Photo by Bridget Pollard, Miami University Athletics
By Grace Remington, Staff Writer
Blake Coleman posted four points to lead No. 5 Miami University hockey to a 5-3 victory over Western Michigan University in game one of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament quarterfinals Friday night. The senior forward totaled two goals and two assists to move the RedHawks (22-12-1) within one win of playing in next week's NCHC Frozen Faceoff.
"It's playoff hockey," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "It was a pretty good hockey game in terms of intensity. I thought it was physical on both ends."
The Broncos (13-17-5) led twice during the game, but both leads were erased with RedHawk power play goals.
"When you're down in playoff hockey, you have to stay in it," Blasi said. "You have to keep playing, and I think that's what happened tonight."
Coleman notched the first goal of the night at the 11:14 mark in the first frame. Junior forward Colton Hargrove put WMU on the board after powering through a wide-open left lane to the beat MU junior Ryan McKay at the net with 1:17 left.
WMU struck again six minutes into the second period with a short-handed goal from sophomore forward Sheldon Dries. Freshman defenseman Louie Belpedio answered with a backhand goal at the 7:53 mark to tie the game at 2-2.
"It's wasn't pretty," Blasi said. "They pressured hard. They scored a short-handed goal, and that's obviously not acceptable."
The Broncos regained a 3-2 lead 1:44 into the third frame after sophomore forward Kyle Novak shoved the puck through traffic in the crease and barely crossed the goal line. However, the 'Hawks stormed back with two goals from junior forward Kevin Morris and Coleman. Junior forward Alex Gacek sealed the victory on an empty net goal with 42 seconds left.
The Broncos outshot the RedHawks 34-25 overall, marking the second-straight game Miami has won while being outshot. MU was 2 for 5 on the power play and killed off the Broncos' lone power play in the first period. McKay improved to 5-0-1 in his last six starts after stopping 31 of 34 shots. His counterpart junior Lukas Hafner stopped 20 of 24 Miami shots.
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"In playoff hockey when you're playing a series, you have put this one behind you. We have to focus on playing our best hockey tomorrow," Blasi said. "And that's what we're going to do. We know they're going to come out hard."
Game two of the best-of-three series begins 7 p.m. Saturday.