Sunday afternoon at the Lefty McFadden Invitational, the Miami RedHawks rebounded from their loss to North Dakota in style, shutting out the Wayne State Warriors 4-0 in the first-ever meeting between the schools. Freshman goaltender Jeff Zatkoff made 20 saves to earn the first shutout of his young career.
Miami has now won four of its last five games at its Invitational.
“Zatkoff kept us in the game the first ten minutes, and we were able to find our energy in the second,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “We have a lot of confidence in him. The team plays well in front of him. He makes the saves he needs to make and then he’ll come up with some saves that maybe not everybody thought he would make.”
“I felt really good,” added Zatkoff. “I was confident in the net, and the team played really well in front of me.”
Senior winger Taylor Hustead scored the first two goals of the game for the RedHawks. On the first, he fired a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that bounced off a defenseman and into the net. On the second, Hustead picked up the puck to netminder Will Hooper’s right and shoveled it in from just outside the crease.
“The first one was just one of those fluky goals that you get,” described Hustead. “The second one was a give-and-go out of the corner with my linemate Jeff Smith. He pretty much did all the work, and I was just able to finish it.”
Hustead is one of 17 returning players for Miami. Those 17 accounted for 84 percent of the team’s points last season, and Blasi expects the returning leadership to play a significant role in his team’s success this year.
“They’re going to lead the way,” said Blasi. “Five good seniors. Five seniors who have been to the national tournament and who have finished second in our league. They know what it takes to win games in our league. They’re the ones that will have to lead the way.”
“We know what it’s going to take to get back to the NCAA tournament,” added Hustead. “We know how hard it is, and we’re not going to take anything for granted.”
A pair of fortunate bounces off the end boards led to second-period goals by Nino Musitelli and Joe Cooper, giving Miami a 4-0 lead and putting the game out of reach.
The RedHawks (1-1-0) will have next weekend off to prepare for their conference opener at Nebraska-Omaha the following week. Meanwhile, Wayne State (0-2-0) will not play an official game until the final weekend of October, when it travels to Potsdam, N.Y., for a pair of games at Clarkson.