By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Friday night, Cody Murphy snapped an 11-game scoreless streak with a two-goal game.
On Saturday, it was Jimmy Mullin finding the net twice to break out of a 10-game drought as No. 6 Miami beat Bowling Green, 3-1 at Cady Arena.
The RedHawks (15-6-5) completed a series sweep of the Falcons (8-13-5) and held onto second place in the CCHA, one point behind Western Michigan.
It was Miami’s first sweep since Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at Alaska, and it was the first time the RedHawks won both games in a home series since opening weekend.
Junior forward Bryon Paulazzo scored MU’s other goal, and senior defenseman Steven Spinell picked up two assists for just the third time in his career.
The RedHawks had scored just two first-period goals in their previous 12 games, but they netted a pair in the first 11 minutes on Saturday.
Mullin took a pass from sophomore forward Blake Coleman and buried a shot in the top right corner 5:20 into the game to open the scoring.
With 9:32 left in the opening period, junior forward Bryon Paulazzo shot the puck off Bowling Green goalie Andrew Hammond from behind the net to make it 2-0.
The Falcons scored their lone goal when a shot by Dajon Mingo tipped off a RedHawks defender and sailed over Miami freshman goalie Ryan McKay with 1:17 left in the first frame.
But Mullin gave Miami back its two-goal lead when he buried the rebound off a shot from Spinell on the power play with 14 minutes left in the middle stanza.
McKay made 23 saves to earn his second straight win and keep his goals-against average under one. The RedHawks’ goalies have held their opponents to exactly one goal in four straight games.
Miami will host Alaska next weekend to wrap up its four-game homestand.
ANALYSIS: While Miami came out flat in the first period on Friday, the team played like it was possessed for the first 15 minutes on Saturday.
The BGSU goal late in the first period gave the Falcons momentum going into the intermission, but Mullin erased any hope they had of a comeback with his power play tally.
And on that goal, Spinell should’ve been credited with two assists. Bowling Green nearly cleared the puck, but Spinell corralled a laser on top of the blue line, dropped it and was able to keep the play alive. He ultimately got the puck back, fired a shot and Mullin knocked home the rebound.
Miami’s defense was exceptional down the stretch, especially considering it had to kill a ridiculous major called on freshman defenseman Taylor Richart for apparently hitting a player too hard. The official call was charging although Richart neither left his feet nor lined hitee Dan DeSalvo up for multiple strides.
MU was also very physical in the third period. Sophomore forward Blake Coleman, senior defenseman Garrett Kennedy, Paulazzo and Spinell were among those to dish out punishing hits down the stretch.
These wins were big because the RedHawks can now enter their final 10 regular season games from a position of strength rather than needing to play catch-up in the points column while facing good teams.
Some other thoughts from the game:
-- Senior Marc Hagel may have played one the best collegiate series ever by a forward without recording a point. Miami had to kill a major both nights and Hagel cleared the puck and blocked shots countless times on the PK, including a block as time expired Friday.
Other than the goaltenders, Murphy and Mullin, he would have to be considered one of biggest keys in Miami’s wins, especially since the games were decided by a total of three goals.
-- While Hagel deserves to be singled out for his PK, all of Miami’s penalty killers were outstanding. Sophomores Austin Czarnik and Cody Murphy and freshmen Kevin Morris and Riley Barber logged most of the PK minutes up front and the entire D-corps was solid as well.
The RedHawks killed 17:24 of power play time on the weekend, squelching all seven Bowling Green opportunities on the man-advantage.
Miami has now killed 38 of its last 39 penalties, and is 89.7 percent on the season.
After U.S. College Hockey Online updated its statistics through Saturday’s games, the RedHawks are sixth in the country in PK percentage and tied for first in shorthanded goals, allowing a net of six man-advantage goals or less than one-quarter of a PPG per game.
-- Speaking of defense, Miami is now tops in the NCAA in goals allowed per game at 1.54. McKay has the best GAA of any qualifying goalie in the country.
The RedHawks have gone binary in seven of their last nine games, including their last four.
-- About Mullin. It was great to see him break out with a couple of goals. Mullin has the talent to carry this team for multiple games the way Coleman did opening weekend.
And he showcased his scoring ability on the first goal with a tremendous snipe into the top corner, and he also demonstrated his ability to clean up at the top of the crease