OXFORD, Ohio - Three power play goals helped the 5th-ranked Miami University hockey team down No. 16 Northern Michigan, 5-2, Friday night at Steve Cady Arena at the Goggin Ice Center.
The RedHawks, who finished 3-of-8 with the man advantage, remained unbeaten at home (4-0-1) and improved to 6-2-1 overall and 3-2-0-0 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). The Wildcats dropped to 4-4-1 and 1-3-1-0 in league play.
Friday was only the second time this season that Miami scored more than one power play goal in a game. The last time the 'Hawks scored multiple goals with the man advantage was against Colgate Oct. 13. MU also tallied three in the 5-1 win over the Raiders.
"Our special teams were really good," MU head coach Enrico Blasi said. "We executed some good plays. I thought our guys did a good job of playing all three zones."
Sophomore Austin Czarnik, along with freshmen Riley Barber and Matthew Caito, all had multi-point games for Miami. Barber and Czarnik both had a goal and two assists to tie a career high with three points, while Caito had a score and a helper for his first multi-point effort. Sophomore forward Cody Murphy and senior forward Curtis McKenzie rounded out the host's scoring.
Caito struck first on the power play with 9:23 to go in the opening period thanks to a beautiful back-door pass from Barber. The score, which came from the bottom of the right circle, was the first of Caito's career. Barber now leads the team in helpers with eight.
Northern Michigan evened the score on its first shot on goal of the game with 7:29 remaining in the opening period. Standing behind the goal line, junior center Stephan Vigier setup sophomore left wing DJ Vandercook for a quick one-timer from the middle of the left circle. Ryan Daugherty also tallied an assist on the play.
The RedHawks finished the opening period outshooting the Wildcats, 13-4, and held a 36-20 advantage for the game. Miami freshman goalie Jay Williams tallied 18 saves to earn the win.
The RedHawks, on the power play again five minutes into the second stanza, capitalized on a give-and-go to take the lead back. Czarnik fed an open Barber at the top of the right circle, who quickly moved into the bottom of the zone and released a solid wrister stick side, beating NMU goalie Jared Coreau. Caito picked up his assist on the score.
Czarnik and Barber are now tied with a team-high 13 points apiece.
"I think we changed our practices up a little bit," Barber said. "We practiced power play twice this week, instead of once. I think it really helped because we got some good reps and we just came out with the mentality to outwork the penalty kill, so it was great."
Northern Michigan continued to struggle to kill the Miami power play late in the second period. Sophomore center Blake Coleman found classmate Jimmy Mullin, who ripped a shot from the slot. Murphy, waiting near the right post, banged home the rebound to put the hosts up 3-1.
In the final frame, Barber and Czarnik each earned their second assist, as a trailing McKenzie found the back of the net from the slot at the 10:33 mark in the third. After the goal, the Wildcats replaced Coreau with Michael Doan in net. Coreau had 24 saves, while Doan finished with seven.
Czarnik sealed the win with a shorthanded unassisted-breakaway goal with 5:22 left. The top-shelf blast was his team-leading sixth of the season. He has scored all three of Miami's shorthanded goals this year.
Northern Michigan tacked on a late 5-on-3 power play goal to make it 5-2, but by then it was too little, too late. The Wildcats were 1-of-7 on the power play and had 10 penalties for 20 minutes. Miami finished with nine penalties for 18 minutes.
"Tonight we came out as a team," Czarnik said. "Everybody was working from the first shift and it showed out there. We got some good bounces I'd say, and we were able to bury our chances."
The RedHawks go for the sweep of the Wildcats Saturday in the second game of the two-game set. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. at Steve Cady Arena.