DURHAM, N.H. — The nation’s top team, the Miami RedHawks, used a four goal second period to fly past the New Hampshire Wildcats, 6-3, and help back up their national ranking in a tough, non-conference game at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H.
When we were sharp tonight, we were really sharp, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. We have some veterans that have been in some big games, and as Im sure [New Hampshire] Coach Umile will tell you, youre only as good as your players.
The RedHawks scored four unanswered goals in the middle frame, including two by junior forward Carter Camper, which put Miami ahead for good and left some Wildcats fans heading for the exits a period early.
After an easy 2-on-1 goal by sophomore forward Alden Hirschfeld to break the first period tie and put Miami up 3-2, senior wing Jarod Palmer finished a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play with a one-timer from the slot that blew past Foster for a 4-2 lead.
Camper then added two more goals for Miami — one on the power play and another on a breakaway — to make it 6-2 before New Hampshire senior captain Bobby Butler cut the lead to 6-3 by the end of the period.
We had a pretty good first and a good third, but the second period is what got us, Butler said. If we play our game and dont make mistakes like we did tonight, we can play with this team.
New Hampshire stormed out of the gate in the first period, causing turnovers and outworking a sluggish Miami squad to take an early 1-0 lead only 2:06 into the game. Sophomore defenseman Blake Kessel faked a shot from the right point that sophomore forward Mike Borisenok quickly redirected past Miami goalie Cody Reichard to send the Wildcats student section into a frenzy.
Borisenoks early goal stunned the RedHawks, but Miami quickly woke up with a goal each from sophomore defensemen Cameron Schilling and Matt Tomassoni to take a 2-1 lead at 14:39 of the first period.
The momentum started to shift Miamis way after two late UNH penalties, but the energetic New Hampshire third line of junior Paul Thompson, Borisenok and Kevin McCarey struck again with only 26.8 seconds remaining in the opening frame to tie the score at two and keep New Hampshires upset hopes alive.
UNH really took it to us [in the first period] but we were fortunate to get two goals and come away tied, Blasi said. In the second period, I thought we had some good opportunities and played better on defense.
Despite gaining a four goal lead near the end of that fateful second period, coach Blasi said his players didnt let up because they know how skilled UNH is offensively.
We didnt feel relaxed one bit, he said. UNHs top two lines are as good as some of the best lines in the country.
Miami protected their lead successfully in the third with their own form of keep-away; the RedHawks made passes around UNH players and often gave up potential shot opportunities in favor of more puck possession time. The constant presence of Miami players in the neutral zone limited UNH shots and chances, as the Wildcats managed only six shots on goal in the games final 20 minutes, two of which came on a late power-play opportunity.
Obviously, the second period wasnt a good period by us, New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile said, But we can compete against them. We just have to play harder defensively. Theres no question we can skate against them, we just cant turn the puck over.
Miami and UNH face off again Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Whittemore Center.