Lake Superior State (8-10-0, 5-7-0-0) didn’t need a lot of offense to pull off a Saturday night road upset, but got just enough. Junior goaltender Kevin Murdoch turned aside all 46 shots that the Miami RedHawks (10-3-3, 7-3-2-2) sent against him, and the Lakers held on for a 1-0 victory. The win snapped a three-game skid for the Lakers while handing the RedHawks their first loss at home and ending their eight-game unbeaten streak.
It was Murdoch’s second career shutout, with the first coming back on Nov. 17 against Alabama-Huntsville. He made 25 saves in that game against the Chargers, and said that the constant attacks of the RedHawks helped him to elevate his play.
“It’s nice to have shots [against you] on a regular basis; it keeps you focused,” he said.
Lake Superior’s coach, Jim Roque, praised Murdoch’s performance, and also credited the Lakers’ special teams play for shutting down the RedHawks.
“I thought we played hard all weekend; obviously, Kevin Murdoch played great, got some good bounces, made some good saves,” he said. “Our power play was excellent all weekend, and our PK was tremendous, so that was huge.”
Just as they did on Friday night, the Lakers used their power play to grab their lead early in the first period. Though they were outshot, 19-3, in the period, Lake Superior made the most of those opportunities and scored at 8:07 on their first shot of the night. Senior Domenic Monardo came through the slot and deflected a shot by junior Zach Sternberg into the net behind Miami’s freshman goaltender Ryan McKay for his sixth goal of the season.
After that came the long drought that seemed to grind on both sides. The shots on goal leveled out through the remainder of the game, with Miami only narrowly outshooting Lake Superior by a 27-26 margin through the final two periods.
The RedHawks had plenty of opportunities to knot up the score, but were unable to break through the stone wall that was Murdoch. Late in the second period, Miami sophomore Blake Coleman had a look at an open net while Murdoch was sprawled out on his belly, but his shot sailed high over the crossbar.
Lake Superior was not short of chances to gain some breathing room either. Early in the third period, Miami’s senior defenseman Nick Spinell had to go behind McKay to slap a puck off of the goal line after it trickled between the goalie’s pads, and another shot slid through the crease just inches wide of the post not long after.
McKay was pulled for an extra attacker with just over one minute remaining, but it did little to solve the Lakers’ defensive stymie.
Spinell said the disappointment felt in the Miami locker room would resonate for a while.
“McKay tonight had at least six unbelievable glove saves,” he said. “When a goalie has a performance like that, from the player side, we feel like we let him down when he’s making that many big saves, we got to get a few (goals) and help him out. Tonight’s going to sting.”
The Lakers’ special teams were indeed special this weekend, even in Friday’s loss. All three of the Lakers’ goals in the series came on power plays, and they were perfect on all 10 penalty kills, including six on Saturday.