By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Two home wins, two hat tricks this season for Miami.
Junior forward Blake Coleman lit the lamp three times as the RedHawks beat No. 6 North Dakota, 6-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday.
It was the first career hat trick for Coleman, who had three previous multi-goal games but none since opening night in 2012-13.
Sophomore forward Riley Barber netted four goals in MU's home-opening win over Ohio State last Saturday.
No. 1 Miami salvaged a series split after falling to UND, 4-2 on Friday in the teams’ opening series of NCHC play.
After falling behind by three on Friday, the RedHawks jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the finale, with Coleman netting his three goals over an 11-minute span. Two of those markers came 14 seconds apart early in the second period.
Junior forward Cody Murphy opened the scoring for Miami just 2:24 into the first period when a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle fooled North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg.
Coleman extended the lead to two, beating Gothberg for an unassisted goal off a faceoff win with 4:58 left in the opening frame.
Sophomore forward Sean Kuraly slid a pass across the top of the crease to sophomore forward Riley Barber for Miami’s third goal with 16:20 left in the second period.
Less than two minutes later, Miami (3-1) made it 4-0 when Gothberg was unable to stop a shot by junior forward Jimmy Mullin cleanly. The puck fell behind Gothberg and Coleman crashed the net and banged it across the goal line.
With Gothberg out of the game, Coleman took a pass from Mullin, skated around the back of the net and backhanded it past new UND goalie Clarke Saunders 14 seconds later on the short side.
North Dakota (2-1-1) was able to cut the lead to four when Colten St. Clair beat Miami sophomore goalie Ryan McKay off a faceoff with 3:51 left in the middle frame.
UND’s Gage Ausmus made it 5-2 with 13:55 to play in regulation, but Murphy fed junior center Austin Czarnik from behind the net to the slot, and Czarnik buried the one-timer to wrap up the scoring.
Coleman finished with three goals, Murphy had a goal and an assist and Mullin and freshman forward Devin Loe – playing in his first collegiate game – tallied a pair of helpers each.
McKay recorded 34 saves, 17 of which came in the first period.
After being outshot, 17-9 in the first period, the RedHawks had the shot advantage, 31-19 the rest of the way.
Miami travels to Providence to play a non-conference series on Oct. 25-26. Both games will start at 7 p.m.
ANALYSIS: This was a very encouraging win, obviously, and the RedHawks did a lot of things well.
As we said Friday, North Dakota is a very good team, and to blow UND out on Saturday and to outplay those without a nickname for the final five periods of the weekend is a major accomplishment.
Although the first period North Dakota threw everything it had at Miami, and McKay came up huge in net. That was the difference early – McKay was on, Gothberg was not.
Murphy’s goal was the second soft one of the series allowed by Gothberg, and he was pulled after surrendering four goals on 14 shots, the last of which being a good but stoppable shot by Mullin that dropped behind the goalie for the Coleman tap-in.
Those goals had to be deflating for UND, which tried to weather Miami’s surge but found itself down four despite outshooting the RedHawks by a decent clip at that point.
McKay, meanwhile had his net crashed on every shot early but did not allow any rebounds.
Penalty killing was key for the RedHawks, who were 5-for-5 shorthanded and allowed just three shots while generating one of their own. Czarnik was called for hooking twice, making those PKs even more impressive since MU was without one of its top penalty killing forwards for four minutes.
Miami has done a better job in the faceoff circle this season, which has helped keep opponents from being able to set up immediately in the offensive zone on the man advantage, which was too often an occurrence last season.
The crowd – the third sellout in three games at Cady Arena – was outstanding again. Unlike Friday when Miami fell behind multiple goals early, the RedHawks got the lead and extended the lead, giving its fans a reason to get and stay loud.
FORWARDS: A. North Dakota had no answer for Miami’s four lines in the second period when the teams had the long change.
Coleman was obviously fantastic offensively – physical as well – and hopefully this is the start of a more consistent scoring year for the Devils’ draftee.
Too often he would score three or four goals over a two-weekend span and disappear for six or eight weeks his first two seasons.
The Coleman-Mullin-Loe line played well together, combining for three goals, four assists and a plus-9
Sophomore Kevin Morris doesn’t light up the score sheet (he did have one assist), but he was great again defensively and physically.
Kuraly and Wideman also stood out among the forward corps.
DEFENSEMEN: B-. Miami seemed to keep the egregious turnovers down, but North Dakota still managed 36 shots, a lot of which were on good looks.
Sophomore Matthew Caito was his typical solid self, and junior Ben Paulides played a solid game. Freshman Trevor Hamilton continued to look more comfortable in his own end.
Both sophomores Taylor Richart and Chris Joyaux earned assists on Murphy’s goal to open the scoring.
GOALTENDING: A-. If McKay doesn’t come out ultra-sharp in the first period, the result could have been radically different. North Dakota came out ready to pounce on any loose puck near the Miami net, and McKay gave his team a chance to build its sizeable lead.
McKay finished 34 of 36 (.944), allowing a goal off a faceoff and another on a shot from pretty far out that he didn’t seem to pick up very well.
With a younger defense corps and the RedHawks’ petal-to-the-metal style, Miami is not going to repeat its 1.72 goals-against average from 2012-13, so two goals allowed is a good night. And Miami should be able to score at least three with its arsenal of offensive weapons.
LINEUP CHANGES: In addition to the goalie rotation, Loe appeared in his first game of his career and senior Bryon Paulazzo, also a forward, dressed for the first time this season.
Freshman Justin Greenberg sat out, as did senior Max Cook, which is sort of a head-scratcher since he started Friday on the top line.
Greenberg’s a smaller energy guy in his first season, and he has played pretty well on the fourth line, so Coach Enrico Blasi may be trying to ensure the youngster doesn’t wear down before the end of the season.
Freshman Johnny Wingels dressed for the first time on the defense corps, replacing sophomore Michael Mooney. Wingels is a stay-at-home defenseman, and he didn’t stand out, which is a good thing for players in that role.
With a smaller, younger team, Blasi will likely move players in and out of the lineup frequently until settling on a starting 18 before the playoff run.
Most teams would kill to have a bench of Cook-Greenberg-Doherty up front, Mooney and Matt Joyaux on defense and Jay Williams in net, none of which played on Saturday.