No. 6 Miami exploded to a 4-0 lead in the first period and never looked back en route to a 6-2 victory over No. 8 Notre Dame in the CCHA Semifinals Friday at Joe Louis Arena. With the win, the RedHawks (22-9-6) advance to Saturday’s CCHA Championship game at 7:35 p.m. against Western Michigan while extending their unbeaten streak to a school-record 12 games, including a six-game winning streak.
Miami was led by four points from senior Andy Miele, the CCHA Player of the Year, and three points each from senior Carter Camper and sophomore Reilly Smith with Miele and Camper each notching two goals and Smith setting a career high with a trio of helpers. Camper also moved into second on Miami’s all-time scoring list with 181 points. The `Hawks continued to excel on special teams, scoring a pair of power play goals and a short-handed goal, all in the first 14 minutes, to deflate the Irish (23-12-5).
The RedHawks wasted little time jumping on top, as Miami scored on its first power play opportunity of the night, just 4:52 into the contest. Junior Chris Wideman blasted a shot from the point that went wide, but Miele collected the rebound and fed Camper between the circles, where he beat Notre Dame goalie Mike Johnson five-hole.
“Our guys came out hard, with a purpose, and fortunately we got Carter’s first goal,” head coach Enrico Blasi said. “We seemed to roll from there.”
A minute later, Miami upped its advantage to 2-0 when freshman Bryon Paulazzo tallied his second-career goal. Junior Alden Hirschfeld fed the puck across the face of Johnson where Paulazzo one-timed the puck in the net while Camper also picked up a helper. The `Hawks made it 3-0 at 9:47 of the opening stanza, again striking on the power play. Miele set up Hirschfeld with a crisp pass in front of the crease, as Hirschfeld was standing on the back post for the one-timer, giving him a two-point night.
Camper notched his second goal of the night with 6:28 left in the first frame, making it 4-0. The captain stole the puck behind Notre Dame’s net while the Irish were on the power play and wrapped around for his second short-handed tally of the year. The RedHawks would take their 4-0 lead into the locker room after outshooting UND 14-2 over the first 20 minutes while going 2-for-2 with a man advantage and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Notre Dame finally got on the board 6:46 into the second stanza with a 5-on-3 power play goal. Riley Sheahan ripped a shot that junior goalie Cody Reichard made the initial save on, but the rebound popped right to T.J. Tynan, who passed into traffic and the puck banked off Billy Maday’s skate and into the cage. Miami responded just over five minutes later however, to again regain a four-goal advantage. Miele and Smith converted a give-and-go after Miele intercepted the puck at mid-ice. Miele fed Smith in the offensive zone as Smith dished back to Miele, who was hooked and taken down but still scored from his stomach for a highlight-reel goal.
The Irish made it a 5-2 game with 1:55 remaining in the middle period after Tynan gathered a loose puck that was popped up in the air. He then passed to Calle Ridderwall, who snuck it by Reichard to close the gap to three. UND nearly made it 5-3 while on the power play in the closing seconds but Reichard came up large with some big saves to keep it a 5-2 contest after two despite the Irish outshooting Miami 14-9 in the period.
Miele struck again just 3:35 into the final frame off a feed from Smith, his third helper of the night. Smith stole the puck in the corner and centered to Miele between the circles where he roofed it on a one-timer. Notre Dame then pulled Johnson in favor of back-up goalie Steven Summerhays, but neither side would score again as the `Hawks secured the 6-2 win and a berth in the title game.
Miami finished with a 30-27 edge in shots while finishing 2-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill. Reichard made 25 saves while Johnson ended with 18 before being replaced.
The RedHawks will play for their first Mason Cup in school history in the CCHA Championship Game, Saturday, against the fourth-seeded Broncos. Miami will be making its fourth appearance in the CCHA Championship game.