ADRIAN, Mich. — In a game that was a rematch of last season’s Harris Cup final, the Adrian College Bulldogs defeated the Milwaukee School of Engineering Raiders by a score of 4-2 Friday night in Adrian. The No. 8 Bulldogs (3-0, 3-0 MCHA) took over first place in the MCHA for the time being, as they knocked the No. 12 Raiders (3-2, 3-2 MCHA) from their seat atop the leader board.
For the Bulldogs, the focus was on the present, not on what happened the last time the Raiders came into Arrington Ice Arena.
“It’s a new year; I did not make any references to what happened last year at all this week,” Bulldog coach Ron Fogarty said after the game.
In the first period, the Bulldogs controlled the play, utilizing an aggressive forecheck to force the MSOE defenseman to turn the puck over in their own zone. After a few close calls, Adrian sophomore Justin Basso put the Bulldogs up 1-0 just under 5:30 into the game. Shelby Gray picked up a loose puck and found Basso in the slot, where he beat MSOE’s Nick Kohn to the five-hole to give the Bulldogs a lead.
“Coming in, we knew that we just needed to get shots on this goalie to test him,” Basso said. “I kicked the puck out of my feet and just tried to get a quick shot off on net.”
Basso’s tally looked to be the only one of the period as time wound down on the first frame, but a costly penalty by Kevin LoGludice with :20 remaining in the period gave the Bulldogs a key opportunity to seize some momentum heading into the locker room. The Bulldogs power play went to work without much time left in the period, but they did not need much time at all. After Josh Cousineau won the faceoff, Gray fed Sammy Nyberg at the point, where the defenseman put a shot into the upper corner of the net as time ran down. Nyberg’s first career Bulldog goal with just under :04 remaining in the period gave Adrian a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The second period told a different story though, as the Raiders quickly jumped out and got all over the Bulldogs, seizing the early momentum. Adrian’s Scott Shackell stood tall through a barrage of Raiders shots, keeping MSOE off the board until midway through the period when Nathan Brunks shot from the point beat Shackell. Brad Tierney then hammered home a loose rebound just under 2:30 later on a power play to tie the game at two.
“It came down to confidence; we did not have it in the first period, and needed to regain it,” said MSOE coach Mark Ostapina. “We gave up two costly goals in the first, but I thought we did a good job bouncing back and playing well in the second.”
In the third period, the Bulldogs regained their jump from the first period from the opening puck drop of the period.
For Fogarty, the message to his team between the second and the third was a simple one, and moment of teaching.
“I just revisited our systems,” Fogarty said. “We were getting over-zealous in our own zone, and that’s what hurt us.”
In the third, the Bulldogs got back to work forcing turnovers, and were once again the beneficiaries. Just over a minute into the period, Adrian’s Zach Graham, who was honored for his MCHA MVP Award earlier in the night, picked up a loose puck and tried to center it. Graham’s pass found the feet of MSOE’s Nathan Brunk, from where it was redirected past Kohn to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.
After the game, Basso reflected on his line’s (Basso, Graham, Gray) success on the night. “Last weekend, we had a lot of chances and just were not able to capitalize,” he said. “This weekend, we were able to bury those opportunities.”
Scott Shackell played well the rest of the way for the Bulldogs, shutting the door and making several clutch saves at key moments throughout the third. As time wound down after a back and forth third period, freshman Chris Leone picked up his first career goal as he scored an empty-net goal from the defensive zone.
Shackell picked up his second win of the year, making 22 saves on 24 shots, while Kohn made 21 saves on 24 shots.
The Bulldogs and Raiders face off again tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at Arrington Ice Arena.