KALAMAZOO, Mich. - In a battle for first place in the CCHA, No. 6 Western Michigan scored early and it was all the Broncos would need as the No. 3 Miami hockey team was shut out, 2-0, Friday night at Lawson Ice Arena. The loss snapped the RedHawks' five-game winning streak while extending the Broncos' unbeaten streak to six.
Miami (17-7-5, 12-5-4-4 CCHA), which entered the night in first place in the CCHA, fell back to second, as Western Michigan (18-6-5, 14-4-3-1 CCHA) jumped into first place. WMU now has two more points in the standings with 46 to Miami's 44.
The Broncos jumped in front just 3:31 into the game as Jordan Oesterle scored his third goal of the year. Freshman goaltender Jay Williams was screened with traffic in front of the net and Oesterle's low line drive from the blue line snuck between Williams' right skate and the post for a 1-0 Bronco lead.
Miami earned a pair of power plays later in the opening period, but was unable to convert on either and went into the first intermission down a goal, despite an 11-6 edge in shots over the first 20 minutes.
The RedHawks nearly tied it early in the second period when junior forward Max Cook deflected a pass out of mid-air that grazed the crossbar and landed on top of the net.
Western Michigan then had a chance to double its lead with 5:57 left in the middle period when Miami senior defenseman Joe Hartman stopped the puck with his skate and then covered it with his body in the crease with Williams fighting traffic, resulting in a delay of game penalty and a penalty shot. Williams stopped Mike Leone, however, with his glove to keep it a one-goal game.
After a skirmish at the end of the second stanza resulted in a power play for WMU to start the third period, the Broncos took advantage as Chase Balisy scored only 46 seconds into the final frame with the teams skating 4-on-3. Balisy took a feed from Dan DeKeyser down low and was able to sneak a low-angle shot by Williams, which deflected off the rookie netminder before finding the goal for a 2-0 Bronco lead.
Soon after, Miami had two more power plays and freshman forward Sean Kuraly fired a clean shot on goal but WMU goalie Frank Slubowski came up with a big save to keep the RedHawks off the board. Miami was then called for three penalties down the stretch, limiting its comeback efforts. The 'Hawks pulled Williams in the final two minutes for an extra attacker and created several scoring chances in front of the net but couldn't bury the puck.
Slubowski stopped all 32 Miami shots, including 13 in the third period, to hand the RedHawks their fifth shutout of the year. Despite the loss, Miami outshot WMU, as Williams totaled 21 saves on 23 Bronco shots. Sophomore forward Blake Coleman led the 'Hawks with seven shots on goal. The RedHawks finished 0-for-5 on the power play while Western Michigan went 1-for-5 a man up.
Miami will have the chance to return to the top spot in the CCHA standings Saturday night when the RedHawks and Broncos square off again at 7:05 p.m. at Lawson Ice Arena.