By Steven Perkins, Staff Writer
The Miami University men’s hockey split its weekend National Collegiate Hockey Conference series with North Dakota University in a battle of top 10 squads.
The No. 7 RedHawks (8-4, 4-2 NCHC) defeated No. 2/3 North Dakota (8-2-1, 3-1 NCHC) on the road 3-2 Friday and came up short 4-1 Saturday.
Head coach Enrico Blasi said he was happy with the weekend as a whole.
“It was just two good teams going at it,” Blasi said. “Something had to give. Friday it was our turn and Saturday it was their turn.”
A pair of RedHawk junior forwards struck twice early and never looked back Friday. Alex Gacek opened with a goal, followed by a Sean Kuraly tally just over a minute later.
Kuraly had an assist on Gacek’s and eventually put home the game-winner in the second. It was his sixth game winner this year, three more than any other NCAA player.
Blasi said Kuraly has really come into his own.
“Recently, the last couple weekends I thought he has been playing a lot more within himself and a lot more disciplined in his game,” Blasi said, “He’s really starting to find his way and the way he needs to play for us and for his skillset.”
Kuraly said his game winners are as much luck as anything.
“I guess I’ve just been in the right spots at the right time,” Kuraly said. “I’ve been kind of lucky and at the end of the day you realize it was the game winner. It just kind of keeps happening.”
Miami grabbed a lead early Saturday, but was quickly overcome by UND. Sophomore forward Anthony Louis scored in the second minute of the second period, but North Dakota was able to put home two in the next four minutes and one more before the end of the frame. Louis said it was bittersweet.
“It felt good to get one there, but our team didn’t come out as hard as we wanted to,” Louis said. “We knew North Dakota was not going to be too happy about Friday’s win.”
Junior goalie Jay Williams picked up another win Friday, moving him to 8-1 on the year with a .920 save percentage. McKay dropped to 0-3 after Saturday’s loss, with a .897
Blasi was happy with both performances.
“I thought our goaltending was fine,” Blasi said. “We just continue to get going and continue to improve and evaluate it from day to day.”
Miami returns home this weekend, facing off against Western Michigan University.