DENVER – Blake Coleman scored twice for Miami, but Denver road 36 Sam Brittain saves to top the RedHawks 5-2 at Magness Arena on Friday night.
The Pioneers (16-13-6, 10-10-3-2 National Collegiate Hockey) took a 2-1 lead in the season series over the RedHawks (11-19-3, 5-17-1-1 NCHC) with the result.
DU jumped ahead 1-0 just 2:15 into the contest when Zac Larraga wristed in a shot from the high slot after Gabe Levin centered the puck to him from the left corner. Cody Murphy put up a bid to tie it up on the ensuing shift, beating his man in the right wing corner and skating right in front of the net, but Brittain sprawled across the make the save.
Miami was energized by that shift and the hard-nosed play of Coleman led to the tying goal at the 4:58 mark. The junior forward broke up on outlet feed at the DU blue line to spring Austin Czarnik for a rush down the left side. Czarnik dropped the puck back to Coleman into the middle and his shot rang off the post and into the net for his 15th goal of the year, evening the score at 1-1.
The Red and White continued to pressure Brittain after evening the score up. Coleman had another strong rush down the right side towards the goal, but his shot went high. Miami kept DU pinned in its own end for consecutive shifts roughly eight minutes in. Coleman threaded a centering pass into the middle where Kevin Morris took a blast that Brittain stopped.
A Miami turnover ended up in its net with 10:28 remaining in the period as Evan Janssen slowed an outlet pass, leaving the puck for Matt Marcinew. The center brought the puck into the middle and his shot tipped off a defenseman’s stick and into the net to put the Pioneers up 2-1.
A big save by Ryan McKay with about six minutes left in the first kept the Pioneers from adding onto their lead, though DU did get a power play with 4:21 remaining in the frame. DU moved the puck around effectively at times, but MU blocked all five shot attempts to kill off the man advantage and stay within a goal. The RedHawks put up a strong rush late in the period when Anthony Louis weaved down the left side and into the middle. A loose puck reached Louis at the top of the crease, but his shot deflected over the net, leaving DU ahead 2-1 after 20 minutes of play.
After combining for 25 shots on goal (13-12 Denver) in the first period, scoring opportunities were tougher to come by early in the second. The RedHawks had the better of the possession, pinning the Pioneers in their zone for a few minutes, but the few shots that were attempted came from sharp angles.
MU went to its first power play of the game with 14:14 remaining in the second, but it was DU that created the best opportunity on a transition rush. Levin had a look at an open net, but his shot went wide to keep it a one-shot game as the Pioneers held the RedHawks without a shot during their two-minute power play.
Nolan Zajac made it a 3-1 Pioneer lead with 6:50 remaining in the second when he picked the top corner on a one-timer with a delayed penalty in progress. The RedHawks did kill off the penalty to keep the deficit from getting larger and went to work on a power play of their own with 4:03 to play in the middle stanza. MU’s special teams responded with an important goal as Coleman found a soft spot in the middle and wristed a shot that beat Brittain low stick side for his second of the game. Czarnik and Justin Greenberg set the play up, cutting DU’s lead to 3-2 with 3:49 remaining.
A five-minute major penalty was called on Marcinew with four seconds remaining in the second period, giving the RedHawks a golden chance to stage a comeback down 3-2 after two periods.
With 4:56 left on a power play to start the third, the Red and White had a couple great looks right off the opening draw. Czarnik stepped into a one-timer from the slot that whistled just wide and the puck was worked to Coleman at the top of the crease, but Brittain stopped the attempt. Miami was caught with too many men on the ice just under two minutes into the third, erasing two more minutes off the power play. The RedHawks got another minute with the long power play, but the Pioneers killed it off and weathered the storm.
After firing the first seven shots of the third, Miami was called for a penalty 6:38 into the period. Despite going awhile without facing a shot, McKay made some saves through traffic and MU killed off its fourth straight minor penalty.
After a Riley Barber wraparound attempt was steered away by Brittain, DU regained a two-goal edge with 10:01 left in the third when Emil Romig tipped a shot off the post and converted his own rebound to make it 4-2. Denver was content to play things tight defensively, but Miami nearly drew closer when Michael Mooney’s point shot deflected wide and off the boards right to Kevin Morris on the door step. With the puck bouncing, Morris quickly tried to direct it into the net, but it went right to Brittain with 3:07 to go.
Trailing by two, the Red and White pulled McKay for an extra skater to press the attack. However, it was DU’s Joey Leleggia that took advantage, firing a shot from his own goal line into the vacated MU net to put the game away at 5-2.
Miami outshot Denver 38-33 and went 1-for-3 on the power play while killing off all four DU power plays. McKay made 28 saves for MU while Brittain stopped 36 shots for DU.
Coleman’s two-goal outburst was his third multi-goal performance in his fifth game back in the lineup while Czarnik moved to 32nd on MU’s all-time scoring list with two assists, reaching 119 career points.
The RedHawks and Pioneers conclude their regular seasons on Saturday night. Opening faceoff is at 9:07 p.m. ET.