Category Archives: St. Cloud State Huskies
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.
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.
— 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— 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.
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.
— 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.
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.
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.
Grant Hutton is having one of the best offensive seasons for a defenseman in Miami history, and he added to his resume on Saturday.
Hutton netted a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, as the RedHawks pulled even with St. Cloud in their first-round NCHC Tournament series with a 3-2 win at the Herb Brooks Center on Saturday.
It was the 11th and 12th goals of the season for the junior, who moved into fourth in single-season blueliner goals. He is also tied for fifth in career markers by a RedHawks D-man, as he moved even with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez with 21.
The win snapped a four-game winless streak overall and an 0-7 skid in this building.
The championship game will be at 8:05 p.m. on Sunday.
RECAP: Miami led this game for over two-thirds of regulation.
Just 1:54 in, Josh Melnick redirected a slap pass from Alec Mahalak to open the scoring.
Miami made it 2-0 when Kiefer Sherwood pulled defenders into the corner on a 4-on-4 and dropped a pass to Hutton. Hutton deked a defender before whipping it into the far corner of the net with 2:27 left in the opening frame.
But with 12:40 left in the second period, Ryan Poehling poked home a one-timer from Mikey Eyssimont, who slid a pass through traffic into the slot.
St. Cloud State tied it in the opening minutes of the third period as Blake Winiecki tipped home a blue-line wrister by Jack Ahcan.
Both goals were scored on the power play.
The Huskies outshot Miami, 24-14 the last 40 minutes of regulation.
Hutton won it when he again faked out a defender at the blue line and penetrated, hitting the net from the high slot.
STATS: Hutton now has 12 goals, but he had not scored in 10 straight.
It was his fourth multi-goal game of the season, a team high.
— Sherwood extended his points streak to six games, and he has multiple points in each of his last three. He is 3-6-9 in his last six.
— It was the second multi-point game of Mahalak’s career, as he picked up two assists.
— Louie Belpedio earned an assist for the third straight game and passed Matthew Caito for eighth on the team’s all-time defenseman points leaderboard with 83.
— Miami snapped a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) and won its first postseason contest since March 21, 2015 when the RedHawks beat this same St. Cloud team in the NCHC championship game in Minneapolis.
— Titanic special teams update: Miami now 1-for-28 on the power play (3.6 percent) over its last 11 games and 16 of 24 on the penalty kill (66.7 percent) in its last six contests.
Opponents have also had 18 man-advantage opportunities over the past five games, while the RedHawks have had just eight.
— The last overtime playoff game for Miami was last season, and that one was 14 seconds longer than Saturday’s tilt, with the RedHawks coming up on the short side in 2016-17.
THOUGHTS: Miami battled back on Friday but fell short, and on Saturday it blew a two-goal lead but won in overtime.
The game had a bit of a North Dakota from a couple weeks ago feel, as the RedHawks were in control with a 2-0 lead but gave up the next goal and eventually the tying marker in the third period.
But in the regular season, teams only skate for five overtime minutes, while playoff OT is indefinite. That game against UND on Feb. 24 was ultimately a tie, while in this one Miami won in the eighth minute of the extra session.
— Miami deserves a lot of credit for not only winning but doing so in overtime after giving up a two-goal lead. Down 1-0 in the series, on the road vs. the top-ranked team in Division I on the road, many teams would’ve packed it in and called it a season.
— Ryan Larkin: 30-for-32. Great line, great game, just hope he doesn’t wear down playing three games in three days.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one, but it was a bit surprising. Christian Mohs was in the lineup for just the second time in 24 games, and Carson Meyer was scratched.
It was the second time in four games Meyer did not dress.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami is 3-1 in conference tournaments in St. Cloud.
The RedHawks are 1-0 in clinching games here.
St. Cloud is already a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and Miami is a desperate team that must win to have a chance, so that could work in the RedHawks’ favor.
Three positives. The latter is the only one that matters.
We’ll find out if Miami is headed to St. Paul or if its season is over in the next 24 hours.
OXFORD, Ohio – Because it was televised nationally, Miami’s game on Friday started a half hour later than normal.
Unfortunately the RedHawks didn’t begin play until well after that.
MU surrendered three goals in the first 10 minutes in an eventual 5-2 loss to No. 4 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena.
Miami (10-14-3) did battle back with a couple of second-period goals but could not generate the equalizer.
Colorado College won at North Dakota on Friday as well, leapfrogging Nebraska-Omaha and pushing six points ahead of the RedHawks, who are 1-6-1 in their last eight. The Mavericks are in seventh, four points up on last-place Miami.
All eight teams in the NCHC will have played 18 of their 24 league games after Saturday, so regardless of the outcome in the final, MU will head into the final three weekends of the regular season in last place.
RECAP: Fans were still filing in when Robby Jackson and Blake Lizotte threw pucks into the net 70 seconds apart, giving SCSU a 2-0 lead just over three minutes in.
It was Mikey Eyssimont extending the Huskies’ lead to three at the 9:39 mark.
Josh Melnick had a pass intercepted at the blue line, resulting in the first goal, Chaz Switzer was skated around by Lizotte and Kiefer Sherwood blew a tire at the red line when Eyssimont scored.
The RedHawks scored 1:47 apart in the second period to cut the deficit to one.
Gordie Green banged home a loose puck from the slot after a pass from behind the net by Carter Johnson was partially deflected. Ben Lown put the puck on net by poking it between a SCSU defender’s legs, and the rebound was jammed home by Phil Knies.
Miami had a couple of chances to tie it late in the second period, but the Huskies iced it seven minutes into the third period when Kevin Fitzgerald stripped Willie Knierim at the blue line and beat goalie Ryan Larkin five hole.
The RedHawks pulled Larkin with over six minutes left, and Jackson hit the empty net for the final tally.
STATS: Green extended his points streak to four games, a current team high. He leads Miami with 12 goals including the one in this contest.
— Only five blocked shots for the RedHawks.
— Johnson’s assist gives him points in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
— Miami failed to score on the power play, snapping a six-game streak. But the RedHawks did not yield a goal on the man advantage for the first time in eight games.
— All seven goals were scored in the south end of the rink.
THOUGHTS: It’s baffling that the RedHawks wouldn’t be ready for this series, and against a team as good as St. Cloud State, Miami paid dearly.
MU tried to battle back and was the better team in the second period, but the damage had been done.
And that’s what’s enough to drive one batty with this team. This team is good enough to hang with the best teams in Division I for stretches but not good enough to win those games.
— Larkin has gotten some leeway because of the quality of shots he’s faced, but he’s getting beaten too often on stoppable shots – especially high to the glove side – and that’s contributing to MU’s second-half slide. His save percentage of .883 would be the worst of any starting goalie since Enrico Blasi’s first season in 1999-2000.
— Johnson is making it harder to keep him out of the lineup. He played 37 games last season and earned just three points and sat the bench almost the entire first half of 2017-18. But he is 1-1-2 his last two games, is providing much-needed energy on the lower lines and is using his size to win battles along the boards.
— St. Cloud State has the best transition game of any team to come to Cady Arena this season. The Huskies are able to go end-to-end in a couple of seconds and create odd-man rushes off of opponents’ misses. They definitely are every bit as good or better than on television.
— Kevin Fitzergerald made arguably the defensive play of the year when he put his stick up and blocked a would-be third-period goal by Casey Gilling at the side of the net. The goalie would have had no chance.
— For the second straight game, Miami had a major power play in the third period with a chance to get back into a game and did bupkis with it. The PP1 has been solid all season but the RedHawks haven’t been able to put together a solid secondary combination of skaters for extended man-advantage opportunities.
FORWARDS: C-. Three bad turnovers ended up in Miami’s net, negating the two goals this corps recorded.
DEFENSEMEN: C. Tough call here. Didn’t give up too many great scoring chances except for the second goal, didn’t contribute anything offensively. Grant Hutton was definitely the star of this class.
GOALTENDING: D. Larkin needed to stop at least one of the goals allowed, especially early when the game was in the balance. He has tons of talent but it’s unclear if he’s struggling because of the high number of minutes played or a waning confidence level after facing so many Grade-A chances.
LINEUP CHANGES: None. This was the third straight game Blasi started the same 19.
FINAL THOUGHTS: St. Cloud State (18-6-3) is a force and should contend for the national title. The Huskies played like champions in this game, taking the crowd out of it early, fending off Miami’s rush in the middle portion of the game stepping on the RedHawks’ throats in the end game.
SCSU is fast, handles and moves the puck exceptionally well and still manages to limit opponents’ opportunities despite playing an up-tempo style. And the Huskies were missing a defenseman who is playing for Team USA in the Olympics.
Fortunately this is one of the two NCHC teams the RedHawks only play twice this season.
In terms of scoring, the first two periods of Saturday’s game played out exactly the same as Friday’s game: No goals in the first, Miami takes the lead in the second, St. Cloud ties it.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, the Huskies also potted the next two goals in the third period again in a 3-1 win in St. Cloud as SCSU wrapped up a weekend sweep.
Miami (9-13-6) has just one victory in its last seven games and is winless in five straight on the road.
Josh Melnick put the RedHawks ahead when he wired a shot off the inside of the far post after Gordie Green had stolen the puck and fed Melnick in the slot.
Just 83 seconds later, St. Cloud State’s (15-14-1) Jimmy Schuldt beat Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the glove side for a power play goal after the RedHawks were unable to clear the puck, tying the score.
It remained 1-1 until the Huskies’ Nick Poehling centered one from along the boards to Jake Wahlin for a tip-in goal with 2:37 left in regulation.
Jacob Benson tacked on an empty netter with 56 seconds to play, capping off the scoring.
Miami dropped to 3-9-3 on the road and have just one league win away from Cady Arena.
With the loss, the RedHawks remain in seventh place in the NCHC and are now five points out of tie for fifth and sixth, spots held by Nebraska-Omaha and SCSU.
Miami hosts Denver in a two-game series next weekend.
To see how St. Cloud State was able to finagle a comeback win, highlighted by a three-goal third period, it is necessary to evaluate the second period.
That’s when momentum that was clearly in Miami’s favor was reversed, culminating in the Huskies’ tying goal and ultimately three more in the final frame of SCSU’s 4-2 win over the RedHawks in central Minnesota on Friday.
The first period was evenly played and entertaining. Both teams were solid, but neither was able to find the net.
Miami dominated to start the second period and drew the game’s first power play. The RedHawks capitalized, as Gordie Green collected his own rebound on his tipped shot and stuffed it home four minutes into that frame.
A hockey axiom is to watch for the pushback by the team that gets scored on first, but Miami continued to push the pace the next eight minutes.
Then Grant Hutton threw puck up the right wing that Alex Alger couldn’t reach, and the RedHawks were whistled for icing.
The puck remained in the Miami zone for 90 seconds until an exhausted MU unit took a penalty, which was on Scott Dornbrock for slashing.
The RedHawks did an exceptional job of killing that penalty, and Green stole the puck for a breakaway, on which SCSU goalie Jeff Smith made an outstanding save to keep it 1-0.
But Louie Belpedio took tripping penalty away from the play, giving the Huskies a brief 5-on-3. After Dornbrock returned to the ice, making it 5-on-4, the Huskies tied it.
That gave St. Cloud State (14-14-1) the momentum heading into the second intermission, and the next two goals both went the Huskies’ way. Miami played pretty well the final 16 minutes but could not recover.
CBS College Sports pointed to Kiefer Sherwood getting out of position as the key reason for that tying goal, but Belpedio can’t take that penalty, especially as a captain, especially away from the play, especially when his team is already shorthanded.
And especially in this critical of a game, and especially with his team up by just one on the road.
It was so far away from the play that there wasn’t a clear camera angle, but that alone tells you plenty. The fuzzy goal cam shows him clearly making unnecessary contact along the boards, and officials in this league give a lot of leeway to teams that are already a man down.
MU also had good looks at the net in that middle frame – one each by Josh Melnick and Anthony Louis stand out – and the team couldn’t finish those chances. Jeff Smith also played exceptionally in net for SCSU.
Miami needs points more than ever and was in an excellent position to earn some from this game, leading by a goal with 23 minutes left.
But the RedHawks got zero, making their potential road to the NCAA’s a whole lot harder.
Especially since St. Cloud State is currently on the Tournament bubble, and Miami’s final six games are all against top-10 teams, including four vs. Nos. 1 and 2 in the PairWise.
– That 90-second shift following the above-mentioned icing that led to the penalty that led to another penalty that ate the lead that Miami built was the second time the fourth line was caught on the ice for an extensive shift. Including the time that unit was out there prior to the icing, it logged about two straight minutes during the period of the long change. And keep in mind, the fourth line typically plays shorter shifts anyway and is not accustomed to logging 120 straight seconds against high-caliber NCAA opponents. In the first period this threesome was also caught for an extended shift, as it was unable to clear its defensive zone.
– Belpedio had a tough night, as he was also out of position on the go-ahead goal early in the third period. After a SCSU pass was deflected by Jared Brandt, Belpedio did not pick up the trailer, Mikey Eyssimont, who skated in uncontested and fired his shot over Ryan Larkin’s shoulder. To be fair, it was Belpedio’s shot from the blue line that resulted in Green’s goal, and he did assist on both Miami tallies.
– Done talking about PairWise and NCHC standings for a while. The road to home ice for the NCHC, as well as at-large for the NCAAs, is too narrow right now. Will revisit if this team can string together some consecutive wins, which is a huge “if” with this upcoming schedule. Fans best brace themselves for a best-of-3 road series against a top-10 team just to advance to Minneapolis.
– Third period update. So BoB documented that Miami was outscored, 14-3 in the final frame during its 10-game winless streak. Then the RedHawks ran off 18 goals to their opponents’ two in the last 20 minutes in overtime as they ran off five straight wins. Now MU has allowed six goals while recording just two (with one being a 6-on-4 marker in this game) during this current 1-4-1 slide. Overall, it’s actually been Miami’s best period (27-26 advantage), as it’s the only stanza in which the RedHawks have outscored their opponents, not counting overtime. Here’s one for the stats geeks: Miami has scored 23 times after the second intermission in its nine wins. In its 12 losses, the RedHawks have four markers, including Sherwood’s laser tonight. Opponents have scored 20 third-period goals in Miami losses, six in Miami wins.
– Let’s insert some happy positive. Carson Meyer didn’t get a point, but he was dominating the first half of the game. He’s playing some of his best hockey of the season, and would be tied with Gordie Green if there was a most-improved-since-Game-1 award. Green, despite being having barely graduated from his Andy Miele growth chart, scored while camped out at the top of the crease, getting his own rebound. He’d subbed on for Melnick late in the power play and was with the top unit, possibly foreshadowing his 2017-18 role. He played that down-low role in the USHL despite his size. Green has 10 points this season, with six coming in his last 10 games.
– Continue to be impressed with Dave Starman on his CBS College Sports broadcasts. Anyone who can recite all six Miami goalies in the three tandems since David Burleigh deserves some credit, and yes, he did manage to mention Pat Cannone’s name. Most viewers will learn plenty about their opponents from any telecast, but people watching his games will almost certainly learn about their own team, which is especially impressive since this isn’t one of the Big Two college sports. His analysis of Ryan Larkin’s stance, and his ability to show a graphic and tie that to assistant coach Nick Petraglia goes beyond what one will see from almost any other college hockey commentator. Color jobs, like all in that field, can be based more on politics and connections than talent, but the guy is a delight to listen to and is incredibly unbiased in an era that sees less and less of this from media members.
Miami has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the third period this season.
The final stanza was the RedHawks’ demise on Friday, as they allowed three crucial goals in the last 20 minutes and fell, 4-2 at St. Cloud State.
It was the fourth time this season Miami had surrendered three or more goals in the final period and the second straight contest in which an opponent tallied multiple markers after the second intermission.
After a scoreless first period, the RedHawks (9-12-6) took the lead on the game’s first penalty, as a shot by Louie Belpedio was tipped on net by Gordie Green, who seized the rebound and beat Jeff Smith for a power play goal 4:04 into the middle frame.
The Huskies (14-14-1) tied it with 2:59 left in that stanza when a wrister by Dennis Cholowski was redirected home by Ryan Poehling on the man advantage.
Mikey Eyssimont put St. Cloud State ahead 2:35 into the third period. A lateral offensive-zone pass by Patrick Newell was partially deflected to Eyssimont, who fired it just under the crossbar.
Just 71 seconds later, the Huskies went ahead by two on another tipped shot, as Jon Lizotte deflected a blue-line rip by Robby Jackson into the bottom corner of the net.
In the final minute, Miami did cut the deficit to one on a 6-on-4, as Anthony Louis slid a pass from the high slot to Kiefer Sherwood for a one-time blast that found the top of the cage.
But with 13 seconds remaining, SCSU sealed it for good on an empty netter by Jimmy Schuldt from his defensive zone.
The RedHawks have won just one of their last six (1-4-1) and are winless in their last four on the road.
Sherwood finished with a goal and an assist, extending his points streak to three games, and he snapped a six-game stretch without a goal.
Belpedio ended up with two helpers and also has a three-game point streak.
After scoring just once in his first 17 games, Green’s marker was his fourth in his last 10.
Miami entered this game in prime position to move up in the NCHC standings, as it was just one point back of the Huskies, who were in sixth place, but now MU is ensured of remaining in seventh after this weekend, as it is four points back of St. Cloud State.
The RedHawks slipped to 24th in the PairWise rankings, and would need to move up about 10 spots in the final weeks to warrant NCAA Tournament at-large consideration.
These teams wrap up their weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday. That game will be telecast on FSN North.