Category Archives: University of Minnesota-Duluth

Miami falls to UMD again, ending season

The shorthanded goal has been a Miami nemesis all season, and on Saturday a pair of them contributed to the end of the RedHawks’ season.

Minnesota-Duluth beat Miami, 3-1 in Game 2 of a best-of-3 NCHC Tournament quarterfinal series, completing a sweep of the RedHawks.

Miami (15-18-3) finished the season with four consecutive losses, all on UMD’s home ice.

It was the first three-game playoff series loss by the RedHawks since 2009 vs. Northern Michigan, and March 12 ties the earliest ending to a Miami season since 2005.

The Bulldogs’ Kyle Osterberg opened the scoring with an unassisted shorty just 96 seconds into the game. He stripped Miami senior defenseman Matthew Caito at the blue line and went in alone, beating senior goalie Jay Williams on the stick side.

Minnesota-Duluth (17-14-5) made it 2-0 with 3:09 left in the first period on a power play goal by Andy Welinski, which he scored on a slap shot off a drop pass from Jared Thomas.

An outlet pass from Karson Kuhlman found Tony Cameranesi, who juked Williams and beat him on the forehand with 7:14 left in the middle stanza.

Miami senior forward Kevin Morris (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami senior forward Kevin Morris (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The RedHawks cut the deficit to two when freshman forward Jack Roslovic corralled a loose puck, skated in and centered one to senior forward Kevin Morris for a tap-in with 2:48 left in regulation, but Miami could pull no closer.

MU actually outscored UMD 5-on-5, netting the only even-strength goal of the game, but allowed all three of its goals on special teams — one on the man advantage and two shorthanded.

Miami ended the season with one SHG for and seven against.

The RedHawks were 7-2 in NCHC Tournament games entering this weekend and 2-0 on the road, having swept St. Cloud State in 2014.

Miami loses seniors forwards Morris, Alex Gacek, Sean Kuraly, Andrew Schmit and Michael Mooney, defensemen Matthew Caito, Taylor Richart and Chris Joyaux and goalies Williams and Ryan McKay.

The team said it expects 13 freshman to come to Oxford this fall.

Analysis: NCAA path now brutal for Miami

Coming back from a game down in a best-of-3 series is arduous, exponentially so on the road.

But add in that Miami led twice in Game 1 – including by a pair of goals, 4-2 – before allowing three third-period tallies, and that task becomes herculean.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, that’s the position they are in after Friday’s 5-4 loss at Minnesota-Duluth in the opening game of their best-of-3 NCHC Tournament quarterfinal round road series.

It’s the type of demoralizing loss that is tough to come back from at any level, in any sport. It almost would’ve been better if Miami (15-17-3) had lost this game 6-0.

Now the Bulldogs (16-14-5) smell blood and want to close this thing out, because playing a third game in three days is a hindrance on many levels, especially with a clear-cut No. 1 goalie in Kasimir Kaskisuo.

The RedHawks have exceled when faced with elimination in past years, but they are now 0-4-1 vs. UMD this season and need to win back-to-back games on the Bulldogs’ home ice just to advance to Minneapolis.

And what are the odds that Kaskisuo, one of the top goalies in Division I, much less the conference, stops .818 of his shots faced again in a best-of-3?

It’s looking grim for Miami, but the team did finally break through for four goals after being held to four in four previous games vs. UMD, so hopefully that offensive confidence carries over to the final two games of this set.

Other thoughts…

– Noticing this more recently, but the defense was soft on a couple of these goals in terms of challenging opponents. Cal Decowski was left alone at the blue line for the first goal, which granted was on an outstanding tip-in, but still, this was an even-strength tally. Three others were on 2-on-2s. Louie Belpedio was aggressive on one skater at the blue line but was ultimately rendered off-balance and Miami was scored on.

– Seems like UMD is targeting Miami senior goalie Jay Williams’ glove side. One goal he definitely would’ve wanted back (the tying marker that made it 2-2), and he was beaten that way multiple other times, albeit on point-blank chances.

– Great to see senior defenseman Matthew Caito back, as Miami had clearly struggled in his absence, although it’s unclear if he’s 100 percent after missing two weeks. Still, less than 100 percent of Caito is better than most Division I blueliners.

– Freshmen Zach LaValle and Ryan Siroky both scored, which they haven’t done much of this season, and hopefully doing so on this stage will set the tone for them heading into next season in a class that has already been a successful one with the initiation of Josh Melnick, Jack Roslovic, Kiefer Sherwood and Grant Hutton.

– Minnesota-Duluth is giving credibility to the theory that the No. 5 seed is worse than the lowest three because the Bulldogs are still fighting for an NCAA berth. This is an impressive team that underachieved during the regular season but appears to be peaking at the most opportune time. That’s not good for Miami.

Three late goals doom Miami

Miami is almost certainly one loss away from having its season end.

The RedHawks saw a two-goal lead vanish, as they surrendered three unanswered third-period goals in a 5-4 loss at Minnesota-Duluth on Friday in the first game of a best-of-3 series.

It was Miami’s third straight game in Duluth, and its third straight loss. The RedHawks finished the regular season with a road series vs. the Bulldogs and were swept.

UMD (16-14-5) opened the scoring when Austyn Young tipped home a blueline wrister by Cal Decowski just 4:34 into the game.

Miami (15-17-3) tied it on a goal by freshman forward Zach LaValle, who fired in a bad-angle shot with 7:43 left in the first period.

The RedHawks went ahead, 2-1 when a Bulldogs defensive zone pass hit the skate of sophomore forward Conor Lemirande and slid to freshman forward Ryan Siroky, who whipped in the off-balance shot 4:11 into the middle stanza.

UMD tied it again on a blueline shot by Adam Welinski on the power play with 10:01 to play in that frame.

But Miami regained the lead just 18 seconds later, as senior forward Alex Gacek and junior forward Anthony Louis played give and go, with Gacek centering a pass to Louis, who skated in and backhanded one past Bulldogs goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo.

The RedHawks went ahead two just three minutes later, as a blast by sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio found twine to make it 4-2 after two periods.

Unfortunately for Miami, there were still 20 minutes left.

Adam Johnson cut the lead to one when he drove the net 2-on-2 and beat senior goalie Jay Williams 4:54 into that stanza.

With 8:48 left in regulation, Neal Pionk tied it on a power play rip from the blue line.

The game winner came from Carson Soucy, just his second marker of the season, as he was the trailer on a 2-on-2 and shot the puck in from the slot.

Ten of the RedHawks’ skaters recorded a point, with Louis recording a goal and an assist for a team-best two points.

Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

At this point, the only way Miami could earn an NCAA Tournament berth without winning the NCHC Tournament would be if it advanced to the title game and lost, thus giving the RedHawks a requisite .500 record, and everything went right for them in the PairWise rankings, which would be an extreme longshot.

The RedHawks are currently tied for 23rd and would need to improve to 14th or better to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid.

Game 2 of this series is at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday, and Game 3 – if necessary – would be at 8:07 p.m. on Sunday.

Preview: Miami at Minnesota-Duluth

WHO: Miami RedHawks (15-16-3) at Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (15-14-5).

WHAT: NCHC best-of-3 quarterfinal series.

WHERE: Amsoil Arena, Duluth, Minn.

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

TV: None.

MIAMI RADIO: All three nights–WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

MINNESOTA-DULUTH RADIO: All three nights–WWAX-FM (92.1), Duluth, Minn.; KQDS-FM (95.5), Grand Rapids, Minn.; WJJY-FM (106.7), Brainerd, Minn.; WXCX-FM (105.7), Pine City, Minn.

NOTES: Miami was swept in Duluth last weekend, and the RedHawks return to UMD with their season on the line.

Miami is 0-3-1 vs. Minnesota-Duluth and has scored just four goals against Kasimir Kaskisuo and the Bulldogs this season.

And that has been the MO for UMD – it has allowed just 68 goals in 34 goals for a 2.00 average, with Kaskisuo posting a 1.86 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.

Only two Bulldogs have reached the 20-point mark, with just Tony Camenaresi over 30 (9-22-31). Austin Farley has 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points, including eight of UMD’s 20 power play tallies.

Tied for 22nd in the PairWise rankings and a game under .500, the axiom of the year is that Miami needs to win this series to have a shot at an NCAA Tournament berth, and the RedHawks probably need to win the NCHC Tournament to earn a spot among the national field.

Miami has yet to win against Minnesota-Duluth this season, finishing the regular season 0-3-1 vs. the Bulldogs, and the RedHawks were swept in Duluth last weekend, getting outscored, 8-1.

It doesn’t look good for MU, but consider that the RedHawks are 7-2 all-time in the NCHC Tournament and 4-1 in this round including 2-0 on the road.

Miami has won this round both seasons of the NCHC’s existence to advance to the Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis.

The RedHawks also have not lost a best-of-3 series since 2009 when Northern Michigan rallied to win Games 2 and 3 at Cady Arena after losing the series opener.

Analysis: Still hope for Miami

Remember some of those losses at the end of the 2013-14 regular season?

A 5-2 loss at home against Western Michigan. A 3-0 defeat at Cady Arena at the hands of St. Cloud State. A 5-2 beat down at Denver.

And who could forget that 9-2 shellacking in Grand Forks during which Miami surrendered eight goals in the first two periods.

Granted that team beat Denver in its regular season finale, but it had little chance to advance to the NCHC championship game after a miserable 12-19-3 showing in its first campaign in the then-newly formed league.

But it swept SCSU in its own building and came within a goal of winning the conference tournament.

The point is: Despite the mercurial showing thus far in 2015-16, anything can happen in the postseason, and Miami has a dramatic history in recent years.

Here’s the problem with that rah-rah theory: The RedHawks have yet to beat the Bulldogs this season.

UMD is 3-0-1 vs. Miami, outscoring it 14-4.

And unlike two years ago when SCSU was a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs are a game over .500 and 13th in the PairWise, far from safe as an at-large team.

All that aside, Miami has a flare for the dramatic when it has it gets into nothing-to-lose mode.

When it made its championship game run, the RedHawks were playing miserable hockey entering the NCAAs and barely got into the field.

The point is: Despite the poor showing this weekend, there’s no reason to write off next weekend’s paramount series.

And there is hope that the RedHawks could still make it to Minneapolis and beyond.

Other thoughts…

– Andrew Schmit got beat 1-on-1 for the first UMD goal. Willie Corrin was able to skate around Schmit, put an initial shot on and grab his own rebound for the initial marker.

– Wow, what a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal by the Columbus line. Just amazing how quickly Jack Roslovic was able to re-direct the puck to Kiefer Sherwood, and how he was able to finish.

– Sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio fired a pass up the ice that was intercepted at his own blue line, ultimately resulting in the go-ahead goal for UMD.

– Guess this comes down to being spoiled, but it’s tough to not have a playoff series on home ice, with that being practically a given the past decade. Would gladly trade the pre-paid season ticket refund, and some, to have Miami host another series.

Miami swept by Minn.-Duluth

After surging above .500 last weekend for the first time since late October, Miami finished its regular season a game below that mark.

The RedHawks were swept at Minnesota-Duluth, falling 3-1 in the series finale on Saturday.

It was just the second losing regular season for Miami in its past 11 campaigns, but both have come in the last three years.

The Bulldogs (15-14-5) opened the scoring when Willie Corrin drove to the net and had his initial shot saved by senior goalie Jay Williams, but the rebound came back to Corrin, who slammed it home 6:44 into the first period.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The RedHawks (15-16-3) tied it with 1:47 left in the opening stanza, as senior forward Sean Kuraly intercepted a pass and centered it to freshman forward Jack Roslovic. Roslovic one-touched it to freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood for a tap-in from the side of the net.

UMD took the lead for good when a rebound popped into the air, was controlled by Charlie Sampair and deposited in the net on Williams’ short side 2:26 into the final frame.

Alex Iafallo sealed it with an empty netter in the closing seconds.

Sherwood’s goal was his sixth in eight games, and Roslovic recorded his third helper in his last three contests. Kuraly also earned an assist on the RedHawks’ goal, as he wrapped up his final regular season with 16 points in his last 14 games.

Williams stopped 18 of 20 shots in the losing effort.

Despite the loss, MU actually moved up a spot in the PairWise and is currently tied for 22nd.

The RedHawks will return to Minnesota-Duluth next weekend for a best-of-3 opening-round series in the NCHC Tournament as the No. 5 seed.

Miami is 7-2 all-time in the league tournament, including 4-1 in the quarterfinal round. But the RedHawks went 0-3-1 against the Bulldogs in the regular season, scoring just three goals in the season series.

The best-of-3 will be played on March 11-13. Times are TBA.

Analysis: Early losses haunting Miami

At least Miami will be familiar with its opponent and the rink it will play in next weekend when it opens NCHC Tournament play.

The RedHawks were blown out, 5-0 at Minnesota-Duluth on Friday, ensuring they will finish fifth in their conference and will return to Duluth for a best-of-3 series on March 11-13.

Miami has played so well so often in the second half of this season, but this may be an example of a team falling too far behind and then needing all of its energy just to bounce back into contention.

In this league a team just can’t put itself in a position where it needs to win practically every game. The RedHawks did and are paying the price now.

We’ve seen in three years how ruthlessly competitive the NCHC is, and good teams are going to beat each other in league play.

That’s why giving away games and losing to inferior opponents is so costly. Miami cost itself numerous points with third-period disappearing acts in the first half of this season, which was capped off by a pair of devastating losses at league doormat Colorado College.

Say the RedHawks (15-15-3) only split at CC and turn a pair of other losses into ties or ties into wins. In this most conservative of scenarios, Miami would’ve headed into Duluth ahead of the Bulldogs by five points, needing just a tie to lock up home ice.

And after the extensive travel an NCHC season entails, home ice is certainly an advantage.

If Miami doesn’t make it out of Duluth next season, it would be easy to point at those games and say the RedHawks couldn’t win the big ones.

But those first-half struggles will have played at the very least an equal role in this team’s demise.

Other thoughts…

– Oh yeah, the game. It’s easier to talk about anything but that. Honestly not much needs to be said. It was a bad night, and teams will have those in this league. It’s just that Miami could ill-afford to come out flat in this game.

– It’s a lot harder to see details on a computer monitor vs., say an HD broadcast or – better yet – being at the rink, but one thing that stood out was a horrible line change that led to the second goal. As much good as the Columbus line has done since being assembled, it needs to do better. Two forwards can’t change in the second period with the long change when the other team has the puck.

– Evan McCarthy made his debut on Friday, which is an interesting move by coach Enrico Blasi on a number of fronts. Obviously Ryan McKay isn’t traveling with the team, and so McCarthy is the only backup option for Miami. Blasi must’ve felt like shaking things up to send a message to his team, which was in all-or-nothing mode at that point because a loss sealed its fate as a No. 5 seed. Also, Williams has logged every minute in net since GoalieGate, and even 10 minutes of rest may help in Saturday’s game in addition to the grueling best-of-3 ahead next week. It was a tough position for McCarthy, making his RedHawks debut in super-hostile territory against a red-hot UMD team. Hopefully the experience makes McCarthy a better goalie down the road and he can give the team depth at that position the next three years.

– Just wondering out loud here, but is flex scheduling a possibility in the future for TV games? Granted the outcome was one-sided, but this game had much more importance that the Western Michigan-North Dakota contest on CBS College Sports that saw the we-also-changed-our-mascot-to-something-Hawks win 8-1. It seems like these final weeks the league and/or network should be able to show the most riveting matchups, and a lot of times that’s an unknown the previous summer when TV schedules are drawn up.

– Senior defenseman Matthew Caito was out again on Friday, missing his third straight game, and that certainly didn’t help. Despite outscoring Colorado College, 7-0 last weekend, the RedHawks didn’t play their best hockey, and it’s obvious their overall play has taken a step back since Caito was injured. Hopefully he will be back for the playoffs next week.

– Is it actually worse to have a No. 5 seed vs. a 6-7-8? Obviously those lower three will face higher-caliber opponents in their best-of-3s — if there is such a thing in this conference — but North Dakota, St. Cloud and Denver are all essentially locked into NCAA Tournament berths. Minnesota-Duluth is tied for 14th in the PairWise and is still fighting for a spot. Remember two years ago when Miami was the No. 8 seed but went to top-seeded St. Cloud and swept?

Miami hammered at UMD

Miami is officially locked into a No. 5 seed for the NCHC Tournament, meaning it will not play any more games at Cady Arena this season.

The RedHawks fell, 5-0 at Minnesota-Duluth on Friday, ensuring that they will return to the Bulldogs’ home rink next weekend to open conference tournament play with a best-of-3 series.

A wrister from the blue line pinballed to Dominic Toninato, who was wide open at the side of the net and slammed the puck home to open the scoring just 5:05 into the contest.

Miami goalie Jay Williams (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Jay Williams (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

That ended Miami senior goalie Jay Williams’ shutout streak at 153:57 after the senior became the first goalie in team history to record a two-game weekend shutout vs. Colorado College last week.

A bad line change led to an odd-man rush, with Brenden Kotyk finishing at the top of the crease with 10:41 left in the second period.

With 54 seconds left in the middle stanza, Neal Pionk, who was left wide open in the slot, backhanded one over Williams to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to three.

Williams was pulled with about 10 minutes remaining, and freshman Evan McCarthy saw his first varsity action in a Miami uniform.

He was greeted rudely by UMD (14-14-5), however, with Karson Kuhlman beating him on the short side with 6:24 to play in regulation.

With 58 seconds to play, Kyle Osterberg scored to push the deficit to five.

The RedHawks (15-15-3) had won four of their previous five on the road and were 9-3 in their last 12 games.

Miami is now three points behind the Bulldogs in the conference standings but would lose the tiebreaker, meaning UMD has locked up that crucial final home spot for the first round of the conference tournament.

The RedHawks cannot drop lower than fifth either, as Nebraska-Omaha is six points back of them.

Miami’s PairWise ranking also took a hit, as the team fell to 23rd. The RedHawks would likely need to improve to 13 to ensure an NCAA Tournament berth, a tall task considering their next three or four games will be in Duluth before they would face even stiffer competition in the Frozen Faceoff.

It now appears likely Miami’s only shot to qualify for the national tournament would be to win the NCHC Tournament, which it did in 2014-15.

The RedHawks and UMD wrap up their weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Photos: Minn.-Duluth at Miami

Images from the series between Minn.-Duluth at Miami on Jan. 9-10, 2016 at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio. All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

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Analysis: Loss follows Miami MO

OXFORD, Ohio – Just a microcosm of the season.

Miami was every bit as good as Minnesota-Duluth in the first period but found itself down two, then four in the middle frame as the Bulldogs eventually went on to win, 5-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

An unlucky bounce for Miami – or a lucky one for UMD, depending on your perspective – resulted in the Bulldogs’ first goal.

Poor coverage in the slot ended up in Nos. 2 and 3, and as has been the case so often this season, those were two of the only breakdowns in front of the net for Miami (6-11-3), and the puck ended up in the back of the cage.

A bad play by senior goalie Ryan McKay made it 4-0, and that was essentially the night.

With past teams, a four-goal deficit would be a huge uphill climb but not insurmountable, but this RedHawks team has scored four goals in a game once, and the final tally in that contest was into an empty net.

This loss was crucial because Miami had a chance to pull within two points of UMD (8-7-4), which is in third place in the NCHC. Now the RedHawks are eight behind the Bulldogs.

Miami is now at the halfway point of its league schedule and has just 10 points in conference play, and earning two of six points this weekend made any ascent of the NCHC standings significantly more difficult.

With three points awarded for each game, 1½ points per game should put a team in the 4-5 seed range. That’s 36 points.

Miami needs to win nine of its final 12 league contests to reach that mark, and the RedHawks would likely need more than that to catch the fourth-seeded team.

All that comes back to the same axiomatic point: Miami needs to win more.

Other thoughts…

– McKay was pulled after the fourth goal, and he was visibly angry while departing. He launched his goalie stick down the tunnel, and it hit the edge of the stands and almost made its way into the seats. He also yelled something while leaving the bench. McKay did not come out with the team for the third period, and he also was not on the ice for practice Monday. That almost certainly means Jay Williams will be in net this Saturday. Freshman Evan McCarthy is the team’s third goalie, so we’ll see on Saturday if he is elevated to backup status on the interim.

– Miami ended its six-game power play drought as sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio scored in the final second of a man advantage in the second period. The RedHawks were 0-for-16 in their previous six games with two shorthanded goals allowed.

– Let’s try to invoke some positives: For all of the problems Miami’s offense has had, senior forward Alex Gacek has one of the team’s best forwards in previous weeks. He is skating as well as he has his entire career and has been great in all three zones, although his points total doesn’t reflect that (it’s tough to pile up points when Miami scores three goals in a weekend).

– And classmate and captain Sean Kuraly looks like he is close to breaking out. Even with his struggles on offense, he has been solid on defense and in the faceoff circle, and he has been more active in the offensive zone in recent games as well.

GRADES

Miami freshman Ryan Siroky scored his first career goal on Saturday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami freshman Ryan Siroky scored his first career goal on Saturday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

FORWARDS: D. This corps managed just 10 shots on goal, and Miami had only six the final 40 minutes. Freshman Ryan Siroky, who is steadily improving, scored his first career goal on a laser from the outside of the faceoff circle, but that was one of the lone highlights for this group. Minnesota-Duluth did an excellent job of taking the Anthony Louis-Josh Melnick-Jack Roslovic line out of the game.

DEFENSEMEN: C. UMD was held to just 22 shots, more than a dozen fewer than on Friday, and Belpedio found the net. Players were left alone in front of the net on the Bulldogs’ second and third goals, but it’s unclear without replay ability whether that blame lies here or on the forwards.

GOALTENDING: C. McKay’s only real mistake was on the ENG after his bad clear on the fourth goal, and Williams was 6-for-6 in relief. With this team’s lack of offense, if the goalies’ grade isn’t a ‘B’ or better, Miami has little chance of winning.

LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, freshman Kiefer Sherwood was scratched in favor of senior Michael Mooney. It’s unclear why Sherwood sat, since he seemed pretty solid on Friday. On defense, freshman Grant Hutton did not dress for the first time this season, and junior Colin Sullivan returned to the ice. Hutton is having a solid rookie campaign but did struggled on Friday, and Sullivan continued to play well in limited action. He has to be one of the top seventh defensemen in all of college hockey.