OXFORD, Ohio — Leading the nation in shorthanded goals and then tallied another one to extend that lead and come away with a victory, Miami salvaged their weekend by bouncing back with a win over Clarkson (10-4-1, 5-2-1 ECAC) Saturday night.
The Redhawks (11-2-2, 10-1-1) defense and penalty kill was unstoppable all night as they killed all six penalties while tallying a shorthanded goal.
“It’s just the puck bouncing your way most of the times,” said RedHawk coach Enrico Blasi. “I thought our penalty kill was great tonight.”
The goaltending was also a factor for the RedHawks not only against the Golden Knight (10-4-1, 5-2-1 ECAC), but all weekend. After goaltender Charlie Effinger let up only one goal last night against the Saints, Jeff Zatkoff allowed just one goal and lowered his goals-against average against a Golden Knights team that lit up the Bowling Green Falcons for six goals Friday night.
“Every game (Effinger and Zatkoff) keep us in it by making great saves each night,” said RedHawk captain Andy Greene.
At the start of the first period both teams had plenty of opportunities to score, but couldn’t get the puck into the back of the net. The RedHawks got a few chances on the power play, but Golden Knight goalie Kyle McNulty turned away all eight shots he saw and the RedHawks went 0-4 on the power play.
Golden Knight coach George Roll added that his team’s ability to stay with the RedHawks was a major factor in their performance. “It’s big for us just to believe we could skate with a high-caliber team like Miami,” Roll said.
The first score of the game came shorthanded with just two minutes left in the first period. Greene couldn’t receive a pass at center ice and Golden Knight forward Nick Dodge pounced on the puck. Dodge skated in on a breakaway and slipped the puck through Zatkoff’s five-hole to make the score, 1-0.
“The kid made a good move on the puck and it happens,” Zatkoff said.
The second period started out pretty much the same way as both teams had plenty of opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize in front of the net. The RedHawk penalty kill was put to the test fairly early again. However, like in many games this year, the RedHawks were able to kill all three penalties on them.
In fact, the RedHawks would tally the equalizer goal on the penalty kill. The goal came when Greene fed Nathan Davis along the boards as he skated 1-on-1 and eventually deked McNulty in front the net to tap in the RedHawks’ sixth shorthanded goal of the season. The goal also tied Davis for second on the RedHawk all-time list with six shorthanded goals.
“That’s why he’s on the national team because of the player he is,” Greene said. The Golden Knights were more aggressive on the puck as they out shot the RedHawks, 13-9 in the second, but Zatkoff’s key saves allowed the RedHawks to keep it close and go into the locker room with a 1-1 tie and renewed confidence.
“(The saves) acted as a pump up for our team and gave us momentum,” Zatkoff said.
As the third period began both teams came out on the attack. Some bad passes on the RedHawk side allowed the Golden Knights to get some breakaways, but Zatkoff stayed superb between the pipes.
“I thought Zatkoff was the difference in the game and he kept us in it,” Blasi said.
The score wouldn’t stay tied for long as the Greene was able to redeem himself for the turnover he had in the first period. At 6:58, defenseman Alec Martinez found Greene at the top of circle to find McNulty screened and Greene fired a wrist shot that beat McNulty on the high glove side to make the score 2-1.
It was Greene’s sixth goal of the season and he is currently tied with Michigan Wolverine Jack Johnson for most goals by a CCHA defenseman. Greene also had another point when he assisted the goal to Davis.
“No matter what Andy is doing on the ice, he’s gonna make some sort of play,” said Blasi.
Despite their loss, the Golden Knights out shot the RedHawks 29-27 and left the game with their heads held high.
“We had nothing to be ashamed about and we left everything out on the ice,” Roll said.
As for the RedHawks, this win could help them move ahead of the Wisconsin Badgers in the national rankings after the Badger loss Friday night. The RedHawks will get a much-needed break and will travel to Columbus, Ohio at the end of the December for the Ohio Hockey Classic.
“We’ve got some guys that are banged up and Christmas is a good time to rest up mentally and physically,” Greene said.