OXFORD, Ohio — The Wisconsin Badgers’ first-ever visit to Oxford, Ohio, was a memorable contest worthy of highly ranked teams, with the home team Miami RedHawks coming away with a hard-fought 2-0 victory. Miami’s sophomore netminder Ryan McKay made 30 saves for his third shutout in four games, while freshman Anthony Louis and junior Austin Czarnik provided the offense.
McKay said the RedHawks have tightened up their defense in recent weeks, and he is reaping those benefits.
“It’s a credit to our team defense,” he said. “Compare it the beginning of the season. You want to look at stats or you wanna look at our game tape, it’s a dramatic difference, that’s why we’re getting results.”
The game was played at high speed, with both forechecks getting pucks deep, forcing the goalies to put on a clinic. The RedHawks finally broke the deadlock at 10:51 in the second period. After Miami won a faceoff in the offensive zone, the puck was tipped to freshman Anthony Louis in the slot, who sent a wrister by the Badgers’ junior goaltender Landon Peterson.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi praised the heads-up play of Louis, who tallied the fourth goal of his young career, his second game-winner.
“I thought that was probably Louie’s best game to date; he really played hard tonight,” he said. “It’s tough for freshmen to come in and figure out how they’re going to play. He’s a skilled guy, so he’s starting to get a little grit to his game, which helps. Then he starts to get chances and he’s dynamic when he gets the puck. He’s slippery out there.”
The game continued at breakneck pace, with both sides moving quickly in transition up and down the ice. McKay and Peterson were both stellar in their creases, making highlight-reel saves while also getting some lucky breaks. The Badgers had several looks into open nets thanks to crisp passing in the slot, but couldn’t ever get the puck on the last stick. At the other end, Peterson did an excellent job of not allowing the RedHawks many rebounds.
As time ticked away, the Badgers ramped up their attack, sending Peterson to the bench with one minute remaining. They soon had a two-man advantage when Miami’s Sean Kuraly was sent to the box for delay of game with 26 seconds remaining, but the RedHawks defense clamped down, and Czarnik collected the puck and flung it nearly the entire length of the ice into the empty net at 19:50.
Badgers junior defenseman Jake McCabe called it a tough loss, but one the team could build off of.
“Our start was great every period,” he said. “We got the puck deep, we hammered their ‘D,’ and our forecheck was outstanding. For a team like this with their speed, if you can slow them down with your forecheck and take advantage of that, that’s a good thing.”