KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Sean Kuraly netted two goals, but Western Michigan scored with 8.3 seconds left to send the No. 13 Miami hockey team to a 5-4 loss at Lawson Ice Arena on Friday night.
The loss drops MU to 9-8-2 overall and 3-6 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. WMU is now 10-8-3 and 4-5 in NCHC play.
The RedHawks got the first quality chance when Max Cook redirected a centering feed from Matt Joyaux past WMU goalie Lukas Hafner, but the puck clanged off the crossbar and stayed out. A Jordan Oesterle shot from the point went through traffic and hit the post as well within the first five minutes of play.
After that post was hit, the Broncos pinned the RedHawks in their end for the next few shifts and held an 8-1 edge in shots on goal at the first media timeout.
WMU got on the board at the 6:55 mark when Colton Hargrove cashed in on a rebound off a Taylor Fleming shot to take a 1-0 lead. It only took 41 seconds for MU to respond as Matt Joyaux blasted a point shot that redirected through traffic after a faceoff win for his second goal of the season. Bryon Paulazzo and Justin Greenberg assisted on the goal by teaming up for a faceoff win, Greenberg’s helper was his first-collegiate point.
Shortly after netting the tying goal, the RedHawks got an opportunity on the power play. MU mustered a single shot during the man advantage, keeping the score tied at 1-1.
WMU went onto the power play with 5:25 remaining in the opening period and appeared to take the lead 44 seconds later when Jordan Oesterle’s blast from the point was initially ruled a goal with 4:39 to play in the first, but a video review overturned the call on the ice and left the score tied.
Another MU penalty put WMU back on the power play with 1:04 to go in the first period, but the Red and White stood tall and kept the score tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes of play. The star of the period was Ryan McKay, who turned aside 18 shots as the Broncos outshot the RedHawks 19-5.
The Red and White killed off the remaining 56 seconds of the Broncos power play at the outset of the second period and went to their second man advantage 1:18 into the middle stanza. Miami cashed in on that opportunity at 2:42 when Greenberg dug the puck out of the corner and fed Riley Barber in the slot. The sophomore walked the puck into the slot and fired a heavy wrist shot that beat Hafner to put MU ahead 2-1. Matthew Caito also assisted on Barber’s 12th tally of the year.
With the game nearing the midway point, WMU’s Mike Cichy took a pass to the right wing side and went across the MU slot before working it to the left and tying the game at 2-2 with 10:22 remaining in the second period.
A few minutes later, Kuraly gave the RedHawks a 3-2 lead when he converted a nice 3-on-2 transition rush by wristing a shot from the slot past Hafner for his fifth goal of the season. Ben Paulides and Anthony Louis earned assists with quick tape-to-tape passes on that rush. That goal with 7:25 left in the second period chased WMU netminder Lukas Hafner after he allowed three goals on 12 shots. Frank Slubowski came in for the rest of the game. That capped the scoring of a second period where WMU outshot MU 13-12.
The Broncos’ special teams turned the game around early in the third period. The RedHawks got an early power play, but Chase Balisy capitalized off a turnover and scored a shorthanded goal on the breakaway just 3:06 into the final period. MU committed a penalty with nine seconds left on the man advantage and capitalized on a Josh Pitt goal with 13:57 to play in regulation.
Kuraly came through again when he moved down the right side and beat Slubowski for his second of the night with 6:18 left, tying the score at 4-4. That goal was created by a nice set of passes by Alex Wideman and Barber, who each assisted on the play.
The Broncos got another power play with 5:04 remaining, but the man advantage was negated by a Josh Pitts five-minute major 27 seconds later. With 4:37 left, Pitts was going to be in the penalty box for the remainder of regulation.
After the teams finished up four-on-four play over the ensuing 1:33, the RedHawks went on the power play for the remaining 3:04 of the period. Miami used its timeout with 1:12 left and the score still tied at 4-4, but it was WMU that got the winning goal when Chase Balisy found a loose puck in the neutral zone and drove to the net for an initial shot that was stopped by McKay up close, but Nolan LaPorte tapped in the rebound with 8.3 seconds remaining to send MU to a tight loss.
The Broncos ended up holding a 45-26 advantage in shots on goal, though that shot gap was a much closer 26-21 in the final 40 minutes of play. The Red and White went 1-for-5 on the power play compared to the Broncos’ 1-for-4 mark. WMU’s two shorthanded goals ended up the difference in the score.
Ryan McKay tied a season high with 40 saves on 45 shots. After WMU’s Hafner allowed three goals on 12 shots, Slubowski made 13 saves on 14 MU attempts.
The two teams conclude their weekend series on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.