Miami can’t hold lead, ties CC

The 10th win has been incredibly elusive for Miami.

The RedHawks’ victory total never did reach double digits in 2016-17, as they went 0-9-1 in February in March to end the campaign with nine wins.

Miami is stuck on nine again this season, as it extended its winless streak to five games on Saturday by tying Colorado College, 4-4 on Saturday.

That means the RedHawks are 0-13-2 in pursuit of win No. 10 dating back to last season.

Miami’s at-large window is closing quickly, and it’s becoming more apparent that MU will have to run the table in the NCHC Tournament to avoid missing the NCAAs for the third straight season.

RECAP: It was a crazy game, with the Tigers scoring twice in the first three minutes to take a 2-0 lead.

Miami answered with four consecutive goals, including two by Carson Meyer.

But Colorado College cut its deficit to one in the closing minutes of the second period and tied it with 11:04 left in regulation.

Neither team scored in overtime, but the Tigers earned the second point with a 3-on-3 goal.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

STATS: Lost in Miami’s struggles is Phil Knies’ scoring streak. He found the net for the fourth straight game and has netted six goals in that span. He had three in his first 20 games.

— Meyer was scratched in the finale at Nebraska-Omaha but scored twice for the first time this season. He also added a helper for his second career three-point game.

— Kiefer Sherwood notched two assists as he extended his points streak to seven games (3-8-11). It’s great to see both Sherwood and Meyer thriving after slow first halves.

— Louie Belpedio finished with a goal and a helper as he recorded his seventh multi-point game of the season.

THOUGHTS: To its credit, Miami fell behind by two early but rallied to take a 4-2 lead.

Then the RedHawks blew said lead as they salvaged just one of a possible three points.

Once again a late advantage was squandered and Miami left valuable league points on the table.

The funny thing is that through 24 games, the RedHawks have actually allowed the same number of goals in each period: 27. It’s the timing of those goals against that is killing this team.

This 0-3-1 road set against the sixth and seventh place teams in the NCHC has left Miami buried in last, six points behind Colorado College.

The RedHawks do have two games in hand against the entire league save St. Cloud State, but Miami’s remaining schedule consists of two games against each of the top five teams in the conference.

It’s baffling that this MU team that was 8-8-2 at the break and won its first game of 2018 against league power Denver looks so lost now.

And it isn’t like Miami was a horrible road team: The RedHawks were 3-3-2 away from Cady Arena entering the UNO series two weeks ago.

— MU is allowing 5.8 goals per game during its five-game skid. That’s embarrassing. Granted UNO has the best offense in the NCHC but Colorado College is second last in scoring.

Only Miami scores less frequently, with 75 goals in 24 games vs. CC’s 79 markers.

— A number of otherwise intelligent people are toying with the notion that a change of conference might be the best thing for Miami.

This has to be the worst idea since the glowing puck or the NHL expanding to Atlanta a second time.

So the problem is that Miami has struggled to compete against the big boys the past few years. The solution is to admit defeat, say thanks for the invite but we’re not worthy of the NCHC and join a much weaker conference?

Of course it’s frustrating to watch a team you love struggle for multiple seasons, but here’s why leaving the conference would be asinine:

1) What’s the alternative? The Big Seven doesn’t want Miami. The WCHA is much weaker. Those are the only two leagues with teams remotely close to southwest Ohio.

There is no longer a CCHA. When it dissolved, Miami had a chance to play in the best league in Division I and made the correct decision to join.

Yeah, the schedule is brutal but the RedHawks only need to post a .530 or so winning percentage to get in. All of the other seven teams in the league are .500 or better.

2) Recruiting. A major issue being brought up is MU’s inability to land the same quantity of players as it did several years ago, right? Do you think a 16-year-old is more likely to sign with a team that plays teams like Denver, North Dakota and Duluth each weekend or UAF, Ferris State and Northern Michigan?

No offense to those former CCHA foes but they’re not household names in the college hockey world and they’re not consistently in the top echelon of Division I.

It’s EASIER to recruit when you play in this conference. Leaving it will not mean the Austin Czarniks and Reilly Smiths of the world will start again flocking to Oxford. Quite possibly the opposite.

3) Travel. You think Omaha then Colorado College is bad, think about the logistics issues of playing in a league with the three UP teams and both Alaska squads.

Then throw in two more in Minnesota. No thanks.

Hockey East was a disaster for Notre Dame largely for the same reason. The other leagues aren’t realistic either, and again, the Big Seven isn’t extending invitations.

It’s an honor to play in the best league in college hockey, and no team in its right mind is going to step down because it has a few bad years.

Miami defenseman Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: The big one was the absence of standout Grant Hutton on defense. It’s unclear why he was not dressed, snapping a streak of 75 consecutive games played for the junior.

It was just the second time in his career he was not on the lineup card, with the other being Jan. 9, 2016.

If Hutton misses any amount of time it will make winning hockey games a whole lot harder for the struggling RedHawks.

The other Grant – Grant Frederic – took his place on the ice.

Up front, Ryan Siroky and Zach LaValle dressed after sitting on Friday. Austin Alger and Willie Knierim sat in their place.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami plays its next four and six of its final 10 in Oxford, but now it faces an incredibly difficult path to get back into contention for home ice in the first round of the tournament.

The only good thing about the remaining schedule is that the RedHawks play the teams multiple teams that they need to pass in the standings, so they control their own destiny somewhat.

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Posted on January 28, 2018, in 2017-18, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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