ADRIAN, Mich. – Junior forward Josh Ranalli came into Saturday with a scoring mentality after hitting a slump over the past few weeks. Ranalli scored 16 goals in his first 13 games of the season but since then came into the game with two goals in his last 12 games. He found that marksmen attitude and pulled into a three-way tie for the NCAA Division III goal lead with two goals in a 4-1 win over visiting Milwaukee School of Engineering in the second quarterfinal game of the NCHA Harris Cup tournament. The Bulldogs advanced to the semifinal round with today's victory and will host St. Scholastica on Saturday, March 1 at 7 p.m.
"I think that everyone seems to go through a slump during a long season, but our line talked about being better and communicating with each other entering the playoffs," said Ranalli. "The fact that we were playing our rival with the winner ending the other teams season, seemed to really motivate us. We know that teams are gunning for us and we have to be ready for the challenge."
Junior Ryan Lowe extended his point streak to five of the last six games with the game's first goal at 8:58 of the second period. He scored his sixth of the season on a pass from behind the net by Shelby Gray while cutting to the cage and buried a shot in the top left corner. Adam Davies also had an assist on Lowe's goal. The Bulldogs scored the game-winner at 13:57 as Ryan Gieseler scored his third of the season from Michael Hoy and Zach Wilson. Gieseler took a shot from middle of the zone near the blue line and it was deflected by an MSOE defender into his own net.
"The coaches were talking about patience coming into this series and that goal was an example of keeping the play alive and getting a break," said team captain Wilson. "We had a great series against MSOE and played as complete as we have in a while. The playoffs have so much intensity and we will keep our focus in practice this week and prepare for St. Scholastica."
Adrian increased their lead to 3-0 on Ranalli's first goal of the game at 4:59 of the third. He positioned himself to the right side of the goal and put home a wide-open shot after a nice pass from Justin Basso. Josh Cousineau also had an assist on Ranalli's 19th goal of the season. Steven Shaffroth got MSOE on the board at 8:21 of the third with his sixth goal of the season on a deflection through traffic off the stick of Michael Thompson.
Ranalli salted away the win with his 20th goal of the season and second of the game on the power play at 14:16. Hoy picked up his second assist of the game and Lowe his first as Hoy took a hard shot that ricocheted off the boards and to the stick of Ranalli again on the right side of the goal. Scott Shackell played 59:19 and made 26 saves to improve to 11-0-1. Frank Crupi saw action for the first time this season finishing the final 41 seconds between the pipes. Austin Campbell got the start for MSOE making 29 saves and falling to 5-7-1. MSOE went 0-for-5 with nine shots on the power play. Adrian finished 1-for-3 with six shots on the man advantage.
Adrian improved to 12-0-2 at home this season and welcomes St. Scholastica back to Arrington Ice Arena. The Saints were in Adrian on January 17-18 and pushed the second-ranked Bulldogs to overtime twice. The teams tied 1-1 on January 17 and Adrian won 4-3 in overtime on January 18. This will be the first postseason meeting between the two schools.