COLUMBUS--After falling in last year national semifinal game, the Adrian College ACHA Division l men's hockey team's season long goal was to reach game 19 of the national tournament and play for a national championship. Once they reached the title game, the Bulldogs left no doubt who the champions were with a decisive 8-1 win over the University of Illinois to capture the program's first national crown on Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio.
Adrian jumped to an early lead just forty-five seconds into the game, as Mike Finger and Brad Kobryn worked a perfect give and go breakaway with Finger flipping the puck past sprawling Illini goaltender David Heflin for the game's first goal. Kobryn, along with the Bulldogs Archie McKinnon, were credited with assists on Finger's goal.
Adrian went up 2-0 when Michael Trater pounced on a rebound of a Mark Fratercangelli shot in front of the Illini goal and slapped it past Heflin into the net.
Illinois one ray of hope on the evening came early in the second period on a goal by David Kellner, but the Bulldogs would score three times in period to lead 5-1 after forty minutes.
Austin Kuhn answered the Kellner goal with a blast from the top of the circle over Heflin's right shoulder with 13:54 remaining in the period, while Adrian would go up 4-1 just 95 seconds later, when Joe Costello tucked the puck between the left post and Heflin's leg pad for a wraparound marker. Justin Fisher scored the final Adrian goal of the period with assists Kuhn and Chris Donaldson.
Any hope the Illini had that Adrian would become complacent in the third period was quickly dispelled when Marcus Rose scored just fifty seconds into the third. The Bulldogs final two goals of the game, fittingly, came off the stick of the Bulldogs all-time leading goal scorer, Brad Kobryn, who connected for the final goals of his illustrious career with a power play goal at the 13:11 mark and an even strength marker with 4:11 remaining in the contest.
The lopsided loss ruined a great tournament run for the Illini, who had reached the championship game with a 3-1 win over Jamestown and upset wins over #4 Ohio University and #1 Minot State, defeating the Bobcats 3-2 in overtime and downing the Beavers 4-2, including an empty net goal with just moments remaining.
The game marked the fourth win of the tournament for Adrian goaltender Austyn Roudebush, who made 28 saves to cap and outstanding tournament for the senior from Toledo, Ohio, in which he completed two shutouts and had a tournament goals against average of 1.00. Roudebush played all 240 minutes of the Bulldogs four games.
Adrian was dominate throughout the entire tournament, which opened with the Bulldogs avenging their only loss of the season with a 4-0 win over Stoney Brook, then taking out the defending national champion University of Central Oklahoma 5-3 to reach the final four and dropping Lindenwood 4-0 before the 8-1 win over Illinois in the championship. The Bulldogs outscored their opponents by an impressive 21-4 margin in the tournament.
With the win the Bulldogs finish their second season under head coach Gary Astalos, with a record of 34-1, as the Bulldogs finish the campaign having won their last twenty games in a row after their loss to Stony Brook back on November 18th. Coach Astalos, the fourth Bulldog head coach in the 11 year history of the program, has now amassed a 67-4 record at the helm of the program, including two regular season GLCHL championships, one GLCHL Tournament championship, two Final Four appearances and the programs first National Championship.
--David VanGeison, Special to AdrianBulldogs.com