OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan McKay stopped 29 of 30 shots in his first start since Feb. 15, but Minnesota Duluth’s Aaron Crandall stopped all 30 of the Miami hockey teams shots to send MU to a 1-0 setback on Saturday night.
Both teams played it pretty close to the vest defensively in the early going, with only three total shots on goal (all from UMD) in the first seven minutes. The RedHawks got a strong chance nearly eight minutes in when Blake Coleman was fed for a one-timer at the right wing circle that Crandall stopped.
Minnesota Duluth (15-13-4, 10-10-2-2 NCHC) drew the evening’s first power play with 9:05 remaining in the opening frame. The Bulldogs fired four shots on goal during their man advantage, but most were from the perimeter and McKay snared each attempt. Shortly after the power play ended, Riley Barber’s hard work looking for a loose puck drew a penalty against UMD. The Red and White moved the puck around well and fired five shots on net, the most dangerous of which was an Anthony Louis one-timer from the right wing side. Crandall stopped each attempt to help UMD get out of the MU power play unscathed.
A couple good chances were created for both teams late in the period with Miami’s best opportunity coming off a scramble in front of the net that resulted in several point blank shots that were either blocked or stopped. Right after that sequence, the Bulldogs transitioned with a two-on-one rush that ended up with a shot fired wide. The teams skated into the locker room with the score exactly as they entered, 0-0, with shots favoring MU 15-12.
The pace slowed down a little bit in the second period, matching the early stages of the first. Miami did have a power play opportunity come and go. With about seven minutes passed, the line of Barber, Coleman and Austin Czarnik created a rush up ice. Czarnik’s shot hit Crandall through traffic and eventually the puck worked into the crease, but was covered by UMD’s goaltender to quell the attack.
Kyle Osterberg’s one-timer at the 10:55 mark put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0. The score happened off a faceoff where Justin Crandall dug out the puck and fed him between the hash marks. The RedHawks went on their third power play of the night shortly after the tally, but were unable to generate much of an attack with their two minute man advantage.
The Bulldogs had another dangerous opportunity with a few minutes left in the second period when Adam Krause was fed coming down the right side in transition. The back door feed hit his stick for a quick one-timer, but McKay slid over to make a crucial save to keep the deficit at 1-0 after two periods of play. UMD outshot MU 12-6 while taking the lead in the second period.
Offense was hard to come by for Miami in first 10 minutes of the third period, partially due to killing off a pair of Minnesota Duluth power plays. The Bulldogs held the RedHawks to only four shots on goal over the first 14 minutes and change of the final regulation frame.
Miami finally went on a power play with a little over five minutes remaining in the third and got a glorious chance early on when Barber fed Louis down low for a point blank shot at the right side that Crandall steered away. The Red and White fired only one more shot during its man advantage, which Crandall also saved.
A juggled line of Kevin Morris along with seniors Cook and Paulazzo hemmed UMD in its own defensive zone with roughly two minutes remaining and a couple quality opportunities were once again saved by Crandall. With McKay pulled for an extra skater, Miami got one more crack on the power play when UMD was called for tripping with 25 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, the RedHawks won the faceoff and moved the puck to the left side of the crease to Barber, but Crandall again got over to smother a sharp angle attempt. UMD cleared the puck after the following faceoff to hold off the MU comeback attempt. The teams gathered for a skirmish following the end of a tightly contested series, with coincidental roughing minors and 10-minute misconducts handed out after the final horn.
Both teams finished with 30 shots on goal for the night with Crandall stopping every MU shot. McKay played well in his own right, steering away 29 of 30 UMD shots. Miami finished 0-for-5 on the power play while Minnesota Duluth went 0-for-3.
Saturday’s result gives the RedHawks the No. 8 seed in the inaugural NCHC Tournament, which begins with a best-of-three series at the eventual regular season champion March 14-16. Miami wraps up its regular season next weekend when it travels to Denver for a two-game series. Friday’s game begins at 9:37 p.m. ET.