Of course Josh Melnick’s 100th career point was going to come on a crucial goal.
Melnick’s feed to Gordie Green for a one-timer resulted in the tying goal with 42 seconds left in regulation in a 3-3 tie at Providence on Saturday.
The assist was the senior’s 65th of his career and his 12th this season, moving him into the team lead. He leads the RedHawks in points (19) and is tied with Green and Karch Bachman atop Miami’s goal leaderboard with seven.
In his four years at Miami, the RedHawks have won seven games in overtime. Melnick has three of those OT winners and six career GWG overall.
His points total has increased each season in Oxford. Melnick finished his freshman season with 25, jumped to 27 as a sophomore and ended 2017-18 with 29.
Melnick is the 52nd member of Miami’s 100-point club, and the first to reach that threshold since Anthony Louis in 2017.
Miami’s 100-point club
In hockey, ties tend to be regarded negatively, but considering Miami’s situation with six minutes left in regulation, the RedHawks had to be thrilled to end up in the ‘T’ column.
No. 16 Miami scored twice late in the third period to salvage a 3-3 tie at No. 10 Providence’s Schneider Arena on Saturday.
And the tying goal, a snipe from the slot by Gordie Green, came 6-on-5 with just 42 seconds left in regulation. Green received the one-time feed from Josh Melnick, who earned his 100th career point with the assist.
Christian Mohs started the comeback by netting his first career goal with 5:21 left in regulation.
RECAP: Scott Conway gave Providence (12-4-4) the lead 5:35 into the first period when he batted a blue line pass from Spenser Young into the net on the power play.
The Friars extended their lead to two with another man-advantage goal, as a wrister by Ben Mirageas from just inside the blue line deflected off a Miami stick and in with 6:23 remaining in the middle stanza.
The RedHawks (9-7-4) trimmed the deficit to one when Jonathan Gruden threaded a pass through a pair of defenders across the slot to a wide-open Ryan Siroky at the side of the net, and he slammed it home with 14:02 to play in regulation.
That was also a power play goal, the sixth of the weekend for these teams.
Providence answered just 13 seconds later as Miami’s Bray Crowder tried to knock the puck away from Brandon Duhaime, but it ended up on the stick of Bryan Lemos in the slot for an easy score to make it 3-1, and it appeared that would wrap up a weekend sweep for the Friars.
But Mohs shot one from the top of the faceoff circle that hit a Providence sweater and found net with 5:21 left for his first career goal, and the RedHawks were again within one, 3-2.
With the extra attacker on, Melnick slid a pass from the wall through traffic to a wide-open Green in the slot, and his blast sent the game to overtime.
STATS: Lots to work with…
— Melnick. He’s the 52nd player in Miami history to reach 100 points, with the last being Anthony Louis in 2017.
He also extended his points streak to seven games, notching three goals and five assists in that span. That’s the longest stretch of consecutive games with at least one point by a Miamian this season.
— Siroky. He finished with a goal and an assist, setting three personal milestones. 1) It was the senior’s first career multi-point game, 2) it was the first time he had ever scored goals in consecutive contests, and 3) he is riding his first-ever three-game points streak, during which he is 2-2-4.
— Grant Hutton. Hutton picked up two assists, giving him three points for the weekend. He had not notched a point in his previous eight games.
— Mohs. It was his first career goal, although he did create a nice build-up by scoring in the exhibition vs. Guelph last Sunday.
— Green. He had not scored in 10 games but is still tied with Melnick and Karch Bachman for the team lead with seven markers.
— Miami is actually winless in its last six games with an 0-4-2 record, but the RedHawks skated to draws vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State twice and adds this quality tie – if there is such a thing – to its 2018-19 resume.
Miami did not have any stalemates in its first 14 games but has tied four of its last six contests.
— Special teams. The good: Miami is 4-for-13 its last three games, or 30.8 percent. The bad: The RedHawks were 3 of 6 on the PK this weekend and are now just 57.1 percent dating back to the New Hampshire series.
THOUGHTS: This is yet another major step for this program in the ‘reenergize’ movement, as Coach Enrico Blasi called it before the season.
Though it wasn’t a win, this moved the needed significantly in the RedHawks’ desired direction.
Turning a two-goal deficit at a top-10 team into a tie with six minutes remaining is a rarity and speaks to how far Miami has come this season.
Flipping a team from a sub-.400 three-year winning percentage to a national contender in college sports is a long process that requires patience from coaches, student-athletes and fans.
Countless hours of work by the former two and others immediately surrounding the program are starting to pay tangible dividends, with this tie coming on the back of a pair of draws vs. the top-ranked program in Division I that saw Miami trail six times on the weekend and battle back to even the score on each occasion.
This is no last-place NCHC team, this is not a team deserving of zero votes in national polls. Now in the meat of their schedule, the RedHawks are proving the college hockey world wrong every night.
— Miami certainly can’t blame officiating for its 0-1-1 weekend. Power plays for the weekend were 11-7 in favor of the RedHawks, with PC assessed 40 penalty minutes compared to 20 for Miami.
— Despite having little room to operate against the super-tight Providence defense, wings Knies and Ben Lown seemed to pass across the width of the ice to each other at will.
A healthy Knies will hopefully result in more offensive production from that line.
— The cost to watch this series via the internet was $10, but it was a quality telecast.
The picture was actually a little better for the internet-only feed on Friday than on Saturday, which was broadcast on NBC Sports Boston.
Mike Logan is a veteran play-by-play man, extremely fair and gives excellent play descriptions.
He was solo on Friday and was joined by Sonny Watrous on Saturday, a PC women’s hockey standout last decade.
She is very knowledgeable about the game and the tandem work well together in the booth.
Both were very complimentary of the Miami program and agreed with the officials’ calls on almost every occasion, despite the penalty disparity.
— Didn’t know this, but Logan said on Friday that this is the last time these teams are scheduled to play each other for the foreseeable future.
Since 2011-12, Miami and Providence have faced each other every season, typically early in the season.
The only time during that span they didn’t meet in the regular season was 2014-15 when Miami was sent to the Providence bracket of the NCAA Tournament and lost, 7-5 in the first round just minutes from the PC campus.
Despite the travel and the Friars’ 8-1-3 record vs. the RedHawks in the last 12 meetings, this has been a great series over the years, as Providence is always a well-coached team with tons of skill.
Hopefully Miami and PC renew the all-time series at some point.
LINEUP CHANGES: None. Blasi went the same 20 both nights and seems to like defenseman Andrew Sinard in that extra skater flex role.
UP NEXT: Sixteen games in nine weeks, all against NCHC foes.
Miami heads to Western Michigan next weekend, facing the Broncos for the first time this season.
WMU is second in the conference with 14 points and is ranked No. 17 in the USCHO poll, one spot below Miami.
Friday’s game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.
Then the RedHawks play four at Cady Arena – two vs. Minnesota-Duluth and a pair against Colorado College.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami Version 2018-19 further cemented its play-to-the-final-horn reputation, as the RedHawks have scored a tying goal in the third period in all of its recent QTs (quality ties).
Remember the comeback win against UMass-Lowell and the two clutch third-period goals against North Dakota that broke a tie.
One could see the RedHawks’ emotions as they gathered on the ice after the five-minute overtime, as this was certainly a bonding experience for the players.
That’s the type of experience that can only help Miami as it shifts back to conference play for the balance of the regular season.