By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan McKay wasted no time getting his name in the Miami record book.
The freshman stopped all 24 shots he faced to become the first goalie to earn a shutout in his first appearance in RedHawks history as No. 8 Miami beat Colgate, 3-0 in the team’s season opener at Cady Arena on Friday.
McKay is the 14th Miami goalie ever to blank an opponent, and it was the first time in their 35 years as a varsity program that the RedHawks have opened a season by posting a zero.
McKay faced just five shots in the first period and seven in the second, but the Raiders fired 12 shots on goal in the third period.
Colgate (1-1) had scored 10 goals in its only other game of the season, a 10-2 win over Niagara.
Sophomore forward Blake Coleman opened the scoring when senior forward Marc Hagel slid a pass across the top of the crease that Coleman slammed home 13 minutes into the first period.
Junior forward Bryon Paulazzo extended Miami’s lead with 13:19 left in the second period when sophomore center Austin Czarnik stole the puck at the Colgate blue line and made a spin move before feeding Paulazzo, who juked a defender and beat Raiders goalie Eric Mihalik.
Coleman made it 3-0 with 1:15 remaining in the middle frame when he got a shot off that was partly deflected by Mihalik and trickled into the net with a defenseman draped on him.
It was the third two-goal game of Coleman’s career – he also found the net twice on Nov. 18, 2011 vs. Bowling Green and Nov. 25, 2011 against Providence.
Miami (1-0) had to kill eight penalties, including four in the third period. The Raiders finished the game on a two-man advantage.
The RedHawks will wrap up their weekend series against Colgate at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at Cady Arena.
ANALYSIS: It was a great start for the youth-laden RedHawks, who started four freshmen forwards, three on defense and McKay in net.
This version of the team has definitely traded size for speed, and it passed its first test easily.
Of course, it is necessary to keep perspective. This is still a very young team that will suffer growing pains at some point, but it was still great to start the season with a positive result.
As we’ve said before, the talent is clearly there.
A blueline corps with three newcomers was solid in its own end and McKay did not have to face many high-percentage shots.
And not to get ahead of ourselves or put too much pressure on a freshman goalie, but it’s hard to envision Miami suffering through an extensive slump with McKay in net.
The true test early in the season is seeing if the RedHawks can show consistency, and we should have a good idea where this team is after this four-game homestand followed by back-to-back road trips to Ann Arbor and Ferris State.
FORWARDS: B. Miami scored a couple of outstanding goals and the forwards accounted for all three goals and three assists. The Czarnik-to-Paulazzo tally was a thing of beauty.
It’s always good news when the team scores three goals without a point from the top line. The depth of forwards on this team is impressive, and this version of the RedHawks will be able to get ample scoring from its secondary lines.
Coleman, Paulazzo and freshman Sean Kuraly (who was officially 12-1 on faceoffs) are going to score goals and can hopefully take the pressure off the JAR Line II, which will face opponents’ top defensive forwards every night.
Senior transfer and graduate student Marc Hagel, who was scratched on Sunday, was impressive in his RedHawks’ debut. He has good speed, great hockey hair, is a much-needed veteran and most importantly was strong on the penalty kill, which was an area of concern since nearly all of Miami’s PK forwards graduated after last season.
The chemistry isn’t totally there yet and the puck seemed to hop around a lot, but it was still a good night for Miami’s four lines.
There was a two-shift span midway through the third period when the JAR Line II had the puck in the Colgate zone for about a minute and generated three excellent scoring chances, and the Coleman line came out and kept up the pressure and nearly scored.
The puck hit the post twice during that surge.
DEFENSEMEN: A. Colgate spent 9:36 on the power play, including the final 30 or so seconds on a 6x3 after the Raiders pulled the goalie, but Miami allowed just five shots on the man advantage.
Freshman Matthew Caito was the most impressive of the freshmen on Friday. He showed he can run the power play and can still play in his own end.
The seniors – Stephen Spinell and Joe Hartman – both had strong defensive games (and both nearly scored), and sophomore Ben Paulides was also solid.
Coach Enrico Blasi used Caito and fellow frosh Taylor Richart as the lone defensemen on the power play (with Czarnik and sophomore Alex Wideman as essentially the second blueliners on their lines), which speaks volumes about the amount of confidence he has in those players.
Spinell, freshman Chris Joyaux and Paulides all took penalties,