The Miami University men’s hockey team snapped a season-long four-game winless streak after splitting this past weekend’s series with the University of Wisconsin.
The RedHawks (13-6-5, Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) 8-4-4) fell Friday night in a defensive struggle, one that saw the Badgers (9-8-5) extend their unbeaten streak to 11 straight games. Wisconsin sophomore forward Joseph Labate scored the only goal of the night, as the forward beat freshman goaltender Jay Williams on his glove side. Williams posted 19 total saves, but with Miami’s offense stagnant, it was unable to come away with the win in the 1-0 contest.
Saturday night was a reversal of fortunes for the RedHawks, as they earned their first ever win over Wisconsin.
Miami sophomore forward Austin Czarnik tallied his 9th goal of the season just 3:13 into the first period on the power play, extending his CCHA-leading point total to 26.
The Badgers would respond in the second frame, though, as junior forward Michael Mersch rifled a blocker-side shot that beat freshman goalie Ryan McKay, tying the game at one.
The RedHawks responded late in the second when freshman linemates Alex Gacek and Sean Kuraly assisted senior Curtis McKenzie on his seventh goal of the year. That would prove to be enough for McKay, who recorded 33 saves in all in the 2-1 win. This includes 14 saves in the third period alone in the winning effort, in another series in which both Miami goaltenders bring their A-games.
“Our two goalies have been awesome,” McKenzie said of his goaltenders’ play this season. “Both Macker (McKay) and Williams have been great. Every night that they’re in we have huge confidence in them. They’ve been keeping us in games and winning us games … and we’ve just got to get some more scoring for them so we can win some games here.”
As for the win over a red-hot Badgers team, Czarnik thinks Miami’s most recent win might be the biggest one yet for the RedHawks.
“They’re a really good team and were on an 11 game win streak,” Czarnik said. “Coach [Enrico Blasi] told us just to go have fun out there, and that really helped us. Guys were relaxed and had confidence coming into Saturday night … It was really huge for us.”
As the Red and White look forward, six series against CCHA teams separates them from the postseason. Miami’s next opponent is Bowling Green, who is 5-1-1 in its last seven contests.
“We’ve just got to keep on working hard,” Czarnik said. “Hopefully down the stretch we’ll be able to string a few wins together and come in first place.”
Miami is back in action on home ice this upcoming weekend, as they take on the Falcons at the Goggin Ice Center in a two game series. The puck drops 7:35 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, and 7:05 Saturday, Jan. 26.