Barber had a hand in the RedHawks’ (9-7-2, 3-5 National Collegiate Hockey) first three goals (1g, 2a) while Czarnik finished with two goals and an assist in their final regular season game of the calendar year.
One night after getting just one power play, Denver (8-6-2, 4-3-1-1 NCHC) got its first chance with the man advantage just under six minutes into the game. That power play lasted 58 seconds until Denver committed a penalty of its own, evening the teams at four aside with 13:14 remaining in the first period. Miami got 58 seconds to play on the power play itself, but only took one shot on goal during its special teams try.
The RedHawks appeared to be going back to the power play with 7:30 left in the stanza when Czarnik took a check from behind. However, Miami got whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct in retaliation, negating the chance to go up a man. With the teams playing 4-on-4 again, the Pioneers were caught with too many men on the ice at the 13:47 mark, giving the RedHawks a 4-on-3 power play.
While Miami technically went empty on the power play for the second time of the period, it got on the board just as the penalty expired. Czarnik one-timed a feed from Barber with 5:30 remaining in the period to give the RedHawks their first lead of the weekend. Kevin Morris also picked up an assist on the goal after digging the puck out of traffic.
After its second minor expired, DU went on its second power play of the game, but was unable to get anything past Jay Williams. The Red and White created some more chances thanks to a late power play, though it ended up settling for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. Miami outshot Denver 9-7 in the period.
Denver appeared to tie the game up midway through the second period when Trevor Moore beat Williams with a delayed penalty in progress, but officials waved the goal off on account of a DU player interfering with Williams in his crease. The RedHawks’ penalty kill stood tall and killed off the ensuing power play without allowing a shot on goal.
Czarnik had an opportunity for his second of the night with under five minutes to play in the second when he forced a turnover at the blue line and skated in for a breakaway, but Sam Brittain made the save to keep it a one-goal game.
With 3:13 left in the second, the Red and White got another chance with the man advantage, though the power play lasted only 1:03 as DU’s Grant Arnold drove to the net in transition and fired a point blank shot that Williams stood tall and stopped. A scuffle after the whistle resulted in coincidental minor penalties and one extra minor on the RedHawks, evening things at 4-on-4.
Once again, MU’s special teams were just that, posting another perfect penalty kill without yielding a single shot attempt and maintaining Miami’s 1-0 lead after two periods.
The RedHawks broke things open early in the third period thanks to two goals in a 2:11 span. Anthony Louis blocked a shot and Barber gathered the puck at the Miami blue line to break down the left side. The sophomore forward wristed a shot far side for his 11th goal of the year to make it 2-0 just 1:30 into the final period.
The RedHawks’ pressure forced another Pioneer penalty, putting the Red and White back on the power play. It took only 10 seconds for Miami to solve the nation’s top penalty killing unit as Sean Kuraly blasted a one-timer past Brittain at the 3:41 mark to make it 3-0. Barber and Czarnik each assisted on the play in a crisp passing display.
Denver would not let its seven-game unbeaten streak end without a fight and with 5:55 remaining, Matt Tabrum scored after a neutral zone turnover allowed him to skate into the middle of the ice and beat Williams.
Even with the goal, it appeared the RedHawks were well on their way to a win until they were whistled for a penalty with 29 seconds remaining on the clock. A cross-crease pass by Gabe Levin found Quentin Shore at the opposite side for a quick shot that Williams made an acrobatic stop on, but the rebound was sent in to cut the MU lead to 3-2 with five seconds left on the clock.
With the Denver net still empty, Czarnik won the faceoff forward and the puck rolled into the net for the captain’s second of the evening, capping the scoring.
The RedHawks outshot the Pioneers 32-21 on the night and went 1-for-8 on the power play. The Pioneers went 1-for-7 with the man advantage and only took four shots on their power play.
Jay Williams earned the start in goal for Miami, stopping 19 of the 21 shots he faced while Sam Brittain made 28 saves on 31 shots.
The RedHawks are off until they play the USA Under-18 National Team in an exhibition on Dec. 31. That game starts at 4 p.m.