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College Hockey:
McKay stops 20 as Miami blanks Minnesota State

— The Miami RedHawks are one win away from making their first Frozen Four appearance since 2010 after the RedHawks bested Minnesota State, 4-0, Saturday evening in Toledo’s Huntington Center in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

Miami (25-11-5), the second-seed in the region and regular season champs of the CCHA, pitched its sixth shutout of the season. Minnesota State, the third-seed, made just its second appearance in the NCAA tournament in program history.

I0000dlrH.OpLSoE McKay stops 20 as Miami blanks Minnesota State

2013 NCAA Midwest Regional

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“It is nice to get a win in the tournament; it has been a few years for our team,” Miami forward Curtis McKenzie said. “(Steven) Spinell and (Joe) Hartman did a good job trying to lead the team.”

Minnesota State’s season ends with a 24-13-3 record.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay notched his fourth shutout of the campaign. McKay was solid in stopping all 20 shots he faced, but his defense stopped 28 Mavericks shots before they reached him. Saturday also marked the first time Minnesota State has been shut out all year.

“You have to get into the (shooting) lanes; that is something that coach (Brent) Brekke is telling us all the time,” Miami forward Marc Hagel said.

Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings agreed that shot blocking was a difference in the game.

“I am a big believer in guys who block shots because they want to,” Hastings said. “I will call it a commitment level. That is not a slight on our guys; that is a compliment to Miami and their commitment to defending.”

Both the Mavericks and RedHawks lost a skater 6:31 into the first. Minnesota State lost top-pair defender Evan Mosey on a game misconduct when he kneed Miami’s Jimmy Mullin. Mullin did not return after the open-ice collision. Minnesota State successfully killed off the subsequent five-minute penalty rather easily.

“Up until that point, I thought that we were fine and it was early and we found a way to kill the five minute major,” Hastings said. “I’ll also say that you expect a lot of energy when you go down to five (defenders) and you’re killing a five-minute major. There weren’t many whistles during it, so there were extended periods of time where we had to be out there defending and I thought it zapped some of our energy.”

Miami got on the board 11:04 into the second when McKenzie scored his 11th of the year on a tic-tac-toe play led by linemates Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber at the end of a Miami penalty. Coming into Saturday’s game, Miami was 20-2-1 when scoring first.

“It was a good start for our team to get the first goal,” McKenzie said. “It is something we try to stress on with the amount of times that they have scored first and we haven’t been able to turn the gears, so we want that first one.”

After holding a 1-0 second-intermission lead, the RedHawks shut down the Mavericks in the third period by scoring three goals and limiting Minnesota State to four shots. Miami took a 2-0 lead 2:30 into the third when Blake Coleman feathered a cross-crease pass to Hagel, who went top shelf on Minnesota State goalie Stephon Williams.

Hard work around the net of Williams led to Miami’s third goal 9:24 into the period. Cody Murphy notched his 11th of the year after a few shots in a row that went off Williams. Max Cook added an empty-net goal with 58 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

The RedHawks will face No. 4 seed St. Cloud State in the Midwest Region finals tomorrow after SCSU defeated Notre Dame, 5-1, in the earlier regional semifinal in Toledo. The Huskies are led by Bob Motzko, a former Miami assistant who coached Blasi when he was a player for Miami. Blasi is looking forward to the challenge of matching up against the WCHA regular season champs and his former coach.

“They are a great team that played great against Notre Dame,” Blasi said. “He coached me for two years, so he taught me how to score goals. You can tell him I said that. Other than that, we are good friends, but other than that, it is about the teams. He is going to prepare his guys well and we’re going to try to do the same.”

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