Newcomers Help No. 7-Ranked Men's Hockey Stampede Past the Bison in Season Opener

Defenseman Niko Coffman keeps a Trine forward out of Cameron Gray's goal crease as the latter made 26 saves in his Bulldogs debut in the season opener on Nov. 1. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
Defenseman Niko Coffman keeps a Trine forward out of Cameron Gray's goal crease as the latter made 26 saves in his Bulldogs debut in the season opener on Nov. 1. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

BUFFALO--Adrian College Men's Hockey used a balanced offense and jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead to cruise to a season-opening 5-1 victory Friday over Nichols in the first game of the Buffalo State Bengals Classic. The nationally-ranked Bulldogs will meet Manhattanville--a 5-2 winner over the host Bengals tonight--in Saturday's championship game at 7 p.m.

THE BASICS
= Final Score: Adrian College 5, Nichols College 1

= Location: Buffalo State College Ice Arena; Buffalo, N.Y.

= Records: Adrian Bulldogs 1-0 overall (0-0 NCHA-South); Nichols Bison 0-1 overall (0-0 CCC)

= National Rankings: Adrian--#7 in United States College Hockey Online (155 points) preseason poll (Note: D3hockey.com has not yet published a 2019-20 preseason poll.)

TOP 'DAWGS
= Freshman Alessio Luciani, and sophomores Andrew Bellant, Rex Moe led Adrian with a goal and an assist apiece.

= Junior goalie Cameron Gray, a transfer from NCAA Division I St. Lawrence University, grabbed his first collegiate win on 26 saves.

= Sophomore Sam Ruffin led Adrian in the face-off circle by winning 10 of 18 draws. 

THE OPPOSITION
= Curtis Carlson scored the Bison's lone goal with Oliver Arnberg and Nicholas Mangone also getting on the scoresheet with the assists on the play.

= Vincent Crivello led all skaters with 16 face-off wins and 24 attempts.

= Brett Epp stopped 34 of 39 shots he faced.

HOW IT HAPPENED 
= Adrian built a three-goal lead after 20 minutes behind goals by Luciani at 2:49 of the first period, followed by Ruffin and Bellant at 9:00 and 19:34, respectively. Ruffin scored the first of AC's three power-play goals on the day, while Bellant scored with the Bulldogs shorthanded.

= Moe extended Adrian's lead to 4-0 on a power play goal with 26 seconds left in the second period--the same time as Bellant's shorthanded tally in the first stanza.

= Buffalo State cut the lead to 4-1 off Carlson's stick at the 8:54 mark in the third period before senior defenseman Joey Colatarci countered exactly 2 minutes later with a power play marker to account for the final margin.

= Ten different Bulldogs recorded at least one point. 

= Four Adrian newcomers accounted for six points including freshman Zachary Heintz (1a/Lone Star Brahmas, NAHL), Ruffin (1g/NCAA D-I University of Alaska Fairbanks), Luciani (1g-1a, Markham Royals, OJHL) and Bellant (1g-1a/NCAA D-I Michigan Tech). In addition, Gray made 26 stops in his Bulldogs debut.

= Adrian was 3-for-7 on the power play while killing off all six Nichols chances with the man-advantage.

= The Bulldogs outshot the Bison 39 to 27, including a 13-10 margin in the decisive first period.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
= With the win, Adrian moves to 4-2 in overall season openers under Coach Adam Krug '12 who has won five of six "road" openers behind the bench.

= As a program, the Bulldogs are now 7-1-1 when opening the season on the road. 

= Adrian also defeated Nichols in the schools' only previous meeting on Jan. 1, 2011, in Northfield, Vt. The 'Dogs prevailed 7-3.

= The Bison received two points in the 2019-20 USCHO.com preseason poll, while Adrian is tied for seventh with Augsburg.

= Senior Dino Balsamo was credited with the secondary assist on Colatarci's goal to conclude the scoring in the game, giving him 43 assists and 72 points for his career--figures that make him Adrian's all-time current leader. He is second among AC actives to classmate Matt McNair in games played, 82 to 84. 

= Nichols is a member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

UP NEXT
= After this weekend, Adrian will open next weekend the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association circuit at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis. Friday's contest is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Eastern, followed by Saturday's series finale at 5 p.m. Eastern.

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