(Courtesy of The Daily Telegram and sports writer Matt Sisoler)
ADRIAN, Mich.--Last year marked the second time in three years under coach Adam Krug '12 the Adrian College men's hockey team made it to the NCAA Division III semifinal round.
With 21 players returning from last year's roster, including the top nine scorers, this team looks poised to make another run into the NCAA postseason.
"That's the biggest thing with what they've been through last year. We're going to be that much better from that failure," said Krug." This group has faced a lot of adversity over the years, whether it be tough losses in the NCAA tournament or suspensions and injuries. ... We're an older team, and I haven't felt that way since my first year as a head coach here."
Last year, the Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 20-7-2.
Adrian captured its third straight Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Peters Cup regular-season title, finished second in the NCHA postseason to St. Norbert and made a comeback in the NCAA semifinal , scoring a pair of goals 1:24 apart in the third period to force overtime against Norwich, only to fall 5-4 in overtime.
Krug believes his team has the experience needed to get over that final hurdle. With good reason, as the Bulldogs have 17 upperclassmen (seven seniors, 10 juniors) ready to lead the way.
Junior left winger Trevor Boyd led Adrian in goals scored with 19, while fellow left winger senior Kyle Brothers, who enters this season with 117 career points, led the Bulldogs in assists with 28. Junior defenseman Cory Dunn also had a big year, tallying nine goals and 27 assists.
Junior Bryan Yim and sophomore Vincent Paquette each tallied 14 goals and 15 assists last season. Taylor McCloy (10 goals, 15 assists), captain Mathew Thompson (six goals, eight assists) and top line defenseman Blake Butzow will look to guide the team back to the national stage.
"We've been through enough where we know what's failed, and we know what it's going to take to get back to that spot, and we know it takes to win now," Krug said. "So, to have those returning scorers is certainly something that we're happy to welcome back, but we can't just rest on that alone."
In goal, the Bulldogs are solid as well. Junior Kevin Entmaa saw the lion's share of starts and posted a 15-7-2 record with a .911 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average. He should be expected to get the starting nod, but pushing him for playing time will be returning senior Dillon Kelley, who was Entmaa's back-up last year, and freshman Nikita Babintsev, who impressed Krug at the team's annual intrasquad scrimmage on Oct. 22.
"I love our goaltending depth," said Krug. "We didn't really have this situation last year. Kevin knew it was going to be his net most of the time. ... Now, we've got a trio of guys that could be the guy on any given night, but it is Kevin's job to lose."
Joining Babintsev as newcomers to the program are a pair of right wing transfers. Junior Nick Erb played his previous two years at Concordia-Wisconsin, tallying 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists), while sophomore Ryan Cusin posted 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) during his one year at UMass-Boston. Also joining the program are a pair of freshmen defensemen from Michigan, Dean Hewines and Joshua Owings.
Adrian played an exhibition against the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 squad last Saturday, falling 4-2 in its comeback bid against a stocked roster of National Hockey League prospects.
The Bulldogs open the regular season at Lawrence on Friday at 8 p.m. (ET) in an NCHA contest. The home opener for the Bulldogs will be Saturday, Nov. 18, at 7:05 p.m. against NCAA Division III newcomer and NCHA member Trine.
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