OXFORD, Ohio — Don’t blink, or you might just miss it.
The Miami RedHawks didn’t need much time at all to lay a hurt on the visiting Michigan State Spartans, routing them, 6-0, at Steve Cady Arena in CCHA quarterfinal action. Freshman Jimmy Mullin had two goals and two assists, including the game-winner. Senior goaltender Connor Knapp stopped all 27 shots that the Spartans put on net, earning his 13th career shutout, setting a new Miami record.
Miami took the lead in the blink of an eye, only 12 seconds into the first period. Freshman Austin Czarnick took the opening faceoff into Spartans territory and, after skating behind the net, fired off a wrister that MSU’s sophomore goaltender Will Yanakeff denied off his pad. However, the rebound sat there on the ice right next to him, and Czarnick’s classmate Mullin was there to clean up the leftovers.
Mullin said that the goal was a big confidence boost for the team.
“Well, we got right in there and we were pretty excited to get the game started and when we got the puck in deep, we knew what we had to do.”
The Spartans had plenty of looks at Knapp early, challenging him with multiple shots from point-blank range, including one by junior Chris Forfar on a short-handed breakaway. Miami coach Enrico Blasi felt that maintaining control early on was crucial.
“I thought the first period could have gone either way. They had a couple good chances in the second, but then we turned around and scored a couple goals.”
The RedHawks blew the game open with four goals in the second period. At 3:44, Yanakeff stopped a shot by Mullin as the freshman came crashing through the slot, but senior Chris Wideman was trailing behind and potted the rebound for his second score of the season. Just 34 seconds later, freshman Tyler Biggs made it a 3-0 game when he beat Yanakeff on a breakaway following a turnover at center ice.
At 13:26 of the period, Mullin earned the first multi-goal game of his career when he faked out Yanakeff by crossing the front of the net and backhanded the puck behind the goalie.
The final goal of the period came courtesy of another freshman, Blake Coleman. With just 46 seconds remaining in the period, Coleman redirected a shot at the post taken by senior Cameron Schilling from the blue line, earning his 12th goal of the season.
Yanakeff was replaced in net by senior Drew Palmisano at the start of the final period. The sophomore had stopped 21 of 26 shots he faced. The final frame was relatively calm, though Miami junior Alden Hirschfeld added a power-play score at 10:13 of the period for the final tally of the night. Palmisano stopped 12 of 13 shots.
When the RedHawks killed off a crucial third period five-on-three penalty, Knapp saw that as a key statement made.
“We had a sizable lead at that point, but I just think the guys didn’t want to give them any hope going into tomorrow night.”
Michigan State coach Tom Anastos knows his players need to have short memories to rebound from the defeat, saying “We need to find a way to compete more aggressively. If we want to play on Sunday, we need to find a way to win tomorrow.”
MSU junior Anthony Hayes knew he didn’t want his season to end Saturday in Oxford, saying, “We know the feeling we had when we got to that locker room, and don’t want to have it ever again.”
If the Spartans can’t regroup, then their playoff dreams could be over in the blink of an eye.