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'Hawks split final regular season series

By Joe Gieringer
On March 11, 2014

The Miami University hockey team battled its way to a 2-1 win over National Collegiate Hockey Conference rival University of Denver Saturday night, snapping a four-game skid and ending the regular season on a high note. Junior forward Blake Coleman scored both goals in the contest and both goals in Friday night's 5-2 loss.

Pioneer senior netminder Sam Brittain continued his dominant season with a 36-save effort in the Friday contest. Miami fought its way back into the game during the second frame thanks to Coleman's second goal, bringing the RedHawks back within one goal and bringing the total to 3-2.

Freshman forward Emil Romig scored almost exactly halfway through the third period to make it 4-2 and junior defenseman Joey LeLeggia finished the Red and White off with an empty net goal with seconds remaining. Coleman's two goals now tie him for the team lead with sophomore forward Riley Barber, as both he and Coleman have 18 on the year, though Coleman was sidelined for 11 games with an injury.

"It feels a little bit weird getting from practice shape to game shape," Coleman said. "It took a few games to get my wind back under my belt, and I'm just trying to keep the shifts short to stay effective."

He couldn't have been much more effective than when he netted the two goals Saturday on a line with classmates Austin Czarnik. The Pioneers and RedHawks traded strikes in the second period just 37 seconds apart and despite 29 combined shots in the middle frame, the teams entered the third deadlocked in a 1-1 tie.

Miami scored within the first five minutes, but the goal was disallowed due to the puck being knocked in by a RedHawk glove. At the 7:33 of the final period, Coleman blocked a shot and grabbed the puck for a breakaway chance. He faked a forehand shot and pulled the puck to his backhand, netting the game winner. Miami finished the third period by outshooting DU 24-7, putting together one of their most complete games of the year and gaining some much needed confidence heading into the NCHC tournament.

"Saturday night was certainly the most committed that we saw from our team in a lot of little things that they did," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "They were rewarded with the win. You always want to go into the playoffs on a good note and feel good about what you're doing, so certainly that was a huge win for us ... and we're playing arguably one of the best teams in the country."

Blasi knows his team will face its biggest test of the year when they face St. Cloud State University on the Huskies' home ice in next weekend's best of three series, but the RedHawks have a good win to build off as they finish the week's practices. Miami also split the series with St. Cloud State two weeks ago, so it has the knowledge that a first round upset is not out of the question.

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