OXFORD, Ohio — Strong goaltending and tenacious offense allowed the No. 7 Miami RedHawks (17-9-3; 14-5-2 CCHA) to keep their lock on first place in the CCHA standings, as they upended the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 5-2, at Goggin Arena on Friday night.
The win permitted the RedHawks, one of the hottest teams in the CCHA, to stretch their unbeaten streak to a season-best six games. The Hawks are now 9-2-1 in the friendly confines of Goggin.
Coming into the game, the Irish (13-10-4; 9-9-3 CCHA) had had great success against nationally-ranked teams. They entered Friday with a 5-2-1 record against opponents in the top 15. However, the offense of Miami was difficult to contain. Equally difficult to solve was the play of Miami freshman golatender Brandon Crawford-West.
Credit much of the offense to Geoff Smith, Todd Grant, and Taylor Hustead. The RedHawk third line accounted for three goals and five assists on the night.
“We got contributions from everybody tonight,” said Miami boss Enrico Blasi. “That [third] line was especially big for us.”
The play of Smith was particularly big. He scored a pair of goals, his second and third of the season, while adding an assist for the CCHA leaders.
Equally important was Crawford-West. He stopped 29 Fighting Irish shots in a strong game between the pipes.
“We got good goaltending when we had to get it,” said Blasi. “It was a real team effort.”
Miami opened the scoring at the 14:23 mark of the first. After picking up an errant shot, freshman center Smith weaved his way through a pair of defenseman between the circles and wristed the puck past Irish goalie Morgan Cey for his second goal of the year.
Miami continued the strong offensive showing in the second period. Smith notched his second goal of the evening on a tipped shot in front of the net at 5:09 of the period. Hustead and Grant assisted on the play for the RedHawks.
The RedHawks made it 3-0 just 53 seconds later. Freshman winger Marty Guerin fed a pass to center Derek Edwardson, who skated the puck behind the net and tucked it inside the post for his 15th goal of the season.
Miami added to the scoring column again at the 11:22 mark of the period. Smith, standing in the right circle, fired a shot toward the Notre Dame crease. Grant, camped out in front of Cey, deflected the puck past the Irish netminder to give his team a 4-0 lead.
The Fighting Irish finally got on the board with four minutes left in the period. After a holding call sent Miami defenseman Brian Sipotz to the box, freshman winger Josh Sciba netted his fifth goal of the year, a shot past Crawford-West to cut the RedHawk lead to 4-1. Cory McLean assisted on the play.
Notre Dame added another goal with 51 seconds remaining in the period. Senior captain Aaron Gill picked up his 11 goal of the season, and 100th career point, as he blistered a shot past Crawford-West from the left circle. Mike Walsh and Mclean assisted on the play.
Miami added its fifth goal of the night, a Mike Kompon shot from between the circles, which found its way past the outstretched glove of Cey. Kompon’s ninth goal of the season, coming at the 6:02 mark of the third period, was assisted by Andy Greene.
The Irish thought they had netted their third goal of the night when Tim Wallace stuffed the puck past Crawford-West midway through the period, but referee Steve Piotrowski waved the goal off, as a Notre Dame player had been in the crease. It was as close as they would come to getting on the board the rest of the game.
The Irish connected once on the power play, in three attempts. Miami’s recent power-play woes continued, as the RedHawks were blanked with the man-advantage in three tries.
The Irish and RedHawks square off again Saturday night. Faceoff is set for 7:35 pm at Goggin Arena.