The Western Michigan Broncos swept Miami in a two-game home-and-home series this weekend.
The RedHawks drop to 5-17-2 with the losses.
Friday, the RedHawks fell 5-2 at Lawson Ice Arena in Michigan. Next, the teams traveled back to Oxford where the Broncos finished the sweep Sunday, winning 4-2 at Steve “Coach” Cady Arena.
On Friday, Western Michigan quickly got out to a two-goal lead.
Just over 12 minutes into the first period, senior forward Josh Passolt crossed a pass to sophomore defenseman — and Philadelphia Flyers third round pick — Ronnie Attard on the power play. Attard gathered the puck near the top of the circle and fired it past Miami freshman goaltender Ludvig Persson.
With just 11 seconds remaining in the first period, the Broncos struck again on the power play when an Attard shot was deflected into Miami’s net by freshman forward Tim Washe.
Early in the second period, the RedHawks struck back. Junior forward Matt Barry won an offensive zone draw over to junior forward Jack Olmstead. Olmstead rolled around the circle and found the back of the net for his first collegiate goal.
Nine minutes later, the RedHawks managed to tie the game back up.
Senior forward Casey Gilling forced a turnover near half-ice during a Bronco power play and beat sophomore goaltender Brandon Bussi on a breakaway to make the score 2-2.
That was the last goal the RedHawks scored Friday.
Just three minutes later, Western Michigan scored what would be the game-winning goal. Junior forward Cole Gallant hurled a shot on net that Persson stopped but couldn’t freeze. Drew Worrad, a junior forward, hurtled into the crease and crammed the puck into the net, barreling into Persson in the process.
Persson left the game with an upper body injury. Senior Grant Valentine replaced him.
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The Broncos would go on to score two more goals before the final horn sounded.
Their fourth also came on the power play, scored by sophomore Jason Polin and assisted on by Washe.
Sixty-one seconds later, freshman defenseman Cédric Fiedler’s shot bounced off the pads of Valentine, right to a streaking Jamie Rome, who buried it for Western Michigan’s fifth goal of the night.
Persson made 24 saves before his injury, and Valentine contributed 12.
Persson returned to the net for Sunday afternoon’s game on CBS Sports Network, which again started with two Western Michigan goals.
After a scoreless first period, the Broncos scored twice in rapid succession to make the game 2-0.
Senior forward Ethen Frank scored the Broncos’ first goal, darting between two Miami defensemen and flinging the puck past Persson off an assist from Worrad.
Minutes later, the Broncos sped into Miami’s zone on an odd-man rush. Freshman forward Jarred White dropped a pass to junior defenseman Michael Joyaux.
Joyaux touched the puck down to freshman forward Luke Grainger, who tucked it past the outstretched left pad of Persson for the Broncos second of the afternoon.
Again, the RedHawks quickly erased the Bronco lead.
With both teams down a player after coincidental penalties, freshman forward Matthew Barbolini pushed a pass over to a crashing Robby Drazner. The freshman defenseman did the rest of the work, snapping a shot over the left shoulder of Bussi.
Two minutes later, Miami tied the game with the help of the Cady Arena end-boards. Rourke Russell heaved a shot toward the net that missed. The speeding puck caromed off the boards behind the net and dropped into the crease.
During Bussi’s frantic search for the puck, he sent it wandering into the goal with his left pad.
Western Michigan retook the lead six minutes into the third period, when sophomore defenseman Scooter Brickley slid a pass to Attard, who was alone backdoor. Attard couldn’t score on his first try, but he jammed his own rebound home for the tie-breaking goal.
Western Michigan’s fourth and final goal of the afternoon came when Attard lobbed a pass to a cherry-picking Washe, who walked in on Miami’s empty net to score the easiest goal of his hockey career.
Miami head coach Chris Bergeron was candid regarding his frustration after the game.
“Our group has proven that we have a very difficult time sustaining any level of play over the course of time, whether that be individual play or collective play, and we just don’t have the depth to hold guys accountable for their play.”
Next, Miami will head to Grand Forks, North Dakota, on March 12 to play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s single-elimination postseason tournament.
The bracket isn’t set, but the RedHawks will likely play the University of North Dakota, currently ranked second in the nation. The RedHawks lost both times the two teams faced this season, 2-0 and 6-2.