Going into the last weekend of regular season competition, the Lawrence University men’s ice hockey team was on the cusp of qualifying for the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) playoffs. To do so, they needed to be in the top four in their division, which meant a tie or win against Northland on Friday, Feb. 9.
The game against Northland (9-12-2, 6-9-1 NCHA) was quiet for the first two periods as the Vikings entered the third period with the game still tied at 0-0. However, Northland scored to take a 1-0 lead at the 6:53 mark. Lawrence was able to respond at the 16:13 mark as senior and forward Lane King found the back of the net. He was assisted by junior and forward Josh Koepplinger and senior and defender Matt Montemurro. The Vikings were able to hold onto the tie and qualified for the playoffs, but their seed was still to be determined by the result of their game against St. Scholastica on Saturday, Feb. 10. Lawrence last qualified for the playoffs in 2016.
Lawrence struck first against St. Scholastica (14-9-1, 8-8-1 NCHA), on an early power play goal by King assisted by senior and defender Austin Frank at the 5:21 mark in the first period. The rest of the game would not go the Vikings’ way as St. Scholastica answered with a goal of their own less than two minutes later. By the end of the first period, St. Scholastica had taken the lead 2-1. They then added a goal in each the second and third periods to win the game 4-1. Because they won the game, St. Scholastica earned the three seed in the playoffs and will play Marian next.
Lawrence is the four seed in the playoffs and will play St. Norbert for the quarterfinal playoff series of the NCHA Harris Cup. They will play a two-game series on Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Cornerstone Community Center in Ashwaubenon, Wisc. The winner of the series will move on. If the teams split the two games, a mini game will occur after the game on Saturday night.
St. Norbert (20-4-1, 15-3-0 NCHA) has been a historical challenge for the Vikings (10-13-2, 8-9-1 NCHA) as they hold a 47-4-1 edge in the series. This year, Lawrence has lost both its games to St. Norbert by margins of 3-2 and 6-0, respectively. The Vikings hope to enjoy this playoff game and try to beat a familiar foe.