Analysis: Third period turnaround, Part II

It would have been hard to imagine anyone saying what a strong third-period team Miami is during the team’s 10-game winless streak earlier this season.

That’s exactly what the RedHawks are at present, with a five-goal third period solidifying that assessment in a 6-3 win at No. 7 North Dakota on Friday.

To revisit after this win: Miami was outscored, 14-3 in the final stanza during its skid. The RedHawks (8-8-5) have lit the lamp 18 times in the third period and overtime during their winning streak.

Their opponents? Twice.

Neither a psychologist nor a hockey coach, so this is speculation based on observation, but two of the key reasons for the turnaround late in games are better stamina and better confidence.

We’ve said repeatedly that youth is not an excuse for that miserable 3-8-5 start, but it definitely seems like this team is in better hockey shape than it was in November.

Getting acclimated to the program for the younger players has likely helped, as college is obviously a big jump from the NAHL and USHL.

The team looks more confident in every aspect, from warm-ups to the final horn. Of course that’s a chicken-and-egg argument, as winning wields confidence, which wields wins, etc.

One of the best things about this win is it comes without a caveat.

With Colorado College, it was yeah but Miami should beat Colorado College. Then it was Ohio State, and yeah but OSU plays in the weaker Big Ten. Then St. Cloud’s ‘yeah but’ was that the team was struggling a bit and the games were in Oxford.

There’s never a ‘yeah but’ with a win in Grand Forks. Ever.

Other thoughts…

– As one following the game from 1,000-plus miles away, it got to 3-1 and the mentality went to, oh well, try for the split tomorrow. Let’s face it, that was and still is the realistic goal of this weekend anyway. Miami already has that and is playing with house money on Saturday. That said, a sweep is obviously a possibility now, but expect North Dakota to come out like the early-80s Islanders teams in the first period.

– When we first evaluated Miami’s record after the team fell to 3-8-5 (hey, maybe that’s the reason for the 5-0-1 run, viva Blog of Brotherhood!), it was looking like the team would have to go at minimum 13-5 the rest of the way to get to 16-13-5 and warrant consideration for an NCAA at-large. Now it’s 8-5, which seems much more doable, especially the way the RedHawks are playing. But the rest of the schedule is a murderer’s row of elite teams: Three more against UND (12-7-3) – Saturday in Grand Forks and a pair in Oxford to close out the regular season – two in Omaha, two in St. Cloud, two in Duluth and two at home against Western Michigan and Denver, both top-10 teams. There’s certainly reason for optimism but Miami is still paying the price for that awful start.

– Coinciding with Miami’s wins is the team’s rejuvenated power play. The RedHawks were held without a PPG for six straight games but have netted goals on the man advantage in four straight contests, scoring five in that stretch.

Miami's Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Gordie Green has four points in four games after recording that many in the first 17. If we had to pick a most-improved player from October to now, he would certainly be one of the top candidates. He scored the first goal of the game on Friday. He scored once in those first 17 games but has found the net three times in the last four. Miami welcomes those contributions, because…

– On that note, this team is still incredibly top-heavy in terms of points. Forward leaders: Anthony Louis 27, Kiefer Sherwood 25, Josh Melnick 19, Carson Meyer 19, Green 8, then the next highest is five. So after the top two lines and No. 1 power play unit Miami’s offense is nearly non-existent.

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Posted on January 14, 2017, in 2016-17, analysis, North Dakota Fighting Sioux and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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