Miami Clinches CCHA title in Emotional Win

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — In their first game since the
burial of former team manager Brendan Burke, the Miami RedHawks clinched the
CCHA regular season title with a 3-2 win over Bowling Green.

“I’m extremely proud of the guys, we’ve had a
tough week for obvious reasons,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “We
wanted to accomplish this right from the get-go and it feels good
tonight.”

Burke was killed in a car crash on Feb. 5 and the wake
was held Monday in Canton, Mass. with the entire Miami hockey team in
attendance. Prior to the game both teams observed a moment of
silence in remembrance, and Miami wore black patches on their uniforms with the
initials “BB.”

Despite the emotional week the No. 1 ranked RedHawks
continued their tear through the CCHA, clinching the regular season title after
holding off the last-place Falcons.

Jarod Palmer had two goals and an assist, including
the game-winner which took a strange bounce of Bowling Green goalie Andrew
Hammond’s blocker fluttered in the air and finally bounced into the net with
3:23 remaining.

“I thought it was going to bounce over the net
and then when I saw it drop in I just couldn’t believe it,” Palmer said.

“It went off my blocker straight up into the air
and after that I think I was the only person who didn’t know where it
was,” Hammond added.

In a game that on paper should have been a blowout for
Miami, proved to be a hard fought game that wasn’t settled until the final
whistle blew.

It didn’t take long for the RedHawks to get on the board as
Palmer deflected a shot between Hammond and the right post just 3:59 into the
game. Palmer and his teammates came close to doubling their
lead several times in the first period, as they fired 11 shots on Hammond who
was making his first start in over a month.

“I felt good this whole time, I’ve been working
hard in practice and it didn’t really effect me,” Hammond said of the
extended period between starts.

While Bowling Green only had five shots in the opening
period, they did have several solid scoring chances as Tommy Dee was stopped
twice on pseudo-breakaways and Jordan Samuel-Thomas came within inches of
tipping a one-handed shot past Miami goalie Cody Reichard.

With their inability to score in the first period,
Bowling Green had pushed their scoreless streak to six straight periods dating
back to a 2-1 loss to Michigan, however that mark would end just 16 seconds
into the second period as James Perkin tied the game at one.

Perkin collected his own rebound on the right side of
the Miami net and shoveled a backhanded shot over a diving Reichard who
struggled to control the initial shot.

Bowling Green almost picked up the lead at the halfway
point of the second period, but Dee couldn’t knock a bouncing puck into the
seemingly empty net on the power play.

About four minutes after Dee’s close-in attempt, Miami
almost scored on the other end but a sprawling glove save by Hammond denied the
two-on-one attempt. Miami finally regained the lead with 58 seconds
remaining in the period when Chris Wideman’s shot through traffic found it’s
way past Hammond for a power play goal.

“That was huge, BG played a great game tonight
and it could have gone either way,” Blasi said. “For us to get that
goal going into the third that was huge.”

Bowling Green tied the game at two 6:02 into the third
period as Kyle Page’s shot from the point was tipped by Kai Kantola into Miami
net. Just a few seconds later, Dee had another golden chance, as he beat
his defender one-on-one with a toe drag but couldn’t find the back of the net.

“Diesel [Dee] worked hard, you’ve got kind and
reign him a little bit,” Bowling Green coach Dennis Williams said of Dee
who had a team-high six shots. “He competes with the best of them and
he’ll do whatever it takes.”

Back-and-forth action continued for the rest of the
third period as the teams traded chances.

With 9:02 remaining a fluttering puck bounced off of
Hammond and two Falcon defenders before it fell safely inches wide of the right
post.

Four minutes later Bowling Green came close as Tomas
Petruska rang a wrist shot off the mask of Reichard.

The two teams will complete the series Saturday at
5:05 p.m. in the BGSU Ice Arena.

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