Despite being ahead by two goals in the third period, the Miami RedHawks (16-9-6, 13-7-5-2) had to settle for a 3-3 tie against Western Michigan (15-6-10, 9-5-9-5) Friday night at Steve Cady Arena. The Broncos won the shootout 1-0 in five rounds to earn an extra point in conference standings. Coupled with victories by Notre Dame and Michigan, the ‘Hawks slide into a tie with the Wolverines for second place in the CCHA.
Miami was first to score, getting a goal from Justin Vaive in the 18th minute of the first period. He scooped up a rebound after Alden Hirschfeld’s initial shot was blocked for his seventh goal of the season. Miami outshot the Broncos 10-7 in the period and took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Curtis McKenzie made it a 2-0 game in the fifth minute of the second period just after a Miami power play ended. Pat Canonne had broken away for a shot that was blocked, but then grabbed his own rebound and fed it back to McKenzie who found a hole for his fourth goal. The Broncos would cut the lead in half less than three minutes later. Cody Reichard made the initial save but couldn’t readjust in time as the puck was poked past him mere seconds after the ‘Hawks killed a penalty. However, in the 19th minute of the period, Trent Vogelhuber gave Miami a two-score lead once more. He was in the right place to tip in Joe Hartman’s shot and picked up his seventh goal. The ‘Hawks took their 3-1 lead into the final period with confidence.
Unfortunately, Miami would not light the lamp again. The defense held strong for more than half of the period before the Broncos managed to beat Reichard in the 12th minute. 93 seconds later, the score was tied 3-3 when the Broncos’ Luke Witkowski found the back of the net on a one-timer off of a face-off win on Reichard’s left.
After that, the game became a physical, defensive struggle as both teams tried to find the go-ahead score. Despite many golden opportunities in both regulation and overtime, the game went to a shootout. The shootout went four scoreless rounds before the Broncos beat Reichard for the extra point. Reichard (11-4-2) did make 24 saves on the night, as Miami outshoot WMU 30-27.
The two teams will skate again Saturday night in Miami’s home finale. The ‘Hawks will try to regain first place in the conference standings. They wil have next weekend off before finishing the regular season at Lake Superior State (9-12-8, 7-9-7-4). Considering that Notre Dame and Michigan will be playing while the ‘Hawks are off, Miami needs all the points it can muster right now.