OXFORD, Ohio — Coming off their first series sweep of the Michigan Wolverines since 1998, the No. 2 Miami RedHawks (11-2-1, 10-1-1 CCHA) continued their schedule against nationally ranked competition as they faced off against the No. 14 St. Lawrence Saints (11-5-0. 6-2-0 ECAC) at Goggin Ice Arena.
The contest would end in a 1-1 tie as the Saints were able to stop the RedHawks powerful offensive. This was the first time the RedHawks scored one goal or less since October 8, when they played the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.
“That’s a big quality point for us tonight,” Saints coach Joe Marsh said. “It was a good road performance for our team and we did well with our mistake management.”
The story of the game had to be the superb goaltending on both sides of the ice. RedHawk goalie Charlie Effinger continued his unbeaten streak as he turned away 26 shots and improved upon his CCHA leading 1.48 goals-against average. Saints goalie Justin Pesony was equal to the task as he turned away 30 shots in his performance.
“Tonight there was a hot goaltender at the other end,” Effinger said.
The first period started very slowly for both teams as neither of them was able to get a shot on goal in the first three minutes of play. The RedHawks put their penalty kill unit to work fairly early in the contest. Joe Cooper was busted for a slashing penalty at 2:44, but the RedHawks killed it easily and showed why they have the fourth best penalty kill unit in the nation.
“They are a team that doesn’t seem to show a lot of weaknesses at all,” Marsh said.
The first score of the game did not happen until the 18:40 mark when Nathan Davis was able to capitalize on a loose puck. Nino Musitelli gathered up the loose puck and then fed Davis at center ice where he did a stop and go and fired a wrist shot from the top right circle to beat Pesony on the stick side.
It was Davis’s seventh goal of the season and his team-leading 14th point of the season. And the first period would end with the RedHawks on top.
The second period would see an increase of the shots on goal as both teams combined for 24 shots in the period compared to 13 in the first. The RedHawks would kill three more penalties while bring the offense, but it wasn’t enough to combat the St. Lawrence attack.
At the 12:23 mark in the second period, Saints defenseman Matt Generous found Mike Madill just in front of the blue line where he fired a slap shot that bounced off of Effinger’s leg pad and into the back of the net. Marsh added that during the intermission, his team changed some things to get more opportunities on Effinger.
“We just did some housekeeping things to keep the puck a little lower,” Marsh said.
Both teams would have plenty chances throughout the period, but the play of Effinger and Pesony allowed the score to stay deadlocked at 1-1. Effinger caught a few breaks when the Saints would fire shots wide or even hit the post, but still made some key acrobatic saves. Effinger thought his play was a confidence booster for his team
“I’d like to think that I’m picking us up and the key to goaltending is just making good saves,” Effinger said.
However, the RedHawks offense would turn the puck over and Pesony made some key glove saves for the Saints.
“You can’t turn the puck over because they’ll make you pay for it,” RedHawk coach Enrico Blasi said.
The third period would be uneventful for both teams as they were unable to capitalize on their chances in front of the net. The RedHawks had a chance to go ahead in the third when they had a 5-on-3 advantage for 49 seconds. However, the Saints penalty kill was able to play strong and the RedHawks ended the power play empty handed.
“I thought we played hard for 60 minutes, but so did they,” said Blasi.
The scoreless third period would send the game into overtime. The Saints had already won two games this season in overtime against Quinnipiac and No. 1 Wisconsin; they had also fallen in OT to the Badgers. The RedHawks tied their only game that was sent to overtime against Notre Dame.
The impressive goaltending continued for both teams and Pesony and Effinger were able to stop all the shots they saw and the game ended in a stalemate. The RedHawks continued their penalty kill dominance as they killed all six penalties against them and the Saints were able to provide good defense against the RedHawk offensive. Both teams earned a point from the tie, but the Saints seemed to savor it more.
“It was a good chance to get into the national picture,” said Pesony.
Both teams will continue their weekends against a different opponent Saturday night. The Saints will travel to BGSU Ice Arena and face the Bowling Green Falcons. The RedHawks will stay home and welcome the No. 13 Clarkson Golden Knights. The RedHawks hope to stay atop the rankings with a win against the Golden Knights, but Coach Blasi admits it will be a tough task.
“It will be more of the same (as St. Lawrence),” Blasi said. “They’ve got some players that are dangerous and we’ll have to bring our best tomorrow.”