OXFORD, Ohio — On a frigid Friday night in the state-of-the-art Steve Cady Arena, the Miami RedHawks scored three third period goals to run away from the Lake Superior State Lakers 4-1. On Parents’ Night, the RedHawks were cordial hosts to their families but were not so affable to their Central Collegiate Hockey Association foes.
Nathan Davis scored the game winner four minutes into the third period on an even strength goal. Davis took a pass from defenseman Kevin Roeder in Miami’s zone and raced along the right boards uncontested. When Davis reached the top of the right faceoff circle, he made his move towards the goal, scoring in the crowed crease.
Junior captain Ryan Jones put the game away in the middle of the third. The RedHawks were able to clear the puck into the Lakers’ zone, and Jones had a step on the defense. Lakers' netminder Jeff Jakaitis came way out of the net to avoid Jones’ rush, but came up just short in his attempt to clear the puck out of harm’s way. Jones made an incredible play, knocking Jakaitis’ pass down. The puck caromed off the boards back to the streaking Jones, whom beat Jakaitis to the net for his 20th goal of the season.
“[Jakaitis] definitely had the step on me. A few more feet my way, and he probably would have stayed in [the net],” Jones, the fourth round Minnesota Wild draftee, said. “I just got lucky, made a good guess, kind of put it off the shaft of my stick, and tried to not hit the [defender] who was sliding into the net.”
With the contest no longer in doubt in the waning minutes of the game, Matt Christie added the third and final goal of the period.
Miami played a languid first ten minutes of the game, giving up countless odd-man rushes and shots on goal. In the early stretch, LSSU was dominating every facet of the game.
RedHawks head coach Enrico Blasi did not have to say anything to get his team turned around. “[The players] did all the talking. I didn’t have to say anything. It was a matter of our guys getting going. Give [LSSU] credit. [LSSU] came out flying. I thought our guys essentially figured it out, and then it became a really good hockey game.”
After Miami was able to kill back-to-back power plays midway through the first period, their intensity level increased dramatically. Miami turned the tables on Lake Superior State and became a force on both sides of the puck.
Miami’s momentum carried over to the second period. Three minutes in, the RedHawks were the first squad to light the red lamp. Freshman forward Gary Steffes and defenseman Alec Martinez broke free in the neutral zone. Steffes skated to the left of Jakaitis, before centering the puck in the slot to Martinez. Wide open, Martinez nailed the shot, giving the sophomore nine goals on the season.
LSSU answered eight minutes later. Just 11 seconds into a power play, the second best penalty killing unit in the country surrendered a goal. Junior defenseman Derek A. Smith scored his seventh goal of the season from the top of the right circle at 10:46.
The score was netted at one entering the third period. The RedHawks turned a closely contested game into a runaway victory.
The RedHawks snapped their season-long winless streak at four games. The RedHawks also snapped their overtime streak at three games.
LSSU goalie Jeff Jakaitis entered the contest as the nation’s leader in save percentage at .941.
MU nearly doubled LSSU in shots, 37 to 19.
LSSU and MU split a weekend series this past November.
LSSU was able to cash in on one power play opportunity in five chances, while MU was scoreless on five tries.
Miami’s Charlie Effinger saved 18-of-19 shots on goal. After the game, Effinger, the platooning goaltender, characteristically deflected praise to his teammates. “The credit belongs to the guys in front of me. They worked hard, allowing only [19 shots]; I just sat back and did my job.”