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RedHawks split series with St. Cloud State

By Joe Gieringer
On February 24, 2014

The Miami University hockey team broke out of its tailspin in a big way Friday night, besting No. 4 St. Cloud State University in a 4-3 home victory. The 'Hawks ultimately split the series with the Huskies, as they were blanked the following night in a 3-0 loss.

Despite allowing an early goal in the opening game, the Brotherhood (11-16-3) bounced back with three unanswered tallies, starting with junior forward and captain Austin Czarnik, who extended his scoring streak to six games. The biggest story of the night, however, was the return of junior forward Blake Coleman, who has been out of the lineup with an injury since Dec. 6. Coleman potted the final two goals to boost the RedHawks to their first win in nearly a month.

"I had a lot of fun," Coleman said. "I was just trying to get my legs back under me more than anything. But the team stepped up, there was a lot of belief in the locker room tonight."

The much-needed win comes at a crucial point in the RedHawks' season - they need any and all the momentum you can get.

"I felt like our team took a step forward tonight," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "They're [St. Cloud] not a top team in the country for nothing ... we played hard. I thought our demeanor was good tonight. Sports is funny, isn't it? You can be down in the dumps one night and the next you can get results."

Friday's optimism gave way to Saturday's reality, when St. Cloud came back with a vengeance and played a complete game, dominating the RedHawks in all three zones.

Spotty play cost the RedHawks yet again, as two quick goals within 1:22 of each other on two of St. Cloud's first three shots put the 'Hawks in a hole early. Miami never was able to recover from that pair of defensive breakdowns, and a goal by Huskie senior forward and captain Nic Dowd in the latter half of the third period buried the Red and White.

"Tonight we did the opposite [of Friday]," Blasi said. "We keep playing this little dance here of a step forward and a step back. Until we decide we want to take two steps forward, we're back to square one."

Junior goaltender Ryan Faragher made 33 saves in the shutout effort for the Huskies. The loss drops the RedHawks to 11-16-3, though the series split is an encouraging sign for the ailing squad.

Miami remains the basement dwellers of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, standing seven points behind Colorado College with just 17 points and a 5-14-1-1 league record. With the weekend split, St. Cloud moves into a two-way tie for first place in the NCHC with 39 points. Even with four wins in their final four games, the RedHawks will still likely finish last or second to last in the conference, pitting them against now-familiar opponents in the University of North Dakota or St. Cloud in a first round matchup.

For now, however, the 'Hawks will play their final home stand against the University of Minnesota-Duluth this coming weekend.

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