By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan McKay must really like Fridays.
The Miami sophomore goalie turned 30 shots aside as he recorded his third consecutive Friday shutout in a 2-0 win over Wisconsin at Cady Arena on Friday.
It was the seventh career blanking by McKay.
The RedHawks took the lead when Miami junior Blake Coleman battled for the puck just the right of the crease, and it drifted to freshman forward Anthony Louis, who buried it over the glove of Badgers goalie Landon Peterson with 9:09 left in the second period.
The only other goal came with 10 seconds left in regulation when RedHawks junior center Austin Czarnik whipped a loose puck three-quarters of the way down the ice into an empty net.
Miami clearly took the play to Wisconsin in the first period, but the Badgers controlled play in the middle stanza prior to Louis’ goal.
Wisconsin was the better team for much of the third period as well but could not solve McKay.
It was the fourth straight home win for Miami, which will wrap up its weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
ANALYSIS: During practices, Miami regularly runs 2-on-2 drills at the non-Zamboni end of the ice, putting the two nets facing each other along the goal line and with a rubber hose running parallel to the top of the crease to keep the puck in play.
Since I live over an hour from Oxford, I only watch about six practices a season, almost always before I’m doing a feature.
The skaters have a lot of down time during this drill, and most players stand at the edge of the hose and watch their teammates, just outside the top of the crease.
But multiple times I’ve noticed Czarnik takes practice pucks and fires them the length of the ice toward the empty net at the Zamboni end of the ice in his spare time.
And very rarely does he miss.
That’s why it was no surprise he buried his empty netter from three-quarters ice with 10 seconds left to seal Miami’s win.
This was a 1-0 game until the final 10 seconds, and often 1-0 games are boring, but this game was the antithesis of dull.
Miami had shots go off posts, shots that rolled over the goalie’s mask and shots that trickled just wide of the net.
Wisconsin is talented. There’s no doubt about that. This was an evenly-played game between two very good teams, and Miami was a little better.
And the crowd was excellent.
The game on Saturday should be just as competitive.
Wisconsin is also very physical, but the RedHawks gave it back and did not appear overwhelmed by the Badgers’ size.
Landon Peterson was the Wisconsin goalie on Friday despite Joel Rumpel being cleared to play this weekend. Rumpel held Miami to two goals in two games in Madison last year and he gave up just one goal in his start earlier this season before his injury.
Peterson raised his season save percentage to .867 in 325 minutes on Friday.
FORWARDS: B+. Miami’s forwards were a lot better than one goal and an empty netter.
They came back more on defense and had some great chances squelched.
John Doherty, who has not dressed much early in the season, was excellent, as were his fourth-line teammates.
DEFENSEMAN: B+. Freshman Trevor Hamilton has really improved since the beginning of the season.
Sophomore Matthew Caito answered Wisconsin’s physical play in the first period, and junior Ben Paulides and sophomore Taylor Richart were also quietly excellent in their own zone.
GOALTENDING: A. McKay didn’t have to stand on his head, but he saw a lot of rubber and he was in complete control the entire game.
It was a textbook McKay win: He was in perfect position at all times and did not allow any bad rebounds.
LINEUP CHANGES: Doherty played very well in his second game of the season. Coach Enrico Blasi has a very difficult choice at his 12th forward spot each night.
On defense, Blasi seems content with Caito-Joyaux-Joyaux-Richart-Hamilton-Paulides, which is admittedly a lot less scarier prospect than it would’ve been the first couple of games.
Will sophomore Jay Williams start in net after four straight starts by McKay? Only Blasi knows.