Miami's Defense, Goaltending Crumble in Semifinal Loss
by Caleb Saunders/CHN Reporter
DETROIT For a team that prides itself on defense and goaltending, Miami was left shaken Saturday.
Miami took a beating from the red-hot Michigan Wolverines in the second game of the CCHA Championship semifinals at Joe Louis Arena, losing 6-2. While the RedHawks are assured an NCAA bid, it still stings, after losing in the CCHA semifinals for a second straight year.
The RedHawks saw themselves in an unusual predicament after allowing four second-period goals. The matchup was very physical and at times could’ve gotten out of hand.
Said Miami coach Enrico Blasi, “I thought we tried to compete hard tonight. Obviously Michigan has it rolling. They took it to us in the second period there and that was pretty much the game.”
The RedHawks defense had been ranked second nationally coming in, allowing just 1.62 goals per contest. It looked to be going Miami's way in that sense, when it was 0-0 after one period.
“We had it going pretty good there at the start,” said Miami senior forward Curtis McKenzie. “We had our chances at the beginning of the game.”
In the second period however, the Wolverines tore the Miami defense apart, scoring four goals on their first seven shots in the second period, the first of which was shorthanded.
“All of a sudden they got one, then they got four behind us,” said McKenzie.
“I thought we lost our composure there,” said Blasi. “We made a couple of miscues from some guys that are veteran guys…you just can’t do that in a one game shot.”
Miami freshman goaltender Ryan McKay has had a remarkable season so far, but this outing will certainly be one to forget. Coming into the game, he had not allowed more than two goals in a game since a 3-3 tie against Northern Michigan in early January. It was also just the second time all year he surrendered more than two goals.
McKay’s classmate Jay Williams, who had split time with McKay all season until March, came on in relief, surrendering two goals.
“We have to give them [Michigan] a lot of credit … they deserved to win that game,” said freshman forward Sean Kuraly.
Miami will look to regroup and find a way to rebound from a disappointing performance. The RedHawks have already locked up an NCAA tournament bid, but a No. 1 seed is in serious jeopardy following this defeat. However, the RedHawks remain positive.
Said Blasi, “We’ve moved on already. It’s something we have to learn from … I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason and we’ll learn from it.”
Michigan lives to fight another day. Without a win against the RedHawks, the Wolverines would’ve seen themselves on the outside looking in for this year’s NCAA tournament. It’s already been mentioned before, but it appears Michigan may have found their man in net. Freshman Steve Racine was stellar in net stopping of 33 of 35 shots. The RedHawks were not short of scoring opportunities however.
Red Berenson has got the Wolverines performing like the team everyone expected them to be.