By John Lachmann
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Miami can take two major positives away from its season opener: The RedHawks rebounded after giving up a two-goal lead and they were dominant on the power play.
Miami scored four unanswered goals in the third period to beat Ohio State, 6-2 at Value City Arena on Friday.
The RedHawks finished 3-for-8 with 14 shots on the man advantage, and netted another goal 11 seconds after a Buckeyes penalty had expired. Miami was just 15.9 percent on power plays in 2012-13.
Miami’s four-goal outburst started 29 seconds after Ohio State had tied the score at two. The Buckeyes trailed, 2-0 entering the third period, but recorded consecutive markers in the first three minutes of the final stanza.
RedHawks junior center Austin Czarnik wristed a puck in on the short side to open the scoring less than eight minutes into the game.
Sixty-four seconds later, junior forward Alex Wideman buried a one-timer off a feed by sophomore forward Riley Barber.
Both goals were scored on the two-man advantage.
The score remained 2-0 until 20 seconds into the third period, when Miami sophomore goalie Jay Williams tried to play a puck behind his own net. He fired it along the boards, but it hit a skate and caromed in front of the net to Ohio State’s Darik Angeli for a tap-in goal.
Chad Niddery tied it with 17:07 left off a cross-ice feed from Craig Dalrymple.
But Miami answered, as junior forward Cody Murphy buried a shot through the five hole, giving the RedHawks the lead for good.
Miami junior forward Jimmy Mullin crashed the net and had his shot saved, but junior forward Blake Coleman corralled the loose puck and buried it while on the ground with 12:21 remaining.
RedHawks sophomore defenseman Taylor Richart set up freshman forward Anthony Louis for a one-timer on the power play for Louis’ first career goal with 5:42 left.
Miami capped off the scoring with 1:55 to play when junior defenseman Ben Paulides’ blast from the top of the faceoff circle slid through goalkeeper Collin Olson.
Thirteen RedHawks skaters recorded at least one point, and four finished with multiple points. Sophomore forward Sean Kuraly picked up three assists, and Murphy scored a goal and picked up a helper.
Mullin and Barber tallied two assists each.
Williams stopped 24 shots, including two breakaways, to earn his 13th career win.
The weekend series finale is at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at Cady Arena in Oxford in Miami’s home opener.
ANALYSIS: The focus above was on the two key positives, but there was a lot to the game than that.
-- Miami went 41-29 in the faceoff circle – an area the team struggled in last season, which affected its power play efficiency – with Czarnik going 15-6. Coleman was 11-6 on draws.
-- The RedHawks talked about wearing teams down with their speed, and it definitely seemed to take its toll in the third period, during which Miami fired 15 shots.
-- This has been touched on before, but several players are at a much higher level than last season. One game plus an exhibition into the season, Kuraly has to win most improved player of the year.
Mullin takes second in voting after creating countless scoring chances, two of which were cashed in by teammates, and drawing a penalty that prevented him from going to the net uncontested, which ultimately resulted in another Miami goal.
Many others could show, including Czarnik and Wideman, who was flying all over the ice in the first period.
-- It was interesting that Miami coach Enrico Blasi wasted no time using five forwards on the two-man advantages. Czarnik and Barber manned the blueline and Wideman, Louis and Kuraly stayed down low. Those five were on the ice for both 5x3 goals.
-- Ohio State was more physical. Smaller and faster comes at a price, and the coaching staff knew this when it adopted this philosophy.
-- The Miami crowd at Cady Northeast was fantastic. The attendance was 4,831, of which about 2,000 were rooting for the RedHawks. Good job by the fans trekking up I-71 to see this one.
FORWARDS: A. Five goals and nine assists – easy one here. Blasi has to be happy with their effort. Communication still needs to get better – the 5x4 power plays really weren’t that good until the third period – but it was Oct. 11. Chemistry will come.
Kuraly and Mullin should’ve been first and second stars of the game, respectively. They created the chances that teammates capitalized on.
The fourth line accounted for just one point (Gacek assist) but played well together. Sophomore forward Kevin Morris’ shifts bled into the first line a few times, and he played well with Barber and Czarnik.
DEFENSEMEN: C+. Always the toughest one to give. Ohio State had 28 shots on goal, including some really good looks, and one gets the feeling that big, skilled forwards could give this corps fits.
The first Buckeyes goal hit a skate, which was pretty unlucky, a player was left wide open at the edge of the crease for No. 2, and sophomore defenseman Matthew Caito was at the blue
line when the goal was scored.
Caito and fellow sophomore Chris Joyaux are the top pairing this season, and they both had solid freshman seasons but they’re going to face bigger, stronger more skilled forwards as the top two D-men.
Richart played a solid game, and like the exhibition, he looked more confident that his freshman season. Paulides was pretty good as well, much better than last weekend.
And freshman Matt Joyaux, an anomaly at 5-feet-7 playing defense in Division I, moved the puck well and should be an asset on such a fast team by being able to start the transition with outlet passes.
Freshman Trevor Hamilton struggled in his debut, turning the puck over twice for breakaways, but Williams stopped both.
GOALTENDING: A-. Some of the blame for the first goal can be shouldered by Williams for making the pass, but it was also unlucky. He had no chance on the second goal and was lights-out the rest of the game.
As mentioned above, he had to stop two breakaways and he was on top of every loose puck and caught everything cleanly. He didn’t allow any juicy rebounds.
LINEUP CHANGES: Blasi was able to dress two extra skaters for the exhibition vs. Windsor, but having only 18 spots and Coleman back from injury, sophomore forward John Doherty, senior forward Bryon Paulazzo and freshman defenseman Johnny Wingels were scratched.
Both were pretty solid in the exhibition, which tells you how deep this team is.
Smaller players tend to wear down easier over the course of a season and can also be more injury prone, so having capable back-ups is a luxury Miami will likely take advantage of over the next six months.