OXFORD, Ohio — No. 1 Miami took the ice tonight for the first time in nearly two weeks. When we last saw them, they were shutting down the Griffins of Canisius en route to an 11-1 victory.
There was some early rust exposed early as the Hawks allowed a Tyler Eckford power-play goal while down two men. The Eckford goal came off of assists from Adam Naglich and Dust Sather. After what can only be called a sloppy first period the score was 1-0 in favor of the Nanooks, the RedHawks failed to capitalize on power play attempts. Alaska had some bad penalties, including a late interference call against T.J. Campbell.
The RedHawks opened the second period with a bang though. Captain Ryan Jones was able to put the equalizer in off of a Pat Cannone assist 25 seconds into the period. They nearly scored again with about 15 minutes left in the period; as the RedHawks began to encroach upon the Nanook goal, Sather committed a hook that likely saved Alaska from giving up the go-ahead goal.
I think our captains and our seniors do a pretty good job in the locker room preparing the team for battle, said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. We made a couple of reminders in the locker room in between periods, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Going into the second, the Nanooks had held Miami to a season low three shots on goal. By the midway mark of the second period, the Hawks had already managed to get six times that number while the Nanooks, who had five shots on goal after the first, had only added two more to that total.
I think we did a good job, said Alaska head Coach Doc Del Castillo. We blocked a lot of shots, which I think had something to do with their shot total at the end of the first period. I think that if we dont block those shots then they have 10, 11,12,13 shots which is about what theyre getting every period.
The Nanooks failed to capitalize on a power play resulting from a Miami bench penalty. The Nanooks had crashed the Miami net, but were unable to get the puck past Miami netminder Jeff Zatkoff. The second ranked goaltender in the nation, Zatkoff stood strong in the face of a fierce Nanook attack and was able to fend off a shot after shot until the Hawks were able to regain control and clear the puck down the ice.
After two periods of play, the score was knotted up at one a piece.
It seemed that a different Miami team took the ice in the second period. The RedHawks came out and looked like the same team that earned their spot atop the polls as the number one team in Division I hockey. As Alaska began to accumulate more penalties, the RedHawks played a much more disciplined game than the one we saw in the first period. The team was on the attack for most of the period, but the RedHawks were still unable to get the job done on the power play.
After two periods, Miami was 0-for-5.
The Nanooks on the other hand seemed to get sloppier as the game went on. Alaska allowed the RedHawks to attack early and suffered because of it. It seemed as if they were unable to regain composure after Joness goal.
The third period saw more missed chances for the Nanooks.
On a 3-on-1 break away, they let a golden opportunity slip by as they were unable to keep control of the puck as Zatkoff was slow to move to defend the exposed left side of the net. What kept them in the game was the fantastic effort Chad Johnson was giving between the pipes.
Johnson was able to stonewall the RedHawks nearly every time it looked as though they might be able to poke it through for the go-ahead goal. Time after time the RedHawks would crash the net and each time Johnson would answer with another impressive save.
I think Chad gave us an opportunity to win, and we didnt capitalize on that opportunity, said Del Castillo. Unfortunately theres one major difference maker on the ice, and thats the reason you win a lot of hockey games.
With about 10 minutes left Johnson had literally fallen down on the job. Lucky for him and the Nanooks, Miami didnt even see that they Johnson was out of position., and didnt even shoot the puck. The Nanooks responded with a near goal by Landon Novotney, but Zatkoff was able to stonewall him.
After a tripping penalty against Miamis Garry Steffes, the Nanooks were finally able to generate some offense, but Jeff Zatkoff was able to make two consecutive remarkable saves to prevent the Nanooks from taking their Second lead of the night. Zatkoff and the Hawks were able to kill the penalty, and kept the Nanooks in check.
With 4:54 left in the game Jones showed the Nanooks why he and the RedHawks are the best team in all the land when he sniped the go-ahead goal right past Johnson. The goal came off of assists from Brian Kaufman and Charlie Fetzer. The Nanooks werent going to go down easy though.
The game quickly became a four-on-four event after each team was handed contact to the head penalties. The Nanooks tried to put shot after shot by Zatkoff, but it was to no avail as the RedHawks man between the pipes would have none of that, quickly dispatching each shot as if he was swatting flies.
The RedHawks were able to put the game away as Jones put in his third goal of the night off of a Brian Kauffman assist in the last 30 seconds of the game. The hat trick was Joness second of the season. Shortly after Joness goal, the final horn sounding signaling yet another Miami victory, as the RedHawks outscored the Nanooks 3-1.
They did a good job blocking shots, said Blasi. We certainly had our opportunities, but Johnson played well. I think tomorrow night well have to be ready to execute.