Hockey plays Northland

Last Friday and Saturday, Northland College came to Appleton to play the Vikings. The series was played at the Appleton Family Ice Center on February 10th and 11th.

Northland came in strong Friday leading 2-0 with goals from Kyle Salmon and Josh Racek. Vikings came back and tied in the second in 1:58, first from Luke McDiarmid who created a turnover and beat Smith at 8:21, and second from Sean Reynolds’s shorthanded goal after the team was whistled for roughing at 9:20 and we then caught Northland in a line change at 10:19, making it 2-2. Northland, 10-10-2, 8-8-1 NCHA, scored twice in the third period in only 1:25, with Kalib Ford’s slapshot from above the face-off circle at 13:14, and Kurt Sonne’s goal at 14:39, pushing the Lumberjacks up 4-2. Lawrence, 5-14-3, 4-10-3 NCHA, player Matt Beranek scored off a rebound at 16:45 to make the final score 4-3, in Northland’s favor. In the final two periods, Northland held of 27 shots as we pulled our goaltender, Evan Cline, with 1:42 left for an extra attacker. Smith and his defensive shield held off three shots and managed to win the game with a close score. AJ Smith had 34 saves and the win and Evan Cline stopped 15 shots and held the loss. The game was close even with Northland’s two scores in the third, and the ending score was hard fought. Lawrence had a 37-19 edge for the game.

Saturday started with Northland coming out strong with a power play from Max Glashauser at 3:15, and then Koepplinger came back with his own power play goal at 5:07 to tie the game. Nick Tefry then scored at 8:32 for Northland and Blake Roubos tied the game 31 seconds later, 2-2. Austin Frank scored early in the second period, leading 3-2 as they went into the third period. Lucas DeBenedet of Northland scored on a power play 2:27 into the third and tied the game yet again at 3-3, but Lane King scored at 4:36, bringing us into the lead. Jacob Jeske of Northland College, 10-11-2, 8-9-1 NCHA, then scored at 13:41 to even the score 4-4. Lawrence, 6-14-3, 5-10-3 NCHA, took advantage of a power play chance with Koepplinger’s score on man-advantage off a pass from Lane King with 1:09 left. Then, the game was tied yet again with Ty Kraus’s score with only 32 seconds left at 5-5. This forced us into overtime, and at only 57 seconds in Brad Mueller scored a goal, earning the victory 6-5 OT for the Vikings.

The game Saturday was extremely exciting, with two evenly matched teams creating a consistent pattern throughout the entire game of scoring and tying. Coach Michael Szkodzinski stated, “We struggled early Friday night but just kept building through the weekend. It took a very determined effort on Saturday to come up with the win. Our senior captain, Brad Mueller, really did a great job leading the way and was rewarded with the game-winner. It was certainly one of the more memorable games of the season.”

It was a very tough game, with three different ties from Northland in just the third period. Mueller scored off a pass from Josh Koepplinger to score his second goal of the season and the first game winning score of his career. Evan Cline earned his third victory of the season with 33 saves for the Vikings, and AJ Smith stopped 48 shots and took the loss for Northland. Lawrence had a 54-38 edge in shots. Thanks to Mueller’s score the Vikings are now in the run for the playoffs, behind Northland by only four points, and with only two games left at Lake Forest, February 17th and 18th. This was an intense and demanding game from start to end with two evenly matched teams battling fiercely, but Lawrence pulled out on top and now our disparaging playoff hope is looking more favorable! Coach Szkodzinski summarized, “It is a war every single night in our conference. This (upcoming) weekend will be the most intense hockey we have seen to this point.”