Vikings swept in “Battle of Highway 41

Jon Mays

The Lawrence University men’s
hockey team has struggled mightily
since starting the season 6-1-0.
At that time, the Vikings were
receiving votes for the national
top 25 polls and had a conference
championship in mind. Since their
hot start, the Vikings have posted
a record of 2-13-1 and dropped
into fifth place in the conference.
Lawrence (8-14-1, 7-10-1
MCHA) will likely still advance to
the MCHA playoffs but is expected
to have to face one of the top
seeds in order to advance to the
Harris Cup Final Four.
The Vikings’ most recent
struggles came against Marian
College (16-6-0, 15-2-0 MCHA) in
the “Battle of Highway 41,” a threegame
series last weekend in which
the Vikings lost all three games.
Marian jumped on the Vikings
early in the first game, and before
Lawrence knew it, Coach Mike
Szkodzinski’s squad was down
three goals. The Vikings’ comeback
attempt, fueled by goals from Sam
Johnson and Billy Siers, fell short,
and the Sabers went on to a 5-2
Lawrence traveled to Marian
for the next two games of the
series and fared no better away
from home.
In the first of the two games in
Fond du Lac, the Vikings allowed
three goals in a 90-second stretch
in the first period, leaving them
down 4-0 at the first intermission.
Despite the best efforts of
senior forward Masa Takahashi,
who scored two goals in the second
period, and Johnson, who
scored in his second consecutive
game, the game ended with the
score at 6-3 in favor of a Marian
team that had spent the large
majority of the game with a twogoal
The final game of the series
delivered what the fans had
expected for the entire “Battle of
Highway 41″: A closely contested
match-up between two of the most
talented teams in the conference.
Early on, however, it looked
like it might turn into another lopsided
affair, as Marian jumped out
to an early 2-0 lead.
Johnson scored his third goal
of the weekend with 9:45 to go
in the second period, bringing
Lawrence within one goal with just
under half of the game left.
The Vikings had several opportunities
to tie the game in the
final period, including a power
play after a high-sticking penalty
against Marian’s Todd Collins, but
they were unable to even the score
and lost for the 13th time in their
last 15 games.
The Vikings’ final regularseason games will be against last-place Finlandia University away from home this weekend. In the postseason, Lawrence will likely have to play the Southern Division’s Lake Forest Foresters (7-14-1, 7-10-1 MCHA) at home for the chance to advance to the Harris Cup Final Four.