Analysis: Plenty of good, bad in tie

It was a positive thing to see Miami come back from a first-period, two-goal deficit, but a downer that the RedHawks were unable to hold a late lead.

So appropriately, Miami and Nebraska-Omaha skated to a 3-3 tie on Friday in the weekend series opener at UNO’s Baxter Arena.

First the bad.

The Mavericks’ first goal was a bit lucky. RedHawks forward Ryan Siroky got in position to block a shot in the slot, and the puck appeared to deflect off his skate and into the net. It happens.

But UNO scored again a minute later when Teemu Pulkkinen was left wide open in front of the net for a rebound.

Same thing with the Mavericks’ tying goal. Jake Randolph was practically in his own time zone at the side of the net, and Austin Ortega – one of the most dangerous players in the league – fed him perfectly for the easy goal.

This game marks the two-thirds mark of the regular season for Miami, and still too many opponents are not paying the price in front of the net.

We saw this last week as well. On one UND goal, four Miami players chased the puck as a player crossed into the offensive zone, and that resulted in an easy tic-tac-toe goal when a pass got through all of the RedHawks defenders to wide-open North Dakota skaters.

Miami has improved in a lot of areas as the season has progressed. This is a big one and at this point things aren’t getting better. And they need to. Quickly.

Oh yeah, and the RedHawks took six straight penalties after going on the power play three times to open the game. Penalty No. 5 by Karch Bachman was the killer, as that’s when UNO tied it in the third period.

Now the good.

Let’s look at the goals.

The first power play unit for Miami is just lethal, and that’s how the RedHawks scored their first goal. Anthony Louis got penetration and dropped a pass to Louie Belpedio for the rip.

Miami forward Willie Knierim (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Willie Knierim (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Then Willie Knierim scored. That’s three goals for the 18-year-old true freshman (he turns 19 on Sunday), with all coming in his last 10 games.

Another 6-feet-3 forward, Sean Kuraly, who was a year older when he came to Oxford, scored three times in his first 36 games. We all know how he turned out.

It’s also encouraging how Knierim is scoring goals. He’s not afraid to go into the slot, where he scored from on Friday on a wicked shot. His size is his biggest asset, and he can give opponents fits if he can establish position in front of the net, both by knocking home rebounds and screening goalies.

Then there’s Carson Meyer, who looks like he’s watching the Miami figure skating team this season, as he managed to take a pass at the top of the crease and knock it home while doing part pirouette, part triple axle.

That’s five goals in 10 games for him, and if wasn’t for goalie Ryan Larkin, Meyer would be skating away with the team’s rookie of the year award.

Miami has shown that it can come back from deficits on the road in the most hostile of environments, having done so both in Grand Forks and Omaha the past two weekends.

These road trips, while taxing, help build bonds between players, especially with younger teams.

Yeah, the sixth tie of the year wasn’t the outcome Miami had hoped for, but considering the RedHawks were down 2-0 halfway through the first period, the ultimate result isn’t half bad. Or half good.

Other thoughts…

– Let’s go back to the penalties. UNO took three, then Miami took six. It’s so hard to second-guess officiating from a computer monitor, so we’ll have to give the officials the benefit of the doubt. You can’t do that, especially on the road. That isn’t news to anyone, but the parade to the penalty box is something we’re seeing too often in recent weeks. The RedHawks have been shorthanded 23 times the past four games, or 5.8 times per game. By comparison, MU faced just 17 power plays in its previous five contests, an average of 3.4 opportunities. Carson Meyer was whistled twice in this game.

– While Miami’s penchant for free hockey is approaching team record levels, its overtime appearance total is far from historic at the NCAA level. The RedHawks have tied six times, played in nine extra sessions and have three OT wins. The Division I records are 10 ties, 19 overtime games played in and seven wins after regulation. The 10 ties seems to most attainable, and that has been done three times: By Western Michigan in 2010-11 (Miami actually tied the Broncos once that season), Colorado College in 2008-09 and Minnesota State in 2002-03. However, if Miami does chase that record it’s a lot less likely the RedHawks will be in position to make the NCAA Tournament.

– The NCHC points race is crazy right now, as two points separate third place and seventh. Miami is currently in seventh, but a win Saturday would mean the RedHawks would be no worse than sixth heading home for the Western Michigan series, and they could go as high as third. After this weekend, Miami will have 10 games remaining and will play each of the top four teams in the league in terms of points, plus the sixth-best team (St. Cloud State). The RedHawks’ final five opponents are ranked Nos. 7, 14, 3, 2 and 9 in the PairWise. That means plenty of opportunity to move up, will they will have to earn it against some of the best teams in Division I.

Miami forward Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: Justin Greenberg has missed consecutive games. He had been in the lineup 53 straight contests prior. Alex Alger has dressed in his place in the last two games. For the sixth time in a row, the defensive six and goaltender were the same, as Coach Enrico Blasi seems to be set at those spots for the stretch run.

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Posted on January 21, 2017, in 2016-17, analysis, UNO Mavericks and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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