Whether it be about the shrinking gap among Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association teams or fashion, the weekend series between No. 8 Adrian and No. 9 Milwaukee School of Engineering produced some profound statements.
The Bulldogs won Friday’s clash, 6-1, at Arrington Ice Arena while Saturday’s contest ended in a 2-2 stalemate. The results left the schools tied for first place with matching 8-1-1 league records, which coincide with their respective identical 11-3-1 overall marks. Adrian and MSOE conclude the regular season with a two-game series at the Raiders’ Kern Center Feb. 18-19.
The highly hyped series underscored how competitive the MCHA has become and, three-straight championships not withstanding, how Adrian will have to scrap to earn a fourth title.
“It seems like we’re coming out and maybe playing 100 minutes of a 120-minute weekend,” said Bulldog senior goalie Brad Fogal, who stopped 55-of-58 shots in the two-game set. “The teams in our conference are too strong now. The conference is getting a lot better. We have to come out and play a full two games.”
Then there was the matter of couture, which Adrian addressed by debuting its third jerseys in Fridays’ game. In a nod to superstition, the team wore the sweaters again Saturday.
With their gold, black and white-striped palette, the late Mr. Blackwell perhaps would have described the shirts as resembling a zebra if descended upon by a swarm of bees.
“We wanted to do something different and kind of retro looking. That’s kind of what we came up with,” said Fogal, who spearheaded the team’s collective design project. “I’ve heard mixed emotions around the rink in the last few days, but all the players like them and they are definitely unique.”
The Bulldogs wore the test-pattern-esque outfits in Friday’s 6-1 victory, which saw the home team build a 4-0 lead on goals by Josh Cousineau, Andrew Dovey, Eric Miller and Shawn Skelly. Sophomore sensation Jordan Keizer scored the Raiders’ lone tally on a short-handed effort 2:50 into the third before Joel Workman and Brad Houston added to Adrian’s account.
Spenser Brown replaced MSOE starter Connor Toomey in goal with 9:05 left.
In Saturday’s rematch, Keizer and freshman Michael Thompson scored on the power-play to give MSOE a 2-1 lead in the second period before Adrian sophomore Zach Graham snatched the game-tying goal at 3:43 in the third. Jordan Watts opened the scoring with a goal at 8:37 in the first period.
On the tying goal, Graham swooped in from the right wing and deposited the puck on the near post. Miller assisted on the goal, which was Graham’s ninth of the season.
“I don’t go to the net that often,” said Graham, who credited teammates Miller and Eric Roman for engineering the play. “I guess good things happen when you go.”
Though surrendering the tying goal, Raider Coach Mark Ostapina said his players showed character in how they bounced back from Friday’s drubbing.
“It was huge,” said Ostapina, whose charges include 16 freshmen and sophomores. “You get into a situation where they took it to us a little bit. We watched the tape. We saw the things we did wrong. The great thing is, within less than 24 hours, we corrected them.
” We didn’t give them what we gave them yesterday. That is the mark of a good team, a young team growing.”
A freshman and sophomore provided a lift after going down 1-0.
With Adrian’s Shawn Courtney off for cross checking, Keizer notched his 16th goal in 15 games. His 1.07 goals-per game average ranks No. 2 nationally. Michael Schenfeld and Bradley Tierney assisted.
Thompson’s go-ahead goal came with two-man advantage after Quinn Waller was tagged with a double-minor for interference and roughing. Waller was initially whistled for interference, but earned a second minor when he punched an MSOE player in the back of the head.
Thompson, a Farmington Hills, Mich., native, unleashed a wrist shot from the high slot that eluded Fogal, who appeared to have been screened. Ben Lauder assisted on Thompson’s fifth goal of the season.
“Last night, we didn’t bring what we wanted,'” said Thompson, whose parents Gary and Linda Thompson were in attendance. “Today, everyone was just more calm and we were ready to go. We brought out a better game tonight.”
Adrian Coach Ron Fogarty was sore about his team’s pedestrian second-period performance, especially the 18 minutes in penalties.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Fogarty said. “In the third period, we got back to what we should be doing.
“There is way too much sputtering right now from this team. We have guys who have been around for four years, guys who should have the same expectations.
“There are teams with freshmen and sophomores who are bringing new, rejuvenated energy and that are excited to play and go after us. It’s inexcusable. Time is ticking for this first class.”
Fit to be tied
The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference features a three-way tie for first with No. 12 Hamline, No. 15 Gustavus Adolphus and St. Thomas in a deadlock after a weekend of mixed results for the trio.
Twice-All American defenseman Chris Berenguer scored the game-winner while Jordan Van Gilder posted four assists in the Pipers’ 6-3 triumph over host Bethel Friday. The teams settled for a 4-4 tie in Saturday’s rematch with Van Gilder scoring with 18 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Jack Paul (16 goals, 8 assists, 24 points) scored twice for visiting Bethel (2-3-3, 3-11-3).
Zach May scored the tying goal with 3:25 left in regulation as visiting Gustavus battled to a 2-2 draw against Augsburg in the first game of a home-and-home series Friday. In Saturday’s rematch, May scored twice as the Gusties (3-2-2, 10-5-2) prevailed 4-1. Joel Sauer scored for the Auggies (2-3-1, 8-5-1).
St. Thomas (5-3, 10-7) split its weekend series with visiting Concordia (Minn.) as Tyrone Simcoe stopped 30 shots to earn a shutout in the Tommies’ 3-0 victory Friday. Rob Philipp, Rob Johnson and Andrew Kappers accounted for the Tommies’ goals.
In Saturday’s contest, the Cobbers erased a two-goal deficit as Pat Deitz, Chris Beede and Joe Becker scored unanswered markers in a 3-2 victory. Freshman Chris Neamonitis made 26 saves to earn his first career win for Concordia (2-3-3, 6-8-3).
St. Norbert rolls
The No. 2 Green Knights (9-1, 15-2) swept past visiting Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 6-3 and 3-2, to solidify their lock on first place in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association standings. Kyle Stroh and Nick Tabisz both had a goal and two assists in Friday’s win. UW-Eau Claire’s Kurt Weston produced a goal and an assist while Jordan Singer and Isaiah Bennis netted lone markers.
St. Norbert’s Cody Keefer scored twice, including the game-winner, in Saturday’s victory. Jon Waggoner and Bennis replied for the Blugolds (4-6, 10-7).