MINNEAPOLIS – Another step closer.
The Miami hockey team moved one win away from punching its NCAA ticket with a stifling 3-0 win over North Dakota in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff on Friday. The RedHawks (15-19-3) advance to Saturday’s final with the victory.
Both teams felt each other out in the early portions of the game, though Miami spent more time on the attack than North Dakota. A particularly strong shift by the line of Blake Coleman, Austin Czarnik and Cody Murphy created some of MU’s best pressure as Coleman and Murphy got shots from in close that Zane Gothberg stopped.
UND (22-13-3) earned the first power play of the night with 13:27 to go in the first period. Dillon Simpson and Mark MacMillan each had good looks at the net, but their shots went wide. The Red and White played well in front of Ryan McKay and successfully killed off the penalty. After enduring North Dakota’s attack, Miami earned a power play of its own at the 9:58 mark of the frame. A nice stretch pass sprung Coleman behind the defense for a partial breakaway, but Gothberg got the pad down to stop the chance.
Coleman got the last laugh after all as the power play was winding down. After a shot from the slot didn’t go in, Matthew Caito held in a North Dakota clearing attempt and got the puck back to Coleman in the middle. The junior turned around and ripped a slap shot past Gothberg for his 19th goal this season to put the RedHawks up 1-0 with 8:16 to go in the first.
North Dakota drew a second power play opportunity, but Miami’s special teams were again up to the task, getting two more stops from McKay to maintain the lead. UND continued to pressure late in the period and ended up with a 14-9 edge in shots, but McKay stopped every single puck sent his way to send the Red and White into the dressing room on top 1-0 at intermission.
Riley Barber got two good looks a few minutes into the second period. The sophomore wristed a heavy shot from between the circles off a faceoff, but Gothberg turned it away. Later, he brought the puck on a rush and fired another puck that Gothberg steered away.
A goaltender interference penalty was whistled on North Dakota’s Michael Parks 6:21 into the period, putting Miami on its second power play of the night. UND hold MU to a single shot on goal during its man advantage. The RedHawks faced another North Dakota power play midway through the period, but held UND without a shot during another successful kill.
North Dakota had a chance to tie the game during a three-on-two rush with roughly six minutes to go in the second. The puck was worked to MacMillan in the left circle with an opening in the net in front of him, but his shot drew iron and kept Miami’s lead intact.
It appeared the second period would end without a goal for either team, but a North Dakota icing with 30 seconds left gave Miami an offensive zone faceoff to work with. Coleman won the draw to Austin Czarnik, who flung a puck through traffic past Gothberg for his 13th goal of the year. That tally moved Czarnik into a tie for 23rd on the program’s all-time scoring list and sent Miami into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Miami slowed down North Dakota’s attack, allowing only two shots on goal over the first six minutes of the third. At the 6:13 mark, Barber intercepted a UND hard around at the right wing wall and eventually got to the left wing corner where he centered to Anthony Louis between the circles. The freshman wristed one past Gothberg to put the Red and White on top 3-0.
North Dakota drews power plays with 11:09 and 5:00 left in the period, respectively, and Miami’s penalty kill unit was again equal to the task as part of a perfect 5-for-5 effort shorthanded.
All that remained was the goose egg and McKay was up to the task, stopping all 32 of North Dakota’s shots to post his fourth shutout of the year and his first since Nov. 15. UND finished with a slight edge in shots (32-28), but MU made its attempts count. The Red and White went 1-for-2 on the power play in addition to holding UND scoreless in five tries with the man advantage.
Miami squares off against Denver in the inaugural NCHC Championship Game, concluding the Frozen Faceoff. The game airs nationally on CBS Sports Network and starts at 8:38 p.m. ET.