What began as a four-goal pasting at the hands of Adrian College turned into a closer affair, but the Arizona Icecats still could not fully erase the deficit and fell to the Bulldogs, 5-2 on Saturday night.

The loss marked the team’s third straight loss after opening the second half of the season with a two-game win streak. Despite the loss, Arizona coach Leo Golembiewski remained upbeat citing much improvement in the team’s young lineup.

“I think it was more than a moral victory,” he said. “The third line didn’t give up any goals and I thought it was a gutsy performance tonight. We needed heart and to play 60 minutes and we got it.”

Arizona’s lineup was peppered with inexperience thanks to the loss of a number of key players and Adrian College took advantage at the beginning of each period. The Bulldogs scored at the 14:33 mark in the first period, 19:18 in the second and 18:55 in the third.

As the game wore on, the physical play increased and the Icecats responded with a pair of goals in the third period. Freshman Drew Halliday tallied his second goal of the season after taking a pass from Steve Angelone at the 14:34 mark.

Just over seven minutes later Robbie Nowinski tallied his team-high 21st goal of the season to cut the lead down to two.

“In between periods and before the game we’re always talking about keeping the game physical and getting a body on someone,” Arizona’s Nick Boddy said. “It works. We took the momentum away and got a couple of goals. Hopefully we do that from the start (Sunday).”

Arizona continued to ride that wave of momentum with a man-up advantage with 6:30 remaining in the game. However, the Bulldogs proved to be too strong, adding a final score with 2:44 left. Adrian College outshot Arizona 61-29.

While Boddy said there are still some problems that need to be ironed out, it’s hard to overlook the uphill climb the team has faced for nearly the entire season.

“We have some effort problems and team defense problems,” he said. “But what we’ve gone through and what it’s taken to get here with the injuries and eligibility problems, we’ve been playing catch-up before the season started.”