'Hawks snap short skid
The Miami University men's hockey team snapped a two game losing streak Saturday night in Marquette, coming back from a two goal deficit to tie Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) foe Northern Michigan University (NMU) 3-3. The RedHawks won in the resulting shootout.
The RedHawks (12-5-5, 8-4-4 CCHA) are ranked No. 8 in the country, despite losing two of their last three games, and forcing a shootout win in the most recent one. The Red and White have struggled offensively as of late, scoring just two goals in the three contests leading up to Saturday night's game.
Friday saw the RedHawks open CCHA play for the first time in the new year, as they outshot the Wildcats of Northern Michigan (9-10-4, 3-9-4 CCHA) by a wide margin of 44-24. Miami could only find the back of the net once in the 2-1 loss, on sophomore forward Austin Czarnik's early second period strike, due in large part to the stellar net minding by Wildcat junior Jared Coreau. Though Coreau is second-to-last in CCHA win percentage and goals against average (GAA), he still carries a healthy .917 save percentage.
"They're a really tough team," said Miami senior captain Steven Spinell. "They compete hard and they have a solid goaltender. Right now, we haven't been playing our best hockey. But there are ups and downs in every season and right now we're in a little bit of a lull. We'll work through it."
Miami's offense returned in style on Saturday, as it battled back late in the second period, scoring both goals in special teams situations. The first was a rebound blast from freshman defenseman Matthew Caito that put Miami on the board. Less than three minutes later, freshman forward Riley Barber scored on the penalty kill to make the game at two apiece. It was Barber's first shorthanded goal of the year, and Miami's 6th.
With just under five minutes left in regulation, Caito found the back of the net for the second time that night, giving Miami the 3-2 lead and Caito's first multi-goal game of his Miami career. The lead didn't last long however, as Ryan Daugherty picked up the shorthanded equalizer, beating freshman goaltender Ryan McKay on a backhand shot.
After a fruitless overtime session, both teams traded multiple attempts in the shootout to no avail, as both goaltenders brought their A games. In the fifth round of shots, sophomore forward Jimmy Mullin beat Coreau cleanly on a five-hole shot to earn Miami the extra point in CCHA play.
"After Curtis [McKenzie] took out one of their players [on a big hit], I think that sparked us a little bit," said Czarnik, who recorded two points on Saturday night. "We were able to fight back, and Jimmy [Mullin] burying it for us in the shootout was huge."
The RedHawks, who have not won in regulation since their Dec. 28 win over Ohio State University, face the Wisconsin Badgers next weekend. Wisconsin is riding a six game winning streak heading into the series. If Miami wants to get back on track, the CCHA's leading scorer says it must get its offense back in gear.
"We've been doing a lot more scoring drills because we've been struggling a lot with that lately," said Czarnik. "We've got to start winning the battles one-on-one, we lost too many battles this weekend. Once we start doing all of that, we're going to be pretty hard to beat."
The RedHawks will travel to Madison, Jan. 18 to take on the Badgers in a two-game series. The puck drops 9 p.m. Friday.
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