By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Canisius had no answer for Austin Czarnik.
The junior center scored the first goal and the last goal on Saturday and also picked up an assist in No. 6 Miami’s 5-2 win over Canisius at Cady Arena.
Czarnik was able to skate through traffic unabated on both goals as the RedHawks (5-2-1) completed the weekend sweep.
Czarnik moved into a tie with sophomore forward Riley Barber for the team points lead, having rolled up five goals and nine assists in eight games.
Czarnik took the puck from his own zone, blew through the neutral zone and two defenders at the blue zone before going to his forehand and roofing a shot on the power play 4:45 into the game to open the scoring.
Canisius (1-4) tied it briefly late in the first period when a power play shot by the Golden Griffins’ Ben Danford from the top of the faceoff circles slipped past Miami sophomore goalie Jay Williams low on the glove side.
But 10 seconds later, Miami regained the lead when freshman forward Anthony Louis slipped a pass across the blue line to junior forward Blake Coleman, who backhanded a shot off goalie Tony Capobianco and sophomore Alex Gacek was there to knock home the rebound on his backhand.
With 1:14 left in the opening stanza, Coleman skated the puck from his own zone along the right boards before sliding a pass to Louis, who slid the puck under Capobianco.
The RedHawks extended their lead to three less than two minutes into the second period when sophomore defenseman Matthew Caito sprung junior forward Jimmy Mullin free with a stretch pass to the blue line, and Mullin went in alone and slipped a shot though the five hole.
Canisius make it 4-2 just 47 seconds into the third period on a blast on the power play.
Czarnik sealed it with 8:06 left when he skated through the offensive zone, cut to the slot and beat Capobianco on the forehand.
Coleman finished with three assists, his first career three-helper game and the third three-point contest of his career and his second this season.
Louis tallied a goal and an assist and Barber picked up two assists in the win.
Miami visits St. Cloud State next weekend. The teams play Friday at 8:37 p.m. and Saturday at 8:07 p.m.
ANALYSIS: Miami played well for the most part against a team that was unable to contain all of the RedHawks’ talent up front.
That’s what great about this Miami team: Even if an opponent manages to shut down the RedHawks’ top line (Canisius couldn’t), it’s going to be almost impossible for even good teams to stop all four lines Miami rolls out.
Saturday it was the Coleman-Louis-Gacek line contributing with two goals, and Coleman picked up his other point on the power play.
Unlike Friday when the RedHawks were sluggish in the first period, they came out with passion on Saturday, outshooting Canisius, 18-5 and putting three pucks in the net.
Here’s how much trust Coach Enrico Blasi has in Czarnik and Barber: He played five forwards on his 5x4 power plays all weekend with those at the point.
It’s a risky move, and I wasn’t a huge fan of doing with the multi-goal lead in the third period, but Miami was also 3-for-7 on the man-advantage on Saturday, an area the RedHawks underachieved in last season.
Blasi moved Mullin to the top line for Saturday’s game, and Mullin scored his first goal of the season (although it was on the power play and not a result of playing with Czarnik and Barber).
Unlike last season when Mullin played left wing and Barber played the right side, Blasi put Mullin on his natural right side and Barber on the left.
I really liked this move although it didn’t directly result any goals. Blasi loves to tinker with his lines, especially early in the season, but Mullin-Czarnik-Barber and Louis-Coleman-Gacek worked very well Saturday as well and hopefully those combinations will stick.
The crowds were loud for an unranked, non-conference opponent. Friday drew 2,865 and Saturday brought in a hair over 3,000. The student sections were great both nights.
FORWARDS: A. They scored all five goals, and Capobianco stood on his head a few times or it could’ve been eight goals or more, and 39 shots on goal.
There was a span of about a minute where Miami fired the puck at the net at least seven times and Capobianco made four or more stops and the puck barely missed the net a couple more.
He also made a highlight-reel save to shut down a 2-on-1 one-timer (by Louis?).
Gacek didn’t have a strong game on Friday but he was very good on Saturday.
DEFENSEMEN: B. There wasn’t much tangible to point to, positively or negatively, but no one made any glaring errors and Canisius was held to 25 shots, 11 of which came on the power play.
Speaking of which, this corps has to do a better job of staying out of the penalty box. Junior Ben Paulides and freshman Trevor Hamilton both took minors and both have five now in eight games.
Both Joyauxs also went to the box once.
The Golden Griffins scored both of their goals on the man advantage.
Often young blueliners will take a lot of penalties during the development process but Miami needs to cut down its minors, especially with some of the high-powered offenses on its schedule.
On the flip side of that, sophomore Taylor Richart has not gone to the box once this season and sophomore Matthew Caito has just one minor, and he logs a lot of ice time.
Caito also set up Mullin’s goal with an outstanding two-line pass.
GOALTENDING: B. Williams stopped 23 of 25 shots, which is a very solid .920 save percentage.
The first goal sounded like it was tipped at the point of contact and beat Williams low. I didn’t get a great look at the second one but it was a very good rip on the power play that beat him high. Neither was a bad goal, and Williams – after looking a little shaky fighting off his first chance of the night – was solid overall.
Williams was peppered on the power play, facing 11 shots of his 25 shots in 10:54 of 5x4 time, and he had to make a few high-percentage saves, especially early in the third period.
It’s unclear why Blasi switched his goalie’s nights, unless maybe it was to try to affect Canisius’ game plan.
LINEUP CHANGES: Freshman forward Justin Greenberg was in the lineup on Saturday, replacing senior Bryon Paulazzo.
That was only the change among the skaters.
As mentioned above, Blasi did switch up his goalies’ nights, playing sophomore Ryan McKay on Friday and Williams on Saturday for the first time this season.
Williams looked a little sharper early on, McKay has been slightly better recently and neither has played their way out of the rotation, nor has either exceled to the point of taking over the starting job, so the platoon should continue.
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