To many, there are three certainties in Ohio: death, taxes, and a hate of all things Michigan.
On Friday night, the University of Michigan began a tour of duty in hostile territory as the Wolverine hockey team arrived in Oxford, Ohio to drop the puck on a two game set with the Miami University RedHawks. Fridayâ€™s contest was the first time the two rivals had met since Michigan sent the RedHawks home from the CCHA tournament with silver instead of gold.
The RedHawks were able to get some vengeance on Friday night, though, as they won 2-0 in a hard-fought contest.
â€œObviously we feel pretty good right now,â€ said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. â€œWe were pretty good when we had our chances.â€
Michigan tried to kick the game off with an early power-play goal after a hooking call sent Miamiâ€™s Carter Camper to the sin bin, but was unable to find the net as Miamiâ€™s freshman netminder Cody Reichard stopped a bombardment of shots before Camperâ€™s penalty expired.
It wasnâ€™t long before the RedHawks were able to pepper Michigan goalie Billy Sauer with some hard shots of their own. But Sauer wasnâ€™t about to let the RedHawks take the lead that easily and shutdown the offensive onslaught quickly with a series of saves.
After the RedHawks killed their second penalty of the night, Andy Miele quickly put the RedHawks in position to score before being stonewalled by Sauer. Just as soon as the Red and White took hold of the puck. Moments later, Michiganâ€™s Tristin Llewellyn was called for tripping, putting Miami on a 5-on-3 advantage for nearly two minutes. They didnâ€™t score.
â€œWe had our chances,â€ said Blasi. â€œYouâ€™ve just got to put it behind you and move forward.â€
Billy Sauer continued shutting out the RedHawks as he and his teammates killed consecutive penalties. With no lack of exciting saves, the first period ended in a scoreless tie.
Sauer was looking like an entirely different goalie on Friday. Itâ€™s no secret that heâ€™s had less than a stellar year, but after the saves he made in Fridayâ€™s first period, he looked like he was out for redemption.
Unfortunately for Sauer his streak of great saves came to an abrupt end when Andy Miele scored off of a rebound after he stopped a hard shot from Justin Vaive. The goal gave Miami the lead over Michigan for the first time since last February when the RedHawks ended the first period with a 2-1 lead.
After two the RedHawks held a 1-0 lead, and while they had been steady on both offense and defense, they had yet to take control of the game. The one Miami goal could be considered a garbage goal and they had yet to produce a second tally to put Michigan on the ropes. Sauer had met nearly every Miami shot with a spectacular save, and had been playing on the same level as Reichard all night.
That all changed about two minutes into the third period after Miele put the puck of the night past Sauer for the second time of the night. Mieleâ€™s goal gave Miami the insurance goal they needed and all but locked up a win for the home team. The victory is Miamiâ€™s first in three games, and brings the all-time series record to 66-19-3 in favor of the Wolverines.
â€œBill Sauer gave us a chance,â€ said Michigan head coach Red Berenson â€œit was a close game. Obviously I didnâ€™t like giving up the second goal. It was a tough goal.â€
After the shutout, win Reichard was mobbed by his teammates after locking up his first blanking in Oxford.
The rivalry resumes on Saturday night, with the Wolverines looking to avoid being swept by Miami in Oxford for the first time since 2005.