OXFORD, Ohio — Matt Christie scored at 2:58 in overtime to give Miami a 5-4 win and weekend sweep of the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks.
One night after beating UAF 7-1, Miami was forced to battle from behind twice to take the league contest.
“I thought we played our game for the most part, stayed in our systems for most of the game,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi.
Five different RedHawks scored on the night. Derek Edwardson had a goal and three assists, including a helper on the game-winner. Aaron Voros netted two goals for the Nanooks, who scored twice shorthanded.
“They’ve got an explosive team,” said UAF head coach Guy Gadowsky. “They keep coming at you.”
Christie’s game-winning goal was a fluky shot that hit UAF goaltender Preston McKay’s stick, then bounced up, over, and behind McKay into the Nanook net.
“I feel for him,” said Gadowsky. “That was a bit of a wild bounce. He deserved a much better fate.”
McKay made 42 saves in the contest, and 26 in Friday before being replaced by Keith Bartusch in Miami’s 7-1 win. The RedHawks outshot the Nanooks 94-45 in the series, recording 47 shots in each game.
UAF jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first on goals by Cam Keith and Cory Rask, both the result of hard work in the Miami end. The first was a power-play goal at 10:44, when Keith tipped in Jason Grinevitch’s shot from the top of the slot. At 13:50 and shorthanded, Tom Herman centered a pass from the left to Rask on the right; Rask’s shot beat Miami goaltender Brandon Crawford-West high on the right side.
Marty Geurin cut the UAF lead in half at 5:28 in the second, backhanding it in from the right circle as he was falling to his knees, and Todd Grant tied the game at 9:16, a fitting end to an efficient, cycling power play.
Just over two minutes later, Andy Nelson gave Miami a 3-2 lead just after a faceoff in the left dot in the UAF zone. Mike Kompon won the faceoff and the puck squibbed over to Nelson, who one-timed it into the Nanook cage.
The lead wouldn’t last long, as the Nanooks scored their second shorthanded goal of the night at 14:33. Voros and Ryan Campbell broke into the Miami zone two-on-one, with Campbell passing from right to Voros on the left. Voros’s shot beat Crawford-West clean, and the second period ended with the game tied, 3-3.
Campbell and Voros combined again at 7:22 in the third to give the Nanooks a 4-3 lead when Campbell blew by Chris Michael at the UAF blew line, then passed up to Voros, who again one-timed it upstairs, but the RedHawks took advantage of a penalty to Herman late in the third to tie the game.
With McKay drawn right to defend against Todd Grant, Grant passed left to Edwardson, whose shot found an essentially empty net at 16:03 to send the game to OT.
In overtime, the Nanooks pressured Crawford-West, who came up big twice against Kelly Czuy, but it was Christie’s fluky goal from a Greg Hogeboom rebound that gave Miami the win.
“You know, in a 7-1 loss, you’re usually able to say you needed better goaltending,” said Gadowsky. “We got great goaltending from Preston last night. In fact, I thought he made one of the best saves of his career last night.
“But it was every bit a 7-1 game last night. They just really beat us. Tonight we battled hard. This is a tough place to play.”
“Any time you go into overtime,” said Blasi, “if you win it’s a lucky bounce. I thought we didn’t execute in the first. We came out in the second and really battled back.”
Miami was 2-for-8 on the power play, UAF 2-for-4. Crawford-West had 14 saves in his sixth win of the season.
Both the Nanooks (5-7-0, 4-4-0 CCHA) and the RedHawks (8-6-2, 6-3-1 CCHA) take Thanksgiving weekend off. UAF, still winless on the road, hosts Nebraska-Omaha Dec. 5-6. That same weekend, Miami plays a home-and-home series with Ohio State.