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RedHawks Complete Weekend Sweep

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 17, 2007

TROY - Miami University hockey coach Enrico Blasi says, "if you can be a +1 in that first or last minute (or so) of a period, it really gives the momentum to (your) team."

That adage worked for Blasi's 2nd-ranked RedHawks big time Sunday after failing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute earlier and Miami rolled to a 5-1 victory.

Christian Jensen's goal with 1:31 remaining in the second period to tie the game Sunday but when Ryan Jones scored a lucky-bounce goal just 27 seconds into the final period, Miami erupted and for the second straight day, the 16th-ranked Engineers folded their upset bid.

Freshman Tommy Wingels scored his second goal of the game just 2:10 after Jones' goal and the RedHawks would add two more later - one an empty-netter by Carter Camper with 38 seconds remaining. Miami outscored the Engineers 9-0 in the third period of the two games and for the season, have scored 36 third-period goals this season and have permitted.

Conversely - oh, how conversely - RPI has been outscored 25-6 during the third period.

Enough said? Well, it's not that simple.

"There was no doubt in my mind that we were ready to come out and have a good third period," said Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert. "They got a kind of a bouncy, chop back-in goal to start that period."

"That's where we have to get a little more resilient, mentally," Appert said, "to not let the next five minutes be the difference in the game. We have to be stronger in those next couple minutes, to stem the tide, to hold off their wave of attack. Because, if we had done that, when they took some penalties late, that would have allowed to potentially get back into the game, if we could have kept it to 2-1."

"No different than last night," Appert said, "when they went up 4-3 (on a shorthanded goal), the (RPI) bench can't deflate. That's where you need your upperclassman to throw those chests out, to hold their heads high and play with some strong mental resilience."

The Engineers (8-7-3) had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:22 because of those penalties and pulled goalie Jordan Alford for three-man advantage.

Miami goalie Jeff Zatkoff robbed Chase Polacek from the lower-left slot, Jonathan Ornelas and Jake Morissette both shot the puck over the net from mid-range and Paul Kerins rifled a blast off the goalpost.

Rensselaer, celebrating the return from injury of physical freshman defenseman John Kennedy, had matched the 16-2-0 RedHawks in body checks in the second period and had taken the play directly at them for seven-eight minutes prior to Jensen's goal, which came after some effective forechecking by the Engineers.

"Mo (Morissette) was carrying the puck up the wing," Jensen said, "and there was no pressure up top. I called for the puck and let it rip. I wasn't really aiming or anything, I just let it go."

That aforementioned momentum seemed to be on the Engineers' side, Jensen agreed, but the RedHawks snared it away so quickly.

"That's just the game of hockey," Jensen said.

The Engineers had taken a 3-2 lead into the third period of Saturday night's 7-3 defeat.

"I don't think it was similar (to Saturday) at all," Appert said. "I thought we played harder (Sunday). I think our 'D' corps was probably better (Saturday night) than today but I thought our forwards competed with a lot intensity and passion (Sunday). I really like the way we responded in the second period from them scoring a goal early in the game and got back into the game."

Justin Mercier had one goal and one assist for Miami, while Alec Martinez and Jarod Palmer each assisted twice.

The Engineers had been dominated by Minnesota, Boston College and Notre Dame during the third period of previous losses and had to settle for a 2-2 tie with Brown after leading 2-0 into the third stanza.

Morissette was asked if being beaten by such physically superior team during the third period can help them the Engineers over the final 20 minutes can help them once the ECAC Hockey season resumes.

"Well yeah, we have to learn from these losses," the senior center said. "We make to be stronger physically and tougher mentally and I think that's something we definitely learned this weekend."