The No. 2 Miami RedHawks posted their season high in shots with 58, but Miami ran into Army Black Knights’ goaltender Jay Clark, who had the outing of his life.
Miami lost for the second consecutive night to a below-.500 team in the consolation game of the Ohio Hockey Classic in Columbus, Ohio to Army 3-2. The Black Hawks were powered by a pair of short-handed goals to give them the offense needed to win.
“We didn’t score any goals; give them credit, they made the most of their chances,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said after the game. “We were a little sloppy on our power play and they took advantage of it.”
“We had nothing to lose,” Army coach Brian Riley said. “The pressure is all on them. They are the higher-ranked team, they came off a tough loss last night, and our plan was to once again make it a 20-minute game (in the third period). That is right where we were. We felt if we could do it, then the pressure would really be on them.”
The day after Miami was upset in the opening round of the classic by Clarkson, the RedHawks went with freshman goalie Conner Knapp, who has been splitting time with Cody Reichard. Reichard had a rough night against Clarkson, allowing four goals on 19 shots. Clarkson also managed to find several posts in last night’s game. Army also countered after Friday’s loss to Ohio State with a goaltending change, opting for sophomore Clark rather than senior Josh Kassel.
The first period contained great goaltending both by Knapp and Clark. The RedHawks dominated the first eight minutes, out-shooting Army 8-1 in that span, and spent long amounts of time in their zone creating chances.
Though Army was out-shot in the first 15-5, they had several good scoring chances later on in the period. Their best chance came 10 minutes into the period when Black Knights’ leading goal scorer Owen Meyer stole a Chris Wideman pass and skated with a near-breakaway opportunity that was only broken up by a hook by the Miami defenseman.
Army got the game’s first goal at 1:57 of the second short-handed. Miami senior Ray Eichenlaub made a costly mistake, turning the puck over to Black Knights’ forecheckers Will Ryan and Cody Omilusik, who battled against all five RedHawks before Omilusik buried the puck past the glove of Knapp.
“I think I had three shots and rebounds that just kept coming back and I know the goalie was out of position and finally I had a little opening and I was able to get it up over his leg,” Omilusik said.
Army gained a 2-0 lead at 11:39 of the second period. Omilusik scored his second of the game after receiving a pass from Meyer, who skated down the left side of the ice and skated around Miami defenseman Kevin Roeder.
Miami cut the lead in half later in the second at 15:16. RedHawks’ forward Gary Steffes centered the puck from behind the net to Justin Vaive, who touch-passed to Andy Miele, who scored his seventh of the season. The RedHawks finished the second period with a 34-14 shot advantage.
The third period was a dominating performance by Clark. After Miami tied the game on a Pat Cannone goal at 4:21, Army retook the lead for good less than a minute later. Eric Sefchik scored the Black Knights’ second short-handed goal of the game on a two-on-none.
Then it became the Jay Clark Show. In the middle of the third period, Clark faced a mammoth challenge from all sorts of RedHawks. In the third period, Clark stopped a total of 23 of Miami’s 24 shots. Most of his crucial saves came after a RedHawks’ power play with around six minutes left. Clark admitted after the game that he was watching the clock at points during the game.
“(Miami) is talented enough that they can make a play on you at any moment,” Clark said. “The whole game was very stressful. One of my goals in the game was not to trust them. I thought they could pull out anything at anytime. The clock does move a little slower (later in the game) and it finally ran out.
“Unbelievable,” Riley said about Clark. “We talked about being in a situation; anytime you have a chance to play a ranked team as high as Miami, you have an opportunity to create a special memory and obviously we did that and it was a result of Clarkey playing just an unbelievable game. Probably the best game I have ever seen an Army goalie play.”
“He did great,” Blasi said about Clark. “Anytime you get 56 saves, you do a pretty good job.
“Obviously we’re disappointed. There is a lot of hockey left and we’re always saying this team is a work in progress.”
No RedHawks were available for comment following the game.
Miami’s task gets even tougher next week as they visit Yost Ice Arena to face the Michigan Wolverines. Army returns home Friday to play a conference match against the Mercyhurst Lakers.