Miami hockey battled to a 7-5 exhibition victory over the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, as six RedHawks had multi-point nights including junior defenseman Grant Hutton and sophomore forward Gordie Green with two goals each.
After a disappointing start to their season at home, the RedHawks found their first victory against the Under-18 USANTDP team. The ’Hawks travelled to Plymouth, Michigan for the exhibition game and sophomore Chase Munroe got the nod to start in net.
“I thought we played well in certain areas,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said to MiamiRedHawks.com. “That’s a good team with a lot of skill. We took another step forward tonight.”
The first half of the first period was played with few stoppages, and the teams evenly tested the opponent’s goalies with a handful of early shots. U-18 forward Jack DeBoer managed to put his team on the board at 9:19. Miami was awarded a powerplay and a chance to even the score. At 11:26 Hutton capitalized on the man-advantage off of a backdoor feed from junior forward Josh Melnick to tie the game.
Miami dominated play for the remainder of the period and eventually outshot the U-18s 13-4 in the first 20 minutes. MU looked for the go-ahead goal during another power play, but the U-18s killed it off. It looked as if the first period would end as a 1-1 tie, but a shot that Hutton flung through traffic found the back of the net with 1.1 seconds left in the period to make it 2-1.
The second period action started early with another power play to jump start the RedHawk offense. The two minute man-advantage came and went, though Green knocked a rebound into an open net with just under four minutes gone in the frame. Not even two minutes later, junior forward Ryan Siroky hustled for a loose puck at the blue line, drove the net and scored unassisted at 5:30.
Team USA chipped away at Miami’s 4-1 lead — forwards Jonathan Gruden scored to make it 4-2 and Jake Pivonka had a short handed goal to make it 4-3 halfway through the period. The RedHawks and the U-18s traded penalties and several shots before forward Oliver Wahlstrom erased Miami’s three goal lead at 16:15 of the period.
True to the back-and-forth nature of the game, 30 seconds later Miami junior forward Zach LaValle whacked a puck past goaltender Jonathan Mor. The goal would be the last of the six second period goals and Miami went to intermission up 5-4.
The third started with an opportunity for Miami but Mor shut down the ’Hawks’ scoring chance off the rush. Mor’s save proved crucial, as USANTDP’s DeBoer scored his second of the game off a back door feed and tied Miami 5-5 only a minute into the period.
Offensively relentless, Miami fought back for the lead. Melnick lost his stick at Miami’s blue line but managed to kick the puck to the breaking-away Green from Team USA’s blue line. Green beat Mor glove side for the go-ahead goal at 6:04 in the third.
Shortly after, Miami’s defense was tested on the penalty kill but the RedHawks determinedly killed it off. The ’Hawks drained the clock and held off the U-18s through 6-on-5 play when they pulled Mor for the extra skater. Sophomore forward Carson Meyer rounded out the 7-5 high scoring game with an empty net goal a second before the horn sounded.
The RedHawks outshot Team USA 32-21, went 1-for-6 on the power play and killed off both of the U-18s power plays. Munroe made 16 saves and, besides Hutton and Green’s two-goal nights, Melnick (three assists), senior defenseman Louie Belpedio (two assists), freshman forward Phil Knies (two assists) and LaValle (one goal, one assist) all finished with multiple points. Hutton has logged three goals in four games on the season.
Though the outcome was in Miami’s favor, the high scoring game highlighted the need for improved puck management. The team looks to make necessary adjustments when they travel to Orono, Maine this weekend to face off against the University of Maine. Puck drop is on Friday at 7 p.m.