- Mostly cloudy
By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – Austin Czarnik appeared to have scored the game-winning goal for Miami midway through the second period.
But after Providence ruined that bid with 48 seconds left in regulation, the sophomore forward struck again in overtime to lift the No. 4 RedHawks to a 4-3 win over the Friars at Cady Arena on Saturday.
Czarnik finished with two goals and an assist, and freshman Riley Barber notched a goal and two assists of his own. Barber set up both Czarnik goals, and Czarnik picked up his helper on Barber's goal.
Barber opened the scoring with his third goal of the season less than seven minutes into the first period. The goal was initially waved off and play continued, but after the next stoppage the play was reviewed and Miami was awarded the first goal of the game.
But Providence's Steve McParland tied the score 1:06 later with a top-shelf goal that beat Miami freshman goalie Jay Williams.
Miami (3-0-1) regained the lead with a minute left in the opening frame when he went five hole while being taken down off a feed from freshman defenseman Matthew Caito.
The Friars (1-2-1) again evened the score when Tim Schaller beat Williams on a shot from between the faceoff circles five minutes into the second period.
The RedHawks took their third lead of the game when Czarnik used a screen by a Providence defenseman to slip a wrister into the corner of the net with 8:04 left in the middle stanza.
Miami's defense tightened up, but seconds after a five-minute charging major to sophomore forward Blake Coleman expired, the Friars' Noel Acciari slipped the puck past Williams on a rebound shot with an extra attacker on.
But Czarnik would have the last word, as he slipped a wristed just inside the post off a feed from Barber with 1:25 left in overtime.
Miami opens CCHA play next weekend with a weekend series vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor.
ANALYSIS: With all the struggles Miami has had late in games the past couple of seasons, it was great to see the RedHawks win in overtime.
Miami went 1-4-2 in OT last season and had just one win in 13 games that had gone to an extra session since 2010-11. The RedHawks were 8-12 in one-goal games in that span.
One positive thing about having a young team is that ignorance sometimes truly is bliss. Providence, which is a pretty good team by the way, battled back three times to erase one-goal Miami leads but the RedHawks kept pushing back and finally had the last word.
There are numerous of items on Miami's to-do checklist this season for the team to prove it can contend with its youthful roster, and it crossed off a couple this weekend.
As a smaller team than in years past, prove it can beat a bigger team. Check. Prove it can score a clutch goal late in a game or in overtime. Check.
Here's another big one: Win a game with three major cogs out of the lineup. Check. Underline that twice.
Senior defenseman Joe Hartman was still in a boot (although he looks like he was walking pretty well, for what that's worth), sophomore forward Alex Wideman sat again, and supposedly he may remain on the shelf for a while, and sophomore forward Jimmy Mullin was scratched, although he showed no outward signs of an injury at the rink.
Oh yeah, and the Cady crowd was rocking for the first time year as the team played to a season-high near-capacity crowd of 3,514.
FORWARDS: A-. Playing without Mullin and Wideman, the four lines were able to score all four goals and account for six assists.
Lost in Czarnik's outstanding game was his defense. He was integral in Miami's 4-or-4 penalty killing, blocking four shots and generally making life miserable for the Friars' power play.
Senior Curtis McKenzie has never impressed that much with his defense, but he made a statement on Friday with his whatever-he-did-to-keep-the-puck-out-of-the-net play in overtime and he was solid on the PK Saturday.
He picked up a secondary assist on the game-winning goal, feeding Barber before he slid the puck to Czarnik.
Barber was a force this weekend and seems to be getting better every game.
If there was one negative it's that they took too many penalties. Granted some of it was Wilkins being Wilkins, but Coleman has to know he has a target on him and as impactful of an offensive player as he has become he has to show better restraint.
That said, the charging major on him was a mind-blowing call that could have easily cost Miami the game.
DEFENSEMEN: B. A lot of times young defensemen take a lot of penalties, but the blueliners took just one.
Freshman Taylor Richart blocked five more shots and seems have carved a niche in that category – a stat Blasi definitely appreciates – and senior Stephen Spinell also was credited with five blocks.
Freshman Matthew Caito, who earned his first career assist on the stellar feed to Coleman in the first period, blocked three shots.
GOALTENDING: C-. Williams was a bit rebound prone, and he definitely would've liked that second goal back, although it was an excellent shot.
23 of 26 shots (.885) and fell short of matching fellow freshman Ryan McKay's effort on Friday.
Williams still made some good saves and it will be interesting to see if Blasi goes with McKay on Saturday if his performance is strong in the series opener at Michigan.
LINEUP CHANGES: I guess if Miami's going to have multiple notable players out of the lineup, it's best the team gets it out of the way early in the season.
Freshman Alex Gacek was back on the ice to replace Mullin, and Gacek showed a lot more promise in this game than in his debut. He created and almost finished on a breakaway and was overall part of the play more.
Of course, playing a decent portion of the night with Coleman and sophomore Cody Murphy didn't exactly hurt.
Blasi moved junior Bryon Paulazzo to the first line with Czarnik and Barber, and he finished with two assists. Paulazzo has looked very good early this season and it's good to see Blasi keeping him on lines where he can maximize his offensive potential.
Junior Max Cook continues to play at a much higher level than in his first two seasons.
On defense, freshman Michael Mooney made his debut, stepping in for sophomore Ben Paulides. Mooney was fine in his RedHawks debut, giving Blasi even more to think about when he makes out his lineup card each week.