MU faces No. 8 Providence in first road series of year
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 01:10
For the second weekend in a row, the Miami University hockey team faces another Top 10 opponent, the No. 8 Providence College Friars.
The RedHawks (3-1-0) split with No. 6 University of North Dakota last weekend and dropped to No. 3 in the USCHO national poll.
The first game featured a Miami team that looked flat and out-of-sync for most of the first period. as the RedHawks dropped their first contest of the year.
“We definitely had our chances, but you need your big players to step up in big games,” sophomore forward Riley Barber said after the game. “It didn’t happen tonight and we didn’t get the bounces our way, so you know how that works.”
They returned the next night with a fire lit under them. Head coach Enrico Blasi’s squad took a 5-0 lead before the halfway point. The passing was crisp, the shooting percentage was well above average, and the defense locked North Dakota out for most of the matchup.
“For the most part, I thought it was a pretty good weekend,” Blasi said. “Obviously Friday they had our number, but Saturday, when we scored two early goals, our guys felt the momentum and did a pretty nice job the rest of the game.”
The Friars (3-0-0) pose a similar threat to North Dakota. The Friars have won their first three games by a combined total of 18-5, and junior forward Ross Mauermann has three goals and three assists.
Perhaps more impressive has been sophomore goaltender Jon Gillies, who leads the nation in goals against average and save percentage after two starts, with a 0.50 and .984, respectively. Miami will need to find a way to put it past the man between the pipes, and it starts with Barber and junior captain Austin Czarnik. The former is tied for third in the nation with eight points, the latter tied for 13th with six.
Blasi said the way the RedHawks bounced back after the first game of the North Dakota series gives him confidence.
“Our leadership showed its colors on Saturday,” Blasi said. “I’m not just talking about Czarnik – obviously, he’s our captain – but I think our entire team took the challenge and took a step in leadership in how they’re going to respond to situations of adversity.”
Blasi is the first to tell say the “W” is the ’Hawks goal each and every game and his team is taking it one step at a time. So far the young defense is panning out, and Miami holds an edge in blocked shots over its opponents 66-45. Sacrificing the body will continue to be a big advantage for the RedHawks as they head into their first road series.