Miami blanks Colorado College behind Williams’ 31-save performance

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OXFORD, Ohio — As December picked up and Colorado College – then 1-13 – was desperate for wins, it hosted an ailing Miami squad and picked up its only series sweep of the season.

The Tigers (6-24-1, 4-16-1-0 NCHC) entered Oxford hoping for more of the same Friday night, but bussed back to the hotel in disappointment as the RedHawks (14-14-3, 8-11-2-2) rode strong special teams play to a 3-0 win.

The RedHawks wasted no time in opening the scoring on the power play at 8:40 of the opening frame. Kiefer Sherwood corralled a Sean Kuraly pass and ripped a shot short side on Jacob Nehama, extending his career-best point streak to five games in the process. The assist gave Kuraly his 15th point in as many games.

Miami nursed the one-goal lead heading into the second, but momentum seemed to temporarily shift in the Tigers’ favor at 7:59 of the middle frame, when Scott Dornbrock was called for a five-minute major for interference. Though it was actually the RedHawks that controlled play with one less player, Taylor Richart notched the second goal of his career from 40 feet out on a broken play entering the Tigers zone, beating Nehama cleanly for Miami’s first shorthanded goal of the season.

“Usually, I’m not the one to score, especially shorthanded, which is even better,” Richart said, stifling a chuckle. “[Josh] Melnick and Sean [Kuraly] did great work in the offensive zone pressuring them. Josh came up the side with the puck and saw I had an opening and fed me. I just kind of put my head down and shot. I didn’t really even aim, I just pulled the trigger.”

With about 10 minutes remaining in the game, a scrum erupted along the benches that sent Anthony Louis to the locker room with a major penalty for interference. The Tigers managed a third period surge that saw them unload on Williams with 18 shots on net, 12 of which came on the man advantage – a benefit that the Tigers enjoyed for more than one-third of the final frame.

“When you have to kill two five-minute penalties, your penalty killers need to show up,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “We were able to chip in with a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal and that was pretty much the game. Other than that, it was pretty even. I thought Jay [Williams] did a great job.”

In the end, the senior netminder turned aside everything Colorado College threw at him – and had a little help from his pipes several times during the contest – to secure his first shutout of the season with a 31-save outing.

Melnick put the nail in the coffin at the 1:32 mark of the final frame to make it 3-0, a score that would endure until the final buzzer.

The Tigers’ late-game push earned them the shot count lead, 31-26.

Nehama finished the contest with 23 saves. Hunter Fejes and Cody Bradley both finished with a team-high five shots.

“The guys our team relies on to score are not getting it done,” said Fejes, who leads Colorado College with 13 goals on the year. “We had our opportunities. There is absolutely no excuse for that.”

According to coach Mike Haviland, it was his squad’s special teams play that was to blame for the goal-less performance.

“Our urgency was lacking on the power play,” Haviland said. “They made all the little plays and beat us along the walls.”

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