DENVER — In an odd game that saw over 30 shots on goal by each team and two disallowed goals against Miami, the RedHawks edged the Denver Pioneers, 2-1. Blake Coleman scored two goals and Ryan McKay made 32 saves for Miami in the win.
“It’s kind of been a funny story this year,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. “We either stay with it, or we don’t; tonight we stayed with it.”
Denver dominated most of the early play, getting several good scoring chances, but was unable to put one past McKay.
“I thought tonight’s game was a great college hockey game,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery. “I thought both teams played hard. Miami, I wouldn’t want to play them in the first round.”
Miami had its first disallowed goal in the second period, prompting perhaps the longest review of the year, one that lasted over 10 minutes. Ultimately, the goal was disallowed either because it was kicked in; the net was also dislodged as the puck went in.
Miami took the first lead of the game at 12:39 of the period when Blake Coleman deflected Trevor Hamilton’s shot from the right point past Sam Brittain.
Miami’s lead only lasted 37 seconds, as after a flurry, Zac Larraza got the puck near the right point and fired a snap shot top high glove side past Ryan McKay at 13:16.
However, Miami regrouped entering the third, eventually firing 24 shots on net in the third to only seven for Denver.
“It seemed like they had Red Bull in their legs and it seemed like we had lead in our legs,” said Montgomery. “Like I said, they came and took the game from us in the third.”
After Miami had a goal disallowed due to a hand pass early in the third, the RedHawks started buzzing the Pioneers net, and Blake Coleman got sprung on a breakaway after getting the puck in the neutral zone and beat Brittain at 7:33 to give the RedHawks the final margin.
“Ever since he’s been back from his injury, I think he’s scored seven of our last nine goals, so he means a lot to our team, he’s a physical presence, and he balances out our line so we can play four lines,” said Blasi.
Brittain made 42 saves in the loss. Denver was in the running for home ice for the playoffs, but the loss will send them on the road to Nebraska-Omaha. It is the first time Denver has been on the road for the first round of the playoffs since 2003.
“I expect that they’re going to play hard, they’re going to play fast, and they’ll play really physical,” said Montgomery of UNO. “Dean Blais is a really good coach, and that team pops; they bring it every night.”
Miami will travel to St. Cloud to face the conference-winning Huskies.
“We just saw them a couple weeks ago and had pretty good battles at home,” said Blasi of St. Cloud. “It will be a challenge for us, but we’ll get ready for it and see what happens.”