ERIE, Pa. – Miami couldn’t get a single shot past Providence on Friday.
But it took just 29 seconds for Karch Bachman to generate a goal for the RedHawks on Saturday as they beat Mercyhurst, 3-0 in the third-place game of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Erie Insurance Arena.
“That’s huge,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “You’ve got to score first – that’s one thing that you want to try to do in a game because all in the sudden now you’re playing on your toes and not your heels.”
Bachman accelerated through a pair of Lakers defenders, went in alone and buried a forehand shot on the glove side in the opening minute to open the scoring.
That was all the offense Miami (3-1) needed, as goalie Ryan Larkin turned 21 shots aside to earn his second shutout in three starts this season, which is already a career high. The junior now has four perfect sheets for his career, with one each his freshman and sophomore years.
Ahead by one, Ryan Siroky carried the puck around the back of the Mercyhurst net and stuffed the wraparound into the net to make it 2-0 with 13:51 left in the second period.
In the final minute of the middle stanza, Phil Knies stole the puck from a Mercyhurst (0-2-1) skater at center ice, went in alone and slid a backhander through the five hole of goalie Stefano Cantali.
“I would say maybe a little undisciplined today, so we had to kill some penalties, still trying to understand how to manage the game in certain areas,” Blasi said. “I think that comes with some youth – but I thought for the most part our effort and our structure was pretty good.”
Historically, Bachman and Siroky have not been huge goal scorers but both are off to hot starts.
Bachman, a junior, netted two goals as a freshman and six last season, but his breakaway tally was his team-leading third marker of 2018-19. Siroky is second on the team behind Bachman with two tallies in four games this campaign after the senior found the net just seven times his first three seasons.
Despite scoring three times, Miami was credited with just one assist, with Christian Mohs notching his first point of the season on Siroky’s goal. Bachman and Knies both scored unassisted.
Larkin has made 61 saves on 64 shots (.953), an encouraging sign after last season when his save percentage was just .886.
“I thought he struggled with a couple shots (vs. Providence) – or at least one for sure – but he made good saves today,” Blasi said. “Top of his crease was solid, and he played the puck well. It’s there, he just has to make sure he stays focused.”
The RedHawks were 0-for-4 on the power play and finished the weekend without a man-advantage goal despite 11 opportunities. After netting a pair of PPGs in its opener, MU has failed to cash on in 14 chances over the last three games.
Conversely, Miami’s penalty kill was 6-for-6 and has allowed just one power play goal this season. Bachman took a spearing major in the second period and was ejected.
“We had a lot of good chances on the power play, but right now it’s just not going in for us,” Blasi said. “But our PK did a great job and sometimes you’re going to have to play games like that.”
This is the first time the RedHawks have won three of their first four games since 2014-15, and Blasi said he is pleased with the start overall.
“You take four-game segments like that, they start to add up,” Blasi said.
Miami opens a four-game homestand with a two-game series vs. UMass-Lowell next weekend. Colgate comes to Oxford for a pair of contests on Oct. 26-27.
MIAMI U. 1-2-0 – 3
MERCYHURST 0-0-0 – 0
First period: 1. Mia., Bachman 3, uag, 0:29.
Second period: 2. Mia., Siroky 2 (Mohs), 6:09; 3. Mia., Knies 1, shg, 19:11.
Third period: None.
Shots on goal: Miami U. 8-18-5 – 31; Mercyhurst 7-6-8 – 21. Power plays: Miami U. 0-for-4; Mercyhurst 0-for-6. Goalies: Miami U., Larkin (21 of 21 saved); Mercyhurst, Cantali (28 of 31). Referees: Ryan Sweeney, Eugene Binda. Linesmen: Brendan Lewis, Joe Lewis. Time: 2:20. Attendance: 2,387.
ERIE, Pa. – Turnaround shot had a double meaning in the first period of the Ice Breaker Tournament opener.
After Miami dominated No. 5 Providence for eight minutes, a spin move followed by a wrister from the high slot beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin to give the Friars the lead.
That marker completely swung the momentum toward PC, which won 4-0 over Miami at Erie Insurance Arena on Friday.
That shot by Greg Printz at the 8:45 mark was the first of the game for Providence (2-0) after the RedHawks had fired six.
The Friars’ second shot found twine as well just 1:48 later. Vincent Desharnais whipped one through traffic and past Larkin with 9:47 left in the first period.
“Obviously the better team won tonight – I didn’t think we generated enough chances to make a good push,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “I thought our guys worked hard, but after they got the first two goals I thought we got a little bit off our game and weren’t able to generate anything.”
The score remained 2-0 until Spenser Young corralled a pass from Jack Dugan just inside the near faceoff circle and fired it into the back of the net with 6:09 left in regulation.
Young sealed it with time winding down by launching a puck down the ice and into the open net.
“We’ve got to generate a lot more second chances, and we didn’t do that,” Blasi said.
These teams meet regularly but Providence had only shut Miami out once prior to this game, and that was on Oct. 20, 2000. The RedHawks (2-1) were blanked four times overall last season.
MU was limited to 22 shots overall and just 13 after the opening 20 minutes despite seven power play chances. The last time the RedHawks went 0-for-7 or more on the man advantage was opening night 2017-18 vs. this PC team when they had nine opportunities squelched.
Despite allowing goals on the first two shots, Larkin stopped 29 of 32 overall. In the very small sample size, his goals-against average and save percentage are both substantially better than last season.
Miami will play the loser of the late Notre Dame vs. host Mercyhurst contest in the consolation game at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve got to learn from how we reacted to certain situations and we’ve got to get better,” Blasi said. “The plan is still to get better – there’s lot of effort in our locker room but we’ve got to make sure that we play the game the right way.”
In addition to this meeting, Miami will face Providence in a traditional weekend series in Rhode Island on Jan. 4-5. The RedHawks have struggled to score in their last few meetings vs. the Friars, netting just five goals in their last four games.
“(Providence) did a great job defending and they’re a program that they are for a reason,” Blasi said. “Their entire team’s bought into what they do, and we’ve got to learn from that.”
PROVIDENCE 2-0-2 – 4
MIAMI U. 0-0-0 – 0
First period: 1. PC, Printz 2, 8:45; 2. PC, Desharnais 1 (Bryson, Tait) 10:13.
Second period: None.
Third period: 3. PC, Young 1, ppg, 13:09; 4. PC, Young 2 (Dugan), eng, 18:16.
Shots on goal: Providence 9-12-12 – 33; Miami U., 9-5-8 – 22. Power plays: Providence 1-for-3; Miami U. 0-for-7. Goalies: Providence, Hawkey (22 of 22 saved); Miami U., Larkin (29 of 32). Referees: Chris Ciamaga, Mike Schubert. Linesmen: Adam Tobias, Matt Terreri.