KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Miami RedHawks dominated Friday’s game on the road, posting a 5-2 victory in CCHA action against the Western Michigan Broncos.
Strong play by senior Todd Grant led the RedHawks to victory. Grant recorded two goals and an assist in the win, but defected praise afterwards.
“Everybody played good tonight — it was a team effort,” said Grant.
He was equally modest in discussing his two goals. “Both times I shot, it was pretty much an empty net. There wasn’t a real big shot,” he added.
Miami played strong throughout, including a shorthanded goal that put a hurt on the Broncos power-play efforts.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi all smiles after the win. “We’re a team of confidence right now. Everybody is contributing and focusing what’s at stake. We’re coming out with good efforts. We try and stay focused and take it one game at a time.”
Western Michigan seemed sluggish and out of steam by late in the second period, and Miami’s Matt Christie took full advantage by outskating the Broncos defense and beating Bronco goalie Daniel Bellissimo through the five-hole with a soft backhand.
That gave the RedHawks a 4-0 lead and plenty of comfort for the remaining of the game. Those four goals put up matched the number of shots Western Michigan had through two periods of play.
Broncos head coach Jim Culhane felt understandable disappointment in his team’s offensive woes.
“We kept looking for that perfect pass, perfect play to score,” said Culhane. “We just have to get it to the net and we didn’t do it. We’re not going to score many goals with only four shots on net.”
The RedHawks started the game off as planned, on a goal from Matt Davis at 10:52 in the first. That was his third of the year and Grant’s first point of the night, his 14th assist on the season. Although the Broncos put up two goals on the power play, the overall look was rough and Miami seemed to dominate even while a man down.
RedHawks goalie Brandon Crawford-West showed illness couldn’t hold him down. In his first game back after recovering from a virus, Crawford-West made key stops to keep the Broncos from fighting back, while his defense held Western Michigan to a season-low 18 shots on net.
“Brandon missed all last week, said Blasi. “But to come back and play as well as he did will give him confidence.”
What little hope Western Michigan had came from Hobey Baker candidate Brent Walton, who let off a cannon from the left point late in the game. A pass came across the zone from Daryl Moore and Walton got all wood to beat Crawford-West on the short side. With his team-best 17th goal on the season, Walton joined the 100-point club for his career.
However, it was just too little, too late for the Broncos.
“Tomorrow’s another night for us — we have to refocus and just play,” said Blasi.
The RedHawks (12-13-4) will “just play” for the sweep Saturday night in the rematch against the Broncos (10-14-1) at Lawson Arena. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m.