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WMU sweeps hockey in NCHC opener

Ben Blanchard, Sports Editor

Following a surprisingly hot start to the season for Miami University's young hockey team, the RedHawks have lost three straight games. This weekend, MU travelled to Western Michigan University for its opening National Collegiate Hockey Conference series and lost 6-3 Friday and 5-2 Saturday.

Friday night's loss came on the heels of a 4-1 home defeat to Bowling Green the prior weekend, a loss that ended Miami's five-game unbeaten streak.

The RedHawks competed well against WMU through the first two periods Friday, as the game entered the third period tied 3-3 after MU led 3-2.

However, the Broncos offense wore down Miami's defense, outshooting the Red and White 41-20. In the third, WMU started to convert on its opportunities, putting up three goals while blanking Miami's offense.

"I thought the better team won tonight," head coach Enrico Blasi said. Western Michigan made plays and out-worked us."

Of Miami's three goals, senior forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Anthony Louis netted the first two and assisted sophomore forward Kiefer Sherwood's tally. Freshman forward Carson Meyer has been a sparkplug for MU's offense, and continued his production with two assists Friday, bringing his point total to 10 through nine games.

Saturday night, the 'Hawks looked to rebound and earn a split in their first NCHC series.

The first period went according to plan, as the RedHawks took a 1-0 lead 4:24 into the game when Sherwood got behind the Bronco defense and scored on the breakaway.

With five minutes remaining in the first, WMU answered with a tying power play goal from sophomore Jade McMullen.

Thirteen seconds later, Miami won the draw and entered the offensive zone, where junior forward Conor Lemirande found wide-open freshman forward Gordie Green at the backdoor for an easy tap-in goal. This tally, which put Miami up 2-1, was Green's first as a RedHawk.

The first period ended with Miami leading 2-1 but WMU holding the edge in shots, 13-11.

The intermission seemed to do the RedHawks no favors, as Western Michigan came out in the second and outshot MU 16-7 on its way to scoring three unanswered goals.

"I thought we started the game well and played hard," Blasi said. "The second period hurt us with the penalties and they made us pay for every mistake."

Special teams play, typically one of Miami's greatest strengths, strongly favored the Broncos Saturday night. WMU converted 2-of-9 power play opportunities, while MU went 0-for-11.

In the third, trailing 4-2, the Red and White outshot the Broncos by a 13-5 margin, largely due to five power play chances. However, it was WMU's power play that struck, as freshman forward Wade Allison put the game way with 4:02 left to make it 5-2.

"We had some good chances in the third period, but their goalie played well," Blasi said. "This wasn't our best performance and we'll get back to work on Monday."

The RedHawks drop to 3-4-2 overall and 0-2 in conference, the first time Miami has dropped below .500 this season.

Western Michigan, whose only losses came on a road series at No. 2 Denver, improves to 5-2-1 overall and 2-2 in the NCHC. The Broncos received the most votes of any unranked program in this week's NCAA top-20 rankings.

Miami will look to right the ship this weekend with a home series against NCHC foe the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The puck drops in Steve 'Coach' Cady Arena 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.