Arguing against Adrian’s dominance in the MCHA is nearly impossible, but as the competition gets stronger in the west, the Bulldogs may have to look over their shoulder to maintain the top spot. Yet the team shows no signs of slowing down.
It has been five short years of history for the Adrian Bulldogs, and there hasn’t been a need to climb to the top. Once they arrived in the MCHA, they found themselves atop the conference, and they have stayed there. For five consecutive seasons, the program has been projected to finish first in the conference preseason polls, and so far the team has not been one to disappoint.
In the last half decade, the Bulldogs have won the regular season title each year. They were in possession of the MCHA playoff trophy (Harris Cup), for four consecutive seasons, but had to relinquish it to Milwaukee School of Engineering after a bitter overtime loss ended their 2011-12 campaign.
With only one weekend series under their belt, the Bulldogs show zero signs of a fragile season.
A combined 19 goals in a two-game sweep over Northland ranks the Bulldogs as the highest-scoring team in the MCHA. Their output at least doubles every other squad in the conference, with the exception of MSOE, which has 18 goals in four tilts.
One of the many keys to success for the Bulldogs is their ability to recruit top talent and rely on their young players to buy into the system.
Freshman forward Shaquille Merasty, who played for the Portage Terriers of the MJHL last season, scored a pair of goals each night. Two other top contributors to the weekend sweep were sophomore forwards Shelby Gray and Josh Ranalli.
“They are top six forwards for us; they are expected to be on the score sheet every night,” coach Ron Fogarty said of the trio. “Shaq has a physical presence at 6-foot-4-inches, and has a knack for scoring.”
Another key to success for Fogarty, who has been with the team for all five dominant seasons with a 122-18-3 record, is a sound and interchangeable defense core.
“All nine defensemen played last weekend, we haven’t nailed down a top six,” Fogarty said. “Shawn Courtney stands out as someone who we can rely on. He doesn’t try to score and is dependable on the blue line.”
Although last weekend may seem like a breeze for Adrian, it will have a real test this weekend against conference rival MSOE. The Raiders are looking to bounce back from a series split again Finlandia.
“We will keep to the same game plan this weekend,” Fogarty said. “We want our power play to work. We want momentum shifts at the right time so we can capitalize on opportunities.”
This weekend will be a test, but if the last five seasons show anything, Adrian will be on the top of this league and start making a larger impact on the national stage in seasons to come.