Men’s Hockey shows overall improvement at season’s end

The Lawrence University hockey team concluded the 2014-2015 season last weekend when they fell to St. Norbert College (19-5-2, 13-4-1 NCHA) in the quarterfinal series of the NCHA playoffs. After being defeated by the Green Knights in regular season competition as well as in the first round of playoffs last year, the Vikings knew the Green Knights would be a force to be reckoned with.

On Friday, Feb. 20, the puck dropped at the Cornerstone Community Center in De Pere to open the series. The Green Knights buried two power play goals in the first period to claim an early 2-0 lead. Penalties, which the Vikings have struggled with all season, paired with an inability to capitalize on their own power play opportunities, has led to scoring deficits that are difficult to come back from.

St. Norbert continued to dominate offensively and prevent the Lawrence scoring efforts, adding two more goals in the second period. The Green Knights scored once more at the beginning of the third period to claim the win. Outshooting the Vikings 50-11, it was clear the Green Knights felt in control on their home turf.

Saturday, Feb. 21, was Lawrence’s last chance to gain some momentum in the first round of playoffs. St. Norbert only needed a tie to advance to the semifinals, and the Vikings needed to win to force a mini-game that would determine the victor. Despite improving offensively and firing 23 shots on goal, the Vikings continued to struggle defensively against the scoring powerhouse that is St. Norbert.

The Green Knights again started the action with a power play goal 8:11 into the first period and fired in two more before the first intermission. That initial power play success appeared again in the second period, as St. Norbert put away two more goals on one and two-man advantages. One third period goal brought the final score to 6-0 in the Green Knights’ favor, securing their second shutout of the weekend and clinching a spot in the next round.

In the semifinals St. Norbert will face MSOE (17-10-0, 11-7-0 NCHA), whose sudden-death mini-game victory over Marian College last weekend earned them a place in this next round. Similarly, the College of St. Scholastica (12-12-3, 8-8-2 NCHA) defeated Lake Forest College in another decisive mini-game, lining them up with Adrian College (21-3-3, 16-1-1 NCHA) for the semifinal round.

The Vikings hang up their skates for the season with a final NCHA record of 6-12-0 (7-19-1 overall). This shows progress from last year’s 5-12-1 NCHA (6-19-2 overall) performance. The hockey program at Lawrence aims to continue improving on this and eventually build the strength needed to be a powerful presence in a challenging league.