OXFORD, Ohio - The No. 3/4 Miami hockey team jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and added a pair of empty-netters late to extend its win streak to four games with a 4-1 victory over No. 20 Alaska Friday night at Steve Cady Arena.
The RedHawks snapped the Nanooks' six-game winning streak and seven-game unbeaten streak and held their opponent to one goal for the fifth straight game. MU has now won seven straight against Alaska, including all three meetings this year after the 'Hawks swept UAF in Fairbanks earlier this season.
Miami (16-6-5, 11-4-4-4 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) remains in second place in the conference, one point behind Western Michigan, which beat Ferris State, 3-1, Friday night. Alaska dropped to 12-9-4 on the year and 10-8-3-1 in league play.
The 'Hawks opened the scoring with 7:49 left in the first period with an extra attacker on a delayed penalty, as sophomore forward Blake Coleman found the back of the net on a crafty shot from the boards that snuck through the legs of Alaska goaltender John Keeney. Freshman forward Alex Gacek and sophomore forward Alex Wideman assisted on the play. The goal was Coleman's sixth of the season and first since Dec. 15 at Ohio State.
"We had the extra attacker and I knew that guy was coming out of the box. Gacek just sent it down the wall and Jimmy (Mullin) was playing in front so I just threw it on net and saw what happened," Coleman said. "It went off the goalie's leg pad fortunately and gave us a bounce."
Miami pushed its lead to two goals thanks to a late score by sophomore forward Cody Murphy. With 2:01 remaining in the first, freshman forward Kevin Morris sent a shot in front of the net, which deflected off senior forward Marc Hagel and onto the stick of Murphy at the near post. The goal marked Murphy's third score in his last three games and seventh of the season.
The Nanooks responded in the second period, as Trevor Campbell scored the lone goal of the middle frame with the teams skating four-on-four. Tyler Morley led an odd-man rush and sent a cross-ice pass to Campbell, who ripped a quick wrister by freshman netminder Jay Williams stick-side at the 15:44 mark.
Alaska battled to pull even in the third period, outshooting Miami, 13-5, in the stanza. The Nanooks had three power plays in the final frame and hit the crossbar once, but couldn't get anything past Williams, who tallied 24 saves for his 11th win of the year.
"You can see why they are a top team," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said of the Nanooks. "They never quit and they have good speed. That game could've gone either way. We got the bounces tonight for sure."
Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik sealed the win for Miami with two empty-net scores with 57.6 and 30 seconds left, respectively. He now has a team-best 11 goals on the season and leads the CCHA with 28 points. It was also his third multi-goal contest of the year.
The Nanooks outshot the 'Hawks, 25-22, for the game while Keeney finished with 18 stops in defeat. Both teams were hit with six penalties for 12 minutes and both were 0-for-6 on the power play. The RedHawks have now killed 26 straight opponent power plays dating back to Jan. 11.
"Our PK has been pretty good. They had an opportunity there at the end to score and they hit the crossbar," Blasi said. "For the most part, we did a nice job of keeping them to the outside and blocking shots. Jay made some huge saves tonight."
Miami goes for another sweep and a season-long five-game winning streak when it closes out its two-game series against Alaska Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Following the game will be Skate with the 'Hawks Night.