OXFORD, Ohio - After needing overtime and a shootout to decide its last two games, the No. 4 Miami hockey team left little undecided in regulation Saturday as the RedHawks controlled play from start to finish in a 2-0 victory over Michigan State at Steve Cady Arena. Miami (7-2-3, 4-2-2-2 CCHA) is now unbeaten in its last five games and is 6-0-1 against the Spartans (4-6-2, 3-4-1-0 CCHA) in the teams' last seven meetings.
Freshman goaltender Jay Williams backstopped Miami to the win, pitching his first career shutout with a 13-save effort. It was Miami's second shutout of the year, along with the season opener against Colgate. The RedHawks outshot MSU, 36-13, for the game with the 13 shots allowed the fewest Miami was given up all season.
"I think our effort from start to finish was there. We challenged our guys to play 60 minutes. I think that this was the closest we've been to that all year," Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. "I thought our guys did a nice job of continuing to put on pressure. Guys were doing what we asked them to do."
The 'Hawks had a chance to take the lead early in the game on the power play as freshman Sean Kuraly was camped at the far post, but his redirection of a pass from classmate Riley Barber sailed high. Miami did score with 7:58 remaining in the opening period though when senior Curtis McKenzie redirected a shot just under the crossbar for his third goal of the year. Sophomore Austin Czarnik won an offensive zone faceoff back to Barber at the high slot, where he fired a shot that McKenzie deflected into the net.
After Miami earned a pair of power plays in the first frame, the Spartans garnered a pair of man advantages in the first five minutes of the second stanza, but the RedHawks killed both without allowing a shot on goal. Miami then received a five-minute power play midway through the middle period when Lee Reimer was given a game disqualification and a major for hitting from behind, but the 'Hawks were unable to capitalize and the game went to the final period a one-goal contest.
Neither team was able to generate much offense over the first 10 minutes of the third period. With eight minutes left, the Spartans had a 2-on-1 break after senior defenseman Steven Spinell fell down, but Williams was able to make a shoulder save on Brent Darnell to keep MSU off the board.
Sophomore Alex Wideman then sealed the game with an insurance goal with 3:45 remaining in the contest. Freshman defenseman Taylor Richart poked the poke free off a Spartan stick and Wideman gathered the puck in the neutral zone. He skated in hard and blasted a wicked wrister from just inside the blue line over MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand's left shoulder for his fourth goal of the year. Richart earned his first collegiate point on the play while Wideman has now scored a goal in three straight games.
"I owe a lot to (Associate Head) Coach (Brent) Brekke. He helps me out in practice all the time. Even if it's a small drill, if he sees me not shooting the puck hard, he'll get on me," Wideman said. "Small things like that make a big difference. He's been helping me out with my one-timer and pre-game skate stuff as well."
The Spartans pulled Hildebrand in the final minute in favor of an extra attacker but Miami kept MSU from generating any scoring chances to close out the 2-0 victory. Hildebrand finished with 34 saves in defeat, including 16 in the first period. Neither team scored on the power play with the 'Hawks going 0-for-3 and the Spartans going 0-for-2 without even registering a shot on goal.
"It's important to win in regulation," Blasi said. "With this young team, you have to focus on one game at a time, which is hard to do sometimes, but we will continue to do that."
Miami, which sits in first place in the CCHA after this weekend, is off next weekend before making the long trek to take on Alaska Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1. Puck drop is 11:05 p.m. ET both nights (7:05 p.m. local).
"We got five of six points this weekend, which is big," said Wideman, who scored the shootout winner in Friday's 2-2 draw with MSU. "That gives us a lot of confidence as we are going into the break."