In its first home conference game of the season, the No. 19 Miami University hockey team snapped a three-game skid with a 2-1 victory against Western Michigan University Friday night.
Senior goaltender Ryan McKay saved 23 of 24 Bronco shots, and 14 of those came in the final 30 minutes of play.
“McKay made some huge saves there, especially in the third period,” head coach Rico Blasi said. “It’s tough for a goaltender when he’s not seeing a lot of shots. I think if you ask any goaltender, they probably wanna see more shots and get into a rhythm.”
After some key saves in the second period, McKay stifled WMU’s best scoring opportunity with about six minutes left in the game. With Miami on the power play, senior forward Nolan LaPorte forced a turnover and got behind MU for a breakaway, but McKay stayed with LaPorte and stopped his backhand shot.
“I thought Ryan handled himself really well,” Blasi said. “He sure got some nice chances in the second half of the game, and he stood up real tall.”
The Broncos took the lead 4:46 into the first period on a slapshot from sophomore defenseman Paul Stokyewych.
Three minutes later, freshman right winger Jack Roslovic answered with a cross-ice power play snipe, tying the game at 1-1 with 7:03 on the clock. Roslovic’s six total goals on the year have been either game-tying or game-winning scores.
The RedHawks totaled more shots in the first quarter (16) than they did in an entire game (15) last Friday, when they lost 3-0 to St. Cloud State University.
“We’re growing,” Blasi said. “Getting pucks to the net and going hard to the net, that’s part of maturing. And getting into nasty areas and being willing to sacrifice, because you’re gonna get hit when you get to the front of the net. I thought we did a much better job of that tonight.”
Miami claimed the lead halfway through the second period on a 3-on-1 play. Senior left wing Anthony Louis slid off a defender with a 360-degree spin and handed the puck off to junior right wing Andrew Schmidt, who in turn saucered it to freshman center Josh Melnick. Melnick buried it to put Miami up 2-1 at the 6:41 mark.
“[Sophomore defenseman] Louie Belpedio made a great stretch pass to Anthony down the ice,” Melnick said. “He kinda went on a 1-on-1, spun around, gave it to Schmitty, and then he just gave me the back door.”
It was Melnick’s third goal of the season.
MU led 26-12 in shots after two periods, which assistant coach Nick Petraglia said were “probably our best two periods of the year.”
After suffering a two-game sweep last weekend, Friday’s win improves the RedHawks to 4-4-1 (1-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference). The Broncos, who were coming off a sweep of University of Nebraska Omaha, fall to 4-3-1 (2-1 NCHC).
“We played a good team game tonight,” Melnick said. “We try to focus on playing a full 60 minutes, and I think we did that. There’s definitely room to improve, but it’s a great rebound from last weekend.”
The second game of the series begins at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Goggin Ice Arena.