ADRIAN, Mich. – Adrian College men's hockey head coach Adam Krug knew that his team could pull off an upset on Friday night at Arrington Ice Arena against No. 2 St. Norbert. The way it happened however was more than he could have hoped for as No. 10 Adrian scored three in the first period and built a 4-0 lead midway through the second in a 4-2 win over the Green Knights to take over first place in the NCHA.
"The intensity was spectacular in my first experience as a head coach in this series," said Krug. "Our guys had a great week of practice and we got a jump on them early. I hoped for our guys to start like they did and that was by far the best period we've had all year."
Freshman Kyle Brothers got his first taste of this conference matchup of league leaders and responded with a pair of goals in the first period. He also went on to assist in the fourth goal of the game for the Bulldogs. Brothers deflected the puck off his body at 2:39 of the first for his 15th goal of the season. Mathew Thompson won a faceoff and drew the puck back to Micki Mihailovich. The senior defenseman let a shot fly from the left point and it bounced off Brothers for a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Daniel Lisi made it 2-0 at 9:19 for his first goal as a Bulldog after transferring from Sacred Heart. Pat George took a shot that caromed off the boards behind the cage and Lisi found the right bounce to his blade to knock it into the right side of the net.
Brothers was at it again at 18:19 for his 16th and most impressive effort of the season. Ryan Gieseler and Josh Ranalli moved the puck down ice and Brothers took it near the blue line and raced past two Green Knight defenders before twirling and snapping a wrister into the top right corner for a 3-0 lead.
"Our team has been talking about how big and fast St. Norbert is and to be able to contribute with two goals in the first was great," said Brothers. "I got in the right spot for the first goal and then got the defense on their heels for the second goal and just hit my mark. We knew that St. Norbert would make a run back at us and holding them off was not easy."
Jeremy Olinyk put Adrian up 4-0 at 13:19 of the second period with his eighth of the season. Thompson got the puck from Brothers on the power play and skated along the goal line to the right of goal. He fed the puck perfectly onto the stick of Olinyk who tipped it past the goal line with a defender on his back. Olinyk now has nine points in his last seven games.
The Bulldogs were challenged in the second period on the penalty kill and passed the test as St. Norbert went 0-for-4 with four shots on net. Adrian killed off a 5-on-3 for 1:29 in the period when they had a three-goal lead. Ross Pavek got the visitors on the board at 17:49 for his eighth of the season from Michael Hill and Mitch Amatto. The shots on goal through two periods were 23-14 in favor of Adrian.
In the third period, senior goaltender Scott Shackell carried the team on his back as he made 22 saves in the final 20 minutes including 12 power play shots on two occasions. St. Norbert inched closer at 7:10 as Pijus Rulevicius scored on a one-timer between the circles as Shackell was out of position to make a save. His seventh of the year was assisted by Kyle Lee and George Malliaras. The big moment of the period came when Duston Hebebrand took a five-minute major for checking from behind and also was issued a game misconduct. The Bulldogs killed off the entire five minutes to maintain the two-goal lead with five minutes to play. Hill took a cross-checking minor with 1:07 left after St. Norbert had pulled goaltender David Jacobson with about 2:20 remaining. From there the Bulldogs played keep away until the final horn sounded. Shackell finished with 35 saves while Jacobson stopped 22 shots. Shackell is now 10-1-3 this season and 45-7-7 in his career.
"Our guys put the pedal to the metal in the first period which allowed me to get into a rhythm," said Shackell. "The third period I knew that they were going to come out quick and try and get back into the game. I have been fighting nagging injuries this season and needed to stay mentally tough. I just tried to limit rebounds and push the puck to the side of the net. Our defense really stepped up and also blocked some big shots in front of me."
It was the second win in the series for Adrian (2-4) who took over first place in the NCHA with 23 points. St. Norbert and Lake Forest are now tied for second place with 21 points followed by St. Scholastica with 15 points. Adrian improved to 9-0-2 when they score first and 4-0 in two-goal margin games. The Bulldogs also improved to 7-0 in conference home games. The two teams will play again on Saturday at 3 p.m. It will be senior day for the Bulldogs as 10 players will play in their final regular season home contest.