OXFORD, Ohio — Riley Gill made 47 saves and Mike Levendusky scored his first goal collegiate goal for Western Michigan, but it wasn’t enough, as top-ranked Miami defeated Western Michigan, 2-1, Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena, earning a weekend sweep of the Broncos.
Juniors Pat Cannone and Andy Miele scored for Miami, who increased their CCHA win streak to 17 games. Miami improved to 18-4-6 overall, and 15-1-4-2 in the CCHA, while Western Michigan dropped to 6-15-5 overall, and 2-14-4-1 in the CCHA.
“I thought we played pretty well all weekend long, we played our game both nights,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. “Gill played great in net both nights for Western; I think he may have seen close to 100 shots total. But whether its Miele’s line, (Carter) Camper’s line, or Cannone’s line, everybody contributes and that’s the way its been all year.”
Both teams had great chances to take the lead in the first period, but neither the Broncos nor the RedHawks could convert.
Miami’s best chance came less than seven minutes in, when the RedHawks were holding the puck along the sideboards in the Broncos’ zone. Miami’s Jarrod Palmer fired a pass to Andy Miele, who skated around a defender and was in on a breakaway. Gill got just enough of Miele’s backhand to send it just wide of the post.
Western Michigan nearly took the lead when a Miami turnover at center ice created a two-on-one for the Broncos. Sophomore J.J. Crew entered the Miami zone with the puck and passed it around a RedHawks’ defender to an open Max Campbell, who saw his wrist shot hit the post to keep the game scoreless.
The scoreless game ended on Miami’s third power play of the contest early in the second period. Cannone opened the scoring for the RedHawks after one-timing a pass past Gill for his eighth goal of the season. Camper and RedHawks’ captain Tommy Wingels traded passes along the blue line before Camper found an open Cannone to the right of the Broncos’ goal. Wingels added his team-best 29th point of the season with the assist.
The RedHawks continued to pressure the Broncos’ net throughout the second period, but couldn’t put a second shot past Gill, who registered 32 saves through the first two periods.
“Gill was great tonight in net,” said Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane. “We battled them until the end, and Gill had a lot of saves that kept us in the game throughout, especially in the second period when he faced a lot of Miami shots.”
Although they were outshot 33-10 through two periods, the Broncos came out in the third period and stunned the Miami crowd with a quick goal less than five minutes in. Sophomore winger Greg Squires fired back-to-back shots on Miami goalie Connor Knapp, with the second one forcing a rebound that bounced out to Levendusky, who controlled the puck and fired it past Knapp to the stick side to score the first goal of his career and even up the score 1-1 early in the third period.
Gill continued to be strong in net for the Broncos, stopping the first 14 shots he faced in the third period. Miami finally broke through to take the lead with less than five minutes to go on their 47th shot of the night. Miami senior Jarrod Palmer flung a wrist shot at the Broncos’ net that Gill fought off. The rebound bounced out to the front of the goal, where a number of RedHawks’ and Broncos’ players were fighting for position. The puck scrambled out to Miele, whose one-tine slap shot beat Gill to give the Miami the lead for good.
“Miele’s goal was huge for us,” said Blasi. “Tonight’s win got us some huge points. In a game where we thought we were getting a lot of scoring chances, not a lot of our shots went in. It’s pretty tough mentally and physically when you can’t convert on chances, but you have to stay focused and we did.”