ADRIAN, Mich. — On a night set aside to honor the four Adrian seniors, it was a pair of underclassmen who lead the Bulldogs past the Concordia Falcons by a score of 5-1.
Lukas Ciotti and Josh Cousineau posted three points apiece for Adrian.
For the Falcons, missed opportunities was a key to the game as coach Tony Hrkac emphasized afterwards.
“I thought we played well,” Hrkac said. “We had opportunities in the first and second period, but we just couldn’t bury.”
Cousineau took advantage of his opportunities, however, as he got the Bulldogs on the board with 3:51 remaining in the first period when he redirected Justin Basso’s pass past Josh Lehr to the glove side putting Adrian up 1-0.
The two teams traded opportunities through the first period, but Concordia was not able to beat Adrian’s James Hamby during the first 20 minutes of play.
In the second period, a flurry of Adrian goals helped the Bulldogs begin to walk away with the game. It was Concordia, however, who got things going when it tied the game up early on as Dan Shilts intercepted Shelby Gray’s pass, walked in on Hamby and beat him high to the glove side just 1:54 into the period.
The Falcons were able to keep the game tied until the 10:13 mark of the period when Adrian captain Andrew Dovey played the role of hero, scoring what would eventually become the game winner as he tipped Gray’s pass through the five hole of Lehr to give Adrian a 2-1 lead.
Cousineau got his second of the night at the 13:51 mark when Ciotti’s pass found him open in the slot. Cousineau made no mistake and quickly put the puck past a sprawling Lehr.
Adrian struck again just 30 seconds later when Ciotti picked up his seventh goal of the season, putting home a rebound from a Chris Stansik shot to extend Adrian’s lead to 4-1.
Lehr shut the door for the rest of the period, but Concordia was unable to put another one past Hamby as the second period ended with the score at 4-1.
The third period saw a little more back-and-forth action as the Bulldogs peppered the Falcon net, but Lehr stood strong, only allowing one goal on 15 shots. The Falcons once again were not able to capitalize on their chances to beat Hamby.
Zach Wilson scored the only goal of the period at the 1:09 mark when he pulled the loose puck out of the scrum out front and put it behind Lehr to put the score at 5-1.
Both coaches seemed impressed after the game with the play of Lehr, who was coming off of a game Friday where things did not exactly go his way, letting in four goals on eight shots before being pulled in the first period.
“I thought their goalie played well,” said Adrian coach Ron Fogarty.
“Our goalie played well tonight,” echoed Hrkac. “I thought he showed a lot of character to come back after the game he had Friday and play as well as he did.”
For the Bulldogs, the night was about making sure their seniors had good memories of their last regular season game in Arrington Ice Arena.
“I thought our seniors played well tonight and got opportunities,” said Fogarty. “Stansik had a couple of chances throughout and [Blake] Barkwell hit a post late.”
The line of Ciotti, Cousineau and Basso combined for seven points on the night.
“We just wanted to do the little simple things right,” said Ciotti. “We knew if we did that, the hockey gods would reward us and tonight, they did. Concordia isn’t a very skilled team, but we knew we needed to come out hard and put them down early because if we let them stick around, they can make trouble for us.”
For the Bulldogs, they moved one step closer to another MCHA regular-season title with the win. Two wins next weekend against Finlandia will give Adrian the title outright.
The Falcons’ season will end next weekend as they take on Marian in a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday night.