OXFORD, Ohio — Don’t tell the No. 7 Miami RedHawks (6-2-0, 3-1-0 CCHA) that their power play is not good. After starting the season with a 13% average on the power play, the RedHawks’ unit came alive tonight against their conference foe, the Bowling Green Falcons (2-3-1, 0-2-0 CCHA) with two power-play goals in a 3-0 shutout victory. It was the RedHawks’ sixth straight win against the Falcons and the protection of the puck by the RedHawks contributed a lot to their victory tonight.
“We didn’t turn the puck over and we did a good job of protecting the puck,” RedHawk head coach Enrico Blasi said.
Not only did the power play unit tally two of the RedHawks’ three goals, the play of RedHawk goaltender Jeff Zatkoff was flawless. Zatkoff stopped all 34 shots that he saw to tally his first shutout of the season.
“Zatkoff played really well tonight and saw the puck really well throughout,” Blasi said.
The Falcons would end the night with another good effort, but not enough to put one in the win column.
“The biggest thing was that we couldn’t get any pucks into the back of the net,” said Falcon head coach Scott Paluch.
The first period started out rather sluggish as both teams had trouble setting their offenses and taking control of the puck. The Falcons would begin their attack early and midway through the period, they out shot the RedHawks 8-1. The RedHawks out shot the Falcons 45-30 the previous night and the Falcons were able to bring the pressure early during the second game.
“I think it was one of the best games we played,” Paluch said. “We corrected a lot of things from last night.”
As was the story last night, referee Steve Piotrowski called a clean first period with only one penalty being called on each of the teams. However, the penalty on the Falcons would be costly as the RedHawks tallied their first goal of the game.
The first goal came at 12:47 after a penalty to Falcon Rich Meloche. Zatkoff fed the puck to Ryan Jones who skated up with three Falcons around him. Jones would deke Spratt and slide the puck past the Falcon goaltender for the RedHawks first power play goal of the game.
“Tonight we did a better job of keeping the puck low,” said RedHawk captain Ryan Jones.
The RedHawks would end the period with a one goal lead, but the Falcons were winning in the shots on goal column, out shooting the RedHawks 11-6.
The RedHawk power play would again tally a goal just four minutes into the second period. The goal came when defenseman Alec Martinez received a pass at the top of the slot and fired a wrist shot past Spratt to put the RedHawks ahead 2-0. Mitch Ganzak and Nathan Davis were credited with the assists. Martinez already has three goals on the season and along with his fellow defensemen has contributed nicely despite the loss of All-American Andy Greene.
“Alec has picked up his game and most nights all our [defensemen] have done that,” said Blasi.
The Falcons continued their intense offensive pressure on Zatkoff throughout the period, but the RedHawk goaltender continued to block all the shots that he saw.
“He played really well and I thought he did a terrific job with his rebounds,” Paluch said.
The RedHawks would tally one more goal before the end of the period on even strength. At 17:46, Davis picked up a rebound off a Michael Findorff wrist shot to give the RedHawks a commanding 3-0 lead. Jones would also be credited with the assist on the play.
The third period would end up being pretty uneventful as both teams went back and forth with the puck without tallying a goal. The RedHawks would tally the win with the 3-0 score and improve their conference record to 3-1-0. The penalty kill was able to kill every penalty they saw tonight allowing Zatkoff to get the shutout.
“It’s nice and comforting for a goalie going on the penalty kill knowing that your team will kills the penalties,” said Zatkoff.
As for the power play, Blasi added that his team is starting to feel more comfortable with the man advantage as the season rolls on.
“I just think our guys are starting to execute and feeling comfortable out there on the penalty kill,” Blasi said.
The Falcons will be home next week against Lake Superior, while the RedHawks will continue their homestand with a series against CCHA foe Northern Michigan.