Miami shut out, swept by SCSU
OXFORD, Ohio – For the first time this season, Ryan Larkin was not the starting goalie for Miami.
And the RedHawks didn’t give their back-up netminder any offensive support, as No. 4 St. Cloud State completed the weekend sweep with a 4-0 win at Cady Arena on Saturday.
Larkin was in the starting slot on the lineup card and practiced sparingly in warm-ups, but he was battling an illness and did not return to the ice after the pre-game scrape.
Chase Munroe made his first start of 2017-18 and the fourth of his career.
Miami slipped to 1-7-1 in its last nine games and is 1-8-1 in February the past two seasons.
It was the second time this season the RedHawks (10-15-3) have been blanked.
RECAP: It was scoreless through one period, but St. Cloud State (19-7-3) broke though 3:48 into the second period when Nick Poehling beat Munroe low to the glove side.
Miami’s Carson Meyer had a penalty shot early in the third period but was unable to capitalize.
Patrick Newell made it 2-0 when a loose puck found him in the faceoff circle, and he fired it just under the far crossbar.
The final two SCSU goals were both empty netters, with Newell and Judd Peterson finding the net shorthanded.
STATS: Munroe had to be happy for the opportunity to lower his bloated goals-against average, which was 12.36 due to struggles in his lone outing this season. He stopped 17 of 19 shots, dropping it to 4.59 and raising his save percentage from .636 to .800.
— Gordie Green’s team-high four-game points streak was snapped.
— Scott Dornbrock blocked a Miami-best four shots, and RedHawks Rourke Russell added three, giving him a team high of 39.
— Carter Johnson was 9-3 on faceoffs as he continues to make his case for regular ice time.
— No power play goals were scored on the weekend. The teams each had eight chances in the two-game set. SCSU did score twice shorthanded, but both were empty netters.
THOUGHTS: This is the part where some expect a rant about how bad Miami was yet again.
While inflammatory speech may generate hits, it wouldn’t be fair to rip the team’s play on Saturday. The RedHawks played pretty well in this game.
They just couldn’t get the puck in the net.
The defense, perhaps inspired by their missing regular goalie, tightened up and held SCSU to just 21 shots. And very few good scoring chances.
One St. Cloud goal should’ve been stopped, one was on an exceptional shot and two were empty netters.
Huskies goalie David Hrenak deserves a lot of credit too, as he stopped all 30 Miami shots he faced.
Sometimes teams run into a hot goalie, and you just have to tip your hat.
The problem of course is that the 27 previous games this season have netted just 10 wins, the RedHawks have used up their allotment of acceptable losses, with plenty of unacceptable losses mixed in.
— He obviously didn’t pick up any points, but Kiefer Sherwood played his best hockey of the season this weekend. He seems to have gotten back that extra gear of skating speed, he backchecked relentlessly and dished out a couple of big hits, which has never been a major part of his game.
Sherwood had a slow start to this season and is still down overall in terms of points pace but seems to be over whatever held him back the first few months of 2017-18.
— The forwards took six minors penalties, with five leading to SCSU power plays. Conor Lemirande an Casey Gilling both were whistled for a pair of minors. Gilling leads the team in minors (17) and PIM (50), which isn’t going to cut it if he’s going to be a major part of this team the next three-plus years.
— Came away once again impressed by the A-through-Z Poehling contingent on the Huskies.
— Coach Enrico Blasi has been pulling the goalie radically early when trailing this season, even doing so with 17 minutes left in the third period earlier this calendar year. SCSU scored three empty netters this weekend as a result, but really, if it helps the team’s chance of winning just an iota and only drawback is a more lopsided final score, then go for it.
FORWARDS: D. Hot goalie or not, this group’s job is to score goals and they came up empty. And yeah, the penalties.
DEFENSEMEN: B. They seemed to make a conceded effort to tighten up with Munroe in net and were solid overall. This corps also stayed out of the penalty box. They helped hold a potent SCSU team to 21 shots, and very few high-quality chances.
GOALTENDING: C. Munroe definitely should’ve stopped the first goal. The second one was ticketed for the corner of the net. His rebound control was solid, although he didn’t see many difficult shots. He can thank his D-corps for stepping up. Munroe was also put in a difficult spot, as he likely didn’t know he was starting until minutes before the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: After three straight games going with the same 19, Austin Alger and Grant Frederic both dressed. Alger, a forward, replaced Willie Knierim, and blueliner Frederic was in for Chaz Switzer, who had played in 13 straight games.
FINAL THOUGHTS: All eight NCHC teams have six games left, and Miami can finish no better than third.
The RedHawks are last in the conference with 17 points, and UNO is seventh with 21. So it’s an uphill climb just to get out of the basement, especially considering Miami’s remaining schedule.
The ultimate goal of fourth would likely require Miami to run the table and hope the teams the RedHawks are chasing falter down the stretch. The RedHawks are 10 points down on both fourth-place North Dakota and fifth-place Duluth, and they would have to catch one of those teams and pass UNO and Colorado College.
Miami heads to Duluth next week, returns home to play North Dakota and finishes as Denver. Those teams are ninth, 12th and second in PairWise, respectively.
In other words, if you’ve already pre-paid for first-round NCHC playoff tickets at Cady Arena, a refund is extremely likely for the third straight year.