Lions face top-seeded Bulldogs needing points

ADRIAN, Mich. — The Finlandia Lions women’s hockey team hasn’t been here in a long time. With four games left in the regular season, the Lions are in the hunt for a playoff spot. They sit in eighth, one point back of Marian and one ahead of Aurora, but four behind Northland, who has the sixth and final playoff spot currently.

The Lions travel to face the top-seeded Adrian Bulldogs, who hold a one-point advantage over the St. Scholastica Saints, but Finlandia needs all the points they can earn at this point.

The Lions surrendered points throughout the season that head coach Matt Marchel would love to have back before facing the Bulldogs, whom Finlandia has not yet seen this season.

“If we weren’t before, we are officially desperate,” said Marchel. “The way it is shaping up, we need at least two wins and a tie the next four games.”

The Lions faced the Saints last weekend, and played well, but lost 6-1 and 5-2, which did not help their playoff hopes.

Still, there is a lot for Marchel and the Lions to be pleased with. The Lions are 3-17-1 overall, but 3-10-1 in NCHA play.

Sophomore Bella Abear picked up a pair of assists over the weekend, upper her totals to four goals and nine points on the season, tying her with sophomore Kait Ryynanen for second on the team in scoring behind captain Sierra Meiners.

“Having threats around always helps,” said Marchel. “It doesn’t matter who those girls are out with, when the puck bounces right for them, with their speed, no one catches them. That’s huge for us to have.”

Freshman defenseman Kylee Dyni added her second assist as well, giving her two points through six games.

The Lions will have their hands full with the league-leading Bulldogs. Sophomore Kelly O’Sullivan leads the team with seven goals and 24 points. Senior Rose Krasofsky leads the team in goals with 14.

In order for the Lions to take points out of the weekend, sophomore Annah Smiddy will have to be at her best. Smiddy had a rough outing numbers-wise against the Saints last Friday, but prior to that, she made 38 or more saves in five straight starts.

“She needs to continue what she is doing,” said Marchel. “It’s not about the number of saves, it is about the amount of time she has to spend in the ready position. She is mentally on point all the time.”

GAME TIMES

Today’s game will be at 7 p.m. at the Arrington Ice Arena. Tomorrow’s contest will take place at 2 p.m.

MEN PEAKING

As the Finlandia Lions men’s hockey team heads into their final weekend of the season against the No. 2 St. Norbert Green Knights, head coach Joe Burcar feels his squad is playing its best hockey of the season.

“You wish you were going into the playoffs the way we are playing right now,” said Burcar. “The team, in my two years, is finally where I thought it should be. It only builds from there.”

The Lions will host the Green Knights, who trail Adrian by four points for the top seed in the NCHA playoffs, Friday before traveling to DePere on Saturday for the rematch.

GAME TIMES

Tonight’s game will be at 7: 15 p.m. at the Houghton County Arena. Saturday’s game will be 8 p.m. at Cornerstone Community Center.

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