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College Hockey:
Williams stops 24 as Miami dominates Alaska

— Miami ground out a tough 4-1 win over Alaska Friday night, ending the Nanooks’ seven-game unbeaten streak. A trio of sophomores accounted for all of Miami’s scoring, with Cody Murphy and Blake Coleman each potting one in the opening period, while classmate Austin Czarnik added a pair of empty-netters in the final minute.

In a game that was closer than the final score would indicate, both sides pushed for defensive dominance. Miami’s Jay Williams stopped 24 of the 25 shots that he faced, while Alaska’s John Keeney made 18 saves against 20 shots. Both teams were a perfect six-for-six on the penalty kill; Miami has now killed 26 consecutive penalties.

Miami captain Steven Spinell said the team has been going into every game with a playoff mindset, and he believed that helps the RedHawks on special teams.

“Down the stretch, special teams is huge,” he said. “We work on PK in practice, and we take pride in it. We count on it to bail us out in games.”

The RedHawks built a two-goal lead in the opening period on the goals from Coleman and Murphy. Coleman’s came at 12:11 in the period, with the RedHawks taking advantage of a chance to put an extra attacker on the ice. With a delayed penalty called on the Nanooks, Coleman tapped in the puck as it came from the corner, beating Alaska’s freshman goaltender John Keeney through the wickets. At 17:59, Murphy slapped in a rebound at the doorstep, going top-shelf over Keeney.

The Nanooks got on the board at 4:16 in the second period, halving Miami’s lead. Sophomore Trevor Campbell beat Williams over the shoulder during four-on-four play after taking a feed in the slot from freshman Tyler Morley. The goal came just seconds after an apparent Nanooks power play score was negated by a hooking penalty.

Alaska ramped up the level of physicality and outshot the RedHawks 13-5 in the final frame. The Nanooks had three power-play opportunities, spending much of the final minutes with a man advantage. They nearly knotted up the game when senior Andy Taranto hit the crossbar during one of those power plays, but any hope for a rally was snuffed out when Czarnik struck twice into an empty net in the final minute.

Miami coach Enrico Blasi credited his defense for stepping up against a team that had swept each of its previous three opponents.

“Our PK has been pretty good,” he said. “They [Alaska] had an opportunity there at the end to score; I think he hit the crossbar. But for the most part, we’ve done a nice job of keeping them to the outside, blocking shots. Jay made some huge saves tonight. You’ve gotta find a way to win at this time of the year.”

Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said he liked the energy his team opened with, and the fight they displayed going into the final period only behind by one.

“I liked our effort; I thought our execution wasn’t where it needed to be,” he said. “The team had a good push. We created some pretty good scoring chances for ourselves, [but] weren’t able to capitalize. I thought their goaltender played really well. Anything that was in tight there, we didn’t get a lot of second, third opportunities.”

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