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College Hockey:
RedHawks Red Hot Against Notre Dame

— As the final season of Goggin Ice Arena continues in Oxford, Ohio, the Miami RedHawks (6-2-1, 5-1-1 CCHA) donned their 1978 throwback jerseys as they continued their weekend series with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-5-1, 2-2-1). This was the fourth nationally-ranked team that the Fighting Irish had squared off against this season.

Both teams brought the intensity all night, but the RedHawks emerged with a 3-0 victory on the shoulders of freshman goaltender Jeff Zatkoff’s second shutout of his young career. The RedHawks have used a two goaltender system all season and it continues to work for them as both Zatkoff and Charlie Effinger have the top goals-against averages in the CCHA.

“Both our goaltenders played extremely well this weekend and they always give us chances to win,” RedHawk head coach Enrico Blasi said.

The first period started out with the RedHawks on the attack, but Fighting Irish goalie David Brown repeated his performance last night of not allowing a goal in the first 20 minutes. Brown had a close call, however, when Taylor Hustead appeared to have tapped the puck past the line. Referee Matt Shegos waved the goal off, however.

The momentum seemed to shift as the Fighting Irish piled up shots on Zatkoff during RedHawk defensive lapses. However, Zatkoff made key saves between the pipes that kept the game scoreless for the first period.

“{Notre Dame} played real well both nights and they made us work for it both nights,” Zatkoff said.

The scoreless tie would be broken in at the 17:24 mark of the second period when RedHawk Mitch Ganzak found Nathan Davis at the top of the slot where he fired a wrist shot that deflected off the stick of Ryan Jones and into the net. The goal was the fourth of the year for Jones. The RedHawks entered the locker room with a one-goal lead.

The third period started with both teams bringing the intensity exhibited at the beginning of the game. There were six roughing penalties called on both teams as they exchanged shoves and punches in front of the net.

“Any time there is stuff around the goaltender, there those animal instincts to fight back,” said Fighting Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.

The phenomenal play of Zatkoff continued throughout the period as he stood up to the Irish attack and made key saves to keep the one-goal lead for the RedHawks halfway through the third period.

“I thought we played well in the first half of the game, but they picked it up a notch and I don’t think we could match it,” Jackson said.

The RedHawks special teams would take advantage of their chances as they scored two goals to round out the third period. One of them came on the power play and the other came shorthandedl.

“I just thought it was a continuation of what we try to do, which is play fundamental hockey,” Blasi said.

The first goal came on the power play when the Davis found Jones in front of the net to tap in his second goal of the game at the 12:57 mark. This was Jones’ second two-goal game of the season and the third of his career. He credits the two goals tonight with his mentality of staying up in front of the net.

“My game is just to go to the front of the net and that second goal was beautiful,” Jones said.

The second goal of the period came shorthanded. Justin Mercier found winger Matt Christie who fired a wrist shot past Brown at the 15:30 mark to make the score 3-0.

“We had to take advantage of our chances, which we did tonight,” Blasi said.

Zatkoff made 27 saves on his way to his fourth win of the season. The RedHawk penalty kill also continued its dominance as it killed all five Fighting Irish penalties.

“Something that we really stressed for tonight was our special teams,” Jones said.

Fighting Irish goalie Brown made 27 saves as well, but allowed three goals in the process. Coach Jackson stressed his team’s need to work on its play in the third period for future games.

“We have to learn from the mistakes we make late in the game,” Jackson said.

Coach Blasi also said that his team needed to sit down and learn from its mistakes this weekend as it continues its run for its first CCHA title since 1993.

“We’re going to sit down and watch tape to make sure that we limit our mistakes,” Blasi said.

Both teams will be home next weekend as the RedHawks square off against the Bowling Green Falcons at Goggin Ice Arena and the Fighting Irish meet the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Joyce Center.

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