KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A two-goal game by Riley Barber was not enough for the No. 13 Miami hockey team as Western Michigan held off a late charge to top the RedHawks 3-2 on Saturday night.
Barber’s two goal night gives the sophomore forward a team-high 13 this season, he also posted his ninth multi-point game of the year in the setback.
MU’s power play got its first opportunity just 1:12 into the game. However, the WMU penalty kill notched its third shorthanded goal of the weekend when Nolan LaPorte forced a RedHawk turnover behind their net and centered to Chase Balisy, who scored his third short-handed goal of the weekend.
The RedHawks nearly captured some shorthanded magic of their own when they were down a man at the 4:10 mark. With 14:39, Barber jumped on a loose puck and swung it to Sean Kuraly, who drove the net and appeared to tie it up by poking in his own rebound. Officials took a look at the replay and disallowed the tally due to goaltender interference.
The Red and White eventually killed off the penalty and got two more power plays of their own in the period, but were unable to find the net with the man advantage. MU nearly tied it up midway through the period when the puck got worked to Justin Greenberg near the crease, but his backhand hit the post and stayed out. The Broncos took the 1-0 lead into the locker room at intermission. MU outshot WMU 9-8 in the opening 20 minutes of play.
After a strong wrist shot by Alex Wideman was stopped soon after the opening draw of the second period, WMU pinned MU in its own zone for the next few shifts. Jay Williams made some strong saves to keep it a one-shot game and the RedHawks used a timeout with 16:23 left in the period to rest a tired line after an icing. The RedHawks went on the power play at the 5:49 mark and had their most productive power play, hitting two goal posts.
The power play still couldn’t find the back of the net, but Barber evened things up during five-on-five play with 11:12 remaining in the frame. Chris Joyaux fed the puck up ice and Kuraly found Barber down the right wing side. His shot rang off the far post and into the net for his 13th goal of the year, extending his point streak to a career-high six games.
Miami got another try on the power play with 3:51 to go in the second, but a broken stick off a shot led to a Red and White penalty 45 seconds later, moving the teams to 4-on-4 hockey. Shortly before the WMU minor expired, a loose puck squirted into the slot to Taylor Fleming, who slapped a shot into the net to put the Broncos ahead 2-1. MU killed off the 45-second WMU power play and drew a five-minute major penalty out of the Broncos late in the period. The RedHawks didn’t score in the 15 seconds remaining in the period after the penalty, but entered intermission with a golden chance to tie the score up.
The best opportunity for MU’s man advantage came a couple minutes into the third period when Barber fed the puck ahead to Kevin Morris for a breakaway attempt. However, WMU’s Frank Slubowski stopped the shot to keep the Broncos in front. Just as the power play expired, Nolan LaPorte capitalized on a turnover by scoring on a breakaway of his own 4:46 into the period, making it a 3-1 WMU lead.
Miami got two more power play chances in the period, but finished the night 0-for-8 with the man advantage. However, Barber gave the RedHawks a lift by scoring his second of the night on a wraparound with one minute left and an extra attacker on the ice. Cody Murphy’s chip behind the net set up the score while Matt Joyaux also earned an assist. The Red and White got another chance within the final minute when a loose puck dropped near the crease, but the puck was eventually covered by Slubowski and the Broncos held on for the one-goal win.
MU outshot WMU 38-23 overall and killed off all four Bronco power plays. Barber’s two-goal game gives him 13 points during his six-game point streak.
Bronco netminder Frank Slubowski picked up his second win of the weekend when he stopped 36 of 38 shots. Jay Williams started for the RedHawks and turned away 20 of 23 attempts.
MU is back at home against NCHC foe Nebraska Omaha on Friday night. Opening faceoff is at 7:35 p.m.