OXFORD, Ohio — The last time Notre Dame (3-5-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) came into Oxford, Ohio, they were swept right out of Goggin Ice Arena. The Fighting Irish would do their best to forget that moment as they faced off against the Miami RedHawks (6-2-0, 5-1-0) in front of a capacity crowd at Goggin.
However, a blown lead for the Irish was the story of the night, as the RedHawks came back in the third period to tie the game and send it to overtime. Both teams went scoreless in sudden death and a 2-2 tie was the eventual result.
“I thought we played a good game tonight. It was a good sign for our team
to come back in the third period and keep attacking,” RedHawks head coach Enrico Blasi said.
Charlie Effinger got the nod for Miami between the pipes with his CCHA best goals-against average of 1.33. The RedHawks entered the game with an unstoppable penalty-kill unit that killed 31 penalties in a row, but the Fighting Irish converted on back-to-back power plays to end that streak.
The RedHawks brought the offensive attack very early in the first period, as they had three power plays. However, Fighting Irish goaltender David Brown stopped every shot he saw between the pipes and the RedHawks missed their opportunities with the man advantage.
Both teams also were very defensive in the first period as there were only 18 total shots on goal. The lone prime scoring chance came when Irish defenseman Chris Trick fired a slap shot that banged off the crossbar. The period ended with at a 0-0 deadlock and the Miami crowd fired up.
However, the momentum shifted at the 3:48 mark when Fighting Irish winger Mark Van Guilder received a pass from defenseman Wes O’Neill and banked a wrist shot past Effinger for a power-play goal.
The Fighting Irish continued to capitalize on their power-play chances through the second period. The second power play goal of the game came at 4:59 when Fighting Irish center Josh Sciba fired a one-timer past Effinger on a pass from Tim Wallace and put the Irish ahead 2-0. Fighting Irish head coach Jeff Jackson commented that his team had worked on their special teams all summer.
“It’s something we’ve had to focus on because it’s been one of our weaknesses,” Jackson said.
Throughout the second period, the RedHawks could not figure out Brown as he continued to stop every shot. The RedHawks had a few chances to cut the lead to one goal, but Brown shook off his 4.33 goals-against average and shut down the RedHawk offensive for another period.
“After their two goals, we lost our composure, but we really took it to them in the third,” Blasi said.
Depsite a slow beginning to the third period, the RedHawks finally scored a goal of their own at the 7:16 mark when Andy Greene found Matt Christie for a tap-in power play goal to make the score 2-1, ending Brown’s shutout bid.
With the third period winding down, Effinger was playing with renewed intensity and made key saves to keep the RedHawks within reach.
The Miami offense was able to tally another goal against Brown to make the score 2-2. Defenseman Mitch Ganzak held the puck behind the net until he found Marty Guerin in front to fire a wrist shot for the equalizer at 17:05.
“It’s disappointing. I think our kids played hard until the third period,” Jackson said.
Both teams failed to score in the extra frame, and the RedHawks ended the game with a moral victory and their first tie of the season.
“It’s definitely nice to get a point out of a game like that,” said Marty Guerin who hit the equalizer goal.
Despite the tie, the Fighting Irish left the game with their heads held high in preparation for tomorrow night’s contest.
“I know we competed hard because Miami is not nationally ranked for nothing,” Jackson said.
The RedHawks will face off again against the Fighting Irish tomorrow night at Goggin Ice Arena for a 7:35 P.M. start. Freshman Jeff Zatkoff will likely get the nod in goal for the RedHawks as Coach Blasi continues to utilize both of his goalies each weekend.
The RedHawks will look to take greater advantage of their opportunities tomorrow night.
“We need to limit our mistakes and take advantage of our chances,” Blasi said.