Season in Review: Men’s Hockey

The 2014-2015 hockey season was a trial of resilience for the Lawrence University Vikings. The season started all the way in August with a team trip to Europe, where the Vikings had success against professional hockey teams in Germany, Italy and Austria. Going into the school year with this unique experience motivating them, the Vikings started working in the fall to start the season out strong.

Lawrence’s season opener yielded encouraging results; in a Halloween weekend series against Concordia University Wisconsin, the Vikings swept 6-2 and 4-2, dominating offensively and starting the year on the right foot. The following weekend, however, Lawrence fell to Marian University in the annual Battle of Highway 41. The all-or-nothing trend continued to the mid-November home series against Northland College, which the Vikings swept with a 4-2 opener and a 5-4 overtime nail biter. The end of Fall Term took Lawrence to UW-River Falls and UW-Stout for a weekend of non-conference competition. The larger schools proved tough competition for the Vikings, who were defeated in both games.

The annual NCHA/MIAC Thanksgiving Showdown took place just after finals at Gustavus Adolphus College. The Vikings saw good results against two Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes, tying Gustavus 3-3 and edging St. Olaf College 4-3. The Lawrence men had a few weeks left before heading home for the holidays, facing NCHA powerhouse St. Norbert College in a home-and-home series the first weekend in December and traveling to UW-Eau Claire the next. Unfortunately, the Vikings were unable to hold their own against the two high-ranked opponents, recording three losses before their two-week winter break.

After ringing in the new year and returning to campus well rested and ready to fight, the Vikings faced a schedule loaded with challenging opponents. The first weekend back was spent in Minnesota, taking on Concordia University Minnesota and St. John’s University. The Vikings were defeated in both games but quickly shook it off to look forward to the next weekend’s series against conference rivals MSOE. After losing the series opener at home, the Vikings traveled to Milwaukee to give it right back, beating the Raiders 3-2 to break the cold-weather losing streak.

Unfortunately, that success was short-lived, as the Vikings went on to lose the next three consecutive weekends. At the College of St. Scholastica, the Vikings were swept on the road; a home-and-home series against Lake Forest College bore similar results, and a weekend at home against NCHA champions Adrian College was hard-fought, but unsuccessful. Over reading period, the Vikings traveled to Finlandia University to finish up the regular season. Lawrence finally came out on top in the series opener with a 2-1 victory, but returned home with a split after falling in the second game.

That win over Finlandia secured the Vikings a spot in the NCHA quarterfinals, where they again challenged No. 2 seed St. Norbert on the road. Despite putting up a good fight, the Vikings were defeated in the first round and ended their season with a conference record of 6-12-0 (7-19-1 overall). This is a one win improvement over last year’s 5-12-1 NCHA (6-19-2 overall) record, and the Vikings are looking to continue that progress towards an even more successful 2015-2016 season.