OXFORD, Ohio — After allowing a goal in the opening half-minute, Miami went into shutdown mode and scored four unanswered to even their quarterfinal series with Michigan State with a 4-1 win Saturday, forcing a decisive third game Sunday night.
Sophomore Austin Czarnik scored twice for the RedHawks, while classmates Jimmy Mullin and Cody Murphy tallied Miami’s other scores. Czarnik said the team had no intention of repeating what he called a “no effort” game on Friday.
“I think we did a good job attacking the net today,” he said. “We got pucks on net and won our battles in front of the net. That was our key focus for today and we were successful with it.”
The game had a physical tone from the opening puck drop.
Miami’s senior captain Steven Spinell was whistled for indirect contact to the head just 10 seconds into the game and the Spartans took advantage of the early power-play chance, scoring 18 ticks later. They played tic-tac-toe in front of Miami freshman goaltender Ryan McKay, with freshman Matt DeBlouw taking the last touch at McKay’s glove side.
Spinell said that the team wanted to establish early on how the game would be played. Though it resulted in a goal for the Spartans, he felt his teammates were able to rally around it.
“We’re not gonna fold the tents up 30 seconds into the game,” said Spinell. “There’s a lot of hockey to play.”
Miami struck twice in the same period. Freshman defenseman Mathew Caito fired a laser from the blue line that Mullin tipped in over the glove of Spartans’ freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand to tie the game at 10:38. The RedHawks then went in front 2-1 at 13:01 on a shorthanded goal by Czarnik after freshman Riley Barber’s initial shot sat on the line behind Hildebrand.
Michigan State coach Tom Anastos saw Czarnik’s goal as a pivotal moment in the early going.
“When you fall behind, it’s a little tougher to get ahead,” Anastos said. “That shorthanded goal was also a momentum changer.”
The RedHawks got their third goal from Murphy at 12:11 on a shot from the circle that dribbled in between Hildebrand’s pads.
Miami took a 29-9 advantage in shots into the second intermission, outshooting the Spartans 20-5 in the second frame.
Czarnik’s second goal capped the scoring, coming at 9:57 in the third period. He beat Hildebrand top shelf on the stick side with a nifty backhander as he came up through the slot.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi said that getting a lead in the opening period allowed his players to force the Spartans out of the comfort zone they enjoyed Friday night.
“Last night, I thought [MSU] did a pretty good job in not giving us a lot of room to do anything,” he said. “Obviously, when you score, they’re gonna come out of that a little bit ‘cuz they’re gonna come from behind. It’s crucial to get up early and then play your game.”
The Spartans will have to play a Game 3 for the second consecutive week, but Anastos said his players will be ready to compete Sunday.
“They were the better team tonight in all phases of the game,” said Anastos. “We’ll take our medicine tonight and get ready for tomorrow.”
Miami finished with a 37-17 advantage in shots on goal, while Hildebrand made 33 saves to McKay’s 16.