MARQUETTE, Mich. — With another close, one goal win against the Northern Michigan Wildcats, the Miami RedHawks likely will keep their first place ranking. Last night’s game went 4-3 in the RedHawks favor; tonight’s was similar, but with tighter defense.
The first period resembled a tennis match, but Northern Michigan won the first set. When Miami took an interference call, the Wildcats used the five-on-four to their advantage. Ray Kaunisto passed the puck to Erik Gustafsson, who found Mark Olver just outside the faceoff circle. Olver fired a wrist shot that soared over RedHawks’ goalie Cody Reichard.
Like last night, the second period is where Miami excelled. They scored a set of power-play goals, starting at 9:22, when sophomore Chris Wideman got his first career goal.
“We had four and a half good periods this weekend,” Gustafsson said. “We played our style of game. We got the puck out of our zone, put it in their zone. Forechecked really well. Caused their ‘D’ to do a lot of turnovers and kept possession down low in their zone. We got away from that in the second both nights and part of that was penalties. We have to stay out of the box and we have to get better on our penalty kill.”
The RedHawks took the lead at 14:37 with their second power-play goal of the night. Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels passed the puck through three Wildcats’ players to find the back of the net, Wingels with the goal.
“They capitalized on two of our mistakes tonight,” Wildcats’ coach Walt Kyle said. “We had a young guy come off the bench too early, took a too many men, and their power play did a great job. They had another power play early. We had an individual breakdown and they had a guy get deep one-on-one at the blue line and he had a breakaway. Our power play is fine right now but our penalty kill isn’t.”
“When you play a team this good, you have to play 60-minute hockey and when you don’t, they’re going to make you pay for it,” Gustafsson said. “We paid for it both nights. You have to be at your best all the time, not just the first and third periods.”
“I don’t judge on wins and losses, I judge on the effort of play and I thought our guys played well this weekend,” Kyle said. “To me, the play this weekend is pretty indicative of who we are, in a positive way. We just played one of the best teams in the country and had two tight, one-goal games. The difference tonight was that they scored on a breakaway and we missed three. They only outshot us 26-25.”
Northern Michigan will head to Columbus to face Ohio State next weekend. Miami will head to Ann Arbor for their second road series in a row.