OXFORD, Ohio - With no goals through the first 30 minutes, the third-ranked Miami hockey team scored twice in 30 seconds in the second period to break open a tight game and down No. 12 Notre Dame, 3-1, Friday night at Steve Cady Arena.
The RedHawks improved to 19-7-5 overall and 14-5-4-4 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, while the Irish dropped to 18-12-1 and 14-8-1-1 in league play.
With the win, Miami secured a first-round bye and home ice in the second round of the upcoming CCHA Tournament. The 'Hawks also held onto first place in the conference standings with 50 points, two in front of second-place Western Michigan and six ahead of the third-place Irish. Miami cannot finish worse than fourth in the CCHA this year while tickets for the second round of the CCHA Playoffs are on sale here.
After a scoreless first period, Miami took a one-goal lead when senior defenseman Steven Spinell ripped a hard slap shot from the blue line on the power play with 6:36 left in the second stanza.
"We weren't getting anything going in the first," Spinell said. "We were working hard, but you get a break, the puck goes in and the building erupts."
Senior Curtis McKenzie and freshman Sean Kuraly had assists on the goal, which was Spinell's first of the season and fourth of his career. McKenzie passed the puck to Kuraly at the top of the left circle where he played a little back-and-forth with Spinell until Miami's captain fired his blast. Heavy traffic in front of the net limited the vision of Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays, who finished with 19 saves on 22 shots.
Just 30 seconds later with 6:06 remaining in the period, the RedHawks doubled their lead off the blade of sophomore Blake Coleman, who roofed his shot on a 2-on-1 rush over Summerhays.
"(Max) Cook made a good play, took a hit, chipped the puck up the ice and I picked it up in stride," Coleman said. "Jimmy (Mullin) did a good job driving the defense back. I think he got the goalie worried and so I kind of looked him off and got the goalie to drop and fortunately put it over the goalie's shoulder, short-side."
"I think the whole game we were trying to put them on their heels and get another," Coleman said. "Once you get one, it's easier to get the ball rolling. I think it is deflating for a team once you score back-to-back like that."
Miami, which has won seven of its last eight games, held on to its two-goal lead until the Irish's Steven Fogarty scored with 2:23 left in the game to cut Notre Dame's deficit in half at 2-1. The freshman forward beat Miami rookie goaltender Ryan McKay stick-side off a pass from Shayne Taker. Sam Calabrese also earned an assist on the goal.
McKay, who appeared in his first Friday night start since Oct. 26 at Michigan, stopped 20 shots to earn his eighth win of the season and fifth straight.
Notre Dame pulled Summerhays with just over a minute left, which gave way to Marc Hagel's fourth goal of the year. The senior forward intercepted the puck and cruised up ice for an easy empty-netter, which sealed the 3-1 win.
"We did a pretty good job of getting a push there at the end," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "All in all, a pretty good college game. That's a pretty good team we beat tonight."
The RedHawks went a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, including 3-for-3 in the opening period, while Miami went 1-for-3 on its own power plays. MU had eight penalties for 16 minutes. The Irish totaled six for 20 minutes.
Miami and Notre Dame face off again on Sunday in the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic in Chicago at Soldier Field. Game time for Miami's first ever outdoor game is 1 p.m. ET/noon CT. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio and several other Fox Sports affiliates.
"We'll get to Soldier Field tomorrow (Saturday) and have a light skate and take it all in, experience it and have some fun with it," Blasi said. "We'll get ready to play tomorrow night and have our routine that we usually go through on the road. We'll get up in the morning and it's game time."