’Hawks sweep Nanooks
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 22:12
The Miami University men’s hockey team returns home with two more wins under its belt, remaining at the top of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) standings after picking up six points with a sweep of the University of Alaska Nanooks.
Despite sloppy play Friday, the RedHawks (9-2-3, 6-2-2-2 CCHA) jumped out to an early lead thanks in large part to a pair of goals by sophomore forward Cody Murphy. Classmate Austin Czarnik added two goals and an assist to the mix, while his linemates, freshman Riley Barber and senior Curtis McKenzie, notched a goal and assist as well.
The third period came to a close with Miami in a comfortable 5-2 lead, as freshman goaltender Jay Williams made 31 saves in the contest which saw Alaska outshoot Miami 33-30.
“We were opportunistic on our chances [Friday],” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “I didn’t think we played a complete game, but I thought we played well at times where we made some nice plays and were able to capitalize on those things.”
Miami continued to light up the scoreboard on Saturday as they cruised to a 4-0 win, though the production came from some unlikely candidates. Senior forward Marc Hagel scored his first two goals as a RedHawk since transferring from Princeton at the beginning of the season.
Sophomore forward Jimmy Mullin, who was third in scoring for Miami last season with 26 points, nabbed a goal and an assist as well.
But the biggest news of the night was the return of freshman goaltender Ryan McKay, who started in his first game since being injured at Michigan Oct. 26, netting his second shutout on the year to boot.
“It was an all-around great team effort, especially defensively,” McKay said of the RedHawks’ Saturday night victory. “We knew that they were going to come out hard … but we were able to keep on battling.”
Blasi added that with the return of McKay, the goaltending rotation will most likely look like the Cody Reichard/Connor Knapp combination of years past.
“We probably would have been doing this earlier in the season if Ryan hadn’t gotten hurt, but he deserves to go back in there,” Blasi said. “You don’t want to take out somebody’s spot just because they got hurt, so … it’s going to be one of those things where we have to make decisions every week now.”
McKay has played just 190 minutes this year, the equivalent of just over three games. In that time, the freshman has recorded two shutouts and allowed only a single goal, and he boasts an astounding .989 save percentage and a .32 goals against average.
In his five-week absence, classmate Jay Williams has been solid between the pipes, obtaining a 5-2-2 record that includes two shootout wins and a shutout. His save percentage is .918, good for second among CCHA freshman goaltenders who have played in at least a third of his team’s games.
“It feels great knowing that we’ve got two goalies back there that are going to help us get wins every night,” Czarnik said. “You know, Jay played great the first night and Ryan came back from his injury and just played stellar. It’s a big thing for us as a team.”
The RedHawks have a full week of practice before facing off against CCHA foe Lake Superior State on Dec. 7 and 8 at the Goggin Ice Arena. The puck drops 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.