ADRIAN, Mich. - The second-ranked Adrian College men's hockey team improved to 24-3-3 overall and more importantly punched a ticket to the NCAA Division III Semifinals with a 5-4 thriller over fourth-ranked Oswego State on Saturday night at Arrington Ice Arena.
The Bulldogs snapped a string of five straight NCAA Semifinal appearances by the Lakers and will face Trinity (Ct.) in the semifinals at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. eastern time.
"I'm extremely proud of our boys and how they battled and came together to get it done," said head coach Adam Krug. "It wasn't pretty at times but at the end of the day that was a great hockey game. Oswego played fantastic and those kids working their tails off. We are ecstatic to be going back to the semifinals and hope this time we can get it done."
The Bulldogs will be making their second appearance in the NCAA Division III Semifinals after finishing as national runner-up in 2011. It will also be their first meeting against Trinity. Adrian picked up the game's first goal at 7:31 of the first as freshman Kyle Brothers scored his 24th of the season with Mathew Thompson on the assist. Brothers knocked home a one-timer on a pass from behind the net by Thompson.
Oswego responded by scoring the last two goals of the period to lead 2-1 after 20 minutes. Kenny Neil stuffed home a rebound with assists by Matt Galati and Mike Wills. Adrian took their first penalty at 17:05 and the Lakers' top-rated power play took advantage as Galati scored his 12th goal of the season on a shot which netminder Scott Shackell got a piece of but not enough. The Lakers scored 24 seconds into the penalty.
The game's momemtum turned when Oswego State went to the power play again late in the second period. The Bulldogs went to the box at 17:07 and then Thompson stole a pass and raced to the opposite end for a one-on-one breakaway short-handed goal. He picked the top right corner and just tucked it into the corner unassisted for his 22nd goal of the season and the team's fourth short-handed tally of the season. Senior Ryan Lowe gave Adrian a 3-2 lead just 1:08 later with his ninth goal of the season. Jake Flegel made a great backdoor pass and Lowe's one-timer gave the Bulldogs a one-goal lead heading into the second intermission.
"I thought that Jake (Flegel) made a great pass and Duston (Hebebrand) took a shot wide that he usually puts on net which actually helped us," said Lowe. "I'm happy to be able to help the team and continue on in the tournament. The loss two years ago really hurt against them and this time around sitting here is a great feeling."
Senior Rob Heath scored an unlikely goal off a face-off at 8:59 of the third to give Adrian a little breathing room at 4-2. Austin Hervey won the draw and put the puck on net and then Heath was alone for the rebound goal and the biggest one of his career.
The Lakers would not go away however as Nick Rivait notched his third of the campaign at 13:50 with Chris Waterstreet on the assist. Sophomore Daniel Lisi then scored his first game-winning goal of the year at 14:52 on a rebound as Lowe had an assist. Oswego emptied their net with just over two minutes left and got within one again at 18:21 as Mike Montagna slipped it past Shackell with Shawn Hulshof and Neil getting helpers on the extra-attacker goal.
Adrian controlled the puck on the next face-off after a timeout by Oswego and the Lakers could not empty the net again until less than a minute remaining. Adrian's defense did not allow a good scoring chance and killed off the remaining seconds for the victory.
Shackell made 31 saves after making 52 saves two years ago against the Lakers in the quarterfinal loss. Oswego outshot Adrian 35-32 and finished 1-for-3 on the power play. Adrian went 0-for-4 with the advantage with six shots on net. Matt Zawadzki made several spectacular saves early in the contest and finished with 27 saves. The Bulldogs also improved to 20-0-2 this season when leading after two periods.