Miami falls behind early, loses again
We’re seeing a recurring theme in January: Miami falls behind big then falls short in its comeback attempt.
The RedHawks have trailed by at least three goals in three straight games – all losses – including a 4-3 defeat at Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday in which they trailed by four but scored three times in the third period to cut the final deficit to one.
All have involved unorthodox goalie-pulling that has led to extended extra-attacker situations for Miami.
RECAP: After these teams combined for 18 goals on Friday, this game was scoreless after the first period.
However, Nebraska-Omaha scored four times in a 10:53 window to essentially win it.
Zach Jordan, Jake Randolph, Grant Gallo and Tyler Vesel all recorded goals, and Miami was down four heading into the final 20 minutes.
The RedHawks cut the lead to three just 101 seconds into the final stanza, as Phil Knies slammed home a loose puck at the side of the net off a Kiefer Sherwood shot.
Josh Melnick made it a two-goal game five minutes later when he batted a puck out of the air and into the net from the slot.
With the extra attacker, Phil Knies deflected in a shot by Chaz Switzer, and Miami was within one.
But the RedHawks had just one more quality scoring chance with time running out before dropping its third straight.
STATS: Like in the Denver finale, Miami was dominated in shots the first two periods before reversing course in the last 20 minutes. It was 23-15 in favor of UNO heading into the final stanza, but the RedHawks led, 16-4 in that frame. Last Saturday MU trailed, 28-5 against the Pioneers after 40 minutes but fired off 20 SOG to DU’s five in the last period.
– It was the third straight game in which Miami has scored an extra-attacker goal. The RedHawks pulled the goalie with 15 minutes left in the Denver finale, and Kiefer Sherwood scored, Casey Gilling picked up a 6-on-5 goal late on Friday and Phil Knies cut MU’s deficit to one on Saturday.
– Sherwood extended his points streak to five games, a current team best and a season long for the junior forward. He is 2-4-6 during his recent hot stretch.
– Phil Knies scored four goals and set up another this weekend. He had just three goals in the first 20 games of the season. Fellow freshman Ben Lown had six points entering this weekend but added four vs. UNO.
– Grant Hutton equaled his season output in assists prior to this weekend vs. UNO. He had four both before and during this series.
– G Ryan Larkin has allowed at least three goals in five straight outings.
– We’ve heard talk that officiating has gone against Miami too often. Through this game, Miami has had 99 power play chances. Its opponents: 100. The RedHawks have 28 special teams goals vs. their foes’ 21.
THOUGHTS: The obvious one is that Miami needs to show up for the first 40 minutes.
We get that this season’s team does not boast top-10 talent, but the RedHawks should not be hemorrhaging early goals at their recent rate in league games.
Enrico Blasi’s in-game coaching has definitely taken a step up this season, but even after multiple high-profile losses due to late goals against over the years, he has never been a fan of calling time-outs as a means of damage control.
UNO scored at the eight-minute mark of the second period to take a 1-0 lead, and the Mavericks added three more over a span of 5:14 that decided the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: The big one was Carson Meyer, who was scratched for the first time this season. Hopefully this sends a message to the talented Blue Jackets draftee, who has just seven points, is last on the team with a minus-10 rating and leads the team in penalty minutes.
Sometimes sitting a key player is an effective tool, and with Meyer recording just one point in his last nine games, his benching will hopefully serve as a wake-up call.
Christian Mohs also did not dress after playing on Friday. Ryan Siroky and Austin Alger returned to the lineup in their place.
On defense, Scott Dornbrock was scratched for the first time in five games. Rourke Russell, who sat Friday, skated in his place. These two and Grant Frederic have seemingly alternated in the five and six spots.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami can ill-afford a three-game losing streak, and now at 9-11-2 will have a tough road to the NCAAs.
The RedHawks are currently tied with Bowling Green for 17th in the PairWise (someone please explain how these two teams can be tied, since MU went 1-0-1 at BGSU earlier this season).
All of the eight NCHC teams have played in 12 of their 24 league games, and after Miami came away with zero of a possible six points, the RedHawks are in seventh place in the league, one point ahead of last-place Colorado College.
Barring a conference tournament win, the RedHawks now need to go at least four games over .500 down the stretch if it hopes to earn an at-large bid, and that means an 8-4 record to close out the regular season.