The Miami University ice hockey team (23-3-0, 15-3-0 CCHA) proved there’s no place like home, as they defeated the Lake Superior State University Lakers in a two game series at the friendly confines of the Steve Cady Ice Arena after traveling for more than a month on the road.
Scoring a total of 11 goals for the weekend, the RedHawks saw their winning streak grow to five games as they knocked off the Lakers with a 6-1 win Friday night and a 5-0 win Saturday night.
“It’s nice to be home for four days of practice and sleep in your own bed Thursday and Friday night,” Miami Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “That was definitely a big plus for us.”
Wasting no time getting started Friday night, the ‘Hawks jumped out to an early lead as sophomore Jarod Palmer connected off a pass from freshman Carter Camper, opening the night’s scoring just five minutes into the first period.
Shortly after, newcomer Andy Miele made his debut in a Red and White uniform scoring his first collegiate goal and Miami’s second on the evening, as he rebounded a Camper shot.
“It’s definitely a little bit faster, and everyone’s strong, playing against these older guys,” Miele said. “It’s a step up, that’s for sure. It’s hard being the new guy, but the guys have taken me in like I’ve been here all year.”
Adding more depth to the RedHawk’s versatility, Miele comes to Miami after playing for the Chicago Steel, a team in the United States Hockey League, where he scored 30 goals in 28 games.
“We’re trying to get his feet wet, but it’s just a matter of getting himself acclimated to the speed,” Blasi said. “He adds a scoring punch to our line up which makes our job as coaches more difficult because now we have a slew of guys we can go with.”
Junior Justin Mercier added to Miami’s lead with a power play goal late in the first period. Senior defenseman Mitch Ganzak dumped the puck from his own blue line across the ice, tipping the stick of Mercier just before it dribbled through the pads of LSSU net minder Pat Inglis. Goaltender Charlie Effinger popped up on the score sheet, adding an assist on the goal.
“Getting us in the game right from the start was a key to the way we came out tonight,” Effinger said.
Continuing to dominate their competition, senior captain Ryan Jones, Camper and junior Kevin Roeder rounded out the remaining RedHawk goals bringing Miami’s lead to six goals. Camper’s goal was scored off his penalty shot attempt, the first for Miami since Jan. 6, 2006 when Miami’s Marty Guerin failed with his chance.
“Like any other night I am just trying to keep us in there for as long as I can and let us get a lead,” Effinger said. “I knew they were going to get opportunities, but I was just trying to battle as best I could. Their goal was a nice play to the slot, I got a piece of it, but I just couldn’t get it all.”
The Lakers lone goal was scored on a 5-on-3 power play by Josh Sim with just 48 seconds remaining in the game, breaking Effinger’s shut out effort.
Continuing their winning ways, the RedHawks skated to victory Saturday night as junior defenseman Alec Martinez started the Miami scoring at the 1:16 mark of the first period. The goal gave Martinez the lead for most goals by a defenseman in the nation.
“We tried to work their (defense) down low,” Martinez said. “I just tried to sneak down, back door. Camper had a great look, he gave it to me, and I just tried to get the puck on the net.”
Currently leading all Hobey Baker nominees in fan voting, earning 30 percent of all votes cast, Ryan Jones found the back of the net off Martinez’s wrist shot.
“After we took an early lead it turned into a chippy game they were trying to get under our skin trying to get us to take penalties, but I think we did a good job killing the penalties,” goaltender Jeff Zatkoff said.
The game took an aggressive turn in the second period as every penalty was enforced for a variation of game, like misconduct.
However, the ‘Hawk’s still shut out LSSU 5-0, with Zatkoff stopping all 18 shots he faced.
“We wanted to come out and score early to get them out of their game plan. I thought the guys did a nice job of that,” Blasi said. “They had good energy in the first, played pretty well in the second, and the third was a little bit back and forth.”
The Red and White will return to action when it travels to Fairbanks, Alaska for a series with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. Miami and Alaska split the first series this season at Steve Cady Arena. Both Friday and Saturday night’s game are set for an 11:05 ET start.
The RedHawks will next be at home for a series that the entire hockey nation will be watching-when the University of Michigan, the nation’s current No. 1 team-will grace new Goggin’s ice for the first time. That series will be Feb. 8-9 at Steve Cady Arena.