From CMU Club Hockey Network
By Regan Cleves
PLEASANT, Mich. – For the first time since before the 2009-10 season, the Adrian Bulldogs and Central Michigan Chippewas split a season series, as the Bulldogs pulled off the upset on Saturday, beating the Chippewas in a sloppy and scrappy game 3-2 at Martin Ice Arena. Although Aiden Gazdecki scored his first collegiate goal, it was the Woodslee, Ontario native Dylan Zelko who stole the show in net, stopping 36 of 38 Chippewa shots in the win.
After closing out the first semester with a loss, 9-2-0-2 Central Michigan will have to wait a full month until their next contest, when they will travel 1,500 miles south to Estero, Fla. to take on #9 Florida Gulf Coast. Adrian heads into the break with a record of 8-6-0-1 and will begin second semester play with a series against Saginaw Valley State.
The game was expected to be very physical, and it did not disappoint. Just 38 seconds into the game, CMU forward Jordan Cooper let a shot go and Zelko made the easy save. However, after the whistle, Ben Hryciuk showered the Bulldog netminder with snow, sparking a round of roughhousing off which resulted in both Hryciuk and Dominic Malone being sent to the box. The Maroon and Gold senior was also given a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, putting the hosts on an early penalty kill which they killed off.
In what has become a bad habit for Central Michigan, they allowed their opponents to gain an early 1-0 lead for the third game in a row. After winning a draw in the offensive zone, the Bulldog’s Malone fired a low, hard shot from the slot, that thundered off the pad of goaltender Thomas Rofe. However, the puck trampolined on to the stick of Evan Bliss sitting all alone in the bottom of the right-wing circle, and he fired it into the net past a lunging Rofe at 7:45 of the first.
When Zach Bagozzi was whistled off at 1:56 of the second period, it looked like a golden opportunity for the Chippewas to tie up the hockey game, but instead it was the Bulldogs that would score shorthanded. After a period of commanding zone time, Jacob St. Andre tried to feed the puck across the slot, but fanned on it, and the puck was intercepted by Michael O’Connor. With one man to beat, the Adrian sophomore worked down the right wing and closed in quickly on goal. From about ten feet out, he ripped a shot short side over the left shoulder of Rofe at 3:46 of the middle frame.
The lackadaisical play continued for the Chippewas, but lightening did strike for them as time wound down in the second. Winning a draw in the defensive zone with fifteen seconds remaining, the rush seemed to be halted at the offensive blueline. However, captain Brennan Martin corralled a bouncing puck and entered the zone on right wing. Working around the perimeter and ending up behind the net, he fed a pass into the slot. The pass, intended for Cooper, instead found the stick of Gazdecki who let a one-timer go, beating Zelko low glove side at the buzzer for his first goal in the ACHA.
With the atmosphere electric, Central Michigan looked to carry the momentum from the Gazdecki goal into the final twenty minutes. However, it was the visitors that put the next one on the board, this time on a 4-on-4. Winning a draw in the offensive end, the Bulldogs fired a shot from the right side that was blockered away by Rofe. However, instead of being directed into the corner, it bounced into the left circle. There it was one-timed by Mathieu Barrette into the bottom right corner of the net. Barrette’s third goal of the campaign gave Adrian a two-goal advantage with 11:18 remaining.
The Chippewas weren’t about to give up, though. At the 11:50 mark of the third stanza, Issac Gibbs batted a puck out of the air in the slot, and it bounced under a bewildered Zelko to bring Central Michigan back within striking distance at 3-2.
With around 1:50 on the clock and possession of the puck in the offensive zone, the Maroon and Gold pulled the netminder in favor of the extra attacker. The sixth player allowed CMU to work in the offensive zone and manufacture opportunities, but the Canadian goaltender stood tall making a handful of great saves to close out the game.
However, even though the whistle blew to signal the end of the game, there was still some unfinished business. After a scrum in the final seconds, punches were thrown in the right-wing corner of the Adrian zone, with Brennan Martin involved for the Chippewas along with Malone for the Bulldogs. That fizzled out, but a few seconds later, a donnybrook at center ice brought the crowd to its feet. Cooper, Joey Simoncelli, Zach Major, and Bobby Breach all scrapped in a dogpile over a prone Gibbs. The referees managed to break up the fight and eventually send both teams to the dressing rooms without the customary post-game handshakes.
(Originally published at https://cmichicehockey.com/articles/broken-trends-kx2wzxdj)