MARQUETTE, Mich. - For the second straight game, the No. 6 Miami hockey team controlled play and outshot its opponent by a wide margin but struggled to find the back of the net as the RedHawks fell, 2-1, to Northern Michigan Friday night at the Berry Events Center. With the loss, Miami (12-5-4, 8-4-3-3 CCHA) has now dropped back-to-back games for the first time this year after losing to Robert Morris, 1-0, Dec. 29. The Wildcats (9-10-3, 3-9-3-1 CCHA) have now won three straight games while the two teams are 1-1-1 against each other this year after the 'Hawks won and tied NMU in Oxford earlier this season.
The RedHawks once again ran into hot goaltending as Wildcat netminder Jared Coreau stopped 43 of the 44 shots Miami put on net while the 'Hawks held Northern Michigan to just 24 shots, despite the defeat. In the loss to RMU two weeks ago, the 'Hawks held a 51-21 edge in shots on goal but were shut out.
As has become a trend, the RedHawks and Wildcats played a scoreless first period, marking the third straight game Miami has gone into the first intermission knotted at 0-0. The 'Hawks created several chances, outshooting NMU, 12-7, in the frame, but Coreau denied each attempt. Miami's best chance came off the stick of sophomore Alex Wideman as he hit the post with 2:45 remaining in the opening stanza.
The RedHawks broke the scoreless deadlock 4:44 into the second period when sophomore forward Austin Czarnik scored his eighth goal of the year, tying him for the team lead and giving him the CCHA lead for points (23). Senior forward Curtis McKenzie carried the puck from the defensive zone all the way behind the NMU net before feeding Czarnik in the slot, where he buried the one-timer top-shelf for a 1-0 Miami lead. Freshman defenseman Taylor Richart earned the second assist.
The Wildcats pulled level at 1-1 with a power play goal from Stephan Vigier 7:55 into the middle frame. NMU applied pressure a man up creating a scramble in front of the net that knocked freshman goaltender Jay Williams to the ice along with other players. With Williams down, Vigier took a pass from Justin Rose and deposited it in the empty net to tie the game. The officials originally ruled no goal, but overturned the call after a review.
Miami nearly took the lead back a few minutes later with a power play goal of its own when freshman forward Sean Kuraly blasted a shot from the right circle but the puck hit the post again, sending the teams into the second break even at 1-1.
Northern Michigan took the lead just 3:06 into the third period when Darren Nowick skated the puck into the offensive zone along the boards and fired a wrister from a sharp angle that beat Williams top shelf to give NMU a 2-1 advantage. Miami nearly put the score back even a few minutes later when another shot hit the post and trickled along the goal line before Coreau covered the puck but no goal was ruled and a review upheld the call.
Still down a goal, the 'Hawks earned a pair of power plays in the final four minutes of the contest. Miami again generated several scoring chances, putting four shots on frame on the first man advantage with Coreau giving up multiple rebounds, as he did much of the night, but the 'Hawks couldn't put home the loose puck. The second penalty on NMU was called with 37 seconds remaining and Miami pulled Williams, who finished with 22 saves, for the extra attacker, creating a 6-on-4 advantage. The RedHawks could not find the equalizer, however, and fell, 2-1, despite putting 20 shots on net over the final 20 minutes.
Miami finished 0-for-5 on the power play, firing 13 shots on goal with the man advantage, while Northern Michigan went 1-for-2 on its power play opportunities.
The RedHawks and Wildcats square off again Saturday night at the Berry Events Center with puck drop set for 7:35 p.m.