Down 3, Miami salvages tie vs. DU
Miami didn’t win on Saturday, but it did come back from three down to eke out a tie in its regular season finale.
That was on the road vs. the fifth-ranked team in college hockey.
After falling behind, 3-0 less than five minutes in, the RedHawks rallied for a 3-3 tie at No. 5 Denver on Saturday and earned the extra point in the NCHC standings with a 3-on-3 win.
Despite earning seven conference points in its final four games, Miami finished last in the eight-team NCHC.
The RedHawks enter the playoffs having won just two of its last 15 games (2-10-3). They will travel to No. 2 St. Cloud State next week to open the NCHC Tournament in a best-of-3 series.
RECAP: Just 4:19 into the first period, Denver had already taken a 3-0 lead.
Henrik Borgstrom centered one from behind the net to Jarid Lukosevicius in the slot for a one-timer 73 seconds into the game.
Eighteen seconds later, Ryan Barrow went in alone and beat Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the forehand.
In another three minutes, Adam Plant found the net from the outside edge of the faceoff circle on a wrister through traffic.
Then the comeback.
The RedHawks converted on a 2-on-0, with Gordie Green tapping home the centering feed by Kiefer Sherwood with 3:15 left in the first period as a Denver defender collided with goalie Tanner Jaillet.
Jaillet finished the period but did not play the balance of the game.
New Pioneers goalie Dayton Rasmussen was beaten on his first shot. After Zach LaValle won a battle along the boards, the puck found Karch Bachman, who skated in and fired one home from a bad angle.
Bachman tipped home a blue-line shot by Louie Belpedio to tie it.
In the 3-on-3 overtime, Phil Knies stole the puck and wired one home over Rasmussen’s shoulder.
STATS: This was the 16th straight game in which the team that scored first also scored second.
That means either Miami or its opponent has taken a 2-0 lead or more in every contest since Jan. 5. The odds of that happening at random are over 65,000 to 1.
— The RedHawks snapped a seven-game streak without a power play goal, and they also scored in the first period for the first time in eight contests.
Miami’s first-period goal total and its PPG total have been identical in nine straight games.
— It was the first multi-goal game of Bachman’s career. The sophomore has already tripled his rookie goal-scoring input, as he has six markers this season vs. two in 2016-17.
— Sherwood extended his team-best points streak to four games. He is 2-3-5 in that stretch and picked up a pair of assists in this contest.
THOUGHTS: What a crazy ending.
A Miami team that went 0-3-1 on a four-game road trip vs. Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College and was 1-8-1 in its previous 10 contests broke even in its last four against North Dakota and Denver.
Crazier is that the RedHawks’ opponents that took a 3-0 lead the past two weekends finished 0-1-1 in those games.
Craziest: In Miami’s last 16 games, the team that has scored first has also netted the next goal. So RedHawks games have had a 2-0 score at some point in every contest since early January.
These games were irrelevant to Miami from a seedings perspective, but a 1-1-2 record in its last four regular season contests vs. North Dakota and at Denver should at least inspire hope.
— A big positive to take away from this game is Bachman’s scoring. He has been partly inaccurate, partly snakebitten while being placed on skill lines this season, and with his speed if he can start to find the net regularly his final two years could be very lucrative.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: At forward, Carson Meyer was reinserted and Christian Mohs did not dress.
It was just the second game Meyer has missed this season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: These games were irrelevant in terms of the RedHawks’ place in the tournament world but had to give them momentum heading into the NCHCs.
They hung with one of the top dogs in D-I for 125 minutes on the road.
It’s the beauty of March: A poor regular season can be reversed with a conference tournament win.
And desperation can be a strong weapon. St. Cloud State will play in the NCAAs, and any subsequent opponent in the NCHC field would likely be in that boat as well.
There is no future beyond next weekend if Miami doesn’t win this series.
Four years ago the RedHawks were in the same predicament and also faced St. Cloud in the first round. Miami won that series and ultimately fell a goal short in the NCHC championship game.
The odds of an NCAA berth for Miami are long, but a desperate RedHawks team again faces an elite SCSU team that will play on college hockey’s biggest stage regardless of this weekend’s outcome.