OXFORD, Ohio — Jarod Palmer tallied three points and Joe Hartman had two assists as top-ranked Miami defeated Nebraska-Omaha, 6-2, Friday night at Steve Cady Arena.
The win extends Miami’s unbeaten streak to 11 straight. Five different skaters scored on the night for the RedHawks, who move to 23-4-6 overall, and 20-1-4-2 in the CCHA. Sophomore winger Alex Hudson scored two goals in a losing effort for the Mavericks, who dropped to 16-13-6 overall, and 12-12-3-2 in the CCHA.
Although Miami clinched the CCHA regular season title last weekend, coach Enrico Blasi didn’t want his team to let up for the remainder of the regular season.
“This team is just focused on one day at a time,” said Blasi. “You go out there and play hard and you leave it all on the ice. It’s going to be really hard if you take some weeks off and try to turn it on again. You have to keep the pressure on and keep working hard and they are doing that.”
The RedHawks opened the scoring early in the first period, scoring less than two minutes in. Palmer took a Vincent LoVerde pass at center ice and brought the puck into the Mavericks’ zone. Palmer fired a wrist shot from the blue line right over the shoulder of Mavericks’ freshman goalie John Faulkner to give the RedHawks an early 1-0 lead and their quickest goal of the season.
The lead for the RedHawks didn’t last long, as the Mavericks equaled the score less than six minutes later. Just after a Miami power play ended, Hudson picked up the puck at center ice during a RedHawks’ line change. Hudson brought the puck into the Miami zone and fired a wrist shot at Miami goalie Cody Reichard. Hudson’s shot beat Reichard five-hole to even up the score at one.
Miami senior Brandon Smith, who scored twice in Miami’s 10-2 win over Bowling Green last weekend, put the RedHawks back in front at 11:49 of the first period. After a Mavericks’ turnover at center ice, Miami freshman Devin Mantha dumped the puck into the UNO zone. Fellow classmate Steve Mason reached the puck first and found an open Smith to the left of the Mavericks’ goal. His wrist shot found the bottom left corner of the net to regain the lead for the RedHawks, 2-1.
The goal-filled first period continued, as the Mavericks came from behind a second time in 20 minutes. After back-to-back Miami penalties gave UNO a five-on-three advantage, Alex Hudson tallied his second goal of the game and 11th of the season to even the score at two. Hudson fired a one-time slap shot from the blue line past the glove of Reichard after trading passes at the top of the Miami zone with teammate Eddie DelGroso.
Miami regained the lead for good early in the second period when junior Justin Vaive redirected a Will Weber shot from the blue line past Faulkner for his fourth goal of the season. Weber took a pass from linemate Joe Hartmann at the blue line and put a wrist shot on net. Vaive’s stick was the first to reach the puck, as the redirect beat Faulkner to give Miami a 3-2 advantage.
“I think Miami is one of the best teams we have seen all season,” said UNO coach Dean Blais. “Miami is quick and they have a little bit of everything. They skate well, they make plays, they forecheck well, and they have a great goaltender, who is one of the best in the country.”
The offensive game continued for Miami after its third goal, as they doubled their score at 13:11 of the second period. Pat Cannone scored his 10th goal of the season for the RedHawks, as they took advantage of a five-on-three power play. Cannone received a pass behind the Mavericks’ net from Palmer, and after skating to the right, tried to put a pass across the crease to a teammate. The puck hit Faulkner in the leg and bounced into the net to give Miami a 4-2 lead.
The defense for the RedHawks picked up in the second period, allowing only five shots on net after seeing Reichard face 11 in the opening period.
“I think three-fourths of our forwards got one or zero shots on net tonight and that won’t do it for us,” said Blais. “It was like we ran out of emotion as the game went along. Miami was the better team tonight. We might not have even won if we played our best game, and we got what we deserved.”
The fifth goal for the RedHawks came less than five minutes into the third period when Reilly Smith’s rebound shot beat Faulkner glove side. Palmer took a pass from Carter Camper along the boards by the Mavericks’ bench and skated into the UNO zone with the puck. Palmer put a shot on net that forced Faulkner to give a rebound, and Smith got to it first, putting his backhand shot just above the glove of Faulkner to give the RedHawks a 5-2 edge.
Trent Vogelhuber added a short-handed empty-net goal for the RedHawks with under a minute to go to give Miami their sixth goal of the game.
The two teams face off again tomorrow night in Oxford at 7:05 p.m.