Overtime tests ’Hawks
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 00:10
It might have required overtime in both games, but the fourth ranked Miami University men’s hockey team remained unbeaten this weekend after tying Providence College Friday and beating the Friars Saturday.
The RedHawks got off to a slow start Friday as the Friars notched an early power play goal to take the lead just five minutes in. Providence dominated play early, outshooting Miami 13-3 midway through the first period. Despite freshman forward Riley Barber’s tying goal early in the second period, Miami was again outshot and the Friars controlled the first 40 minutes of the match.
“We know that we weren’t playing our game at all,” sophomore forward Austin Czarnik said after the game. “Everybody came to the rink unfocused. But then coach came in and a couple of guys started speaking up [during the second intermission], and we finally pulled it together in the third and started playing our kind of hockey.”
Miami finally pulled it together in the final frame Friday, outshooting Providence 13-9. Neither team could find the net, however, as the freshman goalies at both ends of the ice brought their A games. A five-minute overtime would prove fruitless as well, as the game ended in 1-1 tie. Miami freshman goaltender Ryan McKay recorded 37 saves while the Friars’ freshman Jon Gillies totaled 27 saves at the other end of the ice.
“Their goalie is highly touted and made some big saves,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “When the guy at the other end of the ice is lights out, you’ve got to be lights out too. It was a tremendous battle between the two of them.”
Though the game officially ended in a tie, both teams requested a shootout, much to the fans’ delight. The shootout had no bearing on the teams’ records, but that didn’t stop Czarnik and sophomore forward Cody Murphy from finding the back of the net as the RedHawks prevailed 2-0.
Friday’s strong play carried over to Saturday, as the RedHawks struck first just minutes into the match with beautiful shot from Barber, who went on to nab two helpers in the first multi-point game of his career. The Friars drew even just one minute later, however, when John Gilmour beat freshman goaltender Jay Williams clean past his left shoulder. Miami scored two more times, but each time Providence found an answer, including a goal with just 47 seconds left in the game to knot the score at three apiece and force overtime for the second straight game.
With 1:25 left in the additional frame, Czarnik rifled a wrist shot high stick side past Gillies to end the game in sudden death fashion. Barber and senior forward Curtis McKenzie assisted on the game winner helping to maintain the RedHawks unbeaten record.
“I think, for myself, I was a little down because I know I should have blocked that shot,” Czarnik said about Providence’s goal that forced overtime. “It got through and they got that rebound, so I was down on myself and I knew I had to come back. I told [Marc] Hagel I was going to snipe in overtime and luckily that happened.”
The goal was the icing on the cake of Miami’s victory, which signaled a much-improved effort compared to Friday’s game. The RedHawks outshot the Friars 30-26 and were perfect on the penalty kill (PK), successfully surviving all four PKs, including a five-minute major kill late in the game.
“Tonight we played with a purpose, we skated well and we were in good position,” Blasi said. “The effort was there. I thought we played as close to a complete game as this team’s played so far in this young season.”
Miami opens its final season of Central Collegiate Hockey Association play at 5th/6th ranked University of Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena this Friday and Saturday.