The Lake Forest College men's hockey team hosted and defeated Lawrence University 6-1 Saturday night to earn a spot in the 2017 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup Playoffs.
A night after a last-second overtime victory at Lawrence, Saturday's contest was far less dramatic as the home team jumped out to a 3-0 lead after just one period. Forward Jimmy Cusan, who was one of seven Forester seniors honored before their final career home game, started the scoring with his fifth of the year at the 4:48 mark. Sophmore forward Vito Aluia assisted on the score. Sophomore forward Bron Loiselle then netted what turned out to be the official game-winner just 63 seconds later with classmates Cody Guidorzi, a forward, and Ryan Kruss, a defenseman assisting. Senior forward Jack Lewis lit the lamp for the league-leading 17th time this year with 3:38 to play in the period, making the score 3-0. He was assistd by Loiselle and senior defenseman Mark Esshaki.
Aluia added to the home team's lead just 83 seconds into the second period. His second goal of the season was set up by freshman defenseman Zach Feldman and junior forward George Gerasimou. The Vikings converted a power play opportunity at 5:11 to make the score 4-1 but the Foresters regained their four-goal lead with a power play goal of their own at 16:39. Guidorzi assisted on Loiselle's second score of the night and 15th this year and Lake Forest led 5-1 after two periods of play.
The only goal of the final period was scored by Forester junior forward Billy Kent at 3:32. Feldman and Kruss assisted on Kent's seventh score of the season.
Lake Forest outshot the visitors 34-20 on the night with Forester senior goaltender Billy Cooper making 19 saves. He improved to 7-3-0 with a .919 save percentage this year.
In addition to Cusan, Lewis, Esshaki, and Cooper, fellow seniors Travis Hill, Anthony Annunziato, and Justin Pelock played their final home game on Saturday. They make up the only graduating class in program history with three 15-win seasons.
The Foresters closed out the 2016-17 regular season 16-9-0 overall and 12-8-0 in NCHA play while Lawrence finished the year 6-16-3 overall and 5-12-3 in the league.
Lake Forest will travel to Marian University on Wednesday for the NCHA Harris Cup quarterfinals. The winner will advance to play regular season league champion Adrian College on Saturday.