BEMIDJI, Minn. – When times get tough, teams look to their leaders to put things right.
Miami captain Austin Czarnik provided that in spades by leading the No. 12/13 RedHawks to a 6-3 win at Bemidji State on Saturday night.
Czarnik dished out a career-high five assists and became the 48th member of MU’s 100-point club to help the team snap a four-game winless streak (0-3-1).
“The guys showed some resilience tonight,” head coach Enrico Blasi said. “This stretch was a learning experience for everyone. We had to get through this together and they did. The team really took a step forward and got back in the win column tonight.”
The RedHawks (8-6-2) got things started with a bang as Devin Loe scored the first goal of his career 11 seconds in by cashing in on a rebound off a Riley Barber shot after Czarnik fed him on the left wing side. That goal is a school-record to start a game, besting the previous mark of 12 seconds set by Tim Huettl (Jan. 3, 1986 vs. UM-Dearborn) and Jimmy Mullin (March 9, 2012 vs. Michigan State).
Miami wasn’t done from there, cashing in on the power play at the 3:02 mark when Blake Coleman redirected Czarnik’s point shot for his 10th goal of the year. Anthony Louis also assisted on the play that put the RedHawks up 2-0 for the second night in a row.
BSU stormed right back with a pair of goals of its own. The Radoslav Illo jammed a loose puck into the net with 9:44 showing on the clock in the first. The Beavers evened the score at two apiece with a power play goal by Jeff Jubinville at 14:01.
The Red and White put up a few strong scoring chances in the final minutes of the first as Sean Kuraly and Anthony Louis had close in shots with heavy traffic at the net, but the chances slipped just wide. The score remained 2-2 at the intermission with shots 13-11 in favor of MU.
After killing over 1:18 of a carryover penalty, the RedHawks earned their second power play just 1:26 into the second period. The opportunity went by the wayside with Miami not taking a shot with the man advantage.
Even strength worked well enough for Miami to retake the lead as Loe crashed the net to knock home a rebound after Barber brought the puck into the crease from behind the goal line. Czarnik also picked up an assist after sending the puck up ice to Barber. Loe’s goal gave him his second career multi-point outing in just his third career game. With 15:21 left in the second, the RedHawks had regained their lead at 3-2.
Illo responded with his second goal of the evening, beating Ryan McKay on a shot off the faceoff for a power play goal at 11:21. The Beavers outshot the RedHawks 11-6 in the middle stanza, but the score was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes of play.
The RedHawks rushed down the ice off the third period’s opening draw with Barber getting a shot from the slot that Mimmack stopped. On the same shift, DJ Jones nearly put the Beavers ahead when his shot from in close hit the goal post. MU had another great chance to regain the lead a few minutes later when Jimmy Mullin stymied a play at the defensive blue line and moved in for a breakaway that Mimmack stopped.
At the 5:20 mark of the period, Miami took the lead for good as Alex Wideman fired in a rebound off a Taylor Richart shot to make it a 4-3 contest. Coleman also assisted on the play for his second-multi-point outing of the weekend. That goal was Wideman’s fifth of the season.
Things had a chance to turn back in the Beaver’s favor when the RedHawks were whistled for a five-minute boarding major with 7:06 into the final period. After allowing two earlier power play goals, Miami’s penalty kill put together its best stretch of the season. Czarnik broke up a pass in the neutral zone and the puck found Barber for a breakaway. The sophomore scored his 10th of the year, slipping one past Mimmack to give the RedHawks an insurance goal. That assist for Czarnik gave the junior his 100th-career point, becoming the first since Reilly Smith accomplished the feat during the 2011-12 season.
BSU still had a long power play to contend with, but McKay made a pair of saves and a Beaver penalty with under two minutes remaining on its power play ended its chance with the man advantage.
The Red and White kept their foot on the gas pedal and added another goal as Barber started a 3-on-2 rush by swinging the puck to Czarnik down the right wing side. Czarnik found Wideman coming through the middle and the junior forward fired in his second of the night to cap the scoring.
Miami outshot BSU 29-28 in the contest and finished 1-for-3 on the power play. Bemidji State had six opportunities, including the five-minute power play, and went 2-for-6. In addition to Czarnik’s career-high five points, Barber (1g, 3a), Wideman (2g), Loe (2g) and Coleman (1g, 1a) all recorded multi-point games. Barber’s three assists are a career high, Wideman notched his third-career multi-goal game (second this season), Loe posted his first multi-goal game and Coleman posted his third multi-point performance this year.
McKay got his third-straight start in goal and stopped 25 of 28 BSU shots while Reid Mimmack made 23 saves for the Beavers.
The RedHawks return to conference play next weekend when they host Denver for a weekend series at Steve Cady Arena on Dec. 6-7. Friday night’s contest begins at 7:35 p.m.