OXFORD, Ohio - Coming off a first-round bye, the top-seeded and third-ranked Miami University hockey team dropped Game 1 of its best-of-three Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Tournament quarterfinal series against No. 11-seed Michigan State, 3-0, Friday night at Steve Cady Arena.
"They out played us from the beginning," MU coach Enrico Blasi said. "They won a lot of key battles and they got a couple goals up. They did a good job blocking shots and weren't giving us second opportunities. (Jake) Hildebrand played well (in goal). They did a great job. They were aggressive."
The RedHawks (22-10-5) were held scoreless for the seventh time this season, tying the most times Miami has been shut out in a single season in program history (2001-02). It was also Miami's first CCHA quarterfinal defeat since its overtime loss to Ohio State on March 13, 2010. Additionally, MU's seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) against MSU was snapped.
The Spartans (14-23-3) opened the scoring at the 11:56 mark of the first period, as Greg Wolfe fed Matt DeBlouw in the slot. Wolfe, who received a pass from Ryan Keller, streaked up the left side and got off a backhand pass just before he was taken down by a Miami defender. DeBlouw's quick wrist shot trickled through the five-hole of freshman goaltender Ryan McKay, who finished with 21 saves on 24 Spartan shots.
Michigan State doubled its lead late in the opening period with 4:43 to go in the stanza. Defenseman John Draeger sent a hard, cross-ice pass to Matt Berry, who was waiting wide open at the far post. Tanner Sorenson also tallied an assist on the play.
MSU's two first-period goals marked the first time McKay had given up multiple goals in the opening frame this season. Coming into Friday's contest, the freshman netminder had only allowed two or more goals in five of his 17 starts.
Miami had plenty of scoring chances on the night, as it outshot Michigan State, 34-24, including 13-7 in the third period. But Spartans' goalie Jake Hildebrand turned in an impressive performance, earning his second shutout of the season, stopping all 34 shots.
With less than two minutes to go, the RedHawks pulled McKay in favor of the extra attacker, but MSU rounded out the scoring with an unassisted empty-net goal by Kevin Walrod with 56.7 seconds remaining.
Freshman forward Riley Barber led MU with six shots on goal, while five other RedHawks tallied three shots apiece. Barber came the closest to scoring as well, as he rang a short-handed shot off the post midway through the final frame.
Miami finished 0-for-2 on the power play, while Michigan State was 0-for-1 as the 'Hawks tied a season low, committing just one penalty.
"We know how to win games," senior forward Marc Hagel said. "We need to come back with the intensity we had two weeks ago in the Ohio State game. That's the way we have played all year. We are actually going to need more than that. This is playoff hockey."
The RedHawks, who are 6-1-2 after a loss this season, return to action against MSU for Game 2 of the playoff series Saturday night at Steve Cady Arena. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m. Should Miami win Saturday, the decisive Game 3 will be played Sunday at 7:05 p.m.