Northern Michigan, Miami wrap up season series in Marquette

MARQUETTE – The Northern Michigan University hockey team had a good feeling heading into a road series at Miami back in November hot off of taking four of six CCHA points from the mighty Michigan Wolverines at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.

The Wildcats left Oxford, Ohio, however, with just one league point.

Two months later, the ‘Cats again have some momentum heading into a series against the RedHawks after sweeping once WCHA-leading St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minn.

Northern will play host to the RedHawks this time at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Berry Events Center and like the first meeting, NMU head coach Walt Kyle believes goaltending will be the key to NMU taking points from No. 6-ranked Miami.

“We got a tie down there the second night, but a lot of that was due to goaltending,” Kyle said. “They put a lot of pressure on you and are really good at special teams.”

Miami is coming off a 1-0 win over Ohio State and 1-0 loss to Robert Morris two weeks ago at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh.

The RedHawks were without two key players in Pittsburgh, though. Freshmen Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly were busy winning gold with Team USA at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.

In seven games, Barber scored three goals and three assists for Team USA. Kuraly had a goal and two assists.

Barber leads Miami in scoring with eight goals and 14 assists in 18 games while Kuraly has three goals and an assist.

Kuraly had one goal while Barber finished with a goal and three assists in the Nov. 9-10 series against NMU, which Miami won 5-2 on Nov. 9 and rallied to tie 2-2 on Nov. 10. MU won the shootout, 2-0.

NMU junior goaltender Jared Coreau was yanked from the net in Friday’s loss to MU after giving up four goals on 28 shots. He stopped 31 of 33 shots in Saturday’s tie with Miami, but gave up the game-tying goal with under three minutes to play.

Coreau stopped 37 shots – one short of his season-high of 38 at Ohio State on Nov. 17 and the same number of stops made Dec. 1 at Western – in a 2-1 win on Saturday at St. Cloud State. He only had to make 21 in a 6-2 win over the Huskies on Friday.

The victories put Kyle over the 200-win mark for his career at Northern, an accomplishment the 11-year NMU coach admitted he didn’t realize until after the fact.

“I’m just really blessed to be coaching here and fortunate to have the support I have,” Kyle said.