The Viking men’s hockey team celebrated their seniors on Saturday, Feb. 4 with a win in their final home game of the season. The Vikings hosted Concordia University of Wisconsin in a conference showdown, and the match turned out to be one of the most hotly contested outings the Vikings have experienced this season, as the pace of the game picked up rapidly throughout with plenty of clear-cut scoring chances at each end of the ice.
The first period was very much consumed by each team trying to feel out their opponent. The matchup of playing styles provided an interesting contrast, as Concordia fielded a squad of much smaller, faster players when compared to the Vikings, who dominated the ice physically, with all five of the tallest and largest players on the ice wearing the grey of Lawrence. Concordia, therefore, set out to press high up the ice and win scoring chances on the counterattack, whereas Lawrence sought to use size and physicality to their advantage by occupying the offensive zone for minutes at a time and parking a defenseman, particularly first-year Jayden Jensen, right in front of the goaltender.
With the advent of the second period came a significant rise in action. The penalties began to stack up quickly, which resulted in a pair of early second period power play goals. Concordia opened the scoring at 6:40 in the second, quickly followed by a response from the Vikings at 9:58, as Jensen scored with a deflection in front of the goal on a shot from junior Kyle Gierman, with Lawrence also up a man at the time of the goal. But within a minute, Concordia retook the lead through a goal from Bryar Dittmer on an assist from Nick Wieben. This meant the Falcons took a 2-1 lead into the third.
The final period opened with a flurry of chances, before senior Zach Lodes scored his first of many on the night, with the goal coming unassisted inside three minutes. Concordia again responded quickly, as Dittmer got his second for the Falcons just after the five- minute mark. It seemed the Vikings might succumb to another close home loss, but Dittmer’s goal was to be Concordia’s last. Lodes took over from that point, scoring again a mere eight seconds after Concordia’s goal to level the scores at three apiece, before scoring a further pair of efforts in the dying embers of the game. Lodes struck a crucial blow to Concordia’s hopes with a goal at 17:15 in the final period, before notching the knockout blow with an empty net finish inside the last 45 seconds to end the game with a score of 5-3 in favor of the Vikings. Senior Ivan Galaguzov claimed a pair of assists as did senior Zack Olen, junior Kyle Gierman and Jensen on Lodes’ final three goals.