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RedHawks swept, suffer worst loss since 2004

By Joe Gieringer
On February 18, 2014

As the old saying goes: "You win some, you lose some." Unfortunately for the Miami University hockey team, this weekend did not involve the first half of that statement. In spite of some stellar, late-game play in the third period of Friday's matchup, Miami was swept once again by a National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) opponent.

The University of North Dakota (16-9-3) improved by six spots to No. 11 in the USCHO national poll after sweeping Miami, while the Brotherhood still struggles to find its footing in 2014. This past weekend marks the fourth time the Red and White have been swept this season, and the team now sits at 10-15-3 overall and has lost six of their last seven games.

The RedHawks succumbed to early struggles Friday, something that has been an issue for them all year. After three straight UND tallies, the RedHawks battled back and scored two goals in the final 11 minutes of the contest, including one with the goalie pulled. Junior forward Cody Murphy and sophomore forward Sean Kuraly were credited with the goals, but the RedHawks came up short, 3-2.

"I thought Friday we played hard and we did some good things," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "There were a couple unfortunate goals that aren't characteristic of our team, and we get down two. At three to nothing, I thought we really started to take over and the period was probably as good as we've played in a long time, so we felt like we made some strides on Friday."

Those strides were cut short Saturday, as UND took the proverbial legs out from under Miami. Twelve minutes into the contest, UND's 4-0 lead ousted sophomore goaltender Ryan McKay from the crease. Classmate Jay Williams didn't fare much better, and at the 13-minute mark of the second period, McKay was brought back in when the score hit the 8-1 mark. When the dust settled, Miami was on the wrong end of a 9-2 thrashing. The last time the RedHawks had allowed nine goals was to Ohio State University on Oct. 21, 2004.

"Their energy right off the bat and their opportunistic goals kind of put us behind the eight ball," Blasi said. "Those games happen once in a while and you've just got to move on."

The RedHawks enter their final three weeks of NCHC play struggling to find any momentum to propel them out of last place. Their 4-13-1-1 record in conference play is not indicative of the quality of players and coaches Miami has, and the Brotherhood is well aware of that fact. A long team meeting after Monday's practice was just one step in helping the team prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for their final two home stands of the year.

"It's been the longest streak of adversity that we've ever dealt with and it's tough right now," junior forward and captain Austin Czarnik said. "We went ahead and had a good team meeting ... we came together and thought about what the problem was and I think we came to the conclusion. Now we're going to work on it and hope to solve it this weekend."

Blasi has rarely encountered droughts this severe in his career, and certainly never with the caliber of players that make up his roster, but he welcomes the challenge heading into the last three weekends of regular season play.

"It's a tough situation and everyone's frustrated," Blasi said. "The worst thing that can happen right now is not supporting each other and the adversity is tough to handle. If it was easy everybody would be able to accomplish it. But this is not something that we have not gone through before and I know from experience that every time we've gone through things like this we come through on the other side in better shape because of it."

Miami resumes NCHC play next weekend at home against St. Cloud State University.

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