OXFORD, Ohio — On a rare Thursday night contest against Robert Morris, the Miami RedHawks (21-10-4) crushed the hottest team in the country 7-3.
Robert Morris (13-14-1), owner of the nation’s longest winning streak at five, had not allowed an opponent more than two goals during their surge; however, the Colonials found themselves behind three to nil within the first six minutes of the non-conference matchup. The Colonials braved the storm but were never able to fully recover from their gargantuan early-game breakdowns.
The RedHawks jumped out to a three-goal lead thanks in large part to the newly formed first line of Ryan Jones, Nathan Davis, and Marty Guerin. An injury to starting forward Brian Kaufman against the Alaska Nanooks forced Miami head coach Enrico Blasi to shuffle around the offensive lines. After playing inconsistently for three games, the line seems to be starting to gel.
Jones’ first goal came just 1:10 into the game. Guerin brought the puck into the offensive zone before finding Jones in the slot. Jones skated in front of the net and scored glove-side on Colonial netminder Joe Tuset.
A little over two minutes later, on a power play, Jones and Guerin teamed up again to give the Red and White a two-goal lead. Guerin rifled a shot from the left point and Jones deflected the shot for his second goal of the game.
The first line was at it again two minutes later with a goal from Davis. Defenseman Ray Eichenlaub took a shot from the point and Davis poked the rebound in for his 18th goal of the season for a 3-0 lead.
After stopping a flurry of shots, RedHawk goalie Charlie Effinger let one past on a rebound shot by sophomore Chris Margott 14:03 into the first period. The goal moved the Colonials within two at 3-1. The score would stay that way after one period.
MU took a 4-1 lead on a shorthanded goal by Guerin 7:31 into the second period. Already with two assists, Guerin scored on an incredible individual effort. In between the circles with a defender separating him from the goalie, Guerin passed the puck by the defender and to himself, scoring above Tuset’s outstretched glove arm.
Pushed to the brink, RMU scored two goals in the next five minutes, pulling within one at 4-3. The Colonials responded less than a minute after Guerin’s goal on a tic-tac-toe pass to Aaron Clarke. Clarke scored with three seconds remaining on an Eichenlaub penalty.
Kyle Frieday pulled the Colonials within one on an even-strength goal from the right circle 12:30 into the second via the five-hole.
Senior center Geoff Smith’s gave the RedHawks a little breathing room on a power-play goal 16:36 into the second, extending the lead to 5-3. Near the crease, Smith gathered Davis’ shot from the point, and with Tuset off-balance, patiently placed a backhand shot into the empty net. The goal marked Smith’s second in back-to-back games.
Like the first period, the RedHawks exerted their will in the third period for a pair of goals on 14 shots. Naturally, the goals came from the first line, the first courtesy of captain Jones. 4:30 into the final stanza, Jones scored his third goal of the contest, giving him his second career hat trick and 23 goals on the season. Guerin added his second goal of the night four minutes later to put the finishing touches on the scoring. Like Jones, Guerin finished with four points on the night.
Overall, Blasi seemed pleased with his team’s performance against the Colonials. “[Robert Morris] played hard tonight. They got back into the game. It was tight there for a little bit. I thought we played really well in the third. We controlled our turnovers and made goal-scoring chances.”
MU will travel to Pittsburgh to finish the home-and-away series with RMU this Saturday at 7:35 ET. MU will make the long trek to Northern Michigan next weekend for its final regular-season series. Next weekend, RMU will host Wayne State.
M.D. Sandwasher writes for Blogcritics.com.