OXFORD, Ohio – Despite topping Friday’s shots-on-goal total of 45, Miami did not have the same success putting the puck in the net on Saturday.
The No. 3 RedHawks lost, 1-0 to Lake Superior State at Cady Arena in the series finale despite outshooting the Lakers, 46-29.
It was the second time this season Miami (10-3-3) has been blanked, and the RedHawks’ 17-game home unbeaten streak was snapped.
The last time Miami was shut out, 1-0 was at Ohio State on Jan. 7, 2011.
The lone goal of the game came eight minutes into the first period when Domenic Monardo slipped a wrister through the legs of Miami freshman goalie Ryan McKay on the power play on LSSU’s first shot of the game.
Miami outshot the Lakers, 19-3 in the first period, including 11 shots of goal during its two power plays.
McKay finished with 28 saves, suffering his first loss in a RedHawks uniform. In five games, he has a 0.48 goals-against average and a .983 save percentage, having allowed just two goals on the season – both on the power play.
Senior forward Curtis McKenzie led Miami with nine shots on goal, freshman forward Riley Barber added six and freshman defenseman Matthew Caito chipped in with five.
Lake Superior State (8-10) goalie Kevin Murdock made all 46 saves to earn the shutout.
On the weekend, Miami outshot Lake Superior State, 91-54 but the teams finished with three goals each in the two-game series.
Notre Dame moved ahead of Miami and into first place in the CCHA standings with its 5-1 win over Michigan State. The RedHawks are currently two points behind the Fighting Irish with 25 points and two ahead of third-place Western Michigan.
Notre Dame also has two games in hand over Miami.
The RedHawks will face Ohio State in Columbus in a weekend series on Dec. 14-15.
ANALYSIS: Every now and then a goalie will steal a game for his team, and that’s what happened to Miami on Saturday.
The RedHawks generated plenty of scoring chances, played pretty good defense and McKay was outstanding in net and deserved a better fate.
As losses go, this one was extremely frustrating to watch but easier to digest because at least Miami played hard, played smart and played to the final buzzer. The RedHawks had to deal with a goalie that had a career night and also had a horseshoe buried in his nether regions.
And Miami’s shots just flat-out missed by very small margins in some cases. Baseball is a game of inches, but since hockey is a Canadian sport it’s more a game of centimeters.
Watching Lake Superior State back-to-back nights it’s kind of hard to believe this team was 7-9 entering the weekend.
Obviously neither line scored but the lines of Jimmy Mullin-Blake Coleman-Marc Hagel and Kevin Morris-Alex Gacek-Bryon Paulazzo both played very well together. Hopefully coach Enrico Blasi will stick with those groupings for at least another weekend.
Special teams continues to be an area of concern. Miami was 0-for-6 on the power play and allowed a PPG in four Lakers chances.
For the weekend, the RedHawks finished 0-for-10 on the man-advantage and killed just 4 of 7 LSSU chances.
FORWARDS: D+. It wasn’t a lack of effort that kept Miami off the scoreboard.
The power play has to get going. The RedHawks are two for their last 31 on the man-advantage, and with the forwards’ talent level there’s no reason the power play units should struggle that badly.
Senior Marc Hagel lost sight of the puck on the Lake Superior State goal, doing kind of pirouette in the slot as the puck was knocked in, but he’s still been a very solid addition to the penalty kill this season.
Freshman Alex Gacek continued to make the case for playing time by laying out a big hit on a player twice his size.
DEFENSEMEN: B+. Caito and freshman Chris Joyaux continue to test the waters in the offensive zone, and they combined for eight shots.
Senior Joe Hartman has continued to impress in a he’s-not-really-noticed-so-he’s-doing-his-job sort of way since returning from his foot injury, and senior Steven Spinell has shown no ill effects from whatever sidelined him last weekend.
GOALTENDING: A. McKay made several outstanding saves but the offense wasn’t there for him. He finished with 28 saves.
It would’ve been a heck of a save for him to stop the goal, but it did go five hole on him.
He couldn’t have done much more to give Miami a chance to win.
LINEUP CHANGES: Junior Bryon Paulazzo returned to the lineup after sitting three straight games, and Alex Gacek was back on the ice after being scratched on Friday.
That meant senior Steve Mason and junior Max Cook did not dress.
Saturday’s fourth line – with Paulazzo, Gacek and Morris – was more impressive than Friday’s line of Morris-Cook-Mason.
Blasi stuck with the same six defensemen from Friday, riding senior Garrett Kennedy for the fourth straight game while benching sophomore Ben Paulides for the second game in a row.
And of course McKay was in net after fellow freshman Jay Williams was between the pipes on Friday.
Neither allowed a bad goal so Blasi