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Miami hockey grabs 2-1 win over No. 5 Cornell

Miami hockey grabs 2-1 win over No. 5 Cornell (Miami University Athletics)

OXFORD, Ohio (WKRC) - A superb special teams performance, strong play in net by Ryan Larkin and diligent shot blocking proved the difference for the Miami hockey team as it topped fifth-ranked Cornell 2-1 at Steve ‘Coach’ Cady Arena on Friday night.

The victory extends the RedHawks’ (7-6-2) unbeaten streak to four games and moves them above .500 for the first time this season.

“Our special teams were sharp all night,” head coach Enrico Blasi said. “Every time you play a good team, you have to block shots and we blocked 19 tonight. I thought our D-zone bent a little bit, but when they got opportunities Larkin was big in net and it was just one of those games where you have to find a way.”

Both teams were keeping pucks away from the net in the early going, but Cornell (9-2) forced a turnover and saw Alex Rauter fling a point shot through traffic and in to put the Big Red up 1-0 just 3:59 into the contest. Cornell then got a long power play as Miami got called for a five minute major with just 6:33 gone by. While the RedHawks were hemmed in their zone for large portions of that five-minute power play, Ryan Larkin came up with several key stops to keep them within one as they killed the penalty off.

That long Cornell power play had Miami unable to go on the attack until it went on a man advantage of its own with 3:58 left in the opening frame. The RedHawks’ strong special teams play continued as they worked the puck around the perimeter to Casey Gilling, who flung a shot from high in the right circle through traffic and in for his third goal of the season. Louie Belpedio and Gordie Green each picked up helpers on Gillin’s third tally of the year.

The RedHawks were called for a penalty with 1:45 remaining in the period, but managed to keep the game tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes despite being outshot by a 10-4 margin.

After the carryover Miami penalty ended, both teams settled into their shot preventing ways as MU took the first two shots over the first six minutes. Cornell got a couple power plays at the 6:12 and 10:20 marks, but Larkin stood tall to keep the contest tied. With 2:17 remaining in the middle stanza, Miami drew a penalty and went on its second power play of the night. Like the first, this one also connected as after extended pressure and good scoring opportunities, Gordie Green got free on the left circle and beat Galajda with a wrist shot to give the Red and White a 2-1 lead going into the intermission. Gilling and Josh Melnick both drew helpers on the play.

Trailing for the first time, Cornell came out aggressively looking for the equalizer. The Big Red fired the first four and eight of the first nine shots on goal of the final period. The RedHawk defense kept the Big Red attack to the perimeter and displayed good zone coverage and cleared pucks away from scoring areas while Larkin remained steady in goal. Karch Bachman got sprung on a close in breakaway after a Miami clear, but Hayden Stewart came up big with a stop on his first shot of the game after entering in the third period.

An icing infraction put Miami in its defensive zone with 2:17 remaining and Cornell used the opportunity to pull the goalie for an extra skater. While CU maintained possession in the offensive zone for large stretches over the next minute, MU managed to chip the puck out of the zone and eventually had an opportunity to put the game away when Ben Lown was sent ahead in transition. His bid for an empty netter from the blue line rang off the post with under a minute left. Cornell brought the puck back into the offensive zone and jammed away below the dots, but Larkin made one more enormous save on Yanni Kaldis with under 15 seconds remaining.

Cornell won the ensuing faceoff and got one more rush going, but Casey Gilling posted the final of 19 Miami blocks to secure the victory. The Big Red’s 12-3 shot advantage in the third period gave them a 30-13 spread for the evening. However, the RedHawks converted on both of their power plays and killed off all four of their penalties, including an early five minute major. Larkin stopped 29 of 30 shots to pick up the win while Matthew Galajda made eight saves on 10 shots in the first two periods and Stewart stopped all three shots he faced in the third period. Gilling finished with a goal and an assist for his first career multi-point game.

These teams wrap up their weekend series on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.

Information provided by Miami University Athletics

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