By Harrison Schwarz, Staff Writer
The Miami University hockey team (11-13-3, 6-10-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) split a two-game series against St. Cloud State University (23-6-1, 13-4-1-1 NCHC) this weekend.
On Friday night, MU began the first period with all the momentum but faded late and lost 5-1. The script flipped Saturday night when the RedHawks scored three times in the second period to win 3-2.
Head coach Rico Blasi believes the team made the right adjustments to come out on top Saturday.
“I think the difference between Friday and Saturday night was that we stayed composed and we kept working,” Blasi said. “We made some plays in the second period, whereas [Friday] they took it to us and they dictated the game.”
The ’Hawks dictated most of the first period Friday. They had 16 shots on goal to St. Cloud’s three with 3:20 remaining in the first period, but MU couldn’t convert on any of its shots.
Huskies sophomore defenseman Ethan Prow stunned Miami when he flipped a backhanded shot over goalie Jay Williams’ left shoulder with 39 seconds left in the first period.
The Red and White bounced back quickly in the second period. Freshman forward Josh Melnick slapped home a rebound off senior forward Alex Gacek’s initial shot.
The Huskies regained the lead with 8:25 left in the second period and never looked back.
Miami outshot St. Cloud State 36-24, though it was a closer 19-18 advantage in the final 40 minutes.
The second game began just as the first did — the RedHawks missed several promising opportunities and the Huskies took advantage of their limited few.
With 1:45 left in the first, SCSU freshman defensemen Jimmy Schuldt slapped a high shot past Williams, putting St. Cloud up 1-0.
Similar to the previous night, Miami bounced back early in the second period. Four and half minutes into the second,
Melnick found the back of the net. Freshman defenseman Grant Hutton received credit on the assist.
The déjà vu ended when senior forward Sean Kuraly roofed a shot from in close over Huskies sophomore goalie Charlie Lingren to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 7:16 remaining in the second.
MU’s second period success continued when freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood slapped a one-timer past Lingren to make it 3-1.
Three minutes later, the Huskies found themselves back on the board when freshman forward Patrick Russell found the back of the ’Hawks net.
MU’s defense stopped St. Cloud in the third period, killing two power plays, while Williams stopped 11 shots.
“It was just a great effort all the way around,” Melnick said. “You have to capitalize on all the chances you can get and I think that was the big difference in the game tonight.”
Miami begins a three-game road trip next weekend. The ‘Hawks play Bowling Green State University Feb. 12 and travel to Western Michigan for a two-game series Feb. 19.