March 29, 2009

Watch Game Highlights!

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Two Justin Mercier goals in the second period and a rock-solid effort by freshman Cody Reichard in goal helped Miami University ’s ice hockey team beat Minnesota-Duluth, 2-1, Saturday and gain a berth in its first-ever NCAA Frozen Four.

It’s the first time any Miami athletic team in any sport has ever qualified for the semifinal round of a national championship tournament. The RedHawks will play in Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center on Thursday, April 9, at either 5 or 8:30 p.m. against either Cornell or Bemidji State.

A methodical, possession-style game by Miami stymied the Bulldogs, cutting them down from 30 shots in Friday’s 5-4 thriller against Princeton to just 26 Saturday. Conversely, Miami took only 19 shots, sending two past UMD goalie Alex Stalock.

The first period was scoreless, resulting from stellar goaltending by Miami’s Cody Reichard. The RedHawks’ Vincent LoVerde was penalized midway through the period, but Reichard came up with two big saves during that two-minute span to keep the game scoreless. Reichard got some help with only 40 seconds left in the period when a Bulldog shot hit the cross bar. In the first period, UMD outshot the RedHawks, 6-1. Miami put its first and only shot on goal with 3:40 left on the clock.

Mercier scored twice in the second period, the first one on an unassisted shorthanded goal at 8:42. It appeared that UMD had tied the game at 10:41, but the Bulldog goal was waived off because of interference. Mercier tallied his second goal, a power play, on a pass from Chris Wideman with just four minutes left to widen Miami’s lead to 2-0. There was considerably more action in the penalty box as well as eight penalties were called, including six on the RedHawks. Fortunately for Miami, Reichard was on top of his game, stopping 11 more shots during the second stanza.

Thanks to an extra attacker which came as a result of Duluth pulling its goalie, the Bulldogs cut the RedHawk margin to 2-1 with a goal by MacGregor Sharp with just 2:05 remaining on the clock. However, Miami’s defense took over for the remainder of the game, successfully deflecting numerous rushes by UMD in the last 125 seconds.