FORT WAYNE, Ind. — With one shot, Alden Hirschfeld cleared two monkeys off the Miami RedHawks’ back: They won their first postseason game against Michigan in program history in in their sixth try and they won an overtime game in the NCAA tournament after falling to Boston College and Boston University in the extra session in 2008 and 2009.
Hirschfeld got the puck at the top of the circle and fired a shot under Shawn Hunwick’s arm to send his team to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive year.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Hirschfeld said. “Coach kept telling us every chance we got to get the puck on net. The puck just kind of popped out, and I picked it up around the top of the circle and I just shot it through on net and it went in.”
Given their recent playoff history, the RedHawks knew what to expect in the first overtime, where everyone is tired and one shot can win the game. But they were in uncharted territory as the first RedHawks team to play a multi- overtime game in the program’s 23-year history.
“We said between overtimes we knew were tired,” Hirschfeld said. “We just kept re-emphasizing the focus. At that point in OT you’re running on adrenaline and you can tell your guys are tired but you put it behind you and just go because you know at any second the game could be over.”
“Obviously, it goes into overtime like that and one shot can win it for you,” added coach Enrico Blasi. “We’ve been on the wrong side of those a few times in the past few years.”
The RedHawks lost in overtime to Boston University in last year’s NCAA championship game after losing a two-goal lead in the closing minutes of the game. In 2008, they dropped an overtime decision to Boston College in the Northeast Regional championship game.
With the win, Miami ends a five-game postseason skid against Michigan, with the most recent loss coming in last weekend’s CCHA semifinals. However, Blasi did see one upside to his team’s performance in that 5-2 loss.
“The last time we played Michigan we didn’t show them anything,” said Blasi. “It looked like we were chasing them around.”
With that in mind, Blasi knew his players would come out looking for the win against Michigan.
“We were determined to play our game tonight. We really took it to them. The guys were so excited to get on the ice and continue to possess the puck,” said Blasi. “I thought we did a pretty good job all night long of playing our game and sticking to it. There was a lot of passion and determination on both sides tonight.”
After last season’s heartbreaking lost to Boston University, Miami is looking forward to playing in the Frozen Four this year at Ford Field in Detroit.
“It feels like 10 years ago, but it’s hard to believe a year has gone by,” Blasi said. “We’re excited; I think if you walk by our locker room you can tell. We’ll get a couple days rest and then start preparing for Boston College. I keep saying everything happens for a reason.”
After the trials and tribulations Miami has already overcome just to reach this point in the season, an NCAA title would certainly be the perfect way to end the year.