OXFORD, Ohio - After a slow start out of the gate and falling behind early, the No. 3 Miami hockey team received three unanswered goals from freshmen and fought off a feisty Lake Superior State team en route to a 3-2 victory Friday night at Steve Cady Arena.
The win marked the RedHawks' fourth straight victory and extended the team's unbeaten streak to eight games. First-place Miami improved to 10-2-3 overall and 7-2-2-2 in the CCHA, while the Lakers dropped to 7-10-0 and 4-7-0-0 in league play.
"We didn't start the game the way we wanted to, but we got back to it in the second and third and moved the puck quick," freshman Riley Barber said. "I think we did well. We really want to win. We have a lot of young guys with a lot of energy. I think the whole bench knew we were going to get that one back and win the game."
Fellow freshman Kevin Morris netted the game-tying goal for Miami with 4:23 to go in the second period. The rookie knocked in a loose puck in the crease after a Steven Spinell shot was saved and senior Curtis McKenzie poked the rebound free. The goal was Morris' third of the season.
Less than three minutes later, freshman Sean Kuraly took advantage of another rebound. This time, LSSU goalie Kevin Kapalka couldn't control redshirt senior Marc Hagel's shot and Kuraly found the back of the net, banging home the blocked shot at the near post. It was his third goal of the season, as well. Classmate Chris Joyaux also received an assist on the play.
Miami outshot Lake Superior State 24-5 in the second frame and 45-25 for the game, marking a season high for shots.
Just 2:09 into the final frame, Barber increased Miami's lead to 3-1, scoring the game-winner on a wicked wrist shot from the left circle that was perfectly struck in the upper-right corner of the net over Kapalka's left shoulder. Barber's unassisted goal was his seventh of the season, tying for the team lead.
"It was one of those nights where you have to find a way to score and the best way to do it is to crash the net for those two goals and then Barber made it 3-1," Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. "When you play Lake Superior, every game on the ice is contested. You have to stay composed and find a way to win. I expect them to play the same way tomorrow night (Saturday). I think when you play a Lake Superior team you have to be ready to compete. All three zones need to be very cleaned up. We've got to make plays from there."
The Lakers opened the game's scoring on the power play at the 11:16 mark of the first period. Stephen Perfetto sent in a quick shot and Kellan Lain was there to push it past freshman netminder Jay Williams, who finished with 23 saves.
LSSU added another power play goal four minutes into the third stanza on a backhand shot from Chris Ciotti to cut the Lakers' deficit to one at 3-2. Lake Superior pulled Kapalka in the closing minutes in favor of the extra attacker but was unable to find the equalizer as the RedHawks kept their win streak alive.
The Lakers scored both their goals on the power play, finishing 2-of-3 with the man-advantage, while Miami was 0-of-4 on the power play. Kapalka totaled 42 saves in defeat.
Miami continues its two-game conference series against Lake Superior State Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. Following the game will be Autograph Night when fans can get their favorite Miami gear signed by the team. This weekend's home stand will be the RedHawks' last until Jan. 25 when they host Bowling Green.