The Lawrence University hockey team advanced to the MCHA Harris Cup with two solid victories over Northland College last weekend.
Senior Josh DeSmit recorded the game-winning goal in each of the two contests, while goaltender Evan Johnson played superbly in both games as well, allowing only two goals in the series.
The two teams traded goals in the first period of the opening playoff game, with Jon Bellotti scoring the goal for Lawrence on a pass from Jameson Raymond. With 6:44 left in the first period, Northland tied the game on the power play with a goal by Colin Moberly.
Shortly after the tying goal was scored, the Vikings defense tightened up and DeSmit gave them the advantage they needed. He scored 25 seconds into a Lawrence power play, again off a pass from Raymond, making the score 2-1. Despite a power play opportunity for each team in the final period, neither team was able to score. Johnson made 23 saves to earn the victory in the all-important opening game of the series.
Johnson said of the win, “It’s huge to start this series on a victory. It helps get our momentum back and gives us confidence going into the second game.”
Johnson again came out on fire in the second game, making many impressive stops to keep the game scoreless through the first period. Huck Saunders put the Vikings on the board with his fourth goal of the season.
Nick Hewko tied the game for Northland later in the period, and the score would remain that way through the end of the period. It was Hewko’s 14th goal of the season. DeSmit then came through with more heroics. Saunders passed to DeSmit, who split a pair of Northland defenders and beat goaltender Daniel McIntosh for the game-winner.
“It is a great feeling getting to the Harris Cup again. We will try and take this momentum with us up to Adrian,” said DeSmit, who appeared to reinjure his knee late in the third period. DeSmit said of the injury, “It’s pretty sore, but whatever it takes to play against Adrian, I’ll do it.”
It’s that type of toughness that has brought the Vikings (14-12-1) to the Harris Cup. Director of Athletics and Head Hockey Coach Michael Szkodzinski has preached both mental and physical toughness throughout the season.
Lawrence will travel to Adrian for the Harris Cup this Saturday. Adrian was the regular season MCHA champion, which earned them the right to host the cup, the winner of which will qualify for the NCAA tournament.