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OXFORD, Ohio – Of all the sounds at a hockey rink, the final horn was the sweetest for Miami.
The RedHawks led by two with under two minutes left but held on – literally by inches – for a 3-2 win over No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena on Saturday.
The teams split the weekend series, as Miami snapped an 11-game winless streak against the Bulldogs.
Miami led, 3-1, but a wrister by UMD’s Parker Mackay with 1:23 left in regulation beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the glove side, cutting the lead to one.
In the closing seconds, a loose puck in the Miami crease was poked toward the net but was turned aside just shy of the goal line.
Minnesota-Duluth (6-6-2) took the lead when a rebound kicked out to Nick Wolff, who slammed it just under the crossbar with 7:25 left in the first period.
Miami’s Willie Knierim slid a pass from the side of the net that hit a body and slid back to Ryan Siroky in the high slot. Siroky stepped into it, and his slap shot tied it at the 13:23 mark of the middle stanza.
The RedHawks (5-6-1) went ahead when Carson Meyer batted in a puck from the side of the net on the short side, as goalie Hunter Shepard was unable to hug the post. Scott Dornbrock had fed the puck to Meyer from the blue line with 1:39 left in the middle frame.
Miami’s Gordie Green and Josh Melnick played give-and-go at the blue line, as Melnick took the return pass from Green, skated in and buried a shot from the center of the faceoff circle three minutes into the third period, giving the RedHawks a 3-1 lead.
That set up the frantic final moments, as Shepard headed to the bench at the 18-minute mark.
Meyer scored for the second straight game. Siroky found net for the second time in three contests, and that makes four in seven for Melnick.
Louie Belpedio picked up an assist, extending his points streak to three games.
Knierim also earned a helper for his first point of 2017-18.
The RedHawks were 0-9-2 in their last 11 games against the Bulldogs, as they snapped a 33-month winless drought vs. UMD.
Miami is now 2-3-1 in NCHC play and is in sixth place in the league. The RedHawks improved to 40th in the PairWise rankings.
MU heads to Bowling Green for a weekend series Nov. 24-25. Game times are 7:37 p.m. on Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
WHO: Connecticut Huskies (2-3-1) at Miami RedHawks (1-3).
WHEN: Friday, 7:35 p.m.; Saturday–7 p.m.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
NOTES: Strange that a pair of Division I teams in a tier of 60 have never met, but Friday will represent the inaugural contest between UConn and Miami.
The Huskies went Division I in 1998-99 and won 20 games that season, but they have not reached that high-water mark since. They have also never advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Current coach Mike Cavanaugh took over prior to 2013-14 – UConn’s final season in the Atlantic Hockey before joining Hockey East – and after an 18-14-4 debut, his teams have not posted a winning record since.
Like Miami, the Huskies split with Maine. After that season-opening series, they beat American International and lost to Sacred Heart then went 0-1-1 in a home-and-home with Boston University.
Connecticut has had no problem generating offense, averaging 3.3 goals and 35.3 shots per game.
F Alexandre Payusov was limited to two points in 15 games as a freshman, but he is 6-2-8 in six games to start 2017-18, leading all UConn forwards in goals and points.
Like Payusov, Karl El-Mir is from Montreal, and he has a pair of goals and four assists. Maxim Letunov, a second-round pick of San Jose, also has six points (1-5-6) and Kasperi Ojantakanen and Spencer Naas have recorded four points.
At defense, Johnny Austin has one goal and team highs in assists (8) and points (9) – his point total is tied for second among D-I blueliners – although the senior’s career high at UConn is 10 points last season.
Derek Pratt has a goal and three assists, and four NHL draftees – Miles Gendron (Ottawa), Philip Nyberg (Buffalo), Joseph Masonius (Pittsburgh) and David Drake (Philadelphia) also patrol the blue line for the Huskies.
The Huskies are outshooting opponents by nearly five shots per game, yet they have a goal differential of zero.
Which means UConn is not stopping the puck at a high enough clip. Starting goalie Adam Huska, a seventh-round New York Rangers pick in 2015, has a .905 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against average.
Backup Tanner Creel was solid two years ago in relief but started against America International and allowed three goals on seven shots.
Like Miami, UConn is executing at a 33.3 percent rate on the power play, tied for fifth in the NCAA, but the Huskies are tied for 42nd with just a .722 penalty killing clip.
Connecticut has outscored its opponents in the final two periods but has struggled early, as it has netted just three goals while allowing 10 in the opening 20 minutes.
This series begins a crucial four-game homestand for Miami. These are extremely winnable games for the RedHawks, as are next week’s tilts against Colorado College.
If Miami is unable to thrive against these opponents, it could be a long season. UConn and CC were a combined 15 games under .500 in 2016-17.
The RedHawks are currently two games under .500, and the schedule gets a lot harder following these two series.
PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Getting a win, even in an exhibition game, can only help Miami.
The RedHawks edged the U.S. National Development Team, 7-5 on Friday to earn its first victory in nearly nine months.
It’s odd to hold an exhibition after the season starts, but scheduling in college hockey isn’t easy and a game against some of the top American-born prospects should always be welcome.
Plus those in attendance were able to watch commit Jonathan Gruden, who scored a goal for the U-18 squad.
It’s hard to know what to take from this game. Miami (0-2) generated numerous quality scoring chances, but the RedHawks allowed a good number as well.
Leaving Oxford and having success can only help Miami, which will travel to Maine next weekend for a series against the Black Bears.
– Gordie Green and Josh Melnick were dynamic together, as Green scored twice and Melnick earned three assists. Green scored the game winner six minutes into the third period when Melnick kicked the puck from along the boards right to Green’s stick while he was streaking down center ice through the neutral zone, and Green buried the shot.
– Even though they don’t count, Grant Hutton scored two more goals in this win. That gives him 12 goals since the start of 2016-17 after he did not record a single marker in 2015-16.
– Another positive of playing Team USA is that top scouts from NHL teams will surely be in attendance. High-ranking members of Anaheim, Winnipeg, Dallas and Toronto were in attendance.
FORWARDS: A-. Maybe a little soft defensively for Coach Enrico Blasi, but otherwise a solid performance by this group. Green and Melnick were outstanding, and Phil Knies showed off more of his stickhandling skills.
DEFENSEMEN: B-. Hutton scored twice but a team of 20-23 year-olds should have been able to hold down the number of quality shots by 17-year-olds.
GOALTENDING: D. Chase Munroe played all 60 minutes and let in a couple of easy shots. He was just 16 of 21 (.762) overall.
Devin Mantha logged his fourth season in the SPHL, and despite playing just 32 games, he tallied 18 goals and 21 points for his best career points-per-game ratio in the pros.
Mantha, whose father is former NHL-er Moe Mantha, has scored 63 goals and dished for 86 assists for 149 points in just 170 games with Mississippi since 2013.
Max Cook finished the season with 11 goals and 13 assists in 47 games with Fayetteville, and rookie Andrew Schmit tallied six goals, 16 assists and 91 PIMs in 55 games with Pensacola.
EUROPE: Only four former Miamians suited up for European teams in 2016-17, and F/D Matt Tomassoni led ex-RedHawks in points with 32 on seven goals and 25 assists in 41 games with Frankfurt.
Ryan Jones scored 19 goals for Cologne, which plays in the the top league in Germany.
Cody Murphy tallied 12 goals and 15 assists in 42 games for Bjorkloven (Sweden), and Mike Glumac – in his 15th pro season – went 8-8-16 for Zagreb in his fourth season with the Croatian-based KHL team.
PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?!?!?!?!? – No former Miamian playing in the SPHL or Europe was able to enjoy a late playoff run.
Schmit and Cook notched a goal and an assist in four games in their respective series, as both saw their teams eliminated in the first round. Cook dished for an assist in two games and Mantha picked up a helper in three contests, as his team also exited the playoffs early.
Jones played seven postseason games overseas and recorded one assist.
MILESTONES: Despite being limited to seven games, Jones tallied his 200th professional point last season. He needed just three to reach that mark and finished with a pair of goals and two helpers. That give him 121 pro goals and 90 assists between the NHL, AHL and Europe.
Glumac has now logged 921 games between the ECHL, AHL, NHL and Europe. Now the elder skatesman among former Miamians in the pros, he has 297 goals and 262 assists for 559 career points over 15 seasons.
A look at all RedHawks that appeared in other leagues this season:
FINAL 2016-17 REGULAR SEASON STATS
|Matt Tomassoni||Frankfurt (DEL-2)%||F||41||7||25||32||17||8|
|Ryan Jones||Cologne (DEL)#||F||49||19||11||30||8||49|
|Cody Murphy||Bjorkloven (Sweden)@||F||42||12||15||27||-2||41|
|Mike Glumac||Zagreb (KHL)&||F||60||8||8||16||-10||31|
FINAL 2016-17 PLAYOFF STATS
|Ryan Jones||Cologne (DEL)#||F||7||0||1||1||8|
%-Frankfurt is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga and plays in DEL2, the second highest league in Germany.
#-Cologne is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the top league in Germany.
@-Bjorkloven is in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second highest league in Sweden.
&-Zagreb is in the Kontinental Hockey League, the top league in Russia, its territories and surrounding countries.
OXFORD, Ohio – Game 2 of Miami’s home series vs. No. 2 Denver bore a striking resemblance to Game 1.
Fall behind, tie the score at two, allow the final three goals.
And ultimately, drop its fourth straight game by an identical 5-2 score as the Pioneers swept the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.
Miami (9-15-1) is now ensured a losing record in both the regular season and conference play.
MU’s night starting promisingly enough, as Carson Meyer opened the scoring with a bad-angle shot that eluded goalie Tanner Jaillet just 4:10 into the first period.
But in another similarity to the series opener, Denver (22-6-4) would net its first two goals less than 90 seconds apart.
Troy Terry penetrated the zone, skated in and beat goalie Ryan Larkin after toe-dragging the puck to tie the score on the power play with 7:04 left in the first period.
The Pioneers pulled ahead when a shot from the left faceoff circle snuck through Larkin’s pads with 6:22 remaining in the opening stanza.
In 42 seconds, Miami had gone from leading 1-0 to trailing, 2-1.
The RedHawks did tie the score on the man advantage when Grant Hutton blasted one by Jaillet 4:08 into the middle frame.
But Denver took the lead for good 2:22 later, as Terry skated across the slot and whipped one into the top corner of the net.
Romig made it 4-2 when he scored on a one-timer off a pass by Colin Staub from behind the Miami net with 14:55 left in regulation.
Exactly 10 minutes later, Tariq Hammond capped the scoring when he beat Larkin low to the stick side moments after a potential fifth Denver goal was waved off.
With time running out, RedHawks defenseman Louie Belpedio was kneed and left the game. He did put pressure on his leg but was still helped off the ice. The Pioneers’ Jarid Lukosevicius was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct.
Meyer snapped a six-game goal drought but has points in his last three. Hutton found the net for the second time in five contests.
Anthony Louis picked up an assist, becoming the 34th player in Miami history to rack up 120 career points. He is in a five-way tie for 30th with 45 goals and 75 helpers.
Miami remains in seventh place in the NCHC, five points out of both fifth and sixth, and dropped to 28th in the PairWise Rankings.
The RedHawks travel to Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game set next weekend.