OXFORD, Ohio - A pair of freshmen led the way for the No. 4 Miami hockey team Friday night but Providence played the RedHawks to a 1-1 overtime tie in an exciting, back-and-forth contest at Steve Cady Arena. With the draw, Miami moves to 2-0-1 on the year while the Friars are now 1-1-1 overall (0-1-0 Hockey East).
Rookie goaltender Ryan McKay kept the RedHawks in the game for much of the evening as he finished with a career-high 37 saves on 38 shots while Providence limited Miami to just 28 shots. Classmate Riley Barber scored the RedHawks' only goal despite each side having several chances to break the deadlock in the closing minutes of regulation and in overtime.
Both teams were called for a pair of penalties in the opening five minutes and each had power play chances, but the Friars struck first, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to grab a 1-0 lead 5:55 into the opening period. Myles Harvey fired the initial shot from the blue line that was saved by McKay, but the rebound went right to Ross Mauermann between the circles, where he buried the puck in the open net. McKay shut down the Friars after the man-advantage goal, however.
"We weren't playing our game. We came out unfocused," sophomore Austin Czarnik said. "In the third (period) we started playing our hockey. If we start taking the body, turnovers will happen."
After being outshot 15-7 in the first frame, Miami came out on the attack in the second stanza. The RedHawks pulled even 4:40 into the middle period as Barber tallied his second goal of the year to level the contest at 1-1. Senior Curtis McKenzie won a battle on the boards behind the net and got the puck to Czarnik. Czarnik then fed Barber in front of the crease, where he quickly wrapped the puck around Providence netminder Jon Gillies for the score.
The RedHawks earned a power play late in the second period and nearly took the lead as a scramble in front of the net ensued but Miami was unable to poke the puck in the net. Providence then had a 2-on-1 short-handed break the other way but McKay made two huge saves on point-blank shots, including one while on his side, to keep the game even.
Miami again nearly grabbed the lead on the power play early in the third period as Czarnik had multiple blasts on net but both were saved. Sophomore Blake Coleman then had an open net on a rebound but was unable to settle the puck. Minutes later, classmates Jimmy Mullin and Cody Murphy had a 2-on-1 break but Gillies made the close-range save to keep the game all square.
Neither side would find the net in the third period despite the 'Hawks outshooting the Friars, 13-9, and the game went to overtime. In the extra session, Czarnik nearly ended it with a 2-on-1 rush but he couldn't get his stick on the end of Barber's pass at the far post. The Friars had their chance on a wraparound but the RedHawk defense was able to break it up before Providence could finish the play.
"I thought McKay kept us in the game through the first two periods," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "This is obviously a process for us. I thought we played pretty good in the third (period). The third was the kind of game we thought we would be in against Providence. We have to do a lot of regrouping tonight and make sure we come out with a more complete effort and if we do that, we will get better."
With the game ending in a draw, the teams decided to hold a shootout, despite it being meaningless in the teams' records. The RedHawks won the shootout, 2-0, in three rounds on goals by Czarnik and Murphy while McKay denied both Providence shots he faced.
Gillies totaled 27 saves in net for the Friars, who finished 1-for-3 on the power play. The RedHawks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage, firing seven shots while on the power play.
The RedHawks and Friars square off again Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.