Hard work directs season for Adrian

Adrian's Zach Graham (Dave Pearcy)

Currently, the Adrian Bulldogs hold the nation’s longest unbeaten streak, going 7-0-2 in their last nine contests. Previous to this streak, the team was on a nine-game win streak before Wisconsin Stevens-Point beat the Bulldogs 7-4 in December. That marked the lone loss for Adrian thus far this season. The Bulldogs boast a 12-0-2 conference record, good for first in the standings, while holding a 16-1-2 overall record.

Adrian’s offense is second in the country, averaging 5.00 goals per game. Oswego leads the nation with 5.05 goals per game. The Bulldogs are atop the nation’s power-play stats, having scored 32 man-advantage goals in 102 opportunities for a 31.37 percent success rate.

“The numbers have been nice, but the timing during the games is important,” said coach Ron Fogarty. “Throughout the season (special teams) been improving, but we’re also performing at the right times in the game.”

Two big offensive threats for the Bulldogs are freshman Shaq Merasty and senior Zach Graham, who are tied for 11th in the nation for scoring leaders, each with 28 points. Merasty, who has a 16 goals and 12 assists, is also tied for second in the nation for goals scored. He is the only rookie in the nation to be in the top 24. Graham’s 19 assists are good for third in the country.

The Bulldogs are comprised of four freshman, 14 sophomores, four juniors, and three seniors. The underclassmen are the only players in the team’s five-year history to not see a Harris Cup. Both the junior and senior classes have been to the NCAA tournament at least once.

To keep the underclassman calm during this stretch of achievement, senior assistant captain Zach Brown calls upon the upperclassmen’s experience to lead them.

“All the guys get along; it helps us on and off the ice,” said Graham. “We just keep reiterating to them that we have a long way to go, we haven’t won anything yet. We aren’t going to have anything handed to us. It will take hard work and determination for us to get anything.”

Although some hockey fans may look out a month from now with an image of the Bulldogs hoisting the Harris Cup, both Fogarty and Graham say that’s not the case in the locker room.

“We want to win every week, which is the task we are worried about right now,” Graham said. “We will work for a win this Saturday, and then do it all over again on Sunday, one game at a time.”

This weekend, the Bulldogs have a chance to clinch the MCHA Regular Season title with a two-game series against Lake Forest (6-7-1).

“We don’t feel any pressure (about this weekend),” said Fogarty. “We keep learning something each weekend and prepare for the next weekend”


Around the league
There were two MCHA Player of the Week honorees this week. Freshman forward Shaq Merasty of Adrian earned the honor after scoring three goals in a 4-3 victory over Milwaukee School of Engineering Saturday. Sophomore forward Jason McAloon earned the honor as he helped Lake Forest earn a sweep against Concordia. McAloon recorded a career-first four-point game in Friday’s 7-4 win.

Mason Riley of Northland earned the MCHA Freshman of the Week honors after the Lumberjacks split with Lawrence. Riley made 44 saves in the loss on Friday, and then made 47 saves in Saturday’s victory.

Scott Shackell, sophomore goalie from Adrian, earned the MCHA Defensive Player of the Week award after being the goalie in Friday’s 2-1 victory over MSOE.