St. Norbert eliminates Vikings from playoffs

Last weekend the Lawrence University hockey team faced St. Norbert College in a Harris Cup quarterfinal playoff series. Though the Vikings fought hard, they were unable to repeat their legendary defeat of the No. 1 ranked Green Knights earlier this season. St. Norbert swept the series and will move on to the next round of playoff competition.

The puck dropped on Friday, Feb. 21, at the Cornerstone Community Center in De Pere, WI. The Knights kept the Vikings on the defensive for most of the first period, but they worked hard to keep the score at 0-0. A power play goal just under five minutes into the second period put St. Norbert on the board, and they continued to exhaust the Vikings with relentless attacks in the Lawrence zone. The Vikings held them to a single goal until the 17:30 mark when a 2-on-1 breakaway sent another one into the Lawrence net.

Going into the third period down 2-0, the Vikings tried to gain some traction with aggressive skating and a few power play opportunities they couldn’t quite capitalize on. Nine minutes into the period the Knights fired the puck into the back of the net to widen their lead to 3-0. Throughout the game St. Norbert was not getting through neutral zones quickly enough to score many goals close together, but the final three minutes of the game saw St. Norbert pick up their highly acclaimed offensive momentum. Two goals in just over a minute captured the Green Knight shutout by a final score of 5-0.

Saturday’s game nearly saw another scoreless opening period, but an unassisted power play goal with two seconds remaining put St. Norbert ahead 1-0 at the first intermission. After a few rough minutes of the second period, the Vikings retaliated with a power play goal of their own. At 6:32 senior Paul Zuke lit the lamp on a two-man advantage, assisted by senior William Thoren and sophomore Brandon Boelter.

The Green Knights directed the puck through traffic around the goal and past Soderqvist late in the second period, doubling their lead to 2-1. A final power play goal 7:17 into the third period concluded the scoring. St. Norbert seized the victory by a final score of 3-1, going 2-for-5 on the power play while Lawrence finished 1-for-3. Soderqvist made 34 saves to St. Norbert’s 14.

The Vikings end their season with an overall record of 6-19-2 and 5-12-1 in the conference. St. Norbert’s quarterfinal sweep puts them at 16-2 in NCHA competition (23-3-1 overall).

The Green Knights will next face Lake Forest College (15-11-1, 11-7 NCHA) in a semifinal game on Saturday, March 1. The Foresters are coming off a dramatic series against Marian University (12-13-2, 10-7-1 NCHA) in which they lost Friday’s game 3-2, won Saturday’s 3-2, and edged the Sabres 1-0 in a mini-game after the second contest to earn their spot in the semifinals.

The College of St. Scholastica (15-8-4, 10-5-3 NCHA) will face Adrian College (22-1-4, 14-1-3 NCHA) in the semifinal round as well. Both teams swept their quarterfinal series against Concordia and MSOE, respectively.