DAYTON, Ohio — After losing their top three scorers to graduation last season, one question that the Miami RedHawks had coming into the season was whether the team would be able to replace that offensive firepower.
So far, so good.
Miami fans have fond memories of Derek Edwardson, Mike Kompon, and Greg Hogeboom, but the ‘Hawks still have plenty of speed and skill, and used it to beat Boston University 5-1 in the season opener for both teams, the second game of the Lefty McFadden Invitational.
Coming off strong freshman seasons, forwards Marty Guerin and Matt Christie looked ready to take it to the next level. Guerin tallied a pair of goals, while Christie — the team’s leading goal-scorer more than a playmaker — experienced a little role reversal, amassing three assists.
Goaltender Brandon Crawford-West made 27 saves, losing his shutout with less than eight minutes to play when Bryan Miller scored the Terriers’ lone goal.
“We knew who we had coming back, and we knew we had some guys in our system who — because of the three guys we had last year — might not have gotten the ice time or the opportunities to be in those situations,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “So this year they’re going to be in those situations, and obviously they have to perform. But tonight was definitely a good start against a good Boston University team. They’re young, but they’re going to be really good by the end of the year.”
Terrier coach Jack Parker saw his team play inconsistently, as the team struggled on special teams and in goal.
“I thought we played pretty well at times, but once the third goal came, we kind of deflated,” Parker said. “We didn’t show enough competitiveness throughout the game. We showed it at times, but not with as much as zip and as much quickness as we’ve got to, and I think it was because we were tentative.”
The Terriers withstood a five-on-three advantage in the first two minutes of the game, but ironically, surrendered a goal on their own first power play at 5:25. Miami’s sophomore stars Christie and Guerin broke out of the defensive zone, beating Terrier defenseman Kevin Schaeffer at center ice by banking the puck off the side boards.
With a dizzying display of give-and-go passing, the pair went into the BU zone two-on-one, swapping the puck until Guerin beat Stephan Siwiec with a ten-foot shot for a shorthanded goal to make it 1-0.
“I think Christie dumped it off the boards to me; I came across on the left side,” Guerin said. “Me and Christie have been playing together for a year, so we know when each other wants the puck.”
Guerin had another good bid at 7:10, looking sharp as he raced through the slot before firing a late shot that Siwiec stopped with a pad. Halfway through the period, the Terriers had a chance when freshman Chris Bourque — playing left wing on the first line, along with captain Brian McConnell and sophomore Kenny Roche — set up Roche for a good chance which was stopped by RedHawk goaltender Brandon Crawford-West. Bourque showed flashes of his considerable promise.
With Terrier winger David Van der Gulik in the sin bin with a double-minor at 15:20, the RedHawks gave themselves a two-goal lead. With Matt Christie figuring in the setup once again, Miami captain Andy Greene blasted a slapshot through traffic. The puck tinged the post on Siwiec’s glove side before it went in.
Playing four-on-four at 12:43 of the second period, Miami got a soft goal. Guerin’s slapshot from inside the blue line somehow fluttered by Siwiec for a 3-0 lead. It proved to be the deflating backbreaker.
“I was down; it was kind of a cheap shot from one of their guys,” Guerin said. “So I got up and was heading to the bench, but Christie gave me a pass right in the middle. I was so fired up I just took a shot as hard as I could, and I was able to get over the pad of the goalie.”
It wasn’t a great night for Siwiec. “He played okay at times, but he let in a couple that he could have got, and the third one was the absolute killer — just ticked by his glove,” Parker said. “But he hasn’t had a lot of experience, and hopefully he’ll play well the next time out. But we’ll play the freshman [Karson Gillespie] tomorrow.”
After a Greene slapshot, Todd Grant knocked home the rebound at 17:17. In the third period, Geoff Smith rounded out the scoring with a power-play goal when he tapped in the rebound of a slapshot off the back boards behind the goal line.
“Specialty teams played a big part, especially with the new initiative in the NCAA — the clutching and grabbing, the referees are really cracking down on that,” Blasi said. “So there’s a lot of penalties, and you’ve got to be good on special teams. … We scored three on the power play and one shorty, so that was pretty much the game.”
Parker took the blame for BU’s poor play on special teams. “The penalty-killing thing is absolutely my fault as far as getting them ready for that kind of power play,” Parker said. “We haven’t really practiced enough against an umbrella type of power play, and [Miami] did a good job with it.”
“Everybody worked really hard,” Guerin said. “We stuck to our game plan; we played our systems. Also, we didn’t outshoot them by a lot, but I think we really buried our chances when we got them.
Bryan Miller’s third-period shutout-killer came on a shot from the right faceoff circle that appeared to hit a player and change direction, fooling Crawford-Smith. Freshmen Bryan “Boomer” Ewing and Peter MacArthur got the assists.
“I thought Boomer Ewing played extremely well as a freshman in his first game out; he gave us a heck of a game,” Parker said. “I thought he was our best freshman.”
Miami (1-0-0) faces Northeastern in Saturday’s conclusion of the Lefty McFadden Invitational, while BU (0-1-0) takes on Michigan in the earlier game.