Entmaa, Thompson Turn Back Utica Pioneers in Top-10 Men's Hockey Showdown

Goalie Kevin Entmaa has posted back-to-back 30-save games as part of an Adrian defensive stretch that has allowed opponents only two goals in the last games. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
Goalie Kevin Entmaa has posted back-to-back 30-save games as part of an Adrian defensive stretch that has allowed opponents only two goals in the last games. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

ADRIAN, Mich.--In a game that featured terrific goaltending and good flow by both sides, it was Adrian senior captain Mathew Thompson's power play goal in the third period that lifted the host Bulldogs to a thrilling 2-1 non-conference victory Saturday night over Utica in a showdown of NCAA Division III men's hockey powers representing the West and East regions.

THE BASICS
= Final Score: Adrian College 2, Utica College 1

= Location: Arrington Ice Arena; Adrian, Mich.

= Records: Adrian Bulldogs 11-4 overall; Utica Pioneers 10-3 overall

= National Rankings: Adrian--#8 USCHO.com and #7 D3hockey.com polls; Utica--#10 USCHO and #10 D3hockey

TOP 'DAWGS
= In addition to his clutch goal, Thompson won 12 of 21 face-offs and had a game-high six shots on goal for first-star honors.

= Junior goalie Kevin Entmaa improves to 6-2 on the season after making 33 saves to earn the game's second star.

= Classmate Bryan Yim scored Adrian's first goal.

THE OPPOSITION
= Roman Ammirato scored the Pioneers' lone tally.

= Despite the loss, Patrik Virtanen (L, 6-2) was very strong in goal by stopping 39 of 41 shots he faced. He was named the Third Star of the Game.

= Anthony McVeigh paced Utica with five shots and led all face-off men with 19 wins in 30 draws.

HOW IT HAPPENED
= With the score tied 1-1 in the third period, Adrian went on the power play after Jamie Bucell was charged with a 2-minute minor for tripping. During the second half of the man-advantage, Adrian gained the UC blue line and eventually worked the puck down low to the left side of the goal. On some nice passing in tight spaces, senior Kyle Brothers found classmate Taylor McCloy below the goal line who in turn found Thompson wide open at the top of the crease for a one-timer past Virtanen with 11 minutes and 43 seconds left. 

= After a scoreless opening stanza, Utica took a 1-0 advantage on Ammirato's 11th goal of the season on the power play at the 14:06 mark in the second. Brett Szajner and Mikhail Bushinski were credited with assists.

= Yim, however, knotted it up 1-1 2:12 later after following up junior defenseman Braden Hellems' shot from the slot below the face-off circles. Classmate Cory Dunn also earned an assist on the scoring play.

= After Thompson's go-ahead goal, Utica outshot Adrian 8-4 down the stretch but Entmaa was equal to the task to maintain the one-goal advantage for the Bulldogs. During a late UC power play attempt, Entmaa made four sparkling saves alone.

= For his part, Virtanen kept the Pioneers in the game and made several outstanding saves, too--a glove save off the stick of junior Trevor Boyd from point blank range.

= Utica pulled the goalie for the final 40 seconds in favor of an extra attacker, but couldn't get the equalizer to force overtime.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
= Utica College served as the host institution of the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship in New York State, where Adrian advanced to the National Semifinals last season.

= Tonight marked Adrian's first home contest since Dec. 2.

= Adrian has won three games in a row--two over nationally-ranked opponents--by a combined score of 10-2.

= Dunn now has 17 assists on the season, which leads NCAA Division III blueliners and ranks sixth overall.

= Ammirato tops the nation with 0.54 power-play goals per game.

= Thompson has four game-winning goals this season for a three-way tie atop Division III.

= Utica came into the contest ranked in the top-2 in both scoring offense and scoring margin.

= McCloy and Brothers now share the AC scoring lead with 18 total points. The former has 10 goals and eight assists while the latter possesses four goals and 14 assists.

= Entmaa has posted back-to-back 30-save performances for the first time since Nov. 14 and 28, 2015, while lowering his season goals-against average to 1.74.

UP NEXT
= Adrian will have Northern Collegiate Hockey Association play the rest of the way starting next weekend at home against Lake Forest (Friday at 7:05 p.m.) and Aurora (Saturday at 3:05 p.m.).

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