A rare empty net overtime goal by junior forward Charlie Izaguirre gave the Lake Forest College men's hockey team a 3-2 victory Friday night at Lawrence University.
Izaguirre dove in front of the empty net to send in a pass from senior forward Jack Lewis just before the final buzzer sounded. Forester senior forward Justin Pelock was also credited with an assist after his pass up the boards on the left side found Lewis. It was Izaguirre's seventh score of the season and he tied Lewis for the team lead with three game-winners on the year.
The net was empty because Lawrence needed to win both games this weekend and get some help from elsewhere in the league to secure a spot in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup Playoffs. A tie would have eliminated the Vikings from postseason contention.
The home team appeared to be well on its way to the victory after scoring the only goal of the opening period at the 14:08 mark and pulling ahead by two on a power play score mid-way through the second.
Lewis began the comeback with his NCHA-leading 16th goal of the season with 4:44 to play in the second. He was assisted by sophomore defenseman Luke Meade and forward Bron Loiselle. Senior forward Jimmy Cusan then tied the score three-and-a-half minutes later. His fourth goal of the year was assisted by senior defenseman Travis Hill and sophomore forward Vito Aluia.
Cooper made a season-high 38 saves on the night, including 18 in the second period alone. He improved to 6-3-0 with a .917 save percentage on the year.
The Foresters improved to 15-9-0 overall and 11-8-0 in the NCHA this season. Lawrence fell to 6-15-3 overall and 5-11-3 in the league. The teams will face off again in the 2016-17 regular season finale in Lake Forest's Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse Saturday night at 7:00.
The Foresters are tied with Milwaukee School of Engineering for third place in the NCHA South Division standings, just a point behind second place Marian University. MSOE will play at division-leading St. Norbert College and Marian at Aurora University Saturday night. The second-place team in the division will host the third-place program in the NCHA Harris Cup Quarterfinals next Wednesday night. MSOE owns the tiebreaker against Marian and in a three-way tie between the teams. With a +8 goal differential in league play this season, Lake Forest currently owns the tiebreaker against MSOE (+5) and Marian (+3).