Oxford, OH- Jeff Smith made 26 saves and the Huskies withstood a second period rally by Miami to capture a 5-2 road win in Oxford, Ohio. The Huskies charged out to a 3-0 first period lead only to see it narrowed to a one-goal lead in period two but rebounded in period three to score two goals for the victory. In addition to a number of key saves by Smith the Huskies shut down college hockey’s 2nd ranked power play four times including a key 5X3 penalty kill in the third period. The win propelled the Huskies into a tie with Denver for first-place in the NCHC. A win tomorrow could hand the Huskies sole possession of the conference lead with Seven conference games remaining and a huge series at home vs Denver on February 23 and 24.
The Huskies made things look easy in period one with three goals – the first by Robby Jackson only 2:08 into the period. Jon Lizotte took a shot from the point that squirted into the air at the goal mouth and Jackson batted it out of the air past Ryan Larkin for a 1-0 SCSU lead. the Huskies struck again a little over a minute later on a great effort by Blake Lizotte. Mika Ilvonen threw the puck up ice to Lizotte who charged the zone wide beating Larkin with a wrist shot stick side for a 2-0 SCSU lead. The Huskies defense was solid limiting the RedHawks to zero shots on goal six minutes into the first period and the Huskies scored twice on 3 shots on goal. Mikey Eyssimont (Fitzgerald) added SCSU’s third goal of the period on a beauty of the play. Eyssimont carried the puck into the Miami zone and dangled the puck across the top of the circles and finally beat Larkin stick side top shelf from the left circle. Smith made several key saves late in the period including one with 1:37 remaining in period one to preserve the 3-0 lead. SCSU ended up with three goals on seven shots in the period.
Miami mounted a comeback in period two first with a goal by Gordie Green at 6:12 for his 12th goal of the season. Green buried the puck from the left circle off a rebound off a shot through traffic to narrow the lead to 3-1. Six minutes later Miami closed the gap to a goal by Phil Knies, his 10th goal of the year. SCSU shut down Miami’s second power play of the night at 13:33 of period two and Smith made another point-blank save with 1:29 remaining in the period to maintain a 3-2 lead. SCSU outshot MIami 14-12 in a period with the advantage to the RedHawks.
SCSU entered the third period with a 11-0-0 record when leading after two. They got a break at 7:00 as Jake Wahlin forced a turnover inside the blueline getting a backhand shot off on Larkin who lost the puck in his skate and Kevin Fitzgerald was there to punch it under Larkin for a key goal to expand the SCSU lead to two goals. But the excitement wasn’t over as the Huskies got themselves in penalty trouble late in the period. First, Mikey Eyssimont was whistled for hooking at 10:15 and then Jon Lizotte followed that with a five-minute interference penalty one minute later. This required SCSU to shut down Miami’s potent power play for a minute on the 5X3 and then another four minutes to shut down the power play.To the Huskies credit, they held firm killing the RedHawks man-advantage for the fourth time on the evening. Miami pulled their goaltender for a span of 4:37 but again the Huskies sustained the RedHawk late period pressure with the help of two more great saves by Smith in the last few minutes of the period. Robby Jackson added an empty net goal at 15:58 for the 5-2 win.
SCSU’s Smith turned aside 26 of 28 shots on goal but certainly was one of the MVP’s of the game with a half-dozen or so great saves during the contest. His record improves to 11-2-3. Miami’s Larkin made 25 saves on 29 shots on goal. SCSU was 0/3 on the power play while Miami was 0/4. The Huskies outshot the RedHawks 30-28 for the contest.
The win improved SCSU’s overall record to 18-6-2 and NCHC record to 12-4-1 placing the in a tie with Denver for the conference lead. SCSU has played one less game and can take over first-place with a win on Saturday.
Stars of the Game: #1 Smith (SCSU) #2 Jackson (SCSU) #3 Knies (Miami)