BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — One night after clinching the CCHA regular season title, Miami sent a message, dominating last place Bowling Green in a 10-2 victory.
While the scoreboard was clearly in favor of Miami all night, the physical play on the ice took precedence, as 186 penalty minutes were handed out by the officials.
With just 37 seconds left in the second period, Bowling Green’s Max Grover plowed through Miami goalie Connor Knapp, inciting a minor brawl behind the RedHawks’ net.
“We’re going to take care of our goalie; we weren’t trying to be cheap, but if they’re going to take a shot at our goalie, we’re going to send a message,” Miami’s Brandon Smith said.
While Smith felt his teammates were just defending Knapp, Bowling Green captain Kyle Page felt the fisticuffs could have been avoided.
“I think he [Grover] was just finishing the play; he dumped it in on the goalie and it looked loose,” Page said. “In my opinion, he was just completing the play.”
Eight players received penalties for the incident, leading to a third period that saw Bowling Green insert third string goalie Phil Greer and Miami coach Enrico Blasi ejected.
On his way to the locker room, Blasi took his time to wave to the crowd and then took a bow in the direction of referee Kevin Hall before finally stepping off of the ice.
“Apparently, he didn’t like what I had to say,” Blasi said of the ejection.
Prior to Blasi’s ejection, he and Bowling Green coach Dennis Williams were seen exchanging words between the benches.
“It was just the heat of the battle,” Williams said.
While Williams and Blasi verbally assaulted each other, the game was already a forgone conclusion after Miami put together four second period goals on a night when nine different RedHawks had at least two points.
It was a far cry from Friday’s night contest when the teams played a close back-and-forth game ending in a 3-2 victory for the RedHawks.
“They definitely brought it up a gear; 10 goals on 32 shots is a pretty good shooting percentage,” Williams said.
For the second straight night, Miami jumped out to an early lead, as Pat Canone was able to poke a loose puck between Bowling Green goalie Andrew Hammond’s pad and the right post just 2:54 into the game.
Miami struck again just 3:42 later when Reilly Smith came out of the penalty box and was sprung for a breakaway by a pass from Andy Miele. After receiving the pass, Smith deked twice before sliding the puck under Hammond’s right pad.
Bowling Green almost cut Miami’s lead in half twice. First, Kai Kantola fired a shot over the glove of Knapp, but it came after a whistle was blown for offsides.
With 2:03 remaining, the Falcons had a flurry of chances at the goal mouth while on a power play, but Knapp was able turn away three shots in succession.
Miami doubled their lead in a span of 46 seconds in the second period when Curtis McKenzie scored on a deflection in front and Jarod Palmer banked one off Hammond’s pad and in.
The quick strike prompted Bowling Green to change goaltenders, bringing in junior Nick Eno. Hammond had stopped nine-of-13 shots before getting pulled.
The change seemed to give Bowling Green some life, as they finally broke through with 8:25 remaining in the second period. Jordan Sameuls-Thomas was able to jam home a rebound after the initial shot by James Perkin during a five-on-three advantage.
Despite the Falcons’ power-play goal, Miami didn’t let up, as they regained their four-goal lead on a wrist shot by Brandon Smith after a turnover in the Bowling Green zone.
Miami’s lead increased to 6-1 by the end of the second period, as Chris Wideman beat Eno with a wrist shot after Palmer made a nice spin move to keep the puck away from the BG defense.
“We kept our composure in the second period and they didn’t,” Reilly Smith said.
Miami scored four more goals in the third period, while Ian Ruehl added Bowling Green’s second goal of the game with 2:12 remaining to make the final score 10-2.
The RedHawks scored 10 goals on 32 shots against three different Falcon goalies, while Knapp stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced to get the win.
Miami will celebrate its regular season CCHA title after next Saturday’s game with Nebraksa-Omaha, while Bowling Green will host Notre Dame.