OXFORD, Ohio — Saturday’s contest was a near-carbon copy of the prior evening; an evenly matched contest that saw the Miami RedHawks — in a must-win contest to keep the hopes of a home series to open the NCHC tournament a reality — run away with it toward the end. A three-goal third period capped off the 4-0 win over the Colorado College Tigers on senior night at Steve “Coach” Cady Arena.
Colorado College (6-25-1, 4-17-1-0) came out flying, hoping to jump start an offense that failed to produce a single goal in Friday’s 3-0 loss. Several near-misses and a few big hits littered the first frame, but Miami (15-14-3, 9-11-2-2) broke through at 13:04 of the second period to get on the board first. It was Taylor Richart from the same spot as the night before — 40 feet out, he wired one on net that somehow found its way past Tyler Marble, who was starting his first game since Jan. 23.
“We knew they were going to come out more determined,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi explained. “I thought we were patient and stuck to our game plan. Jay [Williams] played great again tonight, special teams were a big part of it again tonight. Our power play chipped in. And then I thought our third period was our best period.”
The third tally of Richart’s career awakened the Miami offense, as the RedHawks registered 22 shots in the final frame, matching their total output from the previous two periods. Fellow senior Kevin Morris buried a power-play slap shot from one knee on his class’s night of recognition with just under nine minutes remaining. It took less than 90 seconds for Kiefer Sherwood to be credited goal number 10 on the year to extend the lead to three, and as time expired, Anthony Louis notched the final goal to secure the 4-0 win, one which disappointed Tigers junior alternate captain Zach Aman.
“It seemed like the puck never bounced our way but when that happens you have to give it that little extra effort,” Aman said. “You just have to do whatever it takes to get the puck in the net.”
For Morris and his classmates, the win capped off a 6-4-1 run on home ice the second half of the season, and the fact the final regular season home win happened on senior night was not lost on him.
“It was pretty special [to win on senior night],” Morris said after the game. “Places like this, the reason they’re special is the people that surround it. We have an unbelievable support group and amazing staff here, the teachers and the fans. There were a lot of tears before the game — it was a special moment for us and for the senior class.
Throughout Saturday evening and, really, the entire weekend, goaltending shined at both ends of the ice. Marble turned aside a multitude of RedHawks chances that could have very well made the 60 minutes much worse to endure for the Tigers. He still kicked aside a commendable 40 of the 43 shots he faced in arguably his best performance of the season.
Jay Williams achieved his second shutout in a row, making it 120 minutes of goal-less play and a perfect weekend for the senior. He denied all 24 shots that came his way on Saturday, but was quick to credit the guys up front for helping him out both nights.
“It was a tremendous performance by the team,” Williams said. “The guys were blocking shots. Last night it was on the penalty kill, tonight it was more five-on-five, but we really limited their grade A scoring chances … the most important thing is the two wins on the weekend.”
Tigers coach Mike Haviland was complimentary of Williams’ play, but acknowledged that his squad has some work to do in the offensive zone this week in practice.
“We have to bear down,” Haviland said. “You don’t just put the puck on the net just to get a shot. You have to give their guy credit. He made some big saves for them.”
Josh Melnick was credited with two helpers for the red and white, as was fellow freshman Jack Roslovic. Justin Greenberg, Zach LaValle, and seniors Sean Kuraly and Alex Gacek put up assists as well.
The victory was one of necessity for the RedHawks, who now sit in 18th place in the PairWise rankings. Miami will end the regular season on the road at Minnesota-Duluth next weekend, the very team with which it is tied in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings. A win and a tie on the weekend would secure home ice for the RedHawks in the opening round of the league tournament.
Colorado College has lost seven straight contests, but will have a chance to gain some momentum heading into the postseason when they host No. 3 St. Cloud State next weekend.