Harris Cup Four field is set

Adrian's Zach Graham (Dave Pearcy)

The Harris Cup field is set, with Adrian and Marian getting back into the action after earning a bye weekend through the first round of the tournament. Rounding out the Harris Cup Four participants are Milwaukee School of Engineering and Northland. Both teams forced a mini-game in their second quarterfinal game to earn a berth to the Harris Cup Four.

Northland was shutout by Lawrence in Friday’s opening game by a score of 3-0. On Saturday, the Lumberjacks came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game, 5-2. With the quarterfinals series split with one win apiece, the teams were forced into a mini-game, with the winner after 20 minutes moving on to the semifinal round.

Northland’s Mike Lennon scored the lone goal in the mini-game, giving Northland its first ever playoff win, and first appearance in the Harris Cup Four.

The Raiders had a similar road to defend their 2012 Harris Cup championship. After beating Lake Forest, 3-2, in Saturday’s contest, MSOE was shutout on Sunday by a score of 2-0. Austin Grosvenor was the hero in the mini-game for MSOE, scoring the only goal for the Raiders that day, and the junior’s first of the season.

The Bulldogs are looking to take back what they have had in their possession four of the last five seasons, the Harris Cup. Adrian fell to MSOE in overtime in the championship game last season, which lost them the NCAA bid. The team has been playing with grit and intensity this season, with one goal in mind: they want to win the Harris Cup championship.

“We’re in a new season now; it’s one-and-done for everyone,” said Ron Fogarty, coach of the Bulldogs. “We are focused on the task at hand, and not looking past this weekend.”

Adrian College is no stranger to the intensity of the Harris Cup Four, and will be taking on a very eager and excited Northland squad. The Bulldogs took down the Lumberjacks in the first series of the regular season by 7-2 and 12-1 scores.

“I had the opportunity to see them play against Lawrence; they have definitely improved since the beginning of the season, they are moving the puck better,” said Fogarty. “They are playing with some confidence.”

The Bulldogs hold a 21-1-3 overall record and are the only team in the nation without a conference loss. They lead the MCHA in both scoring offense (4.95 goals per game) and scoring defense (2.05 goals allowed per game).

The Lumberjacks have most certainly earned their spot in the Harris Cup Four. After getting into the postseason with the help of a goals-against tiebreaker with Finlandia, the Lumberjacks knew it would be a long road ahead. The team rose to the occasion, winning Saturday’s game against Lawrence in the quarterfinals 5-2, and then proceeding with a 1-0 mini-game win.

Northland has never beat Adrian in a hockey contest, yet coach Steve Fabiili isn’t looking to the past to dictate this weekend.

“I expect a very challenging hockey game, but I like what we are doing,” Fabiili said. “We’ve had some success. We just need to come prepared mentally and be ready to play.”

The locker room is eager to prove their place this weekend. Their leading scorer (13-17-30) and assistant captain, Mike Lennon, scored the mini-game goal on Saturday. He is confident in his team’s ability to have a chance this weekend.

“We are definitely focused; we are coming in everyday working hard,” Lennon said. “We’re excited, and willing to put in the hard work this week. It’s one game; anything can happen.”

Marian won the MCHA North Division and earned a bye-weekend for the quarterfinals. The Sabres are 5-1-0 in the month of February, which included a five-game winning streak that was snapped by Concordia in the last game in the regular season. They were the sole team in their division that didn’t need last weekend heroics to make the postseason.

“The bye week is always interesting,” said coach AJ Aitken. “It gave us some time to heal some injuries. Obviously, we’re trying to stay competitive at practice and keep the intensity up.”

Marian is no stranger to the Harris Cup Four, but has only won the trophy once, in 2002. With that past experience in the tournament, Aitken said the key is focus.

“Our expectation is to focus on Friday’s game to give us a chance on Saturday,” Aitken said. “If you win two games, you get the bid, but right now we’re looking at MSOE and Friday.”

The Milwaukee School of Engineering Raiders are the 2012 Harris Cup champions, and they are coming into this weekend ready to defend their title. The Raiders are on a 5-2-1 tear in February. MSOE is bringing back many players that experienced such success last season, including Brad Tierney and Jordan Keizer, the two seniors who are leading the team’s scoring output this season.

The Raiders have found a rookie that buys into their system of play in freshman goalie Nick Kohn, who is taking the responsibility between the pipes this season. Kohn leads the conference in minutes played, seeing more than 1,180 minutes of action. He is second in save percentage, making 515 saves for a .920 percentage in the conference.