Category Archives: NCHC

St. Cloud sinks Miami in playoff opener

Miami has seen enough of the Poehling brothers.

The threesome combined for five points as the RedHawks fell, 5-2 at No. 1 St. Cloud State in Game 1 of a best-of-3 series on Friday, setting up a potential clinching game for the Huskies.

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

After Miami fell behind by two in the first period, the RedHawks twice cut the deficit to one but St. Cloud State pulled away with a pair of unanswered goals in the final frame.

River Rymsha led MU with a goal and an assist.

RECAP: Just 3:43 into the game, Nick Poehling tipped in a blue-line wrister by Jack Ahcan to give the Huskies the early lead.

SCSU (28-4-3) made it 2-0 with 2:25 left in the opening stanza on the power play when a Huskies pass pinballed off skates in the slot and ended up on the stick of Robby Jackson at the side of the net for an easy tap-in.

Miami (11-22-4) finally got on the board with 8:42 left in the second period when Alec Mahalak threw a puck at the net and it hit off Ben Lown at the side of the cage and went in.

St. Cloud regained its two-goal advantage three minutes later when Ryan Poehling shoveled home a pass from Jack Poehling in the slot. It was an all-Poehling goal as Nick Poehling picked up the secondary assist.

A Rymsha blast from just inside the blueline found its mark 34 seconds into the third period, again trimming the RedHawks’ deficit to one.

But the Huskies made it 4-2 less than four minutes later when Ahcan carried the puck behind the net and shielded it as he skated to the faceoff circle, where he wristed it inside the far post.

Easton Brodzinski sealed it by slamming home a one-timer on a 2-on-2 break with under four minutes left in regulation.

STATS: It was the sixth straight game in which Miami has allowed four or more goals and the fourth consecutive contest in which a RedHawks opponent scored at least five times.

Miami’s Ben Lown (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— MU has allowed at least one goal in 14 periods in a row.

— Lown scored in his second straight game for the first time in his career. He had just two markers the first 35 games.

— It was Rymsha’s second career multi-point game.

THOUGHTS: Miami played well the first few minutes but the St. Cloud State goal killed the RedHawks’ momentum.

And when MU was down two in the second period, the team really wasn’t playing well when Lown scored his goal.

Miami did fight back again by clipping the lead to one, 3-2 in the opening moments of the third period but ultimately talent won out and the Huskies pulled away.

— RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin stopped 32 of 37 shots for a pedestrian .865 save percentage, but tips in front of the net accounted for two SCSU goals and he was hung out to dry the last one.

He probably should’ve stopped the Ahcan goal but made several key saves to keep Miami in the game, and the second one was unlucky, as a loose puck hit a skate in the slot and kicked straight to the SCSU scorer.

Larkin deserved a better fate than a ‘5’ in the GA column.

LINEUP CHANGES: Miami went with seven defensemen, as Rourke Russell returned after sitting out last Saturday for the first time this season.

Forward Christian Mohs also dressed after missing the regular season finale vs. WMU.

Out were Fs Carter Johnson and Zach LaValle.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was more of an example of St. Cloud State being really, really good than Miami being really, really bad.

The Poehlings, Ahcan and Brodzinski are all going to be excellent pros and Miami had little answer for the Huskies’ skilled skaters.

That’s why the 2-16-4 stretch heading into the playoffs was so detrimental for the RedHawks: They have to face the best team in Division I on the road to open the postseason.

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Preview: Miami at St. Cloud State

St. Cloud State is the top-ranked team in Division I with just four losses this season.

The Huskies are unbeaten at home, going 15-0-1 and have won seven straight games overall.

Now Miami must go into the Herb Brooks Center and beat the top-ranked team in Division I two out of three just to advance to the NCHC semifinals if the RedHawks hope to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

BoB takes a look at Miami’s opening-round series in the NCHC Tournament:

WHO: Miami RedHawks (11-21-4) at No. 1 St. Cloud State Huskies (27-4-3).

WHEN: Friday – 8:07 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) – 7:07 p.m.

WHERE: Herb Brooks Center (5,159), St. Cloud, Minn.

ALL-TIME SERIES: St. Cloud State leads, 18-17-4.

ST. CLOUD STATE RADIO: All games – KZRV-FM (96.7) and KVSC-FM (88.1), St. Cloud. Minn.

MIAMI RADIO: WBKV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

TV: Friday and Saturday – FSN North (DirecTV Ch. 668).

NOTES: It’s the second straight season these teams have met in the first round of the conference tournament in this building, and Miami took St. Cloud State to overtime of Game 3 in 2017-18.

The RedHawks, as an eight seed, also beat the Huskies in this round in 2013-14, with Justin Greenberg scoring the clinching goal in the final seconds of the third period.

So Miami has some positive playoff history vs. SCSU heading into this weekend, but the Huskies have been dominant this season – especially at home – and the RedHawks have won just two games since mid-November.

St. Cloud State has outscored its opponents, 137-73 this season, and six Huskies skaters have recorded at least 30 points.

SCSU flipped the all-time series this season, taking a half-game lead after going 2-0-2 vs. the RedHawks in 2018-19.

Patrick Newell leads the team in goals (19) and points (41), notching 22 assists, and a team-high plus-28 rating and six game winners.

Robbie Jackson leads the team in shots with 104, and he has scored 15 times and picked up helpers on 19 others for 34 points.

Blake Lizotte also has 34 points on 13 goals and 21 assists, and first-round pick Ryan Poehling is 7-23-30.

That’s the forward leaders. Two SCSU defensemen have at least 30 points: Jimmy Schult and Jack Ahcan.

Schult has been all-world this season, as the third-year captain has racked up nine goals and 22 assists for 31 points.

Ahcan has four goals, a team-best 26 assists and a plus-27 rating.

In net, David Hrenak has been the starter most of the season, going 20-3-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average but just a .907 save percentage.

But Jeff Smith has played in two of the Huskies’ last three games and has a 2.01 GAA and .923 save percentage.

Miami enters this series having lost five in a row, and the RedHawks were outscored, 26-11 in that stretch.

The RedHawks have lost in this round three straight seasons.

Miami secures last in NCHC with loss

OXFORD, Ohio – The preseason NCHC poll picked Miami to finish last in the conference.

The RedHawks proved those voters correct as No. 12 Western Michigan pounded them 6-1 at Cady Arena on Saturday, sealing eighth place in the eight-team league.

Miami (11-21-4) actually tied Omaha for the bottom spot but lost the tiebreaker. The RedHawks will head to St. Cloud State next weekend in a best-of-3 NCHC Tournament opening-round series.

Wade Allison recorded a hat trick and added an assist, and Colt Conrad ended the night with a goal and three helpers to pace the Broncos (20-13-1).

RECAP: Just 57 seconds in, Allison stole the puck at his own blue line, setting up a 2-on-1 as he tapped home a return feed from Dawson DiPietro.

With 6:06 left in the opening period, WMU’s Colt Conrad threw a hard pass from the top of the faceoff circle to DiPietro, who tipped it in from the side of the crease on the power play to extend the Broncos’ lead to two.

Western Michigan’s Ethen Frank made it 3-0 when he skated into the zone on the right wing and ripped a shot past goalie Ryan Larkin from the top of the faceoff circle five minutes into the second period.

The Broncos scored each of the next two goals 12 seconds into power plays.

Miami’s Ben Lown (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Conrad held the puck in on a clearing attempt, drove the net and whipped it under the crossbar with 12:24 left in the second period, and Allison held the puck behind the Miami net, maneuvered the puck onto the end of his stick and threw it around the net and in to make it 5-0 with six minutes left in the that frame.

Ben Lown scored Miami’s lone goal on a laser from the high slot that snuck inside the far post three minutes into the third period, but a faceoff-dot wrister from Allison capped the scoring 57 seconds later.

STATS: It was Lown’s first goal in 21 games and the first assist for Knies in 17 contests.

— Miami was outshot, 25-9 the first two periods.

— The RedHawks allowed three power play goals on five chances and were 0-for-3 themselves on the man advantage with just two shots.

— Opponents have scored 25 goals in Miami’s last five games.

THOUGHTS: Nothing to see here: Western Michigan scored in the opening minute and sent a number of fans to the exits by the end of the second period with a five-goal lead.

At least Friday created the illusion of being close for the first two periods.

Ticket face value for these games was $25 each, and in terms of bang for the entertainment buck, this weekend rated lower than Howard the Duck.

Mike Babcock and other have famously said that it takes no skill to kill penalties.

Regardless of any talent disparity, Miami’s PK has been abysmal for quite a while, and a poor penalty kill has been directly proportional to the RedHawks’ overall struggles.

Miami finished the regular season 59th out of 60 in the NCAA in at 73.5 percent. During the RedHawks’ final 24 games they were 65.8 percent on the PK and 61.8 percent over their last 10 contests.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D-. Not much positive other than the Lown goal. An undisciplined offensive-zone penalty by Casey Gilling penalty ended up in the Miami net 12 seconds later. Like Friday, Miami’s top forwards had very few shots, and no one up front had more than two SOG.

DEFENSEMEN: D. Not many highlights here except a couple of big Grant Hutton hits. Liked the play from the big guys – Bray Crowder and Andrew Sinard.

GOALTENDING: D. There were a couple of shots Larkin had no chance on but others were stoppable. Overall he finished 20 of 25 (.800). Jordan Uhelski was 6-for-7 (.857) in relief.

LINEUP CHANGES: Rourke Russell was scratched for the first time this season, as Sinard replaced him.

Up front Carter Johnson dressed and Christian Mohs sat.

STANDINGS: At 5-17-2, Miami finished last in the NCHC for the second straight season and was seventh in 2016-17. As a result, the RedHawks will head to the road for the first round of the league tournament for the fourth straight season.

Both MU and Omaha ended the regular season with 18 points, but the tiebreaker came down to goal differential in head-to-head games, and the Mavericks outscored the RedHawks by one in their four meetings, 11-10.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami went 3-12-1 to end the 2013-14 regular season and finished last in the conference, setting up a series at top-seeded St. Cloud State.

The RedHawks swept the Huskies on a clinching goal by Justin Greenberg in the closing seconds of Game 2 and came within a goal of winning the NCHC championship.

So there is hope.

But it would’ve been nice to see an inkling of improvement from this team in the waning games of the regular season, and it never happened.

Five straight losses and a woeful 2-16-4 record since mid-November.

It would be quite a story if the RedHawks could somehow advance to the Frozen Faceoff with their resume.

Western Michigan hammers Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami hung with No. 12 Western Michigan for the first two periods, but an early Broncos surge in the final frame sealed the RedHawks’ fate.

WMU scored twice in the first three minutes of the third period and three times overall in that stanza en route to a 5-1 win over Miami at Cady Arena on Friday, handing the RedHawks their fourth straight loss.

Colt Conrad finished with a goal and two assists and Trevor Gorsuch stopped 22 shots to pace the Broncos (19-13-1).

RECAP: WMU’s Jade McMullen carried the puck along the boards before sending a one-time pass to Corey Schueneman, who ripped it by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin to open the scoring 9:11 into the game.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Conrad extended the Broncos’ lead 3:41 into the second period when he skated across the blue line on a 3-on-2 rush and wired a shot past Larkin on the power play.

Phil Knies cut the RedHawks’ deficit to one on a one-timer from the right wing faceoff circle off a pass by Brian Hawkinson that snuck through Gorsuch with 6:04 left in the middle frame.

But Lawton Courtnall batted home a loose puck in the slot to make it 3-1 WMU at the 1:53 mark of the third period, and 41 seconds later, Cam Lee stole the puck in the offensive puck and centered one to a streaking Dawson DiPietro, who directed the puck into the net.

Wade Allison tapped in an empty netter with 6:29 left to seal it.

STATS: Knies scored his sixth goal of the season and his third in the last six games.

— Hawkinson’s assist extended his points streak to four games, the longest of his career.

Jonathan Gruden also picked up a helper on that goal and has points in three straight contests.

— Miami has struggled mightily in the third period, as the RedHawks have been outscored, 20-4 in the final 20 minutes of their last 12 games.

— MU reached the 20-loss mark for the third straight season.

THOUGHTS: This was not an entertaining game to watch.

Western Michigan really didn’t play that well. Miami (11-20-4) was awful.

There was no flow. Icings and faceoffs halted play continuously in the opening minutes, and there were so many penalties in the second period the referees’ arms needed to be iced down at intermission from all the delayed calls.

It was 2-1 for about eight minutes and Miami did lead in shots through 40 minutes but it never really felt like the RedHawks had a chance.

Too many turnovers, no transition, trouble completing passes, substandard compete level, mediocre goaltending, weak power play isn’t going to win many games in the NCHC.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D. This corps simply didn’t create enough quality scoring chances and finished with 13 shots by 13 skaters. Knies scored but that line went minus-5. Josh Melnick: 2 shots. Gordie Green: 1 shot. Karch Bachman: 0 shots.

DEFENSEMEN: C-. Generated some shots but most were low percentage from the outside. More turnovers than usual, especially along the wall. Derek Daschke did have SOG and Grant Hutton four.

GOALTENDING: D-. Larkin should’ve stopped the first two goals, as they were from outside with no traffic, as both beat him to the glove side. The third was kind of fluky, the fourth was on a net crashing situation and the fifth was an empty netter. He made 19 saves for an .826 save percentage.

LINEUP CHANGES: Scott Corbett returned up front but did not look 100 percent. He missed the last four games with an upper-body injury.

Christian Mohs was also back in the lineup after sitting for the last two.

Out were Carter Johnson – who scored last Saturday – and defenseman Andrew Sinard as the RedHawks went with 13 forwards rather than the usual seven defensemen.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The point of this weekend was to play better hockey and build momentum heading into the postseason.

This game did nothing to move toward that goal.

UMD tops Miami on two late goals

Both teams scored five times in the first two periods.

But a Kobe Roth goal with 13:17 left in regulation was the difference maker in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth’s 6-5 win over Miami on Saturday.

In a crazy game that saw the Bulldogs score twice in the first 90 seconds and ultimately fall behind by a goal in the second period, UMD (21-9-2) completed a four-game season series sweep of the RedHawks.

MU dropped its third straight game and is 0-11-2 in its last 13 games on the Bulldogs’ home ice.

RECAP: Just 86 seconds into the game, the Bulldogs led by two thanks to a pair of Nick Wolff goals scored on outside shots, 23 seconds apart.

Miami’s Jonathan Gruden (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami (11-19-4) went on a two-man advantage and powered home a pair of quick goals of their own, tying it on markers scored 55 second apart.

Josh Melnick whipped a wrister home from the high slot on the 5-on-3, and Jonathan Gruden grabbed a rebound off a Grant Hutton shot and backhanded it home to tie the score at the 5:42 mark of the opening stanza.

Riley Tufte tipped home a slap pass from the edge of the crease on the power play to give Minnesota-Duluth a 3-2 lead with 10:30 left in the first frame.

The RedHawks again answered with a man-advantage goal of their own, as Hutton ripped a shot from the high inside edge of the faceoff circle that found its mark with 3:34 left in the first period.

A blue line blast by Dylan Samberg put UMD ahead by one again, 4-3 less than three minutes into the middle stanza, but Gordie Green tied it for Miami with a one-timer from the slot off a centering feed by Ryan Siroky along the boards.

RedHawks forward Carter Johnson stole the puck behind the Bulldogs’ net, wrapped around and poked it into the net less than two minutes later to give the RedHawks their only lead.

But with 20 seconds left in the second period, Parker Mackay cleaned up a rebound off a blue line wrist shot by Scott Perunovich to tie the score at five.

The game winner also was scored on a rebound, as Roth banged home a Billy Exell shot from the side of the net 6:43 into the third period.

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

STATS: Hutton finished with a goal and two assists, tying his career high in points. It was his fourth-ever three-point game.

— Melnick and Green both found the net and picked up a helper. Green snapped a five-game goalless streak and Melnick recorded his third tally in five games.

With 107 career points, Melnick moved into a tie with Blake Coleman for 45th on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

— Gruden broke out of a 12-game skid without a marker, and Johnson scored for the first time since opening night.

— The RedHawks were 3-for-5 on the power play, scoring three times on the man advantage for the first time since Jan. 12, 2018 in an 11-7 loss at Omaha.

Miami also gave up two PPGs on four chances. MU is 15 of 24 on the penalty kill in its last eight games, a clip of 62.5 percent.

— The RedHawks generated just 19 shots and have failed to put up more than 22 shots in five consecutive contests. They have been outshot by 94 in that span, or 19 shots per game.

THOUGHTS: Miami played much better overall than on Friday, especially considering the RedHawks went down two within the first 90 seconds.

MU was assisted by a 5-on-3 later in the first period, as the team scored twice to tie it.

The RedHawks actually led heading into the final minute of the second period but ultimately two Minnesota-Duluth rebound goals in the final stanza were the difference.

As tough as Miami has had it at Amsoil Arena, it’s looking more likely the RedHawks return there for their first-round NCHC Tournament series again.

MU has gone to Duluth two of the previous three years for the best-of-3 and its season has ended there both times.

— Gruden seems to be heating up at the right time. He made a highlight-reel pass to set up Phil Knies‘ goal on Friday and scored one of his own in this game.

— Funny how a game with the same officials as Friday played about at an equal level physically sees these teams combine for nine power play chances after racking up only two in the series opener.

Even the UMD broadcasters were commenting on that and how calls against both teams that weren’t made on Friday were minors on Saturday.

Miami and UMD combined to go 6-for-11 on the man advantage for the weekend (54.5 percent).

Jordan Uhelski made the start and allowed six goals on 39 shots. It wasn’t one of his better games, and Ryan Larkin was not in top form on Friday.

LINEUP CHANGES: River Rymsha was back in the lineup after serving his league-imposed one-game suspension. He replaced Noah Jordan.

The only other move was Uhelski in net for Larkin.

STANDINGS: At 5-15-2 in the NCHC, Miami is locked into a seven or eight seed.

The RedHawks are tied with Omaha for seventh place but are technically behind the Mavericks because they lose the tiebreaker, which is goal differential in head-to-head meetings (UNO has outscored Miami, 12-11 in their four meetings).

MU is six points behind sixth-place Colorado College but cannot win the tiebreaker vs. the Tigers because of a 1-3 head-to-head mark.

St. Cloud State has locked up the No. 1 seed, and if the season ended today that’s where Miami would head. Minnesota-Duluth is likely to finish second, as the Bulldogs are four points ahead of Denver.

One of those three teams will host Miami in two weeks. SCSU is No. 1 in the PairWise, UMD is third and Denver sixth.

The RedHawks host Western Michigan next week while Omaha travels to North Dakota.

MU is No. 34 in the PairWise.

FINAL THOUGHTS: One weekend left in the regular season and all that’s left to decide is where Miami will head for the NCHC Tournament.

For whatever reason the RedHawks have had more success in Denver than Duluth or St. Cloud, but Denver is also the least likely opponent for Miami, as the Pioneers would have to rally from four points down to catch UMD.

However, Duluth heads to St. Cloud State next week while Denver hosts Colorado College.

Miami needs a strong finish to its regular season against Western Michigan next week to carry some confidence into the postseason.

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.

Miami’s Larkin steals one in Denver

Despite being outshot by more than a 2-to-1 ratio, Miami won its first game at No. 7 Denver in four years, largely thanks to a pair of Ryans.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Ryan Larkin stopped 46 shots and Ryan Siroky recorded his first career multi-goal game, scoring twice in the RedHawks’ 3-1 win over the Pioneers at Magness Arena on Friday.

Miami (11-16-4) snapped an eight-game road winless streak and gave the RedHawks their first winning streak since November.

MU’s last win on DU’s home ice came on Feb. 27, 2015.

RECAP: The RedHawks took the lead just 3:08 into the game when Siroky reached out with his stick and redirected a blueline pass from Alec Mahalak into the net with one hand from the side of the net.

Siroky scored again 1:53 into the second period when River Rymsha threw a puck at the net from the blue line and he was able to tip it home from the top of the crease.

Only 47 seconds later, Miami extended the lead to three when Karch Bachman eluded a defender at the faceoff dot, cut to the slot and backhanded one in on the glove side.

Ian Mitchell snuck a wrist shot in from the blue line to give Denver (16-8-4) its only goal just 55 seconds after the RedHawks had made it 3-0.

Miami’s Ryan Siroky (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

STATS: Larkin’s 46 saves were the second most of his career. His highest total was against Denver on Nov. 19, 2016 when he stopped 49 shots. He also turned 44 shots aside vs. the Pioneers last season.

— Siroky netted his sixth and seventh goals of the season, giving him as many tallies as his freshman, sophomore and junior years combined.

It was his second career multi-point game, with the other coming Jan. 5 at Providence.

— Bachman and Derek Daschke also finished with two points, with both of Daschke’s coming on assists.

Both have three points in two games, as does Josh Melnick, who notched a helper.

THOUGHTS: This was a case of the goalie proverbially stealing one on the road, as Larkin made a couple of highlight-reel saves in the first period.

Denver pretty much dominated in every other category and seemed to control the puck the entire game.

But winning on the road is tough, especially against highly-ranked teams, especially at altitude and especially when a team has not done so in over three months.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Siroky is really thriving around the net, as he scored his first goal while practically falling away from the play and the second on a beautiful deflected in the slot.

— Bachman’s goal – the only one for either team not scored off a shot or pass from the blue line – snapped a 13-game drought for the junior and will hopefully boost his confidence. He has been streaky this season and is starting to heat up.

— That shot discrepancy looks even worse when you consider Miami had six shots on the power play vs. one for Denver. That means when the RedHawks were not on the man-advantage, they were outshot, 46-15.

The RedHawks did not score on the power play and the Pioneers scored their lone 5-on-4.

Miami’s Brian Hawkinson (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: The week off came at a good time for Miami.

Brian Hawkinson was back in the lineup after missing four games due to an upper-body injury, but Scott Corbett was mysteriously scratched for the third time this season.

Bray Crowder made the trip but did not dress, as he sat for the second straight game with an upper-body injury.

It was Larkin’s fourth straight game in net for the RedHawks.

FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s something about Denver that brings out the best in Miami, at least on the scoresheet.

This is a good experience for the RedHawks, who won a critical road game against a more skilled opponent.

That’s the situation they will face when the NCHC Tournament starts, as they will almost certainly be facing a top-10 team away from home in a best-of-3.

Preview: Miami at Denver

Miami snapped its 15-game winless streak two weeks ago.

Next on the RedHawks’ checklist is ending an 0-6-2 skid away from Cady Arena.

And Denver has been somewhat vulernable lately, winning just two of its last six.

BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:

WHO: Miami RedHawks (10-16-4) at No. 7 Denver Pioneers (16-7-4).

WHERE: Magness Arena (3,642), Denver, Colo.

WHEN: Both games – 9:07 p.m.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 14-11-3.

TV: Saturday – Altitude Network (DirecTV Ch. 681).

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

DENVER RADIO: Both nights – KKFN-FM (104.3), Denver, Colo.

NOTES: Denver has struggled to find the net recently, resulting in a 2-3-2 stretch during the meat grinder portion of its NCHC slate.

The Pioneers have been held to eight goals in their last six games after scoring at nearly a three-and-a-half goal clip the first half of the season.

Liam Findlay hasn’t had any problem producing offensive for DU, as he leads the team with 27 points, including a Pioneers-best 15 assists.

A freshman, Emilio Pettersen, is tops in assists with 17 to go along with six goals for 23 points.

Jarid Lukosevicius and Cole Guttman are both in double-digits in goals with 13 and eight, respectively, and Brett Stapley has been another key contributor up front for the Pioneers with five goals and 12 helpers.

Denver’s defense corps moves the puck well and is solid in its own end.

Ian Mitchell has 13 assists as well as three goals to pace the blueliners, and Slava Demin has scored four times and chipped in nine assists.

Michael Davies is also in double digits in points with 11, and senior Lester Lancaster has four tallies.

The Pioneers have battled injury problems in net this season, but Denver has still been solid in net and it appears both of its starters are finally healthy.

Devin Cooley has the better overall numbers this far, with a 1.93 goals-against average and a save percentage of .934. Filip Larsson’s GAA is 2.43 and his save percentage is .918.

DU hasn’t been particularly impressive on special teams, with a 16.0 percent rate on the power play and a penalty kill clip of 80.4. But the Pioneers are disciplined, as opponents have just 103 man-advantage opportunities in 2018-19.

Miami has matchup well against Denver in recent years, earning a tie and a win vs. the Pioneers last season and tying them twice in Magness Arena when DU was No. 1 in early 2016-17.

Recently, the RedHawks have struggled to score and prevent opponents from doing so. They have scored two goals or fewer in eight of their last nine games, including three shutouts, and in 11 of 12 contests Miami has surrendered at least three markers.

Close again but Miami falls to WMU

Once again No. 20 Miami felt short by the slimmest of margins.

The RedHawks lost by one for the second straight night, 3-2 at No. 14 Western Michigan on Saturday after dropping a one-goal decision the night before.

Miami (9-9-4) fell to the .500 mark for the first time since the start of the season and are winless in their last eight, going 0-4-4.

Matthias Samuelsson fired in the game winner from the high slot early in the third period after Western Michigan had taken two previous one-goal leads, only to have Miami answer both times.

The RedHawks were without standout Josh Melnick for the second straight night, and regular starting goalie Ryan Larkin also did not play.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

RECAP: Western Michigan (13-6-1) won an offensive zone faceoff and Cole Gallant dropped a pass to Josh Passolt, who whipped it past Miami goalie Jordan Uhelski 2:12 into the game.

The RedHawks tied it with 5:43 left in the opening frame when Ben Lown skated in on the right wing and centered a pass that hit a skate and caromed to Derek Daschke, who was wide open in the slot and slammed it home.

Miami’s Jonathan Gruden (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

With 6:51 left in the middle stanza, Colt Conrad fed Passolt on a 2-on-1 for a one-timer that put Western Michigan back on top, 2-1.

Miami again pulled even when a 2-on-1 became a 2-on-0 as the Broncos’ lone defender, Cam Lee, blew a tire in his defensive zone. Jonathan Gruden took a pass from Brian Hawkinson and after his initial shot was denied, he poked it past goalie Trevor Gorsuch with 1:26 remaining in the second period.

But Western Michigan regained the lead for good as a well-placed wrister by Samuelsson from between the faceoff circles beat Uhelski with 14:35 left in regulation.

STATS: Passolt scored twice and finished the weekend 3-1-4 as he is almost certainly on his way to a weekly league award.

— Lown ended the night with a team-best two points, both on assists for his first multi-helper game of the season and the second of his career.

— Daschke scored for the fourth time this season, tying him with Grant Hutton for the team lead among defensemen, and Gruden’s goal was his second of the season, as he has four points in his last six games.

— Opponents have scored against the RedHawks in 13 straight periods.

— Both teams had three power plays but only 2:11 of time on the man-advantage. That’s because twice after Miami took penalties, WMU was whistled for a minor of its own within seconds.

So it’s a rough 0-for-3 for both teams.

THOUGHTS: Miami didn’t play badly at all, especially considering it was in a hostile arena against the hottest team in Division I, but once again the win didn’t come.

WMU deserves a lot of credit for the weekend sweep, as the Broncos are flat-out impressive in every aspect, and it’s easy to see why they’re second in the NCHC.

Western Michigan was ranked No. 14 coming into this weekend and was unbeaten in its previous eight. Make that 10 now and watch that ranking go up on Monday.

— Daschke’s line was impressive enough – one goal, six shots, three blocks, only Miami skater with a plus-rating – but he was a defensive menace to WMU all game, poking loose pucks away and getting his stick in the way of passes. Plays well beyond his 22 collegiate games.

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

— Speaking of defensemen, River Rymsha was a standout in this game by laying out a couple of huge hits and playing great shut-down defense.

Rymsha’s father, Andy Rymsha, was interviewed on CBS College Sports during Friday’s game. Andy Rymsha played for Western Michigan and logged six NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques.

— Hutton has stepped his level up the past few games at both ends of the ice. He has four assists in his last four games and has played better in his own end as well.

Miami’s Jordan Uhelski (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Uhelski in net was a major surprise. Was this a message to the team that it was too reliant on Larkin to make big saves, or are they pacing Larkin, who has already logged roughly 5,000 minutes as a RedHawk and been banged up several times during his Miami career?

Uhelski made a phenomenal save on a breakaway and was solid overall.

— Melnick remained out with a lower body injury. Hopefully it will not linger into the upcoming four-game homestand.

— Win No. 10 has been a major hurdle for this program the past few seasons. Miami is 1-17-6 in its last 24 games chasing its 10th win.

LINEUP CHANGES: Just Uhelski for Larkin. Uhelski stopped 30 of 33 shots.

Coach Enrico Blasi likes to have his lineups pretty well set around this point of the season, and with the exception of Melnick and Larkin, this looks like the 20 he will head into the stretch run with.

STANDINGS: Miami dropped to sixth in the conference at 3-5-2, leading just Omaha and Colorado College.

The RedHawks slipped to No. 26 in the PairWise, which determines which teams earn at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. Miami would need to climb to 14th or better to warrant consideration.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Despite a lot of the positives surrounding the program, the winless streak is becoming unwieldy.

The RedHawks are at .500 for the first time since opening night, which isn’t going to get them into the NCAA Tournament, regardless of how difficult their league schedule is.

The effort is there, the passion is there, the process is there, and while those are all great things, the wins still need to be there at the end of the season or else this team will once again be done playing by St. Patrick’s Day.

Miami scores late to tie No. 1 St. Cloud

OXFORD, Ohio – Four times Miami fell behind by a goal, and each time the RedHawks generated the equalizer against the top-ranked team in Division I.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Casey Gilling netted the tying goal as MU salvaged a 4-4 draw vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena on Friday despite neither leading nor trailing by more than one.

The Huskies (11-1-1) did earn the extra conference point by winning the single-round shootout.

Making the tie even more impressive is goalie Ryan Larkin was injured midway through the first period and RedHawks (9-6-2) finished with backup Jordan Uhelski in net.

RECAP: It was an eventful first period, with both teams scoring three times including once each in the opening 77 seconds.

Miami’s Scott Corbett (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Robby Jackson put SCSU ahead at the 1:08 mark when he fired a shot from the slot that tricked through Larkin and across the goal line. Originally the call was no call, so play continued, but after the next whistle the play was reviewed a ruled a good goal.

Nine seconds later, Scott Corbett drove to the high slot and appeared to have his shot deflect off a defender’s stick and past goalie Jeff Smith on the glove side.

Josh Melnick won the center-ice draw and Gordie Green sprung Corbett loose by seizing the puck along the boards in traffic.

Jackson put St. Cloud ahead three minutes later when he ripped one from the high slot over the shoulder of Larkin on the power play.

An errant defensive-zone pass by the Huskies from the behind the net slid through the slot to a wide-open Monte Graham, who unloaded for the shorthanded tying goal to make it 2-2 just 80 seconds after St. Cloud State had regained the lead.

The Huskies ahead took a one-goal lead when Patrick Newell fed a pass through both Miami defensemen to Sam Hentges for a one-time rip from the inside edge of the faceoff circle with 6:26 left in the opening frame.

And once again Miami answered, as Gordie Green flipped a two-line pass that was chased by Karch Bachman, who took control of it at the blue line, took two strides and went top shelf just under the far crossbar from the left wing with 2:20 remaining in the first stanza.

The score remained 3-3 until late in the second period when Newell skated in along the left wing boards, cut to center ice – beating two Miami defenders in the process – and backhanding one in to give the Huskies the lead.

Gilling leveled it at four when he intercepted a clearing attempt, passed to himself on the near boards and whipped a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle with 7:06 remaining.

The remainder of regulation, the five-minute 5-on-5 overtime and the five-minute 3-on-3 session did not produce a goal for either side, and the Huskies picked up the third league point on a Jon Lizotte shootout goal after Gilling was denied on this attempt.

STATS: Green led Miami with two points, both on assists, giving him five multi-point games this season, and this was his second time with at least a pair of helpers.

Miami’s Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— It was the first career goal for Graham, and the third in six games for Gilling after he was held scoreless through the first 11.

— Bachman has four markers in his last six contests as he moved into solo control of first on the team with seven.

— Melnick extended his points streak to a team-high four games, and he is 2-3-5 in that stretch. That gives him 98 for his career, with 34 goals and 64 assists.

— Uhelski finished with a RedHawks career-high 31 saves despite coming on in relief. He had three previous starts for Miami but had never stopped more than 24.

— Miami ended the game 0-for-3 on the power play and killed off just one of three SCSU chances. However, the RedHawks did notch a shorthanded goal.

— Despite not winning, St. Cloud State dominated in a couple of key areas. The Huskies were 48-22 on faceoffs and led on the shot counter, 44-30 including 32-17 in the first 40 minutes.

Miami actually led in SOG the final 25 minutes, 13-12.

Here’s the difference in shots: SCSU blocked 22, the RedHawks just eight. Jimmy Schuldt of the Huskies rejected seven himself.

THOUGHTS: Although Miami fell short of a win, this is a huge boost for the program.

Although the process for a young hockey team is more important than the results, the result was a tie vs. the No. 1 team in college hockey three months after conference media slated the RedHawks the worst team in the league.

And the way Miami did it showed the process is working.

The RedHawks weren’t as talented as St. Cloud State, not as deep, not as fast, not as skilled at puck possession.

Miami was shorthanded three times in the first period and lost its starting goalie to an injury less than 10 minutes in. Yet every time the Huskies found the net, the RedHawks answered.

A minute in SCSU scored. Nine seconds later, tie game. Then a minute after the second goal, same. A third time later in the period, all while seemingly nothing was going the RedHawks’ way.

The process has put the team at the threshold of being a really good team just nine months after Miami Marchmageddon.

It’s not just that the RedHawks tied the No. 1 team in the NCAA, playing for the ninth straight weekend, it’s that they are playing the game the right way. Playing physical, battling for pucks along the boards, taking smart angles defensively, getting solid efforts from goaltenders every night.

Miami’s Jordan Uhelski (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Playing to the final whistle regardless of the score.

Miami is very close to becoming a power player in this league again.

— Uhelski. Had to come off the bench cold after Larkin’s injury, and all he did was turn 31 of 33 shots aside including back-to-back point-blank chances at the top of the crease and a handful of others on high-percentage shots.

He also shut down a third-period breakaway.

Even when he’s not playing, he’s contributing by pushing Larkin, who didn’t have tons of competition for the starting job in 2017-18.

Larkin’s save percentage last season was just .886. It’s now .935. Uhelski’s is .910.

Miami’s Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Bachman. It’s one of greatest pleasures of following a college hockey team for a number of years: Watching players improve.

Karch Bachman’s stock seems to rise by astounding intervals every night. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player visibly progress on a night-to-night basis at Bachman’s current rate.

On one shift, he gained the offensive zone with his speed, then when the puck ended up in his corner, he drove an opponent off of it by burying him along the boards, resulting in a sustained attack by the RedHawks.

He’s never been overly physical but it has seemed natural to him recently.

We’re watching the Florida Panthers draft pick develop into a serious force in the NCHC.

— This was one of Jonathan Gruden’s best games. Against the very best in D-I, he got the play started on the Bachman goal. His passing, which has resulted in a number of turnovers early, was extremely accurate and his stick handling was impressive.

— So how about Coach Enrico Blasi holding court with both referees at the beginning of the second period? It actually delayed the start, but the power plays were 3-0 SCSU, with St. Cloud scoring twice on the power play, and a couple of clear penalties against the Huskies were not whistled?

Fantastic move. The result: Zero power plays for St. Cloud the final 45 minutes, three for Miami.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A-. The top three lines all scored, and Graham added an SHG. And Graham was solid beyond his 4-on-5 goal. Liked the way the lower lines battled in this game. Negatives? Gilling had a chance to clear a puck that ultimately resulted in a St. Cloud goal. Faceoff rate of under .333 is unacceptable.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. The Huskies moved the puck extremely well and it seemed like this corps was slow to react at times. A pass on the third goal got through both Rourke Russell and Grant Hutton, and Bray Crowder was beaten at the blue line, helping the Huskies notch their final tally.

GOALTENDING: B+. Larkin should’ve stopped one of the first two St. Cloud goals but faced 11 shots in under 10 minutes, including a handful of high-quality chances. Uhelski had little chance on his two goals against and he was brilliant otherwise. As mentioned above, he denied a point-blank chance and the ensuing rebound plus shut down a late breakaway.

Miami’s Andrew Sinard (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: D Andrew Sinard was back in for Chaz Switzer, and up front Christian Mohs took the place of Zach LaValle.

Mohs’ play has improved and he is making a case for regular playing time. He has dressed eight times in 17 games this season.

Sinard was the extra skater and has been in the lineup four of Miami’s last five games. Blasi has kept his ice time down.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a fun game to watch, hopefully one of many we’ll see at Cady Arena the balance of the season.

Seeing St. Cloud State live for the first time, it’s easy to understand why it’s No. 1 in the NCAA. But Miami deserved the tie as much as the Huskies did.

The RedHawks wouldn’t quit, which is becoming a theme with this team.

Win or lose, Miami plays hard for 60 minutes, or in this case 65. Or 70 counting the 3-on-3.

Regardless of the game length, the RedHawks Version 2018-19 certainly battle from start to finish.

That’s a major reason Miami is carrying an above-.500 record into December for the first time in four years, which was same season the RedHawks carried a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament.