ADRIAN, Mich. — Adrian took the first step towards reclaiming its MCHA Harris Cup title Friday night as the Bulldogs defeated Northland 8-0 in semifinal action.
Led by a Josh Ranalli hat trick and a solid all-around defensive performance, the Bulldogs showcased the nation’s second-best offense in style and propelled themselves into tomorrow’s Harris Cup final.
“They’re not ranked No. 6 for no reason,” said Northland coach Steve Fabiili. “They are a very good team and they showed it tonight.”
In the first period, the Bulldogs got the only offense they would need for the night as Ranalli got his first of three with 3:15 remaining in the period to give Adrian a 1-0 lead.
Despite the shot counter reading 14-9 in favor of the Bulldogs, the game was nowhere near that close as Adrian dominated the game throughout the period. Northland freshman goaltender Mason Riley came up huge at times in making 13 saves in the period.
“Northland came at us in the first and got some good chances,” commented Bulldogs’ coach Ron Fogarty. “Both our goaltenders played very well for us tonight.”
In the second period, the Bulldogs finally broke through the wall that had been Riley, netting four goal.
Josh Cousineau got things going early on with his first of two for the game when he put a shot past Riley into the top corner.
The Bulldogs kept the pressure on, hounding the Lumberjacks’ net, but were not able to beat Riley again until the 11:08 of the period. Captain Andrew Dovey hit Chris Leone with a perfect pass as he stepped out of the box sending him away on a breakaway. Leone made no mistake using a backhand shot to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 3-0.
Cousineau added his second of the game six and a half minutes later when he took a feed from Shaq Merasty in the low slot and beat Riley low to the glove side.
Sophomore Dustin Hebebrand added the final tally of the period when he roofed one from his knees pushing the lead to 5-0.
“We’ve always scored in spurts, that’s just how we’ve been all year,” said Fogarty. “We’ve got that killer instinct and I think we showed it tonight [in the second period].”
The Adrian onslaught continued in the third period.
The Bulldogs’ hot power play kept things going as Ranalli got the Bulldogs off to another quick start 3:14 into the period to put Adrian up 6-0.
Shelby Gray made it 7-0 just 30 seconds later as Sammy Nyberg’s pass from behind the net found a wide-open Gray.
Ranalli finished off his hat trick with just under four minutes left.
The Lumberjacks had a few opportunities in the period, but the Bulldogs’ defense was too strong to be broken.
Adrian goaltenders Scott Shackell and James Hamby pitched the combined shutout with Shackell being credited with the win.
“Everything was clicking for us offensively tonight, but I can’t say enough about how well our defense played tonight,” said Ranalli. “They played really well and helped us lock down our zone and secure the win.”
For the Lumberjacks it was not the result they were hoping for, but it was a sign of good things to come.
“We have a really young team and to get to the semis is huge for us,” Fabiili said. “I think it’s a testament to the six seniors we have that they were able to help build this program to what it has become over there time here.”
On the other side of the hall, the Bulldogs were happy, but not satisfied.
“It’s just the first step towards getting that trophy [Harris Cup] back here,” said Ranalli. “We lost it last year and our goal is to bring it back to Adrian.”
The Bulldogs now await their opponent in the Harris Cup final tomorrow afternoon as Milwaukee School of Engineering and Marian play Friday night.