend the Vikings will travel to Adrian College for two road games. Adrian’s 17-1-3, 11-1-2 NCHA record places them at the top of the conference with St. Norbert College (17-3-1, 12-2 NCHA), though they’re coming off a split series with the Green Knights. Adrian fell to St. Norbert 11-1 in the first game and recovered to win 4-1 in the second. When Lawrence played the same series they also lost the opener 4-0, but took the second game 5-4.

The Vikings have many of the pieces needed to hold their own against the strongest team in the league, but will need to play at the top of their game both nights in order to put up a fight. If the Vikings can pull their performance together, they may make some magic happen in Michigan this weekend. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Arrington Ice Arena and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8.

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