OXFORD, Ohio — The Miami RedHawks took control early Saturday night and blanked the Michigan State Spartans, 2-0, to take five points in their weekend series and move back atop the CCHA standings. Freshman goaltender Jay Williams only had to make 13 saves to collect the first shutout of his collegiate career, as the RedHawks outshot the Spartans by a 36-13 margin.
Williams was excited to earn his first shutout, but credited the defenders ahead of him for making his job easy.
“It feels great,” he said. “I tried not to think about [the shutout] there going into the third. At that point, it was a 1-0 game. They way things were playing out in my head it was ‘Gotta win this 20 [minutes].’ Kinda figured if they popped one there we were heading for overtime again.
“The guys played awesome. The team was unbelievable. Even the shots [Michigan State] had were from the blue line, from the perimeter. They were just awesome tonight. They did a really good job.”
The RedHawks got out in front early, scoring at 12:02 in the first period. Freshman Riley Barber got the puck off of a faceoff right of the net. He fired a wrister on target that senior Curtis McKenzie tipped in past Michigan State’s freshman netminder Jake Hildebrand.
Miami continued to dictate the pace of the game, but Hildebrand turned aside each attack. Things might have gotten out of hand midway through the second period when Michigan State’s Lee Reimer was assessed a game disqualification for hitting from behind. The Spartans did kill off the resulting major penalty, and seemed poised to perhaps gain some momentum, but coach Tom Anastos was disappointed that nothing came from what could have been a turning point.
“That was important; I thought we took some energy off that,” he said. “Killing that off and not giving anything up, I thought that was something we could build on. But on the other hand, we had two power plays and didn’t generate a shot.”
The Spartans were unable to muster a single shot on goal on either of their power-play opportunities, both of which came during the second period.
Miami sophomore Alex Wideman added a goal at 16:15 in the third period to give the RedHawks some breathing room, his third consecutive game with a goal. After picking up a loose puck at center ice, he zigzagged ahead and fired a shot almost immediately upon entering the zone, beating Hildebrand top shelf.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi said he was very pleased his players were able to put together a complete game.
“I think our effort from start to finish was there,” Blasi said. “We challenged our guys to play 60 minutes, and I thought that was as close as we’ve come all year. The guys did a good job of just continuing to put pressure on all their players really. One line after another, you really couldn’t distinguish which line was which.”