ADRIAN, Mich. — Five unanswered goals, including four in the first 10 minutes of the second period, helped propel Adrian to a 5-3 win Friday night over conference foe Finlandia.
Finlandia (7-17-0, 7-12-0 MCHA) had the Bulldogs (20-1-3, 15-0-3) on the ropes in the first as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Despite being outplayed in the first period, the Lions took advantage of a pair of Bulldog penalties.
Finlandia’s Cody Essel got things going at 5:27 when he beat Adrian goaltender Scott Shackell low to the blocker side for the game’s first goal. The Lions tallied once more when Mike Montrose found Dino Burgrabbe on the back door to push the lead to 2-0.
For Adrian it was not a lack of opportunities that kept them off the board in the first. Instead, it was the stellar play of Finlandia goalie Troy Chandler.
“He’s been the backbone of this team this year,” said Finlandia coach John McCabe. “All year, he’s been great even when we haven’t been so good in front of him.”
As the horn sounded to end the first period, the Lions carried a 2-0 lead into the locker room, despite being outshot 12-6.
The Bulldogs were not worried at the first intermission, however.
“We were playing fine [and] we knew the chances were going to come,” said Adrian coach Ron Fogarty.
As the second period started, the Bulldog attack stepped up.
Senior captain Andrew Dovey scored his 11th of the season at the 2:30 mark.
Then with a delayed penalty on the way, Shaq Merasty got his team-leading 20th goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2 just about two-and-a-half minutes later.
The Bulldogs tallied once more on the ensuing power play as Josh Ranalli took advantage of a strong bounce after Shelby Gray’s slap shot hit the glass behind the net and Ranalli batted it out of the air. Ranalli’s goal gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, but they did not stop there.
Zach Graham finished off the scoring for the period three minutes later at the 8:02 mark with a beautiful shorthanded tally to push the Adrian lead to 4-2. Graham picked up the puck at the blue line, walked around a Finlandia defenseman before tucking the puck behind Chandler from behind the goal line.
“Graham’s goal tonight was one of the prettiest goals I think I’ve ever seen in the building,” commented Fogarty. “It was one of his best goals he’s ever scored here.”
The second half of the period told a different story, however, as both teams got chances, yet neither was able to capitalize.
After only getting two shots in the first 10 minutes of the period, the Lions were able to get some more chances finishing the period with six total. At the end of 40 minutes, the Bulldogs had turned the tables and led 4-2.
“In the second period, we finally started getting to rebounds and bearing down,” said Fogarty.
In the third period, both teams had their opportunities with the Bulldogs controlling the majority of the play.
Adrian’s Zach Wilson struck first as he netted the Bulldogs’ final goal of the game at the 9:58 mark of the period.
For Finlandia, it was the power play coming through again as they took advantage to a long penalty to Micki Mihailovich as time wound down and Shigenobo Kakudate scored with just under four minutes remaining to cut the lead to 5-3.
Despite remaining on the power play for the rest of the game, the Lions were unable to sneak another one past Shackell.
“Our power play played well tonight [and] e moved the puck very well and had a lot of opportunities,” said McCabe. “We just need to play a full 60 tomorrow. We let off the gas a little, they stepped on it and that was the game. They just played with more intensity tonight.”
For Adrian, the win marked their sixth consecutive 20-win season and gave them 20 wins in every season in program history.