ADRIAN, Mich. — The Adrian Bulldogs came into Saturday afternoon’s Harris Cup Final with one thing on their mind: redemption. With a strong group returning from last season’s Harris Cup runner-up team, the Bulldogs made sure that nothing would get in their way, as they defeated the Milwaukee School of Engineering Raiders, 4-1.
“We wanted redemption for last year; they took that Cup from us, and we wanted it back,” said Adrian goaltender Scott Shackell.
The first period saw back and forth hockey, with each team lighting the lamp once. The Bulldogs came out buzzing, controlling the play early on. Zach Wilson got the Bulldogs on the clock at the 5:12 mark of the period when he deflected in a Ryan Lowe pass.
The Raiders seemed to come to life after the Bulldogs’ goal, getting several opportunities of their own. It was Kevin LoGiudice who got the Raiders on the board with just under 1:30 remaining in the period when he beat Shackell on a two-on-one with a shot high to the blocker side.
“Getting the first goal for us today was big,” said Adrian coach Ron Fogarty. “They came back and responded right away though.”
In the second period, a pair of penalties proved to be harmful, as Adrian’s top-ranked power play capitalized on two of three man-up opportunities. Freshman sensation Shaquille Merasty put the Bulldogs up 2-1 just over halfway through the period when he took a pass from Lukas Ciotti and put it past MSOE goalie Nick Kohn. Josh Cousineau pushed the lead to 3-1 at 13:18 when he beat Kohn low to the blocker side.
“We once again had a strong second period today,” commented Fogarty. “We struggled in the second period early in the year, but last night, we got four, and tonight we got two. Special teams once again came up huge for us in the period. You have to win the special teams battle to win the game, and we did that tonight.”
As the third period got underway, the Raiders kept the pressure on, but once again great defensive play by the Bulldogs kept MSOE stuck at one on the scoreboard. As time wound down in the period, MSOE got several opportunities, but Shackell proved why he was named an All-MCHA goaltender, shutting the door and sealing the Bulldogs’ victory. Shelby Gray added an empty-netter as time expired to finish the scoring and give Adrian a 4-1 victory and return the Harris Cup to Adrian.
Defense was the theme of the weekend for the Bulldogs, who only allowed one goal in two games en route to the Harris Cup.
“Our defense bailed me out a lot this weekend,” said Shackell. “We have been playing a lot of really strong lockdown defense lately.”
Cousineau, named Tournament MVP, commented on the ability of the team to come together to propel each other to win Saturday night.
“We wanted to play as a team this weekend, and we knew if we did that, we would be able to win tonight. We came in confident, having not lost all season, and just knew we had what it took to win.”
The Bulldogs will now wait to find out who their next opponent will be, as the NCAA tournament bracket is announced on Sunday.