MCHA, MIAC and NCHA wrap: Feb. 21

Adrian earned a first-round bye in the Harris Cup playoffs by sweeping Milwaukee School of Engineering on the road this weekend, which may have caught observers by surprise, but not the Bulldogs faithful.
Adrian’s 3-1 triumph Friday night clinched the team’s fourth-consecutive regular-season crown, as the Bulldogs held a 2-0-1 head-to-head series edge, which would be used if the teams finished in a first-place tie.
Until this weekend’s pivotal showdown, neither Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association team budged a millimeter in their dogged pursuit for the No. 1 spot.
No clear-cut winner emerged in the teams’ previous meeting Jan. 14-15, which resulted in a 6-1 Adrian victory followed by a 2-2 tie. The Bulldogs held a 1-0 edge, but ill-timed penalties enabled the Raiders to go up 2-1 before Zach Graham’s third-period goal rescued a draw in the Jan. 15 tussle.
This weekend though, the Bulldogs (21-3-1, 18-1-1) made a statement by methodically defeating the Raiders by an identical 3-1 score.
Jordan Watts nabbed the game-winner in Friday’s contest. Eric Miller put the Bulldogs on the board 40 seconds into the second period before the Raiders’ Jordan Keizer evened things with his 23rd goal of the season. Kyle Watson scored an empty-netter with 1:37 left.
Bulldogs netminder Brad Fogal made 35 saves to record his 20th win this season.
In Saturday’s rematch, Shawn Skelly and Sam Kuzyk scored as Adrian opened a 2-0 in the second before MSOE’s Nick Gorup replied. Josh Cousineau nabbed the insurance marker with 1:08 left.
Fogal (21-3-1) turned away 27 of 28 shots to procure the win.
With Marian (18-7, 15-5) securing the Northern Division crown and a first-round bye, MSOE (19-5-1, 16-3-1) will face Lake Forest (5-19-1, 5-14-1) in the quarterfinals. Lawrence (12-12-1, 10-10) meets Northland (9-14-2, 8-10-2) in the other quarterfinal.
As reigning Harris Cup champs, Adrian hosts this season’s playoff games at Arrington Ice Arena March 5-6. The MCHA playoff winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
MIAC logjam broken
Hamline grabbed the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title, but not without causing a few palpitations in Piperville.
The Pipers, who were tied for first with idle St. Thomas on 20 points, only needed a point from its weekend series with host Concordia (Minn.) to clinch the top spot and a first-round playoff bye.
The prospect of a four-way tie for first place also loomed entering the final weekend, as Gustavus Adolphus and Concordia, with 16 points each, also were mathematically eligible for a share of the MIAC crown.
The Cobbers kept first place in their sights, winning Friday’s series opener with the Pipers, 4-0, as netminder Kelly Andrew stopped 32 shots for the shutout. Brian Kang, Braden Rahman, Trent Johnson and Marc Harrie provided Concordia’s goals.
On Saturday, the Pipers’ Jordan VanGilder netted the game-winner en route to a hat-trick performance as Hamline prevailed in a 7-4 goalfest. VanGilder scored two of his three markers in the third period — with Brian Arrigoni adding another — as the Pipers erupted for three unanswered goals in the final frame. Second-period goals by Concordia’s Pat Dietz and Ben Payne tied the contest at 4-4 entering the third.
Gustavus split its home-and-home series with Saint Mary’s, losing 4-3 to the Cardinals on Friday before rebounding with a 5-4 overtime win on Saturday.
Augsburg grabbed the final playoff spot by sweeping Bethel, 5-4 (OT) and 4-2, in a home-and-home tilt. The Auggies’ B.J. McClellan scored 59 seconds into overtime to provide Friday’s victory.
No. 4-seed Gustavus (14-9-2, 8-6-2) hosts No. 5-seed Augsburg (14-8-3, 8-6-2) in the first-round game on Friday. The winner will face No. 1-seed and hosts Hamline (14-6-5, 9-3-4) in a semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday. No. 2-seed St. Thomas (14-9-2, 9-5-2) hosts No. 3-seed Concordia (11-10-4, 7-5-4) in the other semi at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The championship takes place Wednesday, March 2, with the highest remaining seed serving as hosts. The winner gets an automatic NCAA tournament bid.
NCHA semifinals set
Sixth-seed Wisconsin-River Falls advanced to this Saturday’s Peters Cup semifinals after upsetting No. 3-seed Wisconsin-Stout in dramatic fashion.
The Falcons prevailed 2-0 in a 20-minute mini-game after winning 4-3 in overtime Saturday to extend the two-game quarterfinal series. Sean Roadhouse scored with 29 seconds left in OT of the regulation game, which necessitated the 20-minute mini-session to settle the series.
UW-River Falls rallied twice in Saturday’s regulation contest, erasing a 2-0 UW-Stout lead on goals by Justin Brossman and Geoff Shewmake in the second period and then tying the contest at 3-3 as Josh Calleja scored with eight seconds left in the third period. Robert Carr, who had two goals in the game, scored with a minute remaining to give the Blue Devils a short-lived 3-2 lead.
Martin Sundstedt and Brossman scored goals in the mini-game that followed.
The Falcons (12-13-1, 7-10-1) travel to No. 2 nationally-ranked St. Norbert (20-4-1, 14-3-1) Saturday while No. 2-seed Wisconsin-Superior (15-11-1, 10-8) hosts No. 4 seed Wisconsin-Stevens Point (13-13-1, 8-9-1) in the day’s other semifinal
UW-Superior swept St. Scholastica, 4-2 and 5-2, in its quarterfinal series while UW-Stevens Point needed a 1-0 mini-game victory to settle its quarterfinal tilt with No. 5-seed Wisconsin-Eau Claire Saturday.
The Pointers’ Sean McNeely scored the lone goal in Saturday’s 1-0 victory, which tied the series after UW-Eau Claire won 4-2 on Friday. Nic Polaski netted the game-winner in the mini-game.
McNeely’s heroics was buttressed by goalie Nick Graves’ 32-save shutout performance in Saturday’s rematch.