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'Hawks sweep Wildcats

By Joe Gieringer
On November 12, 2012

The Miami University men's hockey team (7-2-1) remains unbeaten at home, after taking two games from Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) foe Northern Michigan (4-5-1) this weekend.

The Red and White now stand in first place in the CCHA with a 3-2-1 conference record.

It was all RedHawks all night on Friday, as the fifth ranked team in the nation cruised to victory over the No. 16 Wildcats 5-2. Special teams play was key for Miami, who scored three power play goals on eight attempts, while giving up one goal on seven penalty kill situations. Miami dominated the shot count 36-20, and didn't allow a single Northern shot until halfway through the first period.

"I thought our energy and focus was there right off the bat," Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. "Our special teams were really good. We executed some good plays, and I thought our guys did a good job of playing in all three zones."

Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, freshman forward Riley Barber and freshman defenseman Matthew Caito all had multi-point games for Miami.

Victory wouldn't come easy to the RedHawks on Saturday, however, as it took overtime and shootout to settle the score. There was a reversal of roles early on in the game, as Miami struggled to register a shot on goal until midway through the first frame. The Wildcats applied pressure and struck first, but freshman forward Sean Kuraly responded at the end of the initial period of play, netting his second goal of the year on Miami's 5-on-3 power play. The Red and White did not keep the lead for long though, as Northern's Stephan Vigier put his team back in front.

As the teams settled in in the second, so did the goaltending. Freshman Jay Williams was perfect in net after allowing two first period goals and finished the night with 25 saves as the second star of the game.

At the other end, Jared Coreau rebounded from his previous night's performance by accumulating 31 saves, including 15 in the second period alone. The RedHawks struggled to put anything by Coreau, who could not be beat for most of the final two frames. But with just 2:13 left in regulation, sophomore forward Alex Wideman somehow found a spot inside the near post as the puck sneaked by Coreau and the crowd erupted in excitement as Miami forced overtime.

"To be honest, I didn't really aim it," Wideman said. "I just threw it at the net. Good things happen when you throw it at the net, and luckily it got in short side."

Overtime proved to be fruitless, however, and a shootout was needed to decide a winner. The RedHawks struck first, with Czarnik reprising his winning move in October's contest against Providence to put the Brotherhood ahead. Jay Williams stood strong by denying both Wildcat attempts, which opened a game-winning chance for Wideman. The sophomore took the zone with speed and rifled a shot blocker side, beating Coreau clean and sealing the win for the RedHawks in the shootout, 2-0.

"I think going into the third in the locker room, there was no doubt in our minds that we were going to win that game," Williams said. "The guys kept plugging away and we finally got a bounce."

Blasi noted that though the game wasn't Miami's best, the coaching staff was pleased with how the 'Hawks battled back to tie the game in the face of tough competition and questionable calls.

"Jay made some saves, and we did a good job of going through some adversity," Blasi said. "I thought the guys did a really good job of ... just finding a way. To win in a shootout, that's a huge point for us. You don't know how much that point's going to mean at the end of the year. As a coaching staff, we were really happy with the way our team stuck together tonight."

The RedHawks will return to action at the Goggin Ice Center Nov. 16 as they take on the Michigan State Spartans in another two game CCHA series. The puck drops 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

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