OXFORD, Ohio – Miami’s special teams scored twice in the first period, but Western Michigan scored three times in the second to send the hockey team to a 3-2 loss on Saturday night.
MU falls to 10-13-3, 4-11-1-1 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, after Saturday’s contest.
The RedHawks showed jump from the opening faceoff and an active shift by Sean Kuraly and his line mates drew a penalty at the 4:15 mark. The Red and White fired two shots at Lukas Hafner, but the Broncos (14-10-4, 8-7-1-1 NCHC) ultimately killed off the power play. The ensuing shift saw MU commit a penalty, giving WMU the opportunity to go on the attack with 6:31 gone by in the first.
The Red and White penalty kill was up to the task and then some. Austin Czarnik corralled a loose puck and skated into the Broncos’ zone before feeding a cutting Riley Barber in the slot. The sophomore’s one-timer beat Hafner five-hole for a short-handed goal with 11:46 remaining in the first period, Barber’s 17th of the season.
Western Michigan got whistled for interference while breaking out of its own end with 7:37 remaining in the first, putting Miami on its second power play of the period. Colton Hargrove picked off a pass and went in for a breakaway, but Jay Williams stood his ground for a leg save, allowing play to continue. Anthony Louis gathered the puck and went the other way before dishing to Kuraly, who then dropped the puck to Matthew Caito at the point. Caito’s shot found the top corner of the net to put the RedHawks ahead 2-0 on the strength of a power play goal. That goal chased Hafner from the net, who gave way to Frank Slubowski for the rest of the evening. It also capped the first period scoring with MU outshooting WMU 12-7.
The Broncos got on the board at the 2:58 mark of the second period when Josh Pitt scored on a wraparound after a Nolan LaPorte shot was stopped by Williams. WMU tied the score up with 12:42 remaining in the middle stanza when Chris Dienes’ point shot found the net, bringing the score to 2-2. Western Michigan grabbed its first lead in the final minute of the frame when Will Kessel skated into the zone and beat Williams from the slot with 29.2 seconds remaining in the period. That tally put the finishing touches on a period that WMU outshot MU 12-9.
Miami outshot Western Michigan 13-6 in the third period and created a few strong chances. The line of Kuraly, Alex Gacek and Alex Wideman was particularly dangerous early on, putting up several shots from in close that Slubowski got in front of in their first few shifts.
The Red and White went to the power play with 11:08 remaining in the third and Czarnik weaved through the Bronco defense for a diving shot early in the opportunity, but Slubowski made another save to keep WMU in front.
With time winding down and an extra attacker on the ice, MU forced WMU into a penalty with 34.2 seconds remaining. However, the RedHawks were unable to get a shot directed at the net as the Broncos managed two successful clears to hold the Red and White off.
Miami outshot Western Michigan 34-25 overall and went 1-for-5 on the power play while killing off both WMU power plays. Williams stopped 22 of 25 shots for MU. WMU’s Frank Slubowski picked up the win in relief by stopping all 24 Miami shots he faced after Hafner stopped eight of 10 shots.
Miami is back on the ice on Feb. 14 when it travels to North Dakota for a two game series. Friday night’s series opener begins at 8:30 p.m. and is televised on CBS Sports Network.