St. Cloud State completes sweep of Miami
It truly was Groundhog Day for Miami.
On Feb. 2, a night after the RedHawks lost, 5-1 at No. 1 St. Cloud State, MU fell to the Huskies by an identical score at the Herb Brooks Center.
Gordie Green netted the only Miami goal, with 7:34 left in regulation and the RedHawks down by five.
Blake Lizotte scored twice and added an assist to pace St. Cloud State.
MU dropped its eighth straight game and is winless in its last 14 (0-10-4). Its losing streak is its longest since 1995.
Miami’s winless streak equals its second-longest in team history.
RECAP: For the second straight night, the Huskies wasted no time taking the lead.
At the 2:25 mark, Ryan Poehling dished a pass to a streaking Lizotte, who redirected the pass into the net from the top of the crease.
Jack Ahcan made it 2-0 less than four minutes later, wristing a shot past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the stick side off a centering feed from Patrick Newell.
Lizotte scored again with eight minutes left in the middle stanza, as he was left alone at the side of the net and tapped in a feed from Robbie Jackson.
That duo reversed roles less than five minutes later, as Lizotte kicked a pass out to Jackson, who was alone for a bad-angle one-timer even with the goal line, giving St. Cloud State a four-goal lead.
Nick Pervix extended the Huskies’ lead to five in the final minute of the second period, as he skated from behind the net and stuffed one past Larkin.
Miami scored its lone goal when Grant Hutton fired a shot that hit the stick of teammate Jonathan Gruden and ended up on the stick of Green, who roofed it from the slot.
STATS: Green’s goal was his 10th of the season, extending his team lead, and he is tied with Josh Melnick atop the RedHawks’ point leaderboard with 20.
He picked up a point for the second straight game, as did Grant Hutton, who earned the secondary assist.
— Gruden picked up the primary helper, his second point in three contests.
— Miami is 1-23-6 when pursuing its 10th win the past three seasons.
— The RedHawks were 0-13-1 in early 1985, and their worst-ever winless stretch was a 17-game, 0-16-1 skid in 1990-91.
— MU has given up the first goal in 12 straight games.
— St. Cloud State improved to 12-0 on its home ice.
THOUGHTS: It was Groundhog Day in terms of the score, but unlike Friday, St. Cloud State dominated the first 40 minutes.
Dominated probably isn’t a strong enough word. It looked like the Tampa Bay Lightning playing a Midget Minor team. The shots were 31-9 after two periods.
The Huskies took their foot off the gas in the third period, playing their third and fourth lines a significant amount, and they were less aggressive pushing the offensive tempo.
St. Cloud State played great and deserves credit but Miami made it a lot easier on the Huskies by again failing to cover opponents close to the net and failing to get defensive sticks in the lane.
SCSU also seemingly won every boards battle and was first to every loose puck.
It’s really hard to remain competitive under those conditions.
LINEUP CHANGES: Larkin was in net for the third time in seven games, and this was the first contest he has completed in that stretch.
Scott Corbett returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday, and Zach LaValle did not dress.
STANDINGS: Miami fell to last in the NCHC, two points behind Omaha, which split vs. Western Michigan this weekend.
The RedHawks are 3-11-2 in the conference with 12 league points, two behind the Mavericks. They are 13 points out of fourth, which is the last home-ice spot for the NCHC Tournament.
Eight games remain in both the regular season and conference schedules.
Miami is now 38th in the PairWise.
SCHEDULE: The RedHawks host Omaha next weekend, then after a week off they face Denver and Minnesota-Duluth, both top five teams and both on the road, before wrapping up their regular season slate vs. Western Michigan in Oxford.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was a tall order to earn points on this trip, but Miami didn’t come close, and with the RedHawks plummeting in the league standings, this is one of the teams they would have to beat on the road just to earn a berth in the Frozen Faceoff.
Realistically, MU now has very little chance of earning home ice for the first round of the NCHC Tournament, which means an extremely difficult road series just to advance to the conference semifinals.
And at No. 38 in the PairWise, Miami can forget about any chance of an at-large, even if somehow the team won out.
With their postseason fate somewhat sealed, that may take the pressure off the RedHawks somewhat, as they can concentrate more on getting better for the league tournament.
But this is the type of matchup that awaits when the regular season ends, it will be a sisyphean task for to earn a trip to Minneapolis in March and beyond.