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Miami holds off late WMU surge

OXFORD, Ohio – In its final regular-season meeting against No. 10 Western Michigan, Miami finally earned its first win of 2016-17 vs. the Broncos – barely.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Thanks to Josh Melnick’s two-goal performance, the RedHawks took a three-goal lead into the third period and held on for a 4-3 victory at Cady Arena on Friday, as they wrap up their pre-playoff slate 1-3 against WMU.

Miami (9-11-6) took the lead just 1:38 into the game on the power play when Grant Hutton and Gordie Green traded passes at the blue line, and Hutton whipped a hard wrist shot that found the net.

But just 21 seconds later, the Broncos (14-7-3) tied it when a Colt Conrad corralled a missed WMU shot at the side of the net, wrapped around the cage and shoved it across the goal line.

With 17 seconds remaining in the opening period, Miami went ahead for good as Kiefer Sherwood fired a slap pass to Josh Melnick, who tipped it in from the top of the crease on the man advantage.

Melnick extended the lead to two just 1:19 into the middle stanza when he was hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway and converted the ensuing penalty shot, beating goalie Ben Blacker on the forehand after slowing down as he approached the net.

The RedHawks made it 4-1 less than four minutes later. Colin Sullivan fired a pass the length of the ice, which was chased down by Anthony Louis, and Louis dropped a pass to trailer Willie Knierim, who was at the side of the net. Knierim poked at the puck once, and the rebound sat in the crease momentarily before Knierim buried the rebound.

Les than two minutes into the third period, Western Michigan’s Sheldon Dries tipped a blueline pass from Cory Schueneman through the legs of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin, cutting the RedHawks’ lead to two.

Five minutes later, the Broncos’ Neal Goff netted his first goal of the season as his slap shot from the blue line deflected off a Miami skate and into the corner of the net to make it 4-3.

Larkin stopped 44 shots, including one on a blast from the edge of the faceoff circle late in the third period to preserve the lead, for his second-highest save total this season as Miami snapped a four-game winless streak.

It was the second multi-goal game of Melnick’s career. His other one also came this season and at home in a 3-2 win over St. Cloud State on Jan. 6.

Knierim netted his fourth goal of the season, with all coming in his last 13 games. Hutton recorded his sixth marker of the campaign.

The RedHawks moved into sixth place in the NCHC, passing SCSU, which lost on Saturday. Miami moved up two shots to 22nd in the PairWise rankings.

MU is off next week and heads back to the road for a weekend set at St. Cloud State on Feb. 10-11.

Analysis: Miami’s late start costly

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami’s Friday home games normally start at 7:35 p.m.

This week’s series opener was moved up 30 minutes for national TV, but the team apparently didn’t get the memo, as the RedHawks were dominated in the first period of a 2-1 loss to Western Michigan at Cady Arena.

The Broncos were better in every facet of the opening stanza, jumping out to a well-deserved early lead and almost a 2-0 edge, but a goal in the closing seconds of that frame was ultimately declared off-side.

The final 40 minutes were pretty even, but the damage had been done. Both teams scored once in the final two periods, as that slow start and resulting first-period score ended up being the difference.

The shots were 11-2 in favor of WMU midway through that first frame, which included one impotent Miami power play. A second man-advantage late in the period helped the RedHawks generate shots Nos. 3 and 4.

How to view the remainder of the game depends on one’s perspective: Was it a valiant effort to battle back – taking control of parts of the third period – and hang with the No. 10 team in college hockey, or should Miami not have gotten itself into that first-period deficit to begin with?

Unfortunately, after Miami’s three-win start, these final 10 games are too important to merely accept the former. The RedHawks had several paths to the NCAA Tournament – still do, by the way – but after a poor start this team can ill afford hard-fought losses like this one.

Other thoughts…

– The game time of this one was 2:47, the longest for a 60-minute game in recent history. The main reason is the 14-minute delay at the end of the first period, as Miami coach Enrico Blasi challenged a Western Michigan goal that was ultimately deemed off-side. The officiating crew huddled in the penalty box area for several minutes, then possibly due to a monitor issue, shifted to another screen. We should want calls to be correct, and fans should understand the once-in-a-season glitch – if it was indeed that – that caused this huge delay. The question, which was initially raised by someone much smarter, was why they didn’t merely go to intermission and tack the additional 12 seconds onto the second period? If, for example, a pane of glass shatters with a minute left in a period this does happen on occasion in the NHL. Perhaps college hockey doesn’t allow that? We get that the NCHC isn’t going to have the number of HD angles the NHL does, but still, barring issues, five minutes should be the threshold for overturning a call. Or at least send players to the dressing room rather than have them come back on the ice to warm up again.

– Miami has gone two straight games without an even strength or power play goal. It was shut out in its series finale in Omaha last Saturday, and its lone goal in this contest was shorthanded.

– With this loss, the RedHawks are now three games under .500 and need a 7-2 finish if they hope to garner support for an NCAA at-large berth. A 6-3 record with success in the NCHCs could also vault Miami to the Tournament. MU’s strength of schedule is one of the best in college hockey but it still needs to climb into the top 13 or 14 in the PairWise and finish with a winning record.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D. Kiefer Sherwood get into that I’m-taking-over-the-game mode in the third period, and he battled for a loose puck to set up Miami’s lone goal. Other than Karch Bachman creating some late havoc there’s not much positive to be said about this group. Anthony Louis didn’t get back to cover players on multiple occasions.

DEFENSEMEN: C. Belpedio struggled defensively but compensated with his goal. His physical presence is solid, but he is committing way too many turnovers for a captain and No. 1 blueliner. Chaz Switzer, playing for the first time in six weeks, seemed a lot more confident and made a lot of good decisions with the puck in his own zone.

GOALTENDING: B. The first WMU goal was a wrister from the blue line that found its way through, and the second was on a poke from the side of the net. Maybe Larkin could’ve stopped one or both, but he shut down a number of good chances, including a breakaway and a scramble in front of the net during which he was knocked down and still made two shots on high-percentage shots. We say again: Any shortcomings in net have not been because of poor goaltending.

Miami forward Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: Justin Greenberg missed his fourth straight game, and he was seen in the concourse on crutches with a boot on his foot. He barely put pressure on his injured leg. Greenberg has been a solid penalty killer the past couple of seasons, and his absence has forced Miami to use top offensive forwards in that role. That either cuts down their ice time in scoring roles or risks them being overused. Colin Sullivan was listed as a forward, but he was really the seventh defenseman. That was so both Bryce Hatten and Chaz Switzer could be reinserted in the lineup, giving the team seven blueliners. Hatten was played sparingly, and Switzer definitely stepped up his game.

Miami blanked by UNO

Despite putting 30 shots on net, Miami suffered its first shutout of the season on Saturday.

Nebraska-Omaha was outshot, 30-22 but blanked the RedHawks, 2-0 in the series finale at Baxter Arena.

It was the first time Miami (8-10-6) had failed to score a goal in 26 games. The last time it was shut out was on March 4, 2016 at Minnesota-Duluth.

The Mavericks (14-8-4) were able to win without scoring at even strength.

With 1:44 left in the first period and in the closing seconds of a power play, Steven Spinner controlled the puck at the top of the crease and backhanded a pass to a wide-open Frederik Olofsson, who tapped it in to open the scoring.

While the RedHawks were on their own man advantage, defenseman Louie Belpedio lost the puck at his own blue line, and Spinner skated in alone and scored on the backhand with 6:46 to play in the second period.

That was all the offense UNO needed, as Evan Weninger stopped 30 shots to earn the shutout.

Miami's Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami remains in seventh place in the NCHC, but it dropped one spots to 22rd in the PairWise rankings.

Anthony Louis saw his season-high eight-game points streak snapped.

After four straight road games in which the RedHawks went 0-3-1, Miami will host Western Michigan in a pair of games next weekend.

Miami ties yet again vs. UNO

Another tie moved Miami into a tie for the NCHC record for most ties in a season.

The RedHawks played in their ninth overtime contest of the campaign as they skated to a 3-3 draw at Nebraska-Omaha on Friday.

Several teams have finished with six ties since the NCHC’s inception in 2013-14, but Miami has a great chance of establishing a new league mark since it still has 11 games remaining in its regular season.

The NCAA record is 10 stalemates, held by three teams including current conference foes Colorado College and Western Michigan.

The Mavericks (13-8-4) scored twice in a 59-second span midway through the first period.

Steven Spinner whipped a shot from the high slot that appeared to deflect off the skate of the RedHawks’ Ryan Siroky and into the net 9:32 into the game.

Justin Perizek’s shot from the side of the net was stopped by RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin, but the rebound came to Teemu Pulkkinen, who batted it in with 9:29 left in the opening frame.

With 2:47 left in the first period, Anthony Louis fed Louie Belpedio for a one-time blast on the power play as Miami cut the lead in half.

The RedHawks (8-9-6) tied the score at two with 8:16 left in the opening stanza as Scott Dornbrock fired a shot from the blue line that was knocked down in the slot, and Willie Knierim corralled the rebound, wiring one just under the crossbar.

Miami's Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami took its only lead of the game 21 seconds into the third period, as Louis centered a puck to the top of the crease for an off-balance Carson Meyer, who acrobatically tapped the puck home.

On a power-play rush, the Mavericks evened it at three as Austin Ortega fed Jake Randolph at the side of the cage for a one-timer with 6:16 remaining in regulation.

The RedHawks earned the extra point late in overtime as Gordie Green slid a pass to Dornbrock on the left wing, and Dornbrock played the puck off his skate to his stick before burying it.

Meyer finished with a goal and an assist, and Louis also tallied two points – both on helpers. Meyer has points in nine of 10 games since returning from his illness, going 5-7-12 in that stretch.

Louis extended his points streak to a team-best eight games. He has four goals and eight assists during his streak and four multi-point games in his last five contests, giving him 117 points for his career, 35th on the team’s all-time leaderboard.

Miami started the game with three straight power plays, scoring on one, but UNO had six consecutive chances on the man-advantage to end it, netting the tying goal on its fifth chance.

Six ties for the season is one off MU’s all-time record. The team skated to seven draws in 2009-10, the last time it advanced to the Frozen Four.

The RedHawks remain in seventh place in the NCHC but are just two points out third place in the ultra-tight conference.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Miami win streak ends in North Dakota

Miami again trailed, 3-1 after two periods on Saturday, but unlike the night before, there would be no late heroics.

Neither team scored in the final stanza and the RedHawks fell at No. 7 North Dakota by that two-goal margin, splitting the weekend series.

Miami had scored five unanswered goals on Friday to pull off a 6-3 win. The loss snaps a five-game winning streak and six-game unbeaten stretch.

UND got on the board first, as Zach Yon took advantage of a turnover, fed ahead to Dixon Bowen who separated from his defenseman, skated wide toward to net and beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin just 3:00 into the game.

Miami's Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami (8-9-5) answered 44 seconds later, as Josh Melnick stole the puck along the boards and kicked it out to Carson Meyer in the high slot, who threw a pass to Anthony Louis at the side of the net for a one-time tap in.

North Dakota (13-7-3) went ahead for good when Shane Gersich entered the zone and sent a pass to Tyson Jost, who slid one across the slot to Austin Poganski for a tap-in with 11:36 left in the opening frame.

UND scored the final goal shorthanded, as Joel Janatuinen stripped Louis in the Miami defensive zone and dropped a pass to Rhett Gardner, who whipped one past Larkin with 15:47 remaining in the middle stanza.

North Dakota dominated in shots, 34-15, reaching double digits each period while holding the RedHawks to six or fewer in all three frames.

Louis’ goal gives him a seven-point point streak, the longest by any Miami player this season. He now has 115 career points, tied for 35th with Marty Guerin and Bobby Marshall on the all-time list.

Melnick has picked up points in six straight games, with five markers and four assists in that span.

The RedHawks fell into a tie for sixth in the NCHC with St. Cloud – as both have 16 points – and they slipped one spot to 21st in the PairWise rankings.

Miami heads will head to Nebraska-Omaha for two games next weekend.

Miami shocks UND with 5 late goals

The comeback at Ohio State seemed impressive, but Miami topped that on Friday.

After falling behind by two, the RedHawks scored five unanswered goals to beat No. 7 North Dakota, 6-3 at Ralph Engelstad Arena, extending their winning streak to five games and their stretch of unbeaten contests to six.

Miami (8-8-5) was down, 3-1 entering the third period, with its lone goal coming by Gordie Green 3:30 into the game on a shot by Zach Lavelle that deflected off Green’s skate at the side of the net.

Anthony Louis cut the deficit to one just 55 seconds into the final stanza when he slammed a loose puck home from the top of the crease.

The RedHawks tied it 4:03 into that frame when Carson Meyer took a pass on the right wing, skated in alone and backhanded it home.

Thanks to a similar set-up, Karch Bachman got behind the defense at the same spot, took it in and scored on the forehard to make it 4-3 with 12:11 left in regulation.

After a North Dakota (12-7-3) goalie change, Ryan Siroky stickhandled at the top the crease and shoveled one through the five hole with 8:59, extending Miami’s lead to two.

Miami's Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami took advantage of a major power play, as Louie Belpedio ripped one from the blue line to cap off the scoring onslaught with 4:02 to play.

Belpedio ended the night with a game-high three points on a goal and two assists. Louis finished with a marker and a helper, with Kiefer Sherwood and Josh Melnick also adding two points on a pair of assists.

Several RedHawks extended points streaks. Louis and Sherwood have recorded points in six straight, with Louis going 3-6-9 and Sherwood recording a 4-6-10 line in that span.

Louis has three straight multi-point games and moved into a tie with Andy Greene and Andy Cozzi for 37th on the team’s all-time points leaderboard with 114.

Melnick has tallied points in five games in a row, scoring five times and picking up three helpers. Belpedio has six points in three games.

With the win, the RedHawks jumped eight spots in the PairWise to 20th. Miami remains tied for fifth in the NCHC but has two games in hand over St. Cloud State, as both teams have 16 points.

North Dakota and Western Michigan are just one point ahead of the pair.

Miami and UND wrap up the weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Big third keys Miami win over St. Cloud

OXFORD, Ohio – The third period that was the bane of Miami the first half of the season has become the team’s best friend.

From right to left, Kiefer Sherwood, Louie Belpedio and Anthony Louis celebrate during Saturday's win (Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

From right to left, Kiefer Sherwood, Louie Belpedio and Anthony Louis celebrate during Saturday’s win (Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The RedHawks scored three times in the final stanza to secure a 4-1 win over No. 20 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena on Saturday as Miami recorded its first weekend series sweep since last February.

MU also extended its winning streak to four games and is now unbeaten in its last five. The RedHawks had gone 0-7-3 prior to their winning streak.

Miami (7-8-5) tallied its first shorthanded goal of the season midway through the first period when Kiefer Sherwood stole the puck at center ice, skated in and buried a shot on the far side just under the crossbar.

The score remained 1-0 until the crucial third period. Sherwood double clutched before threading a pass through two defenders and onto the tape of Gordie Green, who scored from the side of the net with 18:58 left in regulation.

The Huskies (9-10-1) cut the MU lead in half with 6:02 to play when Jimmy Schuldt left a drop pass for Jake Wahlin, who wired one past RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin.

But Miami regained its two-goal lead 72 seconds later when a power-play blast from the blue line by Louie Belpedio was tipped home by Josh Melnick, making it 3-1.

Grant Hutton intercepted the puck, skated in uncontested and tapped home the RedHawks’ final goal with 43 seconds left.

Miami had scored nine third-period goals in its first 16 games but has netted 11 in its past four contests and at least two in each game during its winning streak.

Melnick extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with five in that span. Sherwood has four markers in his last four contests.

Sherwood finished with a goal and an assist, giving him points in five straight and eight during his streak. Anthony Louis picked up a season-high two helpers and also had a five-game point streak (2-5-7).

That gives Louis 112 points for his career, tying him for 39th on the team’s all-time career leaderboard with Pete Shipman and Rob Vanderydt.

Larkin stopped 28 shots to earn his third consecutive victory.

The win moved Miami into a tie for fifth with the Huskies in the NCHC standings with 13 points, and the RedHawks are just one behind fourth-place Western Michigan.

MU jumped one spot to 28th in the PairWise Rankings.

The RedHawks’ next four games will be on the road. They will travel to North Dakota next weekend for two games and head to Nebraska-Omaha the following weekend for a pair.

Melnick’s late 2 lift Miami over St. Cloud

OXFORD, Ohio – The Mel Man definitely delivers late.

Josh Melnick scored the tying and game-winning goals – with the latter coming in overtime – both on a power play stemming from a major penalty as Miami edged out No. 20 St. Cloud State, 3-2 at Cady Arena on Friday.

Miami's Josh Melnick (37) bangs home the game-winning goal in overtime (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Josh Melnick (37) bangs home the game-winning goal in overtime (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Melnick had scored one goal in the first 16 games of the season but has found the net in three straight, with four tallies overall in that stretch. It was also the first multi-goal game of the sophomore’s career.

The game was scoreless until 6:13 remained in the second period, when the Huskies’ Mikey Eyssimont corralled a loose puck in the slot and fed Patrick Newell on the side of the net, and after RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin denied the initial point-blank backhander by Newell, Eyssimont was there at the side of the net to jam home the rebound.

The goal by St. Cloud State (9-9-1) was the only marker of the contest until the final nine minutes of regulation and overtime, which more than made up for the first 51 low-scoring minutes.

Miami’s Carson Meyer tried to put a shot on from a bad angle, but it hit a sliding defender. The puck bounced right back to Meyer at the side of the net, and he centered one to Anthony Louis in the slot, and Louis buried the one-timer through the five hole to tie it with 8:14 remaining.

After the RedHawks’ Colin Sullivan was assessed a minor for cross checking, Eyssimont sent a cross-ice pass to Jacob Benson, who ripped one off the post. The rebound popped into the air and hit the chest of teammate Blake Winiecki, who tapped the puck in to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead with 2:59 remaining.

Thirty-four seconds later, Benson was kicked out of the game for contact to the head of Meyer for an open-ice hit.

And Melnick took it from there.

An offensive-zone pass by Kiefer Sherwood hit a St. Cloud State skate and came back to Sherwood, who threaded a pass through traffic to a wide-open Melnick at the side of the net, and Melnick hammered it home to tie the score on a 6-on-4 with 56 seconds left in regulation.

At the 1:23 mark of overtime, Louis put a close-range shot on net, and the rebound popped out to Melnick, who made a quick toe drag before whipping the puck into the cage to win it.

It was the third straight win for Miami (6-8-5) following an 0-7-3 stretch, and the RedHawks are now unbeaten in their last four – their longest such span since last January.

They have gone to overtime in eight of their 19 contests, winning three and tying the other five.

Since its lowest point, Miami has climbed 11 spots in the PairWise rankings – used to determine NCAA Tournament seeding – to 29th, and while MU remains in seventh place in the NCHC, it is just two points behind Nebraska-Omaha and three back of SCSU with a chance to tie the Huskies with a win on Saturday.

Melnick has five points during his current three-game points streak (4-1-5) and has three multi-point games in his last six.

Louis finished with a goal and an assist, giving him points in four consecutive contests (2-3-5). He moved into solo control of 42nd place on Miami’s all-time points leaderboard with 110, passing former long-time NHLer Brian Savage.

Meyer has the longest points streak on the team at six games, going 3-5-8 since coming back from an illness. He has recorded a helper in four straight.

Ryan Larkin stopped 29 shots to earn the win for Miami.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Miami scores 3 late to edge CC

OXFORD, Ohio – It took three late unanswered goals, including an overtime winner by Josh Melnick, but Miami’s winless streak is finally over.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The RedHawks rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and ultimately topped Colorado College, 3-2 in the extra session at Cady Arena on Saturday.

That snapped a string of 10 straight games without a win for Miami, its longest such span since 1991. It was also the RedHawks’ first NCHC victory of the season.

The Tigers (3-12-1) took the lead 4:47 into the game when Alex Berardinelli went in on a breakaway and beat Miami goalie Chase Munroe.

Midway through the second period, Nick Halloran and Berardinelli had a 2-on-0, and Berardinelli was initially denied by Munroe but recovered the puck, skated behind the net and centered to Mason Bergh in the slot for a one-time goal, making it 2-0.

Miami (4-8-5) had been held scoreless for 111 minutes until the 10:02 mark of the third period, when Karch Bachman dumped a self-pass into the corner, skated behind the net and centered to Willie Knierim, who poked it past goalie Alex Leclerc to cut the lead in half.

The RedHawks tied it less than four minutes later. Anthony Louis whipped a wrister on net that was blocked at the top of the crease, and the puck bounced to Josh Melnick. Leclerc made a spectacular toe save to deny Josh Melnick, but the puck slid to the side of the net, where Kiefer Sherwood slammed it home on a delayed penalty.

Ninety-four seconds into overtime, Carson Meyer threw one toward the net, and it hit off Melnick, who batted it into the net on the short side to win it.

Melnick and Sherwood both finished with two points on a goal and an assist apiece. Melnick has five points in his last four games and Sherwood recorded three points on the weekend.

Meyer picked up a helper and owns a team-best four-game point streak. Louis notched his 107th career point and moved into a tie for 44th with Blake Coleman on the RedHawks’ all-time scoring leaderboard.

Goalie Chase Munroe turned 18 shots aside to earn his first collegiate victory.

It was the first win for Miami since Oct. 28 – which also came in overtime. The RedHawks moved into solo control of seventh place in the conference.

Miami is off the next two weekends and resumes play at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 at Ohio State in the back end of a home-and-home series. The teams tied when they met in Oxford on Oct. 15.

Miami skid reaches 25-year low

For the second straight night, Miami fell a goal short, and for the ninth straight game, the RedHawks came away without a win.

Miami dropped a 2-1 decision at Cornell on Saturday and is now mired in its longest winning drought in a quarter century, as the RedHawks are 0-7-2 since their last victory, which came on Oct. 28.

The last time Miami (3-8-4) suffered through a skid this long was in 1990-1991, when the RedHawks played 17 consecutive winless games.

The Big Red took the lead 10:53 into the first period when Dan Wedman whipped a shot from just inside the blue line over the shoulder of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin.

Cornell (7-3-1) made it 2-0 just 98 seconds into the middle period when a shot from along the wall was tipped by Jake Weidner, popped over Larkin and into the net.

The RedHawks’ lone goal came exactly three minutes into the third period. Josh Melnick won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Grant Frederic, who threw the puck off the end boards, and the carom was backhanded in by Carson Meyer.

Meyer has scored in both games since returning from an illness.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Frederic earned his third assist of the season and Melnick picked up his third helper of the weekend.

Miami outshot Cornell, 12-3 in the third period – and 26-20 overall, leading the Big Red in that department for the second straight night – but was unable to pull even.

The RedHawks were swept in a weekend series for the third time this season. Entering this weekend, MU had lost just one one-goal game, but in addition the slim losing margin in this game, it suffered a 4-3 defeat on Friday.

The RedHawks return home and will face Colorado College next Friday and Saturday at 7:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., respectively. Those will be Miami’s last home games of the calendar year.