OXFORD, Ohio — The University of Alaska shocked the fans in Oxford, Ohio, as they upset the top-ranked Miami RedHawks 3-0, handing Miami their second loss of the season. The key to the game for Alaska was Wylie Rogers’ beautiful performance between the pipes. Rogers was able to shutout the RedHawks for the first time since Boston College blanked Miami in the NCAA tournament.
“I’m definitely proud of the guys,” said Alaska head coach Doc Del Castillo. “It’s good to see them rewarded. We capitalized on the opportunities we had in the game, and Wiley came up with some really great saves. But especially early in the game I think they outplayed us in the first. He came up with some great saves, for us to walk out and be up 1-0 after the first, that’s really a tribute to Wiley Rogers.”
In what seemed like dj vu, Tyler Eckford put Alaska on the board first with a power play goal. The goal came off of assists from Brandon Knelsen and Dustin Sather, and was the second power-play goal that Miami had given up in as many nights.
The RedHawks finished 0-4 on the power play in the first.
“I thought our guys did a good job of staying on the attack,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “They did a good job of blocking shots, and they didn’t really give us any second shots. When Wiley had to make a big save he did, and sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
As the second period began, the RedHawks couldn’t seem to muster anything that could beat Rogers. The aggravation of the RedHawks was seen about midway through the second, when they unleashed a hit so strong that it cracked one of the panes of glass that protects the fans from the action on the ice.
As the third period began, the tame Alaskan game play that was seen in the second was gone almost immediately. The Nanooks quickly sent two men to the penalty box. Miami was unable to exploit their two-man advantage though, and continued to play from behind. The RedHawks were able to unload shot after shot, but Rogers was able to block them.
“It’s a tribute to the guys as far as how they’re blocking shots and just playing good, solid defense,” noted Del Castillo, “The penalty kill is a reflection on how you play defensive hockey and we’re playing good defensive hockey.”
Rogers is the first CCHA goalie to shutout Miami since Ohio State’s Dave Caruso did so on January 10, 2006.
“He stood up and was definitely accountable,” said Del Castillo. “He over-achieved tonight. The other thing is it seemed like every time they were shooting we had guys in the shot lane. We blocked a lot of shots tonight and the ones that did get through, Wiley came up with big saves.”
Alaska was able to seal the deal after Miami was assessed a trio of penalties with under ten minutes to go. Miami’s Mitch Ganzak, Kevin Roeder, and Ryan Jones all were given penalties within a two-minute span. The RedHawks’ goalie, Jeff Zatkoff, just couldn’t handle the strong power play attack. Nathan Lawrence was able to snipe one past Zatkoff with 6:06 left in the game.
Pat Cannone unleashed his anger with a late hit late in the third. After Cannone and Alaska’s Brandon Gawryletz were sent to the box (Gawryletz was handed an interference penalty prior to the whistle), the Nanooks’ Ryan Muspratt put the final nail in the coffin for Miami when he scored on an empty net.
“I didn’t see (Cannones late hit),” said Blasi, “I saw we were getting ready for the power play and the next thing I know they’re taking Pat over to the box.”
Miami heads to Troy, N.Y., next week to take on the Rensselaer Engineers of the ECAC, while Alaska heads to Columbus, Ohio to clash with the Buckeyes of Ohio State.