OXFORD, Ohio — The Miami RedHawks (6-2-1, 3-2-0) enjoyed a youth movement against the Northern Michigan Wildcats (4-4-1, 1-3-1), with four underclassmen scoring on special teams in a 5-2 victory Friday night in Oxford. Sophomore Cody Murphy and freshmen Matthew Caito and Riley Barber all scored on power plays, with sophomore Austin Czarnik adding a short-handed goal.
Czarnik said that RedHawks were playing with a combination of confidence, effort, and good fortune.
“Tonight we came out as a team,” he said. “Everybody’s working from the first shift and it showed. We got some good bounces I’d say, and we were able to bury our chances.”
The RedHawks dominated the opening period, outshooting the Wildcats, 13-4, and got on the scoreboard on their second power play of the night. Caito buried his first collegiate goal at 10:37 in the period after Barber found him at the backdoor with a cross-ice pass.
The Wildcats were held in check well into the period, and did not muster a shot on goal until 13:31. That first shot did find paydirt though, as sophomore DJ Vandercook tied up the game with his first career goal when he deflected a bouncing puck past Miami’s freshman netminder, Jay Williams.
Miami’s power play produced two more goals in the second period, allowing the RedHawks to take control of the game. Barber broke the 1-1 tie and gave Miami a lead it never relinquished at 4:52 into the period. He and Czarnik traded the puck three times at the point before Barber wristed the puck by Wildcats junior goaltender Jared Coreau from the top of the circle.
Murphy pushed the lead to 3-1 at 15:25 in the same period. After sophomore Blake Coleman set up classmate Jimmy Mullin in between the circles, Murphy was waiting at the post to clean up Mullin’s rebound.
The RedHawks finally scored an even-strength goal at 10:33 in the third period. A flurry of Miami skaters stormed the net, and senior Curtis McKenzie put the puck into the twine, ending Coreau’s night. He was replaced by freshman Michael Doan after stopping 24-of-28 shots.
Doan made seven saves on eight shots. Czarnik beat him on a short-handed breakaway at 14:38 in the frame, his third short-handed score of the season.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi said that since the team had spent the previous two weeks on the road, they wanted to make up for lost practice time and spent an extra day on special teams this week.
“We focused on trying to get a few more reps in practice on special teams, on both sides,” he said. “Our power play was the difference [tonight]. We were opportunistic on our chances for sure.”
Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle was left frustrated by the results of the RedHawks’ extra practice.
“They just ate us up,” he said. “Their power play ate up our penalty killing. Their penalty killing nullified our power play. They wind up with a shorty. They killed us on faceoffs. There weren’t very many areas of the game we won tonight.”
The Wildcats did tally the final score of the night, as junior defenseman CJ Ludwig took advantage of a five-on-three power play to claim his first goal of the season at 15:39.