By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami’s first line of sophomores Jimmy Mullin and Austin Czarnik and freshman Riley Barber have received most of the attention early this season, both from the media and opposing defensive forwards.
But in the opening weekend it was the second line – sophomores Blake Coleman and Cody Murphy, along with junior Bryon Paulazzo – that inflicted the most damage and keyed the No. 8 RedHawks’ 5-1 sweep-completing win over Colgate (1-2) at Cady Arena.
Coleman scored his third goal of the weekend and added an assist, Paulazzo recorded his second marker of the season and Murphy dished for a career-high three assists in the finale.
The trio combined for five of Miami’s eight goals on the weekend and added four helpers.
The Raiders’ Kyle Baun opened the scoring just past the halfway mark of the first period when he took a feed from Jeremy Price with his back facing the net, turned and whipped the puck past Miami freshman goalie Jay Williams.
But Murphy centered a pass to Paulazzo for a tip-in goal at the top of the crease less than five minutes later on the power play to tie the score.
Freshman forward Kevin Morris crashed the net and was able to poke a rebound home off a shot from junior forward Max Cook less than three minutes into the second period for his first career goal to give Miami a 2-1 lead.
The RedHawks’ lead remained one goal until Murphy won a battle in the corner and centered to wide-open sophomore forward Alex Wideman, who was streaking down the middle of the ice and ripped a one-timer just under the crossbar with 13:22 left in regulation.
Miami (2-0) finished with game on a five-minute power play, and the RedHawks capitalized with two goals on the man-advantage. Mullin created two scoring chances, the latter of which resulted in a rebound that Barber roofed from the top of the crease for his first career tally with 2:17 remaining.
Coleman crashed the net and batted home a loose puck 64 seconds later, and freshman defenseman Chris Joyaux earned the primary assist for his first career point.
The RedHawks outscored Colgate, 8-1 on the weekend. Williams stopped 20 shots to earn his first career win.
Miami finished 3-for-6 on the power play after failing to score on four man-advantage opportunities on Friday. The RedHawks were perfect on 13 penalty kills in the series.
Miami wraps up its four-game homestand with a weekend series vs. Providence on Oct. 18-19. Friday’s game is at 7:35 p.m., and the finale will be at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
ANALYSIS: A common theme in Saturday’s game was hard work resulting in primary assists.
Murphy battled in the corner and twice held the puck in the zone on Miami’s second power play, ultimately resulting in Paulazzo’s goal.
Cook had one of the best shifts of his RedHawks career, and created another scoring chance prior to his shot that Morris knocked in the net for Miami’s go-ahead goal.
Murphy again dug the puck out of the corner before finding Wideman for a goal, and Mullin did the heavy lifting on Barber’s power-play tally.
Coach Enrico Blasi raved about his youngsters’ work ethic prior to this weekend’s series, and it showed in Miami’s goals on Saturday.
The forward depth on this team cannot be understated. The Cook-Morris fourth line, along with senior Steve Mason, all played strong games, and third-liner Wideman jumped on early to take Murphy’s centering feed and added a power-play assist playing with the second line.
What’s scary is the RedHawks finished the weekend with eight goals and 13 assists, and each member of the JAR II Line had exactly one point. Defensemen accounted for two assists, meaning the other nine forwards had seven goals and nine helpers in two games.
That’s an absolutely nightmarish scenario for opposing defenses.
There is a notable contrast between the styles of the first and second lines. The JAR II Line is mostly about great hands, passing and skating, but the BBC Line (Blake-Bryon-Cody) is more into battling in corners and scoring by crashing the net.
It’s not as pretty but for two games at least it’s been very effective.
This team still faces many challenges, but it was nice to see Miami not get down when Colgate took the early lead. The RedHawks kept working hard and it reaped dividends.
FORWARDS: A. They scored all five goals, accounted for eight of the RedHawks’ 10 assists and combined for 30 shots.
Miami opponents will never get a shift off if the forwards keep playing at this level. Even if the RedHawks’ second, third and fourth lines don’t generate this kind of offense on a game-by-game basis, they’re going to wear teams down.
The other positive by-product is that Blasi won’t have to lean on the JAR II Line to play 20 minutes a night.
The makeshift Cook-Morris-Mason line played as if their jobs depended on it, and they do. Senior Curtis McKenzie will be back at some point soon, and at least one of them will likely be relegated to the bench.
DEFENSE: A-. They held Colgate