After more than 80 minutes of scoreless hockey was ended by a Western Michigan tally, the Miami RedHawks exploded for four strikes in 7:18 of play during the second period to best the Broncos, 5-2.
The goaltenders stepped up in a big way early on in the contest, as both Jay Willliams and Lukas Hafner made several splendid saves to keep the game scoreless. It wasn’t until the second period that Will Kessel put Western Michigan on the board for the first time this weekend, beating a screened Jay Williams that ended the junior’s shutout streak at 122:19.
“They came out hard,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “After they scored that first goal, I thought our players responded really well. This is a rivalry weekend, and you’ve got to be ready for those battles. Our guys handled themselves fairly well.”
The first period was where the good news ended for the Broncos. Western Michigan’s Mike McKee hit Taylor Richart at the midway mark of the second period and was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct, an opportunity Miami made the most of it.
The RedHawks played perhaps the best they have all year in the latter half of the frame, as Anthony Louis tied the game at the 10:22 mark. The sophomore’s snipe opened up the floodgates, and linemate Blake Coleman followed suit to tally his 12th of the year. He’s now scored 20 goals in his last 25 games dating back to last year.
Junior Sean Kuraly added a wrap-around goal, which was the eventual game-winner and his seventh game-winner of the season; he’s fast approaching the NCAA record of 10, held by Colin Hemingway of New Hampshire in 2002.
Senior Cody Murphy notched his first of the year just six seconds after Kuraly’s strike on a pretty glove-side laser.
Western Michigan’s Frederik Tiffels scored off a pass from Kenney Morrison scored late in the third at 18:50 on a power-play, and Riley Barber registered his sixth goal of the year in an open net to make it 5-2, a score that would stand as the final.
“It’s always a good, hard-fought game against these guys,” Murphy said of his ex-CCHA and current NCHC rivals. “Hats off to them.”
With the win, the No. 7 RedHawks improve to 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the NCHC, and now sit atop the NCHC standings with 18 points. Western Michigan falls to 3-8-1 and 1-6-11 in conference play.