Hockey remains optimistic despite losses to Adrian

Lawrence University (Vikings) Men’s Hockey team (6-12-1, 5-8-1 NCHA) spent last weekend battling the nationally-ranked Adrian College Bulldogs (17-2-1, 13-2-1 NCHA) in Adrian, Mich. Although the Vikings skated with confidence and heart, the No. 1 Bulldogs, who have averaged over 5.5 goals a game this season, dominated the score sheet and swept the series soundly.

On Friday, Jan. 29, the competition commenced at a packed Arrington Arena. The Vikings started strong, holding Adrian’s attacks off for over half of the first period while putting up several good attempts of their own. At 11:28, the Bulldogs buried their first goal of the night, then immediately went on with the power play and added a second goal less than 30 seconds later. Viking freshman Nick Felan responded with a goal of his own at 13:27, cutting the lead in half off assists from sophomores Brendan Vetter and Lane King. Not to be outdone in their own barn, the Bulldogs fired two more goals before the first intermission to bring the score to 4-1.

The Vikings retaliated in the opening minutes of the second period to trim the Adrian lead even further, as freshman Josh Koepplinger found the back of the net off another set of Vetter and King assists. The Bulldogs overpowered the Vikings’ dogged defense to flaunt their goal-scoring expertise twice more before the end of the period and two more times in the third period, bringing the final score to 8-2.

Junior goaltender Mattias Soderqvist started in net for the Vikings and made 16 saves before being relieved of duty mid-second period by freshman Greg Procopio, who recorded 18 saves. Despite the totals on the scoreboard, the Vikings didn’t fall too far behind in shots, putting up 33 attempts to Adrian’s 42.

The afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 30, heralded the second game in the series, though the results were not much different. Plagued by penalties, the Vikings gave up two power play goals to the Bulldogs in the first period. Adrian’s commanding offensive efforts found their mark two more times in the second period, one of which was an unfortunate shorthanded goal. After giving up one more goal at the start of the third, Lawrence finally found their stride at 12:57. After receiving a pass from a cornered Koepplinger, junior Ryan Robertson stormed the net and maneuvered the puck between the Bulldog goalie’s legs to get the Vikings on the board.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, there wasn’t enough time for their reversal of momentum to play out and provide an opportunity to come back. The final score of 5-1 awarded the sweep to Adrian. Procopio guarded the goal again for the Vikings and totaled 30 saves to the Bulldogs’ 21. Adrian again outshot the Vikings by a margin of 35-22.

This weekend, Lawrence will continue its conference play with a home-and-home series against the Milwaukee School of Engineering Raiders (12-7, 7-7 NCHA). The Raiders are coming off a pair of 4-1 losses to Marian University (13-5-3, 11-4-1 NCHA) and are sitting third in the NCHA North Division, a spot that the Vikings hope to take from them in the next few weeks in order to earn a spot in playoffs. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Kern Center in Milwaukee on Friday and at Appleton Family Ice Center on Saturday.