The first outdoor hockey game in Miami University history was a memorable experience that lacked one very important thing — a victory.
Freshman Kevin Morris tallied the lone goal for the RedHawks on Sunday afternoon as they dropped a 2-1 decision to Notre Dame in the inaugural Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field.
“A pretty good atmosphere out there,” said MU coach Enrico Blasi, whose squad slipped to 19-8-5 overall and 14-6-4 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. “Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best, and Notre Dame played really well. They deserved to win tonight.”
Miami got outshot 28-23 and fell behind 2-0 before rallying down the stretch against the Fighting Irish, who eased the sting of Friday’s 3-1 defeat in Oxford.
RedHawks freshman goaltender Ryan McKay collected 26 saves and was one of several Chicago-area players to compete in front of family and friends.
“It was a surreal experience,” McKay said. “Losing the game definitely takes a lot away from the experience, but nonetheless, it was something I’ll remember for a very long time.”
It was a clear, cold day on the shore of Lake Michigan, very good weather for the outdoor spectacle. The ice wasn’t perfect, but that just added to the unique experience.
“If you think about it, the conditions were great,” Morris said. “It didn’t snow. There was great sunlight. It was a perfect atmosphere.
“There were a few ruts in the ice, and a couple of the corners weren’t in great shape just because it’s tough to keep that ice solid as the game wears on. But both teams had to deal with it. You weren’t really thinking about it as you were playing.”
Mario Lucia and Jeff Costello provided the goals for Notre Dame (19-12-1, 15-8-1), the former with 7:18 left in the second period and the latter with 11:27 remaining in the game. Winning goalie Steven Summerhays made 22 saves.
“(Miami’s) a great team. They’ve been a great program for years,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “We kept the game simpler, and maybe we did that because of the conditions. We’ve got to play like we’re outdoors all the time.”
Bryan Rust, Steven Fogarty and Anders Lee had assists for Notre Dame. Marc Hagel assisted Morris’ goal, which came with 10:24 left.
“Our goal was to get the puck to the net and create some energy any way we could,” said MU forward Cody Murphy, who originally got credit for the goal before it was changed to Morris. “Kevin took a great shot, I drove the net, and it just kind of got in there. I’m not really sure how it happened. The puck just kind of found its way into the back of the net.”
The RedHawks will begin a two-game series at Lake Superior State on Friday.