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Morris savors atmosphere, but not Miami’s defeat

Kevin Morris will have mixed feelings when he recalls the Hockey City Classic.

The freshman became the first player in Miami University history to score a goal in an outdoor game Sunday afternoon, but the 2-1 loss to Notre Dame at Soldier Field was an unpleasant pill to swallow.

“The loss sticks out a little bit like a sore thumb,” Morris said. “But it’s such a life experience that you’ve got to remember all the memories that come along with it. You’ve got to look at the big picture and be grateful for the opportunity we had here. I think we’ll cherish it as a school.”

The RedHawks maintained their hold on first place in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with their weekend split against the Fighting Irish. The top three teams have created some separation: MU has 50 points, Western Michigan 48 and Notre Dame 47.

Miami’s last two CCHA series are at Lake Superior State (starting Friday) and at home against Ohio State.

“The sore thumb is going to hurt for a little bit, but you’ve got to shake it off and be ready for next weekend,” Morris said. “That’s what hockey’s all about, being in the moment and worrying about what’s going on right now. We’re still heading in the right direction.”

His goal came off a Marc Hagel assist with 10:24 left in the game, chopping the deficit to 2-1. Morris said MU waited too long to dial up its energy level.

The Massena, N.Y., native noted that playing on the outdoor ice in a National Football League stadium was different in a way that surprised him.

“It was actually pretty silent out there,” Morris said. “Being in the glass, you don’t really hear the fans as much. The sound is spread out.”

A crowd of 52,051 watched the Classic doubleheader. Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 3-2 in the nightcap.

Penalty killers: The Irish drew a five-minute major penalty and a game disqualification when Mike Voran was ejected for hitting from behind with 1:14 remaining in the first period.

Miami’s Alex Wideman was whistled for goaltender interference 71 seconds later. That two-minute penalty helped Notre Dame successfully deal with the major infraction.

“There were two key things that happened for us tonight, based on how our team’s played in the second half,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “The first one was responding to that major penalty and killing it off. The second one was when they scored — we settled down and played OK. We’ve had a problem sometimes with too much emotion or not enough emotion in shifts after goals or situations like that.”

Notre Dame gave up two goals in a 30-second span Friday en route to a 3-1 loss in Oxford.

“We had a good game on Friday, and maybe they didn’t have such a good game — today they had a better game,” MU coach Enrico Blasi said. “They had better energy, a little bit more jump if you will. We were not ourselves because of what they were doing to us.”

The great outdoors: Notre Dame junior wing Jeff Costello scored the game-winning goal. From his perspective, playing outside presented a few challenges.

“I don’t think we ever fully adjusted,” Costello said. “The sun kept moving, and obviously we switched sides (between periods). It was tough, especially when you were skating fast. The wind gets in your eyes and your eyes start watering, which makes it even harder to see.

“Once you got going and kind of got used to the shadows and the sun beating down on your face, it’s just like playing when you’re growing up.”

Notebook: Miami was 3-of-3 on the penalty kill Sunday and has killed 17 straight opponent power plays. … MU has a 39-17-10 lead in its series with Notre Dame. … RedHawks freshman goalie Ryan McKay went the distance in both games against the Irish, marking the first time he’s played both games in the same weekend.

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