After splitting a series with Bowling Green State University Jan. 4-5, the RedHawks hockey team returned to its dominating ways on the road this past weekend as the team swept the University of Nebraska-Omaha for the second time this season. The series sweep was Miami University’s eighth weekend sweep of the year and it extended the ‘Hawks’ winning streak to three games.
Senior captain Ryan Jones led the Red and White in scoring for the weekend, tallying a total of two goals and two assists. Jones’ goal in the second period of Saturday night’s game turned out to be the game winner-his seventh game winner of the 2007-08 campaign, which leads the nation in game winning goals. He currently has 19 goals this season and sits just one goal behind University of Michigan’s Kevin Porter for the nation’s lead in goals scored.
Junior goaltender Jeff Zatkoff was solid in goal for Miami all weekend as well. He turned away 33 of 36 shots Friday night and 16 of 17 shots Saturday to capture his 16th and 17th wins of the season. Zatkoff saw his goals against average sink to 1.63, good for first in the CCHA and third nationally.
“For me, Friday night they had more chances and so basically just the biggest thing was keeping the team in the game, and eventually, in the third period, we took it to them,” Zatkoff said. “And Saturday night I wasn’t really faced with many quality shots. I just stopped the ones that I was supposed to and the team took care of the rest.”
With a 6-3 win over the Mavericks Friday night, Miami captured its 20th victory of the season-and has now posted at least 20 wins in five of the last six seasons.
The Red and White established its presence on the ice, drawing first blood 13 minutes into the first period. The goal came off the stick of Jones, who picked up a rebound and drilled it past Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Jerad Kaufmann. Junior defenseman Michael Findorff and freshman forward Pat Cannone assisted.
Miami would go up by two goals, only to see the Mavericks storm right back and tie the game at two.
The RedHawks pulled away 3-2 off of Charley Fetzer’s second goal of the season.
Nebraska-Omaha tied the game 3-3 again in the third period when freshman Matt Ambroz fired the puck off the rebound into Miami’s net after he had been pushed into Zatkoff.
Miami stopped messing around after the goal and scored three goals in the final six minutes of the game to seal the victory.
“We are more of a puck possession team and Nebraska-Omaha has a lot of very skillful forwards,” Kaufman said. “They like to go in and really feed off of their opponents’ turnovers, so our goal was to limit our turnovers and limit their chances and we really felt that we did that pretty well.”
Zatkoff echoed much of the same sentiment as Kaufman.
“From a team standpoint, anytime we play Nebraska they’re really running their team on the offensive,” Zatkoff said. “They like to go north and south, and we did a great job both nights of limiting their opportunities.”
A quest for redemption fueled the Mavericks Saturday night as they put their names on the score sheet first with a goal off the stick of senior Bryan Marshall. However, they would be held off the score sheet for the rest of the game as Miami would score four unanswered goals and complete the sweep.
“Saturday they scored the first goal, but after that we came back and took it up by a goal or two and really finished the game off,” Kaufman said. “We’ve been doing better at that than in past years, for sure. In the last couple of years we’ve been more of a first goal kind of team. This year we’ve been able to battle back from being down a goal.”
Freshman Carter Camper scored early in the third period and increased his point total to 26, which leads all CCHA freshmen. Tommy Wingels, also a freshman, scored his 12th goal of the season in the third period, which leads all freshmen players in the nation.
With Saturday night’s win, Miami now has 21 total wins this season, which leads the nation. The team currently sits tied with Michigan for first place in the CCHA.
The ‘Hawks now return to their home ice at Steve Cady Arena for the first time since Dec. 7-8. The puck is set to drop at 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday in a CCHA series against Lake Superior State University.