OXFORD, Ohio – Junior forward Blake Coleman’s first-career hat trick sparked No. 1 Miami to a dominant 6-2 win over No. 6 North Dakota in the second game of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference season Saturday night at Arena. The RedHawks scored five unanswered goals to start the game to move to 3-1-0 overall and 1-1-0-0 in the NCHC by handing North Dakota its first loss of the season as the visitors dropped to 2-1-1 and 1-1-0-0 in the conference.
The two teams combined for five power plays on 14 penalty minutes in the first period, a result of physical play by both sides. UND set the pace early, outshooting Miami by 17-9 margin in the first period, but the RedHawks made the most of their opportunities, scoring twice in the opening frame.
Junior forward Cody Murphy struck first for Miami just 2:24 into the game. The RedHawks drew a delayed penalty in the defensive zone and moved up the ice as McKay made his way to the bench for the extra attacker. Sophomore defenseman Chris Joyaux took a pass from his classmate Taylor Richart and pushed it ahead to Murphy who carried it into the offensive zone along the left boards. As he got to the top of the left circle, he sent in a shot that caught North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg by surprise, sailing over his left glove hand into the top right corner of the net.
With just over five minutes left to play in the first, the RedHawks moved the puck up ice on a 4-on-2 rush in transition and sent in a shot that was gloved down by Gothberg. On the ensuing faceoff, Coleman won the draw and sent a quick wrister past the UND goalie for his first of the night and the 2-0 Miami lead with 4:58 left in the first period.
In the second period, Miami extended the lead to 3-0 when sophomore forward Riley Barber tallied his fifth goal of the year at 3:40 of the frame. Sophomore forward Sean Kuraly and freshman Trevor Hamilton joined Barber on an odd-man rush. UND stole it before the Red and White could get off a shot and tried to clear. Sophomore forward Kevin Morris settled it at the blue line and sent it right back in with a slap shot with Kuraly and Barber on each side of crease. Kuraly got a stick on Morris’s shot as he redirected it to Barber who tapped it in from the right side of the goal.
Just under two minutes later, Mullin sent in a shot from the slot. The shot almost made its way into the net with Coleman creating traffic in front of the goal. It trickled behind Gothberg and sat just in front of the goal line where Coleman got his stick behind the goalie and poked it in for a 4-0 lead at 5:37 of the second period. Freshman Devin Loe, in his first action of the season, earned the second assist on the goal.
Facing a four-goal deficit, North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol pulled Gothberg for senior Clarke Saunders in net. Saunders, a transfer from University of Alabama-Huntsville, is the only player on the North Dakota roster to have previously played the RedHawks when he and the Chargers were swept in Oxford over the weekend of Feb. 10-11, 2012. Miami gave Saunders a quick welcome as Coleman completed the hat trick just 14 seconds later with assists by Mullin and Loe again, putting Miami up 5-0.
North Dakota’s Colten St. Clair put North Dakota on the board when he got loose between the circles off a faceoff and beat Miami sophomore goaltender Ryan McKay to avoid the shutout and make the score 5-1, RedHawks.
After being outshot by a wide margin in the first period, the RedHawks turned the tables in the second period, sending 18 shots on goal while limiting North Dakota to just eight.
North Dakota got one more back at 6:05 of the third period when freshman defender Gage Ausmus scored the first of his career to cut the Miami lead to 5-2, but it proved to be too little too late.
Murphy picked up the puck on the left side in the offensive zone skating toward the boards and circled back toward the net. As neared the corner, he found junior captain Austin Czarnik open in the high slot who one-timed it past Saunders for the insurance goal to put Miami back up by four with 9:16 left in the game.
McKay made 34 saves in the win while Gothberg stopped 11 of the 15 shots he faced to take the loss. Saunders stopped 23 shots in his relief appearance. Final shots were 40-36 in favor of Miami, a season-high for the Red and White, while both team were held scoreless on the power play.
Next up for the RedHawks is a non-conference trip to No. 14 Providence on Oct. 25-26. Miami returns home the following weekend to host Canisius on Nov. 1-2.