ADRIAN, Mich. – Paul Rodrigues took a pass from Luke Moodie and scored 13-plus minutes into overtime to advance Oswego State (24-4) with a 3-2 win over Adrian College (23-2-3) and send the Lakers to the Final Four for the fourth consecutive year.
“We had a couple of chances early in overtime and they kept two forwards up high at the blue line to do quick transitions. When you have that many seniors and their leadership it makes you calmer in those tense situations,” commented Adrian head coach Ron Fogarty.
It was a game of momentum as Oswego struck first on the power play just over six minutes into the contest. Chris Muise netted his 10th of the season from Chris Brown and Tyler Leimbrock for a 1-0 lead. Muise patiently weaved his way through Adrian defenders and beat Adrian netminder Scott Shackell low to the left. Oswego peppered Adrian with 21 first-period shots, but the Bulldogs were able to weather the storm allowing just the lone first period marker.
Adrian grabbed momentum in the second period scoring a pair of goals in less than a two-minute span. First, the nation’s No.1 power play struck just 27 seconds into the man-advantage to tie the game at 1-1.Josh Ranalli scored his 18th of the season from Josh Cousineau and Zach Graham just less than four minutes into the middle frame. Cousineau took the puck behind the end line and centered a beauty to Ranalli who one-timed the puck into the net between the circles.
At the 5:30 mark, the nation’s leading rookie scorer Shaquille Merasty gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. Cousineau notched his second assist of the night on Merasty’s 22nd goal of the year. Cousineau made a couple of individual moves with the puck between and around defenders before backhanding a pass to an open Merasty to the right of the net.
Oswego’s Jon Whitelaw would tie the game from Tim Carr and Moodie with just over a minute left in the second period. Adrian outshot the Lakers, 14-9, in the middle period.
The teams would play to a stalemate in the third period with Oswego holding the edge in shots, 15-7.
Rodriques would strike in overtime to advance the Lakers next weekend to Lake Placid. Moodie would earn assists on both the tying and winning goal.
Adrian goaltender Scott Shackell made several stellar saves and finished the contest with a career-high 52 saves. Oswego’s Andrew Hare was also solid turning aside 31 shots.
Both teams ended the night 1-for-4 on the power play during the first two periods.
“We had the opportunity two years ago to have a senior laden team. Oswego has that team this year and they showed why they have made it the final four so many times recently. They came at us pretty hard in the first period and I felt like our guys were a little too anxious. We had a better mindset in the second period and got on the power play a couple of times to change momentum. We had a quick flurry in overtime during the first minute and we just couldn’t put it in the back of the net. That’s what happens sometimes,” said Fogarty.
Oswego will play Norwich in the semifinals on Mar. 15 at 4 p.m. from Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.