Analysis: MU still reeling in 3rd period
A week off and the return of two key players were not enough to lift Miami out of the doldrums.
Despite a promising start that saw the RedHawks jump out to a two-goal lead, Cornell rallied to a 4-2 win over MU on Friday.
That makes eight straight games without a win for Miami (3-7-4), its longest winless span in two decades. And in the third period, the RedHawks have allowed 14 goals during their slump. They’ve scored twice.
Closing out games has been a residual theme for Miami over the past decade – since That Game That Will Not Be Mentioned, really – but right now this team is really in a third-period funk.
The parity in college hockey is too great to give games away, and this is the second time during this skid that Miami has done just that. Flip those losses to wins – not a stretch considering MU led by two late in the second period of both games in question – and the RedHawks are 5-5-4.
In the NCHC, one or two games over .500 is good enough for NCAA consideration, and Miami would be right there.
Youth becomes less of an excuse every time this team takes the ice. Yes, the RedHawks still have 14 freshmen on their roster, but they’ve been playing competitive games for two months now and most of these guys come in at 19, 20 or 21 now.
We’ll say it again: Having a young team means so much less in hockey than it does in the Big Two. There’s the older player factor (only Willie Knierim is a true freshman) and these guys play 70-game seasons in juniors prior to college.
Of the previous eight seasons, Miami has advanced in the NCAA Tournament three times. Twice it has been during the freshman-heavy recruiting campaign. The other was 2009-10, a team with eight sophomores and only four seniors, went to the Frozen Four.
That’s not to say this team won’t get better as the season progresses. But there’s no excuse for any team to squander multiple multiple-goal leads late.
The RedHawks play 34 regular season games. This was Game 14, with Game 15 set for Saturday night. Miami returns home to host Colorado College for a pair, which will take the team to the midway point of its schedule.
Granted, four ties essentially equals two wins, but the RedHawks need to string together some W’s quickly or they could be looking at another short postseason and long off-season.
– First a couple of positives. Carson Meyer returned after missing four straight games, and he scored Miami’s first goal. In 10 games he has three markers and eight assists for a freshman-best 11 points.
– Captain Louie Belpedio also was back in the RedHawks’ lineup, having sat the last six with a lower body injury. Miami was outshot in every game he was out – 220-151 in those contests – and the RedHawks actually led, 31-25 in SOG on Friday. On the flip side, he took three penalties down the stretch and Cornell scored Goal No. 4 on the second minor.
– Goals: Other than Meyer, Grant Hutton scored his fourth of the season after posting no goals and five assists in 2015-16. Also, freshman Karch Bachman recorded the first of his college career. This pair led the team in shots: Bachman finished with six and Hutton – a defensive defenseman – ended the night with five.
– Miami was only on the power play twice on Friday while Cornell (6-3-1) had six chances on the man-advantage. That differential of minus-4 opportunities was a season low for the RedHawks. MU was outscored, 1-0 on the man-advantage and obviously lost by one goal overall.
– Talk about a slick highlights reel: Check out the one the Big Red put together for Friday’s game. Or, considering the outcome, maybe just watch the first half.