By Drew Davis
OXFORD, Ohio – Sophomore forward Riley Barber scored a career-high four goals to lead No. 2 Miami to a 6-3 win over Ohio State to complete the home-and-home series sweep Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena. Junior captain Austin Czarnik registered a career-high four points on the night for the RedHawks (2-0-0) to help take down the former CCHA rival Buckeyes (0-2-0) for the third-straight time, dating back to last season.
After winning the opening faceoff, Czarnik took a pass from senior Max Cook along the left boards and fed it ahead to Barber who muscled it past a defender. He cut in front of the crease and beat Ohio State goaltender Matt Tomkins, five-hole, for the 1-0 Miami lead just 14 seconds into the game. Barber’s tally was the second-fastest goal to start a game in team history, behind just Tim Huettl who scored 12 seconds into a game against Michigan-Dearborn on Jan. 3, 1986.
Barber added his second of the night on a rebound in front of the net at 4:27 of the first period. Czarnik intercepted a pass at center ice and fired in the initial shot. Cook found the loose puck and pushed it to his left where Barber, trailing the play, put it into the back of the net for the 2-0 Miami lead.
Ohio State answered back when senior Alex Szczechura took advantage of a Miami penalty and scored on the power play with 1:57 left on the clock in the first period. The goal marked the first time this season that Miami surrendered a goal on the penalty kill after finishing 3-for-3 on Friday night.
Sophomore Sean Kuraly pushed the Miami lead back to two goals at 13:34 of the second period when he took the puck from behind the OSU net. He picked up a loose puck in the corner and took it behind the net where he initially looked to wrap around the net and got pushed wide. He spun back behind the net and looked for a teammate open in the slot, but couldn’t find anyone and took it himself toward the right circle. As he continued to look for a teammate, he saw an opening as the Buckeyes failed to pressure him and ripped a wrist shot between Tomkins’ glove and the right pipe.
Szczechura brought Ohio State back to within one when he redirected a shot from junior Tanner Fritz past sophomore goalkeeper Ryan McKay at 17:38 of the second frame.
Less than a minute later, only 14 seconds into a one-man advantage, Barber took a pass from Czarnik at the left point just in front of the blue line and walked it forward, unmarked, to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a wrister through traffic, past Tomkins for the 4-2 Miami lead with 1:26 left in the second period. With the goal, the Miami sophomore became the first RedHawk to record a hat trick since Riley Smith did it against Western Michigan on Jan. 20 2012.
At some point during the play, a pane of glass was broken and forced the teams to the locker rooms for an early second intermission as the Goggin Ice Center staff worked to replace it. Once the glass had been replaced and the ice resurfaced, play resumed with the final 1:26 of the second period followed by the third period.
In the final period, Czarnik, after assisting on each of Barber’s three goals to that point, added his fourth point of the game when he lit the lamp at 14:17 of the third. Czarnik got behind the Buckeye defense and moved in from the blue line all alone on a breakaway. He moved the puck to his forehand and beat the goalie glove-side to put Miami ahead 5-2.
Barber capped the scoring for the RedHawks with a short-handed empty netter with 2:46 left to play in the game. Sophomore defenseman Matthew Caito collected a pass from McKay and pushed it toward the Miami bench to clear the defensive zone. Barber picked up the puck and sent a lob all the way down the ice into the vacant goal for his fourth goal of the game, becoming the first RedHawk to tally four goals in a game since Tommy Wingels did it at Ohio State on December 11, 2009. McKay’s assist on the play was the first by a Miami goaltender since Connor Knapp on January 21, 2012 against Western Michigan.
The Buckeyes outshot the RedHawks 41-38. McKay stopped 38 shots in the winning effort while Tomkins made 32 saves on the other end of the ice. Miami was 1-for-2 on the power play, improving to 4-for-10 on the season, and 5-for-7 on the penalty kill, including one short-handed goal.
The RedHawks now turn their attention to NCHC play as they prepare to host new conference foe North Dakota in the league’s opening game next weekend, Oct. 18-19 at Steve Cady Arena. Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. as will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.