Denver salvages split with Miami

It’s official: Miami will open the NCHC Tournament on the road for the fourth straight season.

Denver beat the RedHawks, 5-2 at Magness Arena on Saturday, which dropped MU 13 points behind the fourth-place Pioneers with four games remaining.

The top four seeds host best-of-3 series in the first round of the conference tournament.

Miami’s Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

RECAP: Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicius buried a one-timer from just inside the faceoff circle, set up by an Emilio Pettersen feed from the wall at the 3:31 mark of the first period.

The score remained 1-0 for over a period and a half until Miami’s Josh Melnick tied it shorthanded, whipping a shot just under the crossbar on a 2-on-1 after he and Brian Hawkinson played give-and-go with 5:17 left in the second period.

Miami’s Zach LaValle (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

But the Pioneers would break it open in a 17-second span of the third period on a pair of goals Jack Doremus. He redirected a wrist shot by Griffin Mendel into the net at 5:17 and fired a slapper that beat Miami goalie Ryan Larkin moments later.

The RedHawks cut the deficit to one, 3-2 when Zach LaValle lunged into the crease to poke home a rebound after Filip Larsson couldn’t control a wrist shot by Monte Graham with 11:47 left in regulation.

Denver regained its two-goal lead on the power play, with Lukosevicius shoveling home a centering feed in the slot with 7:46 remaining.

Colin Staub sealed it with an empty netter, as he chased down a clearing pass and tapped it in.

STATS: The four goals allowed in the third period is the most surrendered in a frame this season for Miami.

— Melnick extended his points streak to three games, as he has two goals and two assists in that span.

With 105 points, the senior is now 47th on the RedHawks’ all-time scoring list.

— LaValle’s marker was his first since Oct. 27.

— Denver led on the shot counter, 43-17. For the weekend, the Pioneers outshot Miami, 90-38.

— The RedHawks did not score on the power play for the fourth straight game, and they are 13-for-20 on the penalty kill in their last six (65.0 percent).

THOUGHTS: Miami played pretty evenly with Denver following the first goal and set itself up to steal some road points with the score tied at one after 40 minutes.

But defending the slot area was a major issue for the RedHawks, who allowed two deflection goals and a one-timer by a loosely-covered Lukosevicius, arguably the best scorer on the team.

Even the empty netter was scored from that area.

Miami battled hard in this game, tying the score at one and cutting a two-goal deficit to one, but the sixth period of the weekend at altitude ultimately spelled the RedHawks’ demise.

— Normally a 1-1 weekend at the seventh-ranked team in Division I would be considered a victory, and it is to a large degree, but because Miami has dug itself such a deep hole in the standings, it needed more than three points for any chance at home ice for the playoffs.

With that decided, at least the RedHawks know for sure they will be packing their bags for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the only question remaining is where they will be heading.

Miami’s River Rymsha (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

River Rymsha dished out a solid hit in the closing seconds and was chased down by Slava Demin as the horn sounded, but little came from it.

After review, Rymsha was assessed a major and game misconduct for a supposed hit to the head that even the homer Denver broadcasters didn’t see.

According to the broadcasters on Altitude Network, Miami coach Enrico Blasi was initially confrontational with DU coach David Carle before his handshake, though that was not shown.

On replay, it appeared the skater’s head dropped down as he wound up for a hard dump-in. Going full speed, there’s no way Rymsha could’ve known that or reacted to it in time.

Someone ask Rymsha how he feels about replay, since this is the second time he gotten 5-and-10 for a hit none of the four officials saw live and he’s now one misconduct away from a one-game suspension.

Typically don’t like to call out college broadcasting, but DU’s on-air team on Altitude was defending Demin for running Rymsha because the hit was late in the game. So a player is supposed to get a free pass because of how much time is left?

Why not just call the game when the margin reaches three goals?

— While we’re on the subject, Altitude did refer to Bray Crowder, who is 6-feet-6, as the second-tallest skater on Miami. That is correct.

The tallest? That would be Alec Mahalak at 6-9.

That’s even more hilarious considering the box score from Denver had Andrew Sinard – the RedHawks’ actual tallest player at 6-7 – listed as on the ice for two goals against when Mahalak was actually out there.

Altitude also kept referring to Miami’s recent winless streak as being 11 games, which is very polite but inaccurate. The RedHawks lost 11 games during an 0-11-4 stretch.

That’s 15 games. Eleven was also in the game notes, which is likely where they got that info.

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LINEUP CHANGES: Only one from Friday: Crowder was back from his upper-body injury. He missed two games.

As a result, Carter Johnson did not dress as Miami went with seven defensemen.

STANDINGS: At 5-13-2 in league play, Miami is in seventh place in the NCHC, one point ahead of Omaha and three behind sixth-place Colorado College.

St. Cloud State clinched the league regular season title this weekend, so the No. 8 seed will head there.

UMD and Western Michigan will likely finish in the two and three spots, so there’s a good chance the RedHawks travel to one of those two campuses for the conference tournament.

MU is tied for No. 35 in the PairWise rankings.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Four games remain in the regular season – two away, two at home – and at this point it’s all about getting ready for the postseason.

The road win on Friday was definitely nice but Miami needs to play better for 60 minutes if it hopes to advance to St. Paul next month.

Speaking of Minnesota, the RedHawks are off to their favorite home away from home next week: UMD.

But what a statement MU could make if it could pull off a win or two in its final road series of the regular season against the No. 3 team in Division I, where Miami is winless in its last 11.

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About rednblackhawks

I've been writing about hockey since the late 1990s. First it was the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and the Cincinnati Cyclones for the Cincinnati Post, and most recently with WCPO and the Blog of Brotherhood online.

Posted on February 24, 2019, in 2018-19, Denver Pioneers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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