Lawrence University’s hockey team bounced back from a difficult year-end series against St. Norbert College (11-1-1, 7-1-0 NCHA North Division) last month with a promising performance against Concordia University Wisconsin (8-4-2, 5-3-2 NCHA South Division) last weekend. Although the Falcons are in a different National College Hockey Association division than the Vikings, the 3-point weekend does help Lawrence gain traction within their own division, which will in turn affect the Vikings in their quest for a playoff run.
On Friday, Jan. 8, Concordia’s skaters arrived at the Appleton Family Ice Center for the first conference matchup of 2016. The puck dropped and the Vikings started the competition on the right foot, tallying the first goal of the game just 3:20 in. Sophomore Mikkel Joehnk buried the puck off assists from juniors Brad Mueller and Sean Reynolds, giving the Vikings an early 1-0 advantage.
The scoreboard remained untouched for the rest of the period and the entirety of the second. It was not until 8:45 of the third period that one of the attempts by either team met its mark. After several close scoring opportunities, freshman Nick Felan was finally rewarded with his second goal of the season and of his NCAA career. Senior Renato Engler fired the puck toward the Concordia net, and Felan redirected the rebound past the Falcon goaltender to widen the lead. The Vikings successfully shut down their opponents for the remainder of the game, bringing the final score to 2-0. Junior goaltender Mattias Soderqvist recorded 26 saves for the night to secure the first shutout of his career.
The following evening the teams reconvened at the Ozaukee Ice Center in Mequon, the Falcons intent on redeeming themselves at home and the Vikings propelled by the thrill of the previous night’s victory. Sophomore Luke McDiarmid got the Vikings the first goal for the second night in a row, scoring off assists from fellow sophomore Austin Frank and Mueller within the first two minutes of play. Concordia responded five minutes later with a goal of their own, tying the game for the remainder of the period.
Again the score remained static until the third period, when senior Steve Hughes added another Lawrence goal at 5:17. Senior Ryan Rumble and sophomore Matt Montemurro were credited with assists. Not to be outdone in front of their own crowd, the Falcons managed to get another puck in the net with just over four minutes remaining in the game. Tied at the end of regulation, a scoreless overtime period brought the final result to a 2-2 tie. Soderqvist made 40 saves to Concordia’s 39, a number that reflects the hard-fought nature of the battle.
The Vikings continue conference competition this weekend with a pair of home games against Aurora University (1-11-1, 1-6-1 NCHA South Division). The Spartans are coming off a rough set of losses to No. 2 ranked Adrian College, who is leading the league with an overall record of 12-1-1 and a South Division record of 8-1-1. The puck drops at Appleton Family Ice Center at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15, and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16. For Friday’s game, the team will be wearing special orange jerseys to raise awareness for kidney cancer. All ticket sales and donations will be donated to the American Cancer Society.