OXFORD, Ohio - Despite firing a season-high 46 shots on goal, the No. 3 Miami hockey team could not solve Lake Superior State goaltender Kevin Murdock and an early Laker goal held up as the RedHawks fell, 1-0, Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena. With the loss, Miami (10-3-3, 7-3-2-2 CCHA) settled for a weekend split with LSSU (8-10-0, 5-7-0-0 CCHA) after knocking off the Lakers, 3-2, on Friday.
The RedHawks saw their season-long eight-game unbeaten streak and four-game win streak snapped with the defeat, which was also Miami's first loss at home (6-1-3) on the season. Miami pelted Lake Superior's freshmen netminder throughout the game, putting 17 more shots on target than LSSU's 29 shots, but the 'Hawks were unable to find the back of the net for the second time this year, also getting shut out at Ferris State Nov. 2, which was Miami's last loss.
"I think we worked hard. It was one of those nights where the puck wasn't going in," Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. "Lake Superior played great. They blocked a lot of shots and their penalty kill was pretty good. We didn't see a whole lot of second chances. That is partially due to them doing a real good job of getting pucks out and maybe we weren't as hungry as we needed to be around the net."
Like Friday night, the Lakers struck first on the power play in the first period, which turned out to be the game's lone goal. Zach Sternberg had the puck at the blue line and centered to Domenic Monardo in the slot, where he redirected the puck past freshman goaltender Ryan McKay five-hole to put Lake Superior up, 1-0, 8:07 into the contest. LSSU scored on its first shot of the game and took the one-goal lead into the break, despite Miami dominating play to the tune of a 19-3 edge in shots over the first 20 minutes.
The second period saw a lot of similarities to the first period with Miami generating odd-man rushes and scrambles in front of the net, but each time the Laker defense was able to break up the play or Murdock came up with a clutch save. Miami's best chance came on a rebound when sophomore Blake Coleman was in front of the net with Murdock out of position but his attempt was batted over the crossbar.
In the third period, the RedHawks earned a pair of power plays with aggressive play in front of the net, but again Miami was unable to punch the puck past Murdock. With 1:09 left in the contest, the 'Hawks pulled McKay in favor of the extra attacker but two shots were blocked, two others sailed wide and Murdock stopped senior Curtis McKenzie's last-second attempt at the horn to secure his second career shutout.
Miami finished 0-for-6 on the power play and was 0-for-10 a man up on the weekend. Lake Superior on the other hand, finished 1-for-4 Saturday with the man advantage and went 3-for-7 on the power play against the RedHawks, scoring all three goals this weekend on special teams.
McKenzie led Miami with nine shots on goal Saturday while freshman Riley Barber blasted six. McKay made 28 saves for Miami despite suffering the tough-luck loss. He has allowed just two goals in five games as a RedHawk, both of which have come on the power play.
"McKay tonight had at least six unbelievable glove saves. When a goalie has a performance like that, from the player side, we feel like we let him down when he's making that many big saves, we got to get a few (goals) and help him out," senior captain Steven Spinell said. "Tonight's going to sting. We'll move on come Monday and turn the page and rebuild."
The RedHawks close out the first half of the season with a two-game CCHA series at in-state rival Ohio State Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-15. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. Friday and 8:05 p.m. Saturday.