OXFORD, Ohio — Three periods and overtime were not enough to decide the winner on the eve of Miami University’s bicentennial celebration.
In a game that was a black-tie affair for some in attendance, fans were treated to a fantastic shootout between the Miami RedHawks and the Northern Michigan Wildcats. For two straight nights, the goaltending of Brian Stewart haunted the RedHawks ‘shooters, as Stewart would not give up an inch against the home team. However the RedHawks were able to best the junior from Burnaby, British Columbia to pick up a win, splitting the weekend series.
“I thought we played very well defensively,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. “We certainly had our chances. On Connone’s shot in the shootout, we were holding our breath.”
The Wildcats scored first when senior Nick Sirota slapped one past Connor Knapp and into the back of the net. The goal came off of assists from freshmen Andrew Cherniwchan and Tyler Gron and silenced the relatively small Miami crowd.
Miami was able to sneak one past Stewart when Carter Camper tipped in a rebound off of a shots from Pat Cannone and Chris Wideman less than two minutes into the second period. The power-play goal knotted the game up and gave the fans at the Steve Cady Arena something to cheer about for the first time all weekend.
Miami’s Tommy Wingles streaked down ice on a breakaway with 6:31 left in the period. Stewart stopped the shot easily and sent it back off his blocker. However, Northern’s Justin Florek was collared for a slashing call that sent Wingles flying headfirst into both the goal and Stewart, resulting in a charging the goalie call against Wingles. The crowd in Oxford exploded in a chorus of boos directed towards referees John Philo and Neil Stafford, but Wildcats’ coach Walt Kyle was more confused about the slashing call rather than the charge.
“If you watch the replay, there was no slash at all, zero slash,” said Kyle. “What happened was Wingles was driving towards the net and one of our guys hit him, and Wingles was just being aggressive, and it wasn’t really his fault that he hit the goaltender, but I wonder where they saw that slash.”
While the RedHawks were unable to score on the power play that kicked off the final period of play, their special teams had played well the whole game. While having just one power-play goal on a plethora of opportunities, they showed perfection on the penalty kill, not allowing a single goal on all five of Northern’s power plays.
“They kicked our [butts],” said Kyle. “Our goalie played well, and he kept us in the game. I thought the effort was not good up front. I didn’t think our forwards did anything. I thought Miami did outstanding.”
With a potential shootout looming, both teams took to the ice with a fire under their skates to kick off the five-minute overtime period. Miami controlled the action for much of the extra frame, but Northern was able to put a scare into the Cady Crazies when a muffed clear led to an open shot for the Wildcats. Knapp made a great save and kept the game tied.
Miami sent Camper, Cannone and Jarrod Palmer to the ice to face Stewart while Northern Michigan sent Mark Olver, Gregor Hanson, and Erik Gustafsson to challenge Knapp.
Olver was able to put the biscuit in on his shot, blasting it right past Knapp. Camper put some flair into his shot, going with an infamous triple deke before putting the puck past Stewart. Both teams came up short on their second shooters and Gustafsson was also stoned on his attempt. With the game on his shoulders, Cannone went head on towards Stewart before going top shelf for the game-winning goal. Cannone’s goal marked the second time this season that he won a shootout for the RedHawks, the first time coming against Ferris State.
“I kind of maybe psyched myself out a bit,” said Stewart. “I’ve been in two shootouts this year so far. I had some trouble in the first one, but won the second one. I still think I need some work. Camper had a great backhand goal and the second guy just ripped it top corner, I’ve got to give them both credit.”
Next weekend Miami takes on in-state rival Ohio State in a home-home series while Northern Michigan heads back to Marquette to take on Lake Superior State.