The ’Hawks (2-0-0) completed the sweep over the Chargers (0-2-0) by way of outshooting them 45-11, with Miami junior goaltender Ryan Larkin stopping all 11 shots he faced.
“Obviously, pleased with two wins and our new guys able to get out there and play games in front of our crowd and get used to each other in a situation where a team is out there playing against you,” Miami’s head coach Enrico Blasi said. “It’s always different than practicing for the past five weeks. I thought it was a good weekend.”
The weekend started out with early offensive pressure by the RedHawks, peppering UAH senior goaltender Jake Theut with shots.
Freshman forward Noah Jordan was whistled for hooking at 5:22, but the hard work of senior forward Josh Melnick blocking shots kept the Chargers from scoring on the man-advantage.
The first period marched on and was back and forth until the RedHawks established an offensive cycle with seven minutes left in the frame. The ’Hawks couldn’t get anything past Theut and the intermission horn sent the teams back to their locker rooms deadlocked at 0-0.
“I thought [our structure] was much better than it was yesterday, yet it was zero-zero for a long time,” Blasi said. “Sometimes you’re going to be in those games and you have to keep playing and be in the moment and pay attention to detail and stay focused.”
Miami’s focus faltered on its first power play of the game, three minutes into the second period. Larkin had to make a shorthanded stop before the RedHawks skated back into the Chargers’ end. The ’Hawks threw more shots at Theut, but couldn’t capitalize on the man-advantage.
Twenty seconds after the unsuccessful power play, freshman forward Brian Hawkinson fed graduate transfer defenseman River Rymsha for a one-timer from atop the left circle.
Rymsha scored his first goal as a RedHawk at 5:39 to put his new team up 1-0. Jordan recorded the secondary assist.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know it went in,” Rymsha said, smiling. “Then the crowd started going and I didn’t know what to do. I just threw my hands up.”
The RedHawks rode the momentum of Rymsha’s first goal and junior forward Karch Bachman cashed in on a rebound 2:44 later.
After sophomore defenseman Alec Mahalak shot from the point, Bachman crashed the net to beat Theut and put the RedHawks up 2-0. Rymsha recorded his second point of the night with the secondary assist.
A penalty kill halfway through the period couldn’t stop the RedHawks, as they kept the Chargers from facing Larkin. Miami sophomore forward Ben Lown even had a breakaway chance, but the post kept it a two-goal game.
Theut made four more saves to keep it 2-0 heading into the second intermission.
The RedHawks opened the third with face-off wins and puck possession. Just under three and a half minutes into the final frame, Lown found Melnick streaking up the left side and tapped the puck to him. Crossing into the left face-off circle, Melnick sniped one past Theut’s glove to give the RedHawks a 3-0 lead.
Freshman forward Jonathan Gruden earned an assist on the goal at 3:24 of the third.
Sophomore forward Ben Lown tracks the puck. Emily Brustoski – Video Editor.
The RedHawks controlled play for the rest of the period and didn’t capitalize on their final power play, though senior forward Ryan Siroky solidified the win at 13:46.
From behind the goal line, Siroky batted in a puck off Theut’s shoulder to give Miami the 4-0 lead and cap the scoring. Hawkinson and senior defenseman Grant Hutton picked up assists.
The RedHawks held the Chargers to three shots, but took 23 in the third period and 45 during the game. Theut managed to stop 41 of them.
“I thought we did a really good job in the third period again, like we did last night, being structured and coming in waves,” Blasi said.
Rymsha (1 goal, 1 assist) led the RedHawks with two points and a +3 rating.
“To go out and get two wins and have the individual success I had, it’s a great feeling,” Rymsha said. “On top of it, the team played great. Can’t describe how happy I am.”
Hawkinson (2a) matched Rymsha’s two points, and seven other Miami players finished with a goal or an assist. Fourteen ’Hawks logged points during the Saturday-Sunday sweep.
The power play went 0-for-3 on Sunday afternoon, but the penalty kill went 3-for-3.
“I thought the penalty kill was good again,” Blasi said. “I like the way our guys are working, especially away from the puck. We blocked some shots. I thought the power play was good, we had some good chances.”
This is the first time the RedHawks have swept on opening-weekend series since the 2013-14 season.
“Tonight we got better with our sticks in terms of taking away passing lanes,” Blasi said. “Details like that are really important in the big scheme of things and the overall game objective. We’ve got to get better in those areas and the only way to do it is to continue to practice.”
The RedHawks next travel to Erie, Pennsylvania to compete in the Ice Breaker Tournament starting Friday. They first take on Providence College at 4 p.m. and will play either the University of Notre Dame or Mercyhurst University on Saturday.