Oxford, Ohio — MSU hockey started Saturday’s CCHA playoff game in a similar fashion as Friday’s win: with a goal by freshman forward Matt DeBlouw from junior linemate Greg Wolfe.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, that was the extent of the similarities between the two games.
No. 3 Miami (Ohio) turned up the volume Saturday night and defeated MSU (14-24-4 overall, 9-18-1-0 CCHA), 4-1, after being shutout 3-0 on Friday. MSU’s loss Saturday warrants a third game in the best-of-three series.
“What we saw tonight is what we anticipated,” head coach Tom Anastos said of the RedHawk’s play. “It wasn’t something we weren’t prepared for. They did a good job, and we’ll have to be ready in game three to play. We’ll have to match their level of compete.”
MSU’s only goal was scored on a power play only 28 seconds into the game after Miami (Ohio) defenseman Steven Spinell received an indirect contact to the head penalty for a hit on MSU senior forward Kevin Walrod.
The RedHawks responded with two quick goals about two and a half minutes apart. Miami (Ohio) forward Jimmy Mullin redirected a shot from the point by defenseman Matthew Caito for the first goal, and the second was a shorthanded effort coming off a turnover behind the MSU net.
“I don’t know if it was they were better or we weren’t as good as we were (Friday),” sophomore forward Matt Berry said. “We just couldn’t create as many chances as we did yesterday, and we have to find ways to do that (Sunday).”
Anastos noted the shorthanded goal by forward Austin Czarnik as one of the huge hard-to-overcome momentum shifts during the game.
MSU redshirt freshman Justin Hoomaian got called for checking from behind with about four minutes remaining in the first period, earning himself a five-minute major and a game misconduct. He will be eligible to play in tomorrow’s matchup.
The Spartans killed off the penalty, but were forced to play a man down the rest of the game. MSU also was without junior forward Lee Reimer, who suffered an injury against Alaska last weekend.
“I thought it took us out of rhythm and we killed it off, but we had to use guys and that uses a lot of energy,” Anastos said. “I thought that was one of those momentum shifts that could have hurt us worse if we gave up goals, but it was something that didn’t help us.”
Forward Cody Murphy scored the RedHawks third goal, obtaining the puck at center ice and skating through the MSU zone before backhanding it from the left circle past MSU freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Miami (Ohio) topped the game off with Czarnik’s second tally of the night at 9:57 of the third period.
“They got that third goal there and I don’t want to say guys’ hearts sunk, but it got to us a bit,” senior defenseman Matt Grassi said.
The two will meet in a deciding game three at 7:05 p.m. Sunday night at Steve Cady Arena, in which the winner will advance to the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena next weekend.