The Lawrence University men’s hockey team has struggled mightily since starting the season 6-1-0. At that time, the Vikings were receiving votes for the national top 25 polls and had a conference championship in mind. Since their hot start, the Vikings have posted a record of 2-13-1 and dropped into fifth place in the conference. Lawrence (8-14-1, 7-10-1 MCHA) will likely still advance to the MCHA playoffs but is expected to have to face one of the top seeds in order to advance to the Harris Cup Final Four. The Vikings’ most recent struggles came against Marian College (16-6-0, 15-2-0 MCHA) in the “Battle of Highway 41,” a threegame series last weekend in which the Vikings lost all three games. Marian jumped on the Vikings early in the first game, and before Lawrence knew it, Coach Mike Szkodzinski’s squad was down three goals. The Vikings’ comeback attempt, fueled by goals from Sam Johnson and Billy Siers, fell short, and the Sabers went on to a 5-2 victory. Lawrence traveled to Marian for the next two games of the series and fared no better away from home. In the first of the two games in Fond du Lac, the Vikings allowed three goals in a 90-second stretch in the first period, leaving them down 4-0 at the first intermission. Despite the best efforts of senior forward Masa Takahashi, who scored two goals in the second period, and Johnson, who scored in his second consecutive game, the game ended with the score at 6-3 in favor of a Marian team that had spent the large majority of the game with a twogoal cushion. The final game of the series delivered what the fans had expected for the entire “Battle of Highway 41″: A closely contested match-up between two of the most talented teams in the conference. Early on, however, it looked like it might turn into another lopsided affair, as Marian jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Johnson scored his third goal of the weekend with 9:45 to go in the second period, bringing Lawrence within one goal with just under half of the game left. The Vikings had several opportunities to tie the game in the final period, including a power play after a high-sticking penalty against Marian’s Todd Collins, but they were unable to even the score and lost for the 13th time in their last 15 games. The Vikings’ final regularseason games will be against last-place Finlandia University away from home this weekend. In the postseason, Lawrence will likely have to play the Southern Division’s Lake Forest Foresters (7-14-1, 7-10-1 MCHA) at home for the chance to advance to the Harris Cup Final Four.