OXFORD, Ohio - Sophomore Austin Czarnik scored with 1:25 remaining in overtime to give the No. 4 Miami hockey team a thrilling, 4-3 win over Providence Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena in an entertaining back-and-forth contest. The RedHawks (3-0-1) remained unbeaten with the victory and are off to their best start since 2009-10 while the Friars (1-2-1, 0-1-0 Hockey East) are now winless in their last three games after the two teams tied 1-1 in overtime Friday.
Miami's top line led the way, accounting for three of the four RedHawks goals. Czarnik tallied a pair of scores on the night, tying a career high, his second time doing so, while he finished with a career-high-tying three points, also assisting on Miami's first goal. Freshman Riley Barber had a career night with three points as well for his first multi-point game, including two helpers. Junior Bryon Paulazzo, the other winger on the line, assisted on both a Barber and Czarnik goal, matching his career high for points.
"Tonight we played with a purpose, we skated well and we were in good position to do good things with the puck," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "The effort was there, the team that we saw last week had that enthusiasm. I think we played as close to a complete game as we have played this young season."
Unlike last night, the RedHawks drew first blood Saturday as Barber scored for the third straight game. Initially his blast from the right circle that found the top right corner of the net was ruled no goal as play continued, but at the next stoppage the play was reviewed and the officials ruled it was a goal. Czarnik earned his third assist of the year on the play as he dished to Barber streaking up the right side, where Barber beat Providence netminder Jon Gillies over his left shoulder 6:48 into the opening stanza. Paulazzo also picked up his first assist of the night on the score.
"Everyone came to the rink and the spirit was a lot different from yesterday," Barber said. "We got a great start and we kept it going."
The lead didn't last long however, as the Friars drew even just 1:06 later on their first shot on goal of the night. John Gilmour forced a turnover in the Miami attacking zone and skated the other way with the puck. He dished to Steven McParland at the opposite blue line before getting the puck back on a give-and-go and beating Miami freshman goaltender Jay Williams over his left shoulder from the circle to Williams' right.
Miami was able to regain the lead with just 1:01 remaining in the first frame. After winning a defensive zone faceoff, senior Steven Spinell played the puck square to freshman defenseman Matthew Caito. Caito then found sophomore Blake Coleman waiting on the Providence blue line with a crisp two-line pass that allowed Coleman to get behind the Friar defense. With a defenseman draped on him, Coleman was able to beat Gillies five-hole to make it 2-1 with his team-leading fourth tally of the year.
The RedHawks nearly added to their lead early in the second period as senior Curtis McKenzie was alone in front of the net on the power play but couldn't jam the puck past Gillies. Miami had multiple other good looks on the man advantage but were unable to score. Seconds after the Friars killed the penalty, Steven Shamanski found McParland as he stepped out of the box. McParland fed Tim Schaller in the left circle, where he ripped a shot over Williams' left shoulder to knot the game at 2-2 4:58 into the second stanza.
The back-and-forth affair continued as Miami jumped back on top, 3-2, 11:56 into the middle period. Barber started the play by finding Paulazzo at the Providence blue line. Paulazzo then one-touch passed to Czarnik skating down the middle of the ice where he fired a wrister by Gillies stick-side for his first goal of the year.
With 5:52 remaining in the third period, Coleman leveled Providence's Ross Mauermann but he was called for a five-minute major for charging, giving the Friars an extended power play. After the RedHawks blocked several shots with their body, the Friars pulled Gillies for an extra attacker with 24 ticks left on the power play and 1:15 left in regulation. Miami was able to kill the penalty but four seconds after the kill, Noel Acciari poked in a rebound from Kevin Hart with the extra attacker to pull the Friars even at 3-3 with 48 seconds remaining.
Miami had an odd-man rush in the closing seconds of regulation but sophomore Cody Murphy's shot was saved by Gillies and the teams went to overtime for the second straight night. The RedHawks outshot the Friars, 3-0, in the extra session with Czarnik tallying the game-winner 3:35 into overtime. McKenzie gathered a bouncing puck and carried into the offensive zone, sending a cross-ice pass to Barber, who set up Czarnik with a perfect pass to the slot, where Czarnik again beat Gillies with a wrister on his stick-side.
"I think, for myself, I was a little down. I should've blocked that shot (that led to the tying goal for Providence). They got that rebound so I was down on myself and I knew I had to come back," Czarnik said. "I told (Marc) Hagel that I was going to get a snipe in overtime and luckily that happened."
Williams provided the 'Hawks strong goaltending in clutch situations, including 10 stops in the third period, and ended with 23 saves for his second straight victory. Gillies totaled 26 saves in defeat, including 14 in the second stanza, as Miami finished with a 30-26 shot advantage. Neither team was successful on the power play as the RedHawks were 0-for-2 and the Friars went 0-for-4, including the five-minute man advantage. The 'Hawks finished with 31 blocked shots on the night to the Friars' 13.
Miami returns to the ice next weekend when it opens its 32nd and final season of CCHA play at No. 5/6 Michigan Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27 at Yost Ice Arena.