The Lawrence men’s hockey team defeated the Finlandia University Lions 5-1 on Feb. 24 and tied with them the next day 2-2 in the MCHA quarterfinal playoffs. The Vikings won the two game playoff series 1-0-1 and advanced to the final four of the Harris Cup.
In the first game, Lawrence scored five goals before the Lions got on the board, and the Vikings won handily. The only goal of the first period came from junior forward Brad Scurfield off of passes from senior forward Matt Hughes and junior forward Phil Bushbacher.
Early in the second period, a Finlandia elbowing penalty gave the Vikings an extra one man advantage and freshman forward Patrick Coyne capitalized to make it 2-0. Sophomore defenseman William Thoren and senior defenseman Jameson Raymond were credited with the assists. Just a few minutes later, Bushbacher scored a goal of his own off a pass from sophomore forward Paul Zuke.
In the next ten minutes, sophomore forward Huck Saunders and Coyne each scored unassisted goals to make it 5-0. Finlandia broke their slump and got a goal with 17 seconds left in the second period. That would be all the scoring as Lawrence rode out the third period and secured the win. The Vikings dominated the shots on goal battle with a 45-29 advantage. Freshman goaltender Peter Emery made 28 saves in the win.
Needing a win or a tie to move on, the Vikings encountered a Finlandia team the next day that was playing with a sense of urgency. The Lions struck quickly, scoring three minutes into the game. Ten minutes later, Hughes scored an unassisted goal to tie it up. After a Lion holding penalty, Lawrence got unlucky during their power play. A shot from the top of the point was deflected and a Finlandia forward was on a one on one breakaway and put it away for a 2-1 lead.
The score remained until the second period when Bushbacher scored an unassisted goal to even it up 2-2. Finlandia was unable to score the rest of regulation and overtime to get the edge and force a decisive twenty-minute mini-game. Usually a tie does not excite teams, but it was all Lawrence needed to move on to the semifinals. The Vikings had more shots on goal again with a 50-32 edge.
Playing their final home game of the season, the Vikings definitely ended their year in Appleton on a good note. Junior goaltender Michael Baldino commented, “We were very aggressive the first game and played very well on offense and defense. For the second game, you never wish for a tie but it got the job done. We are happy to move on.”
Lawrence travels this weekend to Adrian, Mich. to play the MCHA regular season champions and defending national champion runner-ups Adrian College Bulldogs. After two close regular season tilts, Zuke says the team feels good about their chances. “We feel confident going into these games. We’ve proven that when we execute, we can play with them. If we stick to the system, we are definitely in a position to win.”