'Hawks ground Falcons
After returning to play on home ice for the first time in nearly two months, the Miami University men's hockey team swept Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) rival Bowling Green State University last weekend.
The RedHawks (15-6-5, 10-4-4-4 CCHA) got off to a slow start Friday night, as the Falcons took a first-period lead orchestrated by the efforts of freshman forward Mark Cooper. Miami came out a different team in the second period, however, as sophomore forward Cody Murphy ignited his team's offense with a pair of power play goals. That proved to be all the Red and White needed, as freshman goaltender Jay Williams backstopped his team with 21 saves en route to a 2-1 victory.
Murphy sported a metal chest plate to his post-game interview, which he explained was a new tradition in the Miami locker room that the coaching staff introduced after the winter break. For his two-goal effort, the sophomore added his number to the armor, which is handed out to the player who exhibits the most effort and heart in that night's contest.
"I was a little hesitant to wear it to the press conference," the sophomore said, laughing. "Every game we win in regulation, there's a 'Warrior Award,' and I won it for the first time tonight. I'm awfully proud of it."
Murphy wasn't the only RedHawk to receive recognition, though. With the win over the Falcons, head coach Enrico Blasi became the first Miami coach to win 300 games. In his 14 years at the helm of the hockey program, Blasi compiled a 300-190-53 record as of Friday night. He has led his team to two Frozen Fours, been named CCHA Coach of the Year four times, and was named National Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season. Though he's not one for personal accolades, Blasi acknowledged that this milestone wasn't just about him.
"The guys surprised me with the game puck," Blasi said. "It's just a number but it represents a lot of what has happened over the last 14 years. Obviously a lot of good people and great coaches. We've had great assistant coaches and great support from not only our fans but our administration, our ADs, our assistant ADs. It really boils down to the players, all the guys leading up to this and obviously this team is a special team."
Blasi grabbed win number 301 Saturday night, as his RedHawks came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. The charge was led by sophomore forward Jimmy Mullin, who netted two goals on the night, including a glove-side snipe just five minutes into the contest. Junior forward Bryon Paulazzo joined in on the action with the eventual game-winner at 10:28 of the first period, and Mullin netted his second of the night with a power play goal in the second period, as the RedHawks skated to a 3-1 victory.
Freshman goaltender Ryan McKay finished with 23 saves on the night.
"It feels good to contribute when other lines are putting pucks in [the net]," Mullin said, who doubled his goal total on the year to four from his spot on the fourth line Saturday night. "They need help from the rest of the team, so it feels good when we can put the puck in for them."
Paulazzo echoed Mullin's sentiment, saying "it's been a good three months" since he last had one of his shots cross the goal line. But he also said that now that the BGSU series is through, the Brotherhood has to look forward.
"It's huge with Notre Dame and Western [Michigan]," the junior said of his team's sweep, as Western is one point ahead of Miami in the CCHA standings, and ND just two points back. "It's a big six-point swing for us, but we're getting ready for Alaska now."
Miami returns to action at the Goggin Ice Center against conference foe Alaska on Friday and Saturday, February 1-2. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., respectively.
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