The first 2 NCHC games are in the books for the Miami RedHawks. There were ceremonial puck drops, plenty of firsts and two evenings of exciting hockey.
6th ranked North Dakota took Friday night’s game 4-2 on the strength of 2 goals from Brendan O’Donnell and 35 saves from goalie Zane Gothberg. Jay Williams blocked 21 of 25 shots, but was victim of a couple of bad bounces and bad breaks by the end of the night.
The first 2 goals on Friday night were partly the cause of bad bounces, and especially the second goal. The second tally for UND was fired from the point and sailed high over Jay Williams’ head. The puck hit solidly on the back glass and rebounded to hit him directly in the back before rolling into the net.
Miami would go down 3-0 with just 14 seconds gone in the second period, but would fight back later in the frame. Sean Kuraly put in a rebound and Anthony Louis snuck one through Gothberg’s legs to pull within 3-2. Miami carried much of the play in the second half of the game, but a low shot from the point hit Austin Czarnik’s stick in the slot and rocketed over William’s shoulder for the nail in the coffin.
Saturday night started entirely differently for the RedHawks. Gothberg had been pulled after allowing 4 goals in 24 minutes of play. Backup Clarke Saunders allowed a shot on his first save attempt and it was Miami 5 and North Dakota 0 in seemingly the blink of an eye. On the night, Miami fired 40 total shots, had 9 of them blocked and fired one off of the post. On the other end of the ice, Ryan McKay stopped 34 of 36 shots on the night.
Did any of you get a chance to meet John Buccigross, who was in the house Friday night? Share with us your pictures of the weekend on Twitter at @MiamiHockeyBlog. You can also share with us your 3 stars of the weekend. Ours are below.
3 Stars of the Weekend
3. Jimmy Mullin was absolutely on fire on Saturday night. It’s not to say he played poorly on Friday, but Saturday he was a different skater altogether. His speed was on display all night and he was flying past UND defenders on almost every shift. He finished the night with 2 assists and 4 shots, helping Blake Coleman on his 2nd and 3rd goals of the night. Jimmy looks great so far this year after suffering a knee injury in the 2013 NCAA tournament that knocked him out of the Regional Final against St. Cloud State.
2. Your number 2 star is the head coach once again. Enrico Blasi made some changes from the first game to the second game of the series. These timely lineup moves, detailed below, proved to be very significant and helped to propel Miami to the win. Perhaps more importantly, it also prevented the sweep.
- The first change was to put Cody Murphy on the top line with Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber. The speed and agility these guys had was on display all evening and all three scored goals, and Murphy picked up an additional point on an assist.
- Devin Loe and Johnny Wingels were inserted into their first NCAA games, and Bryon Paulazzo also played on Saturday after sitting out on Friday night. This threesome took the places of Michael Mooney on the blue line and Max Cook and Justin Greenberg on the forward lines.
- It is unknown if Max Cook suffered any type of injury to be dropped from the top line all the way out of the lineup, but this was one of the more shocking moves of the night.
- Loe took advantage of the start by contributing 2 assists, 3 shots and was a plus-3 on the night. I really liked his play and his speed as surprising.
- Wingels also looked great, playing on a defensive pairing with Sophomore Taylor Richart.
It seemed as though on Friday night Blasi decided to go with muscle and size against UND, but switched it up to go with speed on Saturday night. The move paid off as Miami got their first ever win over North Dakota.
1. Blake Coleman scored a hattrick on Saturday night. The hattrick was the first of his career and the first ever in the NCHC. Goals 2 and 3 came just 14 seconds apart, and he nearly scored a 4th goal only a couple of shifts later. He also won 8 of the 12 faceoffs he took. Two side notes here:
- On Friday night, Coleman was hit – incorrectly in my opinion – with a 5 minute major penalty for checking from behind and missed the final 15 minutes with the accompanying game misconduct penalty the penalty carries with it. Whether warranted or not, Coleman certainly made up for the penalty on Saturday night.
- Late during Saturday night’s game, Blake was seen stretching frequently in the third period. After hobbling off the ice with only a few minutes to go, Coleman missed a shift, but then gave it a go, only to come off the ice again after chasing down a loose puck. We’ll keep you apprised of any injury news this week.
Thanks again for reading, and we’ll see you next weekend!