At site of 'Miracle on Ice,' Adrian wins first NCAA national championship, in any sport

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

For the first time, in any sport, Adrian College is an NCnational champion.

Adrian used a three-goal first period, with two scores coming on the power play, to power past SUNY Geneseo, 5-2, in the Division III men's hockey championship game Saturday in Lake Placid, New York. Sam Ruffin book-ended the scoring, with the first goal and an empty-netter for the last, added an assist, and was named tournament Most Valuable Player.

Adrian, located 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor, was national runner-up in 2011 and appeared in two Final Fours since, but finally broke through Saturday.

The Adrian College hockey team celebrates its Division III national championship.

“I’m proud of this group,” Adrian coach Adam Krug told after the triumph. “It’s been a long time coming. We went through a bit of a culture shift the past three years.

"We really understood what it took to get this program to the next step.”

Junior Alessio Luciani, senior Trevor Coykendall (Plymouth) and freshman Ryan Pitoscia also scored for Adrian, and Luciani, Coykendall and sophomores Jaden Shields (Royal Oak) and Mathew Rehding also added one assist each.

Senior goalie Cameron Gray had 28 saves and finished the season 23-0, the only goaltender in Division III with a perfect record.

Coykendall, Gray and senior Matt Eller (Ypsilanti) joined Ruffin on the all-tournament team.

A big moment came early in the game, when Geneseo's Nicolas Elia delivered a big hit to the head of an Adrian player, but there was no call. Krug decided to challenge, the play was reviewed, and Elia was given a five-minute misconduct penalty. Three goals were scored during the penalty, two power-play goals by Adrian, sandwiched around a short-handed goal by Geneseo.

The call gave Adrian all the moment it needed — and, in the city of "Miracle on Ice," it needed no miracles.

For the game, meanwhile, Adrian have five penalty kills.

“Our guys did a great job shutting them down," Krug said.

Adrian finished the season 31-1, losing its opening game to Utica College, 3-2 in overtime, on Oct. 30, before reeling off 31 consecutive victories.

Geneseo finished the season 24-4-1.

The Division III NCAA Tournament is played with 12 teams. This is the first Division III champion to be crowned since 2019. The 2020 and 2021 tournaments were canceled because of COVID-19.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984