ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Miami played the role of college hockey’s top-ranked team to perfection Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.
The RedHawks parlayed tight checking, smothering defense, solid goaltending and timely scoring to dominate Michigan, 5-1, and sweep their weekend series with the Wolverines.
By taking the two-game set, Miami handed the Michigan their first home two-game whitewash since Northern Michigan turned the trick in November, 2001.
“I just said to the guys in the locker room a couple of minutes ago that when you play as a team and you play together, it’s anybody’s night,” said Miami coach Rico Blasi. “Everybody’s contributing right now, our defense is pretty good and our goaltending is good.”
Freshman Reilly Smith scored his first two career goals, netminder Cody Reichard stopped all but one of Michigan’s 21 shots, and the RedHawks received stalwart defensive efforts from both the forward lines and the defense.
“Do I look surprised?” responded Blasi when asked about Reichard’s performance. “He’s been playing like that for us, as I said last night, for the better part of a year. It doesn’t shock us at all.
“I think that’s one of our team’s trademarks, to play team defense. Obviously, you have to do that against Michigan; otherwise they’re going to bury you. I thought our guys did a good job of keeping sticks in lanes, deflecting a lot of things to the outside and not giving them much room.”
Michigan jumped onto the scoresheet first halfway through the first period on a tip-in by David Wohlberg, but Miami knotted the score less than two minutes later on a clever move by Pat Cannone.
Wolverines’ defensemen Steve Kampfer fired a shot from just inside the blue line from the right point to start the Michigan scoring play. Positioned in the slot, Wohlberg tipped the shot over Reichard’s blocker at 10:43.
While playing four-on-four, RedHawks’ sophomore forward Alden Hirschfeld spun away from the half-boards and centered a pass to Cannone, who stepped just far enough to his right to create open space over Hogan’s glove as he cut toward the net. Cannone’s game-tying shot came at 12:22.
“I thought Cannone’s goal was important, playing four-on-four and tied one-to-one to give us a little bit of momentum going into the second period,” said Blasi.
Junior Andy Miele and freshman Smith scored for the RedHawks in a second period extending the Miami lead to two goals, 3-1.
On a play that developed out of the left corner, Miele beat Hogan sliding across the goal front on one knee at 7:32.
At 14:50, Smith one-timed a flip pass from Cannone over a sprawling Hogan.
Curtis McKenzie and Reilly added insurance goals for Miami in a third period, which saw very physical play turn into several pushing and shoving matches.
Of the game’s 95 minutes in penalties, 69 of those minutes came in the final period.
“I don’t know if anyone kept together real well,” said Blasi of the third period’s physicality. “It’s an emotional game. It’s a rivalry right now and, you know, we’re in their building. They fought hard and I think we matched their intensity.
“I don’t think there’s bad blood. There’s two good teams in early November going at it. We got some breaks this weekend and when we play next weekend, who knows, it could be the other way around.”
“I’m really disappointed in our overall effort tonight,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We wanted to rebound after a game which could have gone either way last night.
“We have played eight games and this, by far, was our worst game. It was like we were skating in sand. I don’t know if it was preparation. I don’t know if it was distractions. It wasn’t just one player.”
The RedHawks (8-1-1, 5-1-0-0 CCHA) return home for a pair of games next weekend against Ferris State while Michigan (4-4-0, 2-2-0-0 CCHA) faces in-state rival Michigan State next weekend in a home-and-home series.
“We’re trying to get better every day,” said Blasi. “We’re trying to focus on the games we’re playing right now. This weekend was a big weekend for us. Now, we have a bus ride home. We’re going to enjoy it and then we’ve got to get ready for Ferris State. Rankings to us don’t mean anything till the end of the year. We’ve got a long way to go and there’s a long process involved to do that.”