OXFORD, Ohio – The longest Miami winless streak in over a quarter century is over.
The RedHawks snapped a 15-game, 0-11-4 skid with a 4-2 win over Nebraska-Omaha at Cady Arena, giving MU its first win in nearly three months.
It was the second-longest victory drought in team history, with its worst — just two games longer — coming at the end of the 1990-91 season.
Gordie Green racked up three assists in the Miami win, and Josh Melnick and Scott Corbett finished with a goal and a helper apiece.
RECAP: Miami scored first for the first time in 14 games when Josh Melnick kicked a pass to himself and swept a short pass to Derek Daschke at the faceoff dot for a one-timer that snuck in the short side 7:50 into the first period.
Phil Knies appeared to have scored seconds later, but the initial call of good goal was waved off because it was ruled UNO goalie Evan Weninger’s helmet had been dislodged.
But Knies found the net found the net again at 11:06, and this time it counted. Casey Gilling fired a shot from the high slot that Weninger couldn’t handle, and Knies poked the loose puck in to make it 2-0.
Knies had stolen the puck at the blue line, shielded the defense and dropped a pass to Gilling to set up his goal.
The RedHawks went up three when Green sent a cross-ice pass to Corbett, who trapped it with his skate and beat Weninger short side from the top of the faceoff circle midway through the second period.
The Mavericks cut the lead to one on a 2-on-1 goal by Chayse Primeau and a blue line blast by Jalen Schulz later that frame.
But Miami sealed it with just under four minutes left in regulation, as Green fed Melnick on a 3-on-2 for a rip from the center of the faceoff circle that snuck under the crossbar.
STATS: It was the second career three-assist game for Green, with the other coming earlier this season against Colgate on Oct. 27.
– Corbett recorded his first career multi-point game, and it was the first for Melnick since Miami’s last win, which came on Nov. 17 at Colorado College.
– Andrew Sinard, whose outlet pass to Green resulted in Corbett’s eventual game winner, earned an assist for his first career point.
– Daschke is now tied with Grant Hutton for the team lead in defenseman goals with six, and Knies snapped a 13-game scoring drought.
THOUGHTS: What a relief for Miami.
In terms of standings, this win does little to help the RedHawks except increase the odds they don’t finish last in the NCHC.
But psychologically it had to do wonders.
The third period was the most entertaining frame MU had played in a while, with a high pace of play, plenty of physicality and tons of quality scoring chances for both teams with the score still close.
Miami will need the boost, as the remainder of its schedule is brutal, with all but two of its regular and postseason games almost certainly away from Cady Arena.
Not to take away from this sorely-needed win, but it’s fair to point out that Omaha is seventh in the eight-team league, and it took all Miami had just to split with the Mavericks in Oxford.
The RedHawks will need to play much, much better against much, much better teams, or they will be done by or on St. Patrick’s Day once again.
– Miami did not have a single healthy scratch in this game, as it had just 19 skaters and two goalies available. Bray Crowder, who was hurt on Friday, did not dress for the first time this season, leaving the team with 13 healthy forwards and six defensemen.
Fortunately for the RedHawks, they have a bye next weekend, giving their banged-up players additional time to heal.
– Not sure about the timing of the season ticket renewal offers. There was an announcement and accompanying note on the end zone monitors offering incentives and potential prizes for renewing this weekend.
As in now, as in over a month before this season ends.
One could smell the desperation in the air, and as of game time Saturday, apparently only a handful jumped on the early offer.
FORWARDS: B-. The three goals by this corps were great, but they are still taking too many risks and getting out of position too often. For example, three times in the second period forwards played chicken with UNO skaters that had the puck, trying to strip them while they were on collision course to gain momentum the other way, and none succeeded. Miami wasn’t scored on during any of those occasions but each time the skater was taken out of position. That’s not smart hockey, especially with the lead. Only 15 total shots by 13 forwards against a team that allows 35 per game. Green was outstanding and was named first star but Knies was BoB’s choice, as he was all over the ice all night. Melnick and Corbett were also standouts, and Christian Mohs had good legs and gave the team much-needed energy.
DEFENSEMEN: B-. A pretty average game defensively by this group, and Daschke’s laser of a goal boosts its grade into the ‘B’ range. Grant Hutton was solid on D, but it’s rare he is held without a shot.
GOALTENDING: A-. Larkin turned 31 shots aside, including a 2-on-1 that he sprawled across the crease to kick out and multiple other stops on high-percentage chances. The second UNO goal was a shot from the blue line he probably should’ve stopped, but overall he was excellent.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: Noah Jordan dressed in place of the injured Crowder.
Coach Enrico Blasi has tended to go with seven defensemen this season, but he has no choice with just six healthy.
STANDINGS: With the split, Miami remained two points behind seventh-place Omaha and is three points back of sixth-place Colorado College.
Denver holds that all-important fourth spot and is 10 up on the RedHawks with three games in hand.
After all of Saturday’s games, Miami is No. 38 in the PairWise rankings.
FINAL THOUGHTS: So this series split comes heading into an off-week before a pair of tough road series.
Will the time off be helpful at this point or will that kill any momentum the RedHawks may have gained from this win?
Considering the locker room has been essentially converted to a triage unit the week off will probably benefit Miami more than it hurts.
The pressure that the RedHawks – players as well as coaches – had to be under during their 0-11-4 had to be enormous. This win will hopefully have a cathartic effect.
With Miami almost certainly pigeon holed into one of the lower seeds heading into the NCHC Tournament, it’s still all about getting better heading into that all-important best-of-3 postseason series.
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami outshot Nebraska-Omaha by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, but none of the RedHawks’ 38 shots found the net.
Despite generating just 21 shots, the Mavericks shut out Miami, 3-0 at Cady Arena on Friday, handing MU its ninth straight loss, extending the RedHawks’ winless streak to 15 games and pushing UNO’s unbeaten streak vs. Miami to six.
It’s the second-longest winless streak in RedHawks history, with its worst skid of 17 games coming in 1991.
RECAP: The first period was scoreless, but UNO (9-16-2) opened the scoring six minutes into the second frame when Ryan Galt slid a pass through the slot to Teemu Pulkkinen for a one-timer on the power play.
At the 4:21 mark of the final stanza, John Schuldt wristed one in from along the boards that Miami goalie Ryan Larkin kicked out with his left pad, but the rebound came to Galt for a tap-in.
Mason Morelli sealed it with an empty netter in the closing seconds.
STATS: Miami (9-16-4) has been outscored, 36-10 during its losing streak and 29-5 in its last seven games.
– The RedHawks dropped to 1-24-6 when chasing their 10th win of the season the past three years.
– MU is killing penalties at just a 68.4 percent clip in its last four games and was 2-for-3 in this contest.
THOUGHTS: There was no jump in Miami’s game the first 13 minutes, during which the team posted just one shot on goal.
The RedHawks played better the balance of the first period and was OK the rest of the way.
Mavericks goalie Evan Weninger was very solid in net but Miami also had zero puck luck, hitting the post twice on a third-period power play and had multiple other quality chances that wouldn’t go in.
MU’s lack of recent scoring seemed to affect its skaters, some of whom got off their game trying to find the net.
The RedHawks’ postseason path is sealed: They must win the NCHC Tournament and will have to salvage a best-of-3 road series against one of Division I’s best just to advance to the semifinals in St. Paul.
Miami did nothing to show it is better equipped to tackle that task in this game.
– Scary moment in the third period when defenseman Bray Crowder tried to block a shot and had the puck deflect into his throat area. He went down the tunnel and did not return.
– Karch Bachman finished with a game-high seven shots on goal in the loss. He is generating tons of chances, but he has to score more if he hopes to go from good player to great player in this league and beyond. This was his 12th straight game without a goal.
FORWARDS: D-. Miami dropped to a 0.71 goals-per-game clip in its last seven, and the fault lies largely with this corps. In addition to Bachman’s slump, Casey Gilling has not scored in 11 games, Jonathan Gruden has one in his last 20, and sophomores Phil Knies and Ben Lown have been blanked for 13 and 14 games, respectively. Ryan Siroky – who had five tallies in the first 20 contests – has not scored since. When a team lacks scoring depth it can ill afford to have its top offensive players held off the scoresheet for those spans.
DEFENSEMEN: C+. This group was OK in its own end and did next to nothing offensively. Galt was left wide open at the top of the crease for UNO’s second goal. A pass got through both blueliners on the first one. On the up side, the Mavericks were limited to 21 shots and a number of them were fielded cleanly by Larkin.
GOALTENDING: B. Larkin probably would’ve liked that second goal back, as he kicked it out right to Galt for an easy score. That said, he had no chance on the first one, the third was an ENG and he was solid the rest of the night. This was the best game Larkin has turned in during this nine-game losing streak.
LINEUP CHANGES: Injuries are really piling up for Miami. The only change from last Saturday was Zach LaValle in for Carter Johnson up front.
That’s because Johnson is also banged up. Goalie Jordan Uhelski is as well, as he was scratched and Grant Valentine was listed as the backup.
Also hurt are D Chaz Switzer (lower body), D Grant Frederic (lower body) and F Brian Hawkinson (upper body).
Noah Jordan was the team’s lone healthy scratch.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Add the multitude of injuries to the list of things that have gone wrong for Miami in the second half of the season.
But UNO has had its own issues this season and won relatively easily despite entering play with a 1-10-1 road record.
The RedHawks were able to overcome adversity early in the season. They aren’t now.
Like Miami, Nebraska-Omaha has been going through the meat grinder that is the NCHC schedule.
The Mavericks are 2-6 in their last eight vs. Nos. 3, 20, 5 and 8 the past month.
These teams split when they played at Baxter Arena in what was Miami’s first true set of road games this season.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (8-16-2) at Miami RedHawks (9-15-4).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 6:35 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 21-18-6.
TV: Friday – CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 221).
OMAHA RADIO: Both nights – KZOT-AM (1180), Bellevue, Neb.
MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Not much has changed for the Mavericks since Miami headed to Omaha in early November.
UNO has allowed 99 goals in 26 games – 3.8 per contest – and opponents average 35 shots vs. the Mavericks.
Nebraska-Omaha has not had the offensive firepower to compensate for its lack of defense.
Goalie Evan Weninger has played in 25 games and has a 3.58 goals-against average and a save percentage of .900, which is modern-day hockey’s equivalent of the Mendoza line.
Both backups have struggled in their brief looks between the pipes.
Omaha has four major scoring threats up front, with Fredrik Olofsson and Mason Morelli holding the top two spots in the league.
Olofsson, a senior, has 91 career points and a 10-20-30 line this season, as he also leads all UNO skaters in assists.
Classmate Morelli is tied for third in the NCAA with 17 goals, including seven on the power play. His 12 helpers give him 29 points for the season.
Zach Jordan has added goals on the man-advantage and is 7-16-23, and Taylor Ward is having an outstanding freshman year, scoring seven times and adding 15 assists for 22 points.
But no other Maverick forward has more than 12 points.
On defense, junior Dean Stewart has broken out with four goals and 15 assists after posting just 12 points his first two seasons combined, all on helpers.
Ryan Jones has nine assists, but no other UNO blueliner has more than four points.
The Mavericks’ lineup has been a revolving door, as just six skaters have dressed for all 26 games and 23 have played in 15 or more.
Nebraska-Omaha has been awful on the road, having lost six straight away games and going 1-10-1 overall off campus.
Miami is 0-10-4 in its last 14, tied for its second-longest winless streak in school history, and the RedHawks have lost eight straight.
Five of their last six losses have been by at least three goals, and they’ve been outscored, 26-5 in that span.
With UNO in seventh place in the NCHC, these are the most winnable games the RedHawks will play the rest of the season. Up after this are teams ranked fifth, seventh and eighth, and four of those six games will be on the road.
Miami is 1-6-1 in its last eight vs. the Mavericks and are winless in their last five. The RedHawks’ last win over UNO at Cady Arena was on Dec. 5, 2014.
It truly was Groundhog Day for Miami.
On Feb. 2, a night after the RedHawks lost, 5-1 at No. 1 St. Cloud State, MU fell to the Huskies by an identical score at the Herb Brooks Center.
Gordie Green netted the only Miami goal, with 7:34 left in regulation and the RedHawks down by five.
Blake Lizotte scored twice and added an assist to pace St. Cloud State.
MU dropped its eighth straight game and is winless in its last 14 (0-10-4). Its losing streak is its longest since 1995.
Miami’s winless streak equals its second-longest in team history.
RECAP: For the second straight night, the Huskies wasted no time taking the lead.
At the 2:25 mark, Ryan Poehling dished a pass to a streaking Lizotte, who redirected the pass into the net from the top of the crease.
Jack Ahcan made it 2-0 less than four minutes later, wristing a shot past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the stick side off a centering feed from Patrick Newell.
Lizotte scored again with eight minutes left in the middle stanza, as he was left alone at the side of the net and tapped in a feed from Robbie Jackson.
That duo reversed roles less than five minutes later, as Lizotte kicked a pass out to Jackson, who was alone for a bad-angle one-timer even with the goal line, giving St. Cloud State a four-goal lead.
Nick Pervix extended the Huskies’ lead to five in the final minute of the second period, as he skated from behind the net and stuffed one past Larkin.
Miami scored its lone goal when Grant Hutton fired a shot that hit the stick of teammate Jonathan Gruden and ended up on the stick of Green, who roofed it from the slot.
STATS: Green’s goal was his 10th of the season, extending his team lead, and he is tied with Josh Melnick atop the RedHawks’ point leaderboard with 20.
He picked up a point for the second straight game, as did Grant Hutton, who earned the secondary assist.
— Gruden picked up the primary helper, his second point in three contests.
— Miami is 1-23-6 when pursuing its 10th win the past three seasons.
— The RedHawks were 0-13-1 in early 1985, and their worst-ever winless stretch was a 17-game, 0-16-1 skid in 1990-91.
— MU has given up the first goal in 12 straight games.
— St. Cloud State improved to 12-0 on its home ice.
THOUGHTS: It was Groundhog Day in terms of the score, but unlike Friday, St. Cloud State dominated the first 40 minutes.
Dominated probably isn’t a strong enough word. It looked like the Tampa Bay Lightning playing a Midget Minor team. The shots were 31-9 after two periods.
The Huskies took their foot off the gas in the third period, playing their third and fourth lines a significant amount, and they were less aggressive pushing the offensive tempo.
St. Cloud State played great and deserves credit but Miami made it a lot easier on the Huskies by again failing to cover opponents close to the net and failing to get defensive sticks in the lane.
SCSU also seemingly won every boards battle and was first to every loose puck.
It’s really hard to remain competitive under those conditions.
LINEUP CHANGES: Larkin was in net for the third time in seven games, and this was the first contest he has completed in that stretch.
Scott Corbett returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday, and Zach LaValle did not dress.
STANDINGS: Miami fell to last in the NCHC, two points behind Omaha, which split vs. Western Michigan this weekend.
The RedHawks are 3-11-2 in the conference with 12 league points, two behind the Mavericks. They are 13 points out of fourth, which is the last home-ice spot for the NCHC Tournament.
Eight games remain in both the regular season and conference schedules.
Miami is now 38th in the PairWise.
SCHEDULE: The RedHawks host Omaha next weekend, then after a week off they face Denver and Minnesota-Duluth, both top five teams and both on the road, before wrapping up their regular season slate vs. Western Michigan in Oxford.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was a tall order to earn points on this trip, but Miami didn’t come close, and with the RedHawks plummeting in the league standings, this is one of the teams they would have to beat on the road just to earn a berth in the Frozen Faceoff.
Realistically, MU now has very little chance of earning home ice for the first round of the NCHC Tournament, which means an extremely difficult road series just to advance to the conference semifinals.
And at No. 38 in the PairWise, Miami can forget about any chance of an at-large, even if somehow the team won out.
With their postseason fate somewhat sealed, that may take the pressure off the RedHawks somewhat, as they can concentrate more on getting better for the league tournament.
But this is the type of matchup that awaits when the regular season ends, it will be a sisyphean task for to earn a trip to Minneapolis in March and beyond.
For two periods, Miami remained competitive with the top-ranked team in Division I on the road.
The RedHawks were down just one goal after 40 minutes, but No. 1 St. Cloud State ran off three straight markers in the final frame to seal Miami’s 5-1 loss at the Herb Brooks Center on Friday.
Ryan Poehling, the Montréal Canadiens’ first-round pick in 2017, scored twice and added a pair of assists for the Huskies.
Grant Hutton netted the lone goal for Miami, which lost its seventh straight game and extended its winless streak to 13 (0-9-4).
RECAP: Just 38 seconds in the game, Jack Poehling slammed home a one-time feed from brother Ryan Poehling on a 2-on-1 to give St. Cloud State (19-4-2) the early lead.
Miami (9-14-4) appeared to have tied it midway through the period when Gordie Green stuffed a wraparound just inside the post, but it was ruled no goal on the ice and no conclusive angle showed the puck completely across the goal line.
The RedHawks legitimately evened the score when Hutton wound up at the top of the faceoff circle, pump faked and aimed a modified slap shot into the far corner of the net at the 2:22 mark of the second period.
But just 53 seconds later, the Huskies went ahead for good when Jimmy Schuldt ripped a one-timer inside the near post from the blue line on the power play.
Ryan Poehling made it 3-1 four minutes in the final stanza, as he played give-and-go with Blake Lizotte, who sent a return pass through the crease where it was shoveled into the back of the net by Poehling.
Ryan Poehling extended the Huskies’ lead to three when he skated through the Miami defense, went in alone and beat RedHawks goalie Jordan Uhelski glove side with 12:15 remaining in regulation.
Patrick Newell capped off the scoring with a turnaround wrister from the faceoff dot that hit off the inside of the far crossbar 1:16 to play.
STATS: Hutton’s goal was his second in three games. That moved him into third place unofficially on Miami’s all-time defenseman scorers list with 28 goals.
— Green snapped a string of five games without a point, as he picked up the primary assist.
— Josh Melnick, returning after a six-game injury absence, earned the secondary helper, giving him points in eight straight contests in which he has dressed.
It was career point No. 101 for Melnick, who tied Pat Leahy and Mitch Ganzak for 50th on the RedHawks’ career leaderboard.
THOUGHTS: Despite allowing a goal 38 seconds into the game, Miami played pretty well for 40 minutes, but St. Cloud State dominated the third.
The Huskies led for all but 91 seconds – the first 38 and 53 between Hutton’s goal and SCSU’s eventual game winner.
Defensively, the RedHawks have been sloppier lately, which has compounded the other woes that have culminated in this 2½-month winless streak.
St. Cloud State may be the most skilled all-around teams in Division I, and in the final 20 minutes the Huskies played like it.
— Green’s non-goal is tough for Miami, but there really wasn’t a definitive camera angle showing the puck completely across the line.
One suspects that the puck was completely on white ice at the furthest point goalie David Hrenak extended his glove, but that isn’t proof.
Had it initially been ruled a goal it almost certainly wouldn’t have been disallowed, so the call on the ice was going to the be final one either way.
Things like that seem to happen to struggling teams. At least Green picked up a point on Hutton’s goal.
— Melnick’s return was a blessing, as he did not appear any worse for wear due to his lower-body injury. Hopefully Miami’s offense will be rejuvenated with him healthy.
LINEUP CHANGES: Scott Corbett was scratched for the second time this season, and Brian Hawkinson sat for the first time in his career.
Melnick took one of those forward spots, and Zach LaValle dressed in the other after not dressing last Saturday.
It was Uhelski in net, making his fourth start in six games. He has played in six straight, relieving Ryan Larkin in both of his starts in that span.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The game was closer than the final score indicated, but a great college hockey team played great hockey and pulled away from a lesser squad.
Not much more to be said about this one.
It’s an unforgiving league, and one of the things BoB said was paramount to a solid Miami second half was not letting a losing streak snowball, and that’s exactly what has happened to the RedHawks since the start of 2019.
St. Cloud State and Miami played two dynamic games in Oxford that saw the RedHawks rally to tie both nights against the top-ranked team in Division I.
That was two months ago, and it feels more like two years. MU is 0-7-1 since and is riding a 12-game winless streak.
The Huskies may have left points on the table when visiting Miami but SCSU has been unbeatable at home. St. Cloud State is 10-0 at the Herb Brooks Center and has outscored its opponents, 43-14 in its home rink.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: Miami RedHawks (9-13-4) at No. 1 St. Cloud State Huskies (18-4-2).
WHERE: Herb Brooks Center (5,519), St. Cloud, Minn.
WHEN: Friday – 8:07 p.m.; Saturday – 7:07 p.m.
ST. CLOUD STATE RADIO: KZRV-FM (96.7) and KVSC-FM (88.1), St. Cloud, Minn.
MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: We talked about this two months ago: Few teams in college hockey can match St. Cloud State’s offense.
The Huskies lead the conference in scoring, averaging 3.75 goals per game, and they haven’t fattened up against a few weak opponents. They’ve netted at least four in 15 of their 24 contests.
SCSU’s depth is the envy of the NCAA. Seven skaters are averaging at least three-quarters of a point per game and 12 have points totals in double figures.
Among forwards, Patrick Newell is in a four-way tie atop the NCHC scoring leaderboard with 25 points on 12 goals and 13 assists.
Senior Robbie Jackson has a 10-12-22 line after finishing 15-27-42 last season. He has 103 career points with the Huskies.
Freshman Nolan Walker has been a huge addition for St. Cloud State, netting six goals and adding 15 helpers, and Blake Lizotte has scored eight times while picking up 11 assists.
Ryan Poehling, a first-round pick of Montreal in 2017, has a 3-15-18 line, and Easton Brodzinski and Kevin Fitzgerald have scored 10 goals each.
Jimmy Schuldt and Jack Ahcan share the team lead in defensemen points with 20 each.
Nick Perbix, a Tampa draft pick, is having a stellar rookie season for the Huskies, going 1-10-11 with a plus-15 rating that is tied for tops on the team.
David Hrenak, a Los Angeles Kings selection, has logged 1,031 minutes but has a .902 save percentage, and Jeff Smith has a .918 save percentage, and he relieved Hrenak in SCSU’s most recent 5-1 loss at North Dakota.
St. Cloud State has excelled not only at staying out of the box but not allowing goals when it is shorthanded. The Huskies have surrendered just eight goals on the man advantage on only 77 chances.
It’s unclear who will start in net for Miami. Jordan Uhelski has started three of the last five games and has relieved Ryan Larkin in the other two.
Larkin has been the regular starting goalie most of the season but has allowed 19 goals in his last five outings, including the two in which he was pulled.
The RedHawks are hoping Josh Melnick will return to the lineup for this weekend’s series. The team’s leading scorer with 19 points has missed the last six games with a lower body injury, and Miami is 0-6 with him out.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi was sent a letter of reprimand by the NCHC for his actions during Saturday’s game, College Hockey News reported today.
The RedHawks lost on a 5-on-3 goal late in the third period, and while the teams were forming the postgame handshake line, Blasi walked out to referee Scott Bokal at the blue line and berated him.
Bokal gave it back to Blasi before skating away, ultimately issuing him a game misconduct.
Blasi was irate when the call was made, and after the decisive goal was scored, he grabbed one of his player’s sticks and made a motion as if he was going to throw it onto the ice before smashing it into pieces on the boards.
BoB discussed this whole incident more thoroughly in Saturday’s game report here, but this is really the first time Blasi has exercised the nuclear option in nine years, and he was obviously venting the frustration of a two-month winless streak.
According to the article, the letter said that the reprimand stems from “unsportsmanlike actions and comments toward on-ice officials during and immediately following Miami’s game,” according to the NCHC.
Whatever he said to Bokal after the game was probably really bad, since Blasi wasn’t penalized for breaking a stick although that was mentioned in the reprimand. But Bokal had been hearing it for the better part of 15 minutes and being on skates – as opposed to Blasi who was wearing dress shoes – could’ve easily fled by taking two strides back rather than compound the issue by engaging a clearly furious coach.
It is fair to point out this was Blasi’s second bench blow-up in as many weekends. He screamed at his associate coach, Peter Mannino, during the opener of the RedHawks’ homestand on Jan. 18.
The old-school hockey fan in me doesn’t have that much of a problem with Blasi’s actions once a decade, and honestly if this is finally the spark the team needs to start playing competitive hockey, this tirade was somewhat welcome.
And the league did the right thing here, publicly showing its disapproval but choosing not to suspend Blasi.
OXFORD, Ohio – It was a fitting end to a dreadful January for Miami.
Kristian Blumenschein blasted home a one-timer from the high slot on a 5-on-3 with 3:12 left in regulation, lifting Colorado College to a 3-2 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.
MU led, 2-1 entering the third period.
Miami (9-13-4) finished January 0-7-1 and is winless in its last 12 (0-8-4). The RedHawks have lost six games in a row.
The game ended with MU coach Enrico Blasi drawing a game misconduct for confronting the officials after the game.
That bench penalty could carry a suspension.
RECAP: Colorado College (10-12-3) took the lead just 3:54 into the game when Trey Bradley kicked a pass back to a wide-open Ben Israel in the high slot, and Israel trapped it, wound up and wired it over the glove of Miami goalie Jordan Uhelski.
The RedHawks tied it when Scott Corbett carried the puck across the blue line on the right wing, dragged it to the top of the faceoff circle and wristed it inside the far post with 1:50 left in the opening stanza.
Miami took the lead, 2-1 when Derek Daschke snuck a wrist shot through traffic on the power play with 7:35 left in the second period.
But the Tigers tied it 86 seconds into the final frame when Alex Berardinelli emerged from along the boards with the puck, slid a pass through the slot to a wide-open Cole McCaskill, who snuck in on the back door for a tap-in goal.
The RedHawks’ Casey Gilling was whistled for interference to give Colorado College the decisive power play. Miami went down two men when Andrew Sinard kicked a CC skater’s stick as he reached for it.
Blumenschein ripped his shot over the glove of Uhelski off a feed from Mason Bergh to put CC ahead.
Following the goal, Blasi grabbed a Miami stick and wound up to throw it on the ice but instead shattered it on the boards.
After the game Blasi and referee Scott Bokal jawed at each other at the Miami blue line, sticking their fingers in each other’s faces.
STATS: Daschke scored for the second time in five games, and Corbett snapped a seven-game scoreless streak.
— Gilling picked up an assist, giving him points in consecutive games.
— Miami did win 62 percent of its faceoffs (31 of 50) after struggling mightily in that area much of this month.
— Now the bad: The RedHawks slipped to 1-21-6 the past three seasons when pursuing their 10th win.
— Miami is 1-11-2 in January the past two seasons.
— The RedHawks took the lead and held it for 8:01. It was the first time MU had led at any point in seven games.
THOUGHTS: The Call.
The penalty on Sinard was crucial, and it nearly gave Blasi a coronary.
So a quick summary:
* With the score tied at two, Sinard was whistled for interference at 15:17 of the third period, setting up a 1:23 two-man advantage.
He didn’t do the “distinct kicking motion”, the term hockey throws around when pucks hit skates and result in goals, but made no attempt to avoid the stick.
* Did he do it deliberately? Unclear. He was heading to the bench and maybe he didn’t see it. If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick a side, I’d say he probably knocked it away on purpose. Technically that’s a penalty.
However, the bar is almost always higher when putting a team down two skaters, which results in a goal against a substantial percentage of the time.
* Also, these officials had called a total of two penalties on Friday – one to each team – and just three each prior to Gilling and Sinard’s minors.
* Blasi was also outraged that the officials didn’t make the proverbial make-up call when Grant Hutton was bumped seconds before the goal, but there wasn’t much contact there.
* Were Blasi’s antics following the goal on the bench and also after the game, rehearsed? Knowing him, probably not. It was more likely a frustrated coach losing his mind after a winnable game slipped away.
But even if it was, I think it’s a good thing he lit them up. This team seriously underachieved this month and someone or something needed to fire Miami’s players up.
Especially with a series at St. Cloud looming next weekend.
* For the record, the last time Blasi was kicked out of a game was Feb. 13, 2010 in a 10-2 rout at Bowling Green that also featured one of the team’s most memorable skirmishes.
* The Call – and resulting goal – was a huge part of the game, no doubt, but there are plenty of other questions about how this game flipped from a win to the ‘L’ column.
How did Miami end up with four shots in the third period against a team that had allowed 24 goals in its previous seven games?
Why is Gilling taking an interference call an area code away from the play to initiate that power play?
Why did the entire team flood the left wing in the second minute of that final frame, allowing a wide-open McCaskill an uncontested tap-in to tie it?
Why didn’t Phil Knies bust it on the left wing earlier in the 3-on-5 when Miami had a 2-on-1 to create a better scoring chance?
It was a hard way to lose, no doubt, but there were many other factors that went into this loss than merely a controversial interference call.
— What a crazy shift for Scott Corbett in the second period. He nearly scored, held off several Colorado College defenders along the boards and had the puck roll off his stick for a 2-on-1 the other way before obliterating a Tigers skater at center ice and drawing a retaliation penalty.
That power play culminated in Daschke’s goal, and Corbett scored the other one in the first period.
— It’s probably a little less than 50/50 that Blasi is suspended, and if he is it would likely just be for a game, but any announcement would likely be made on Monday.
FORWARDS: C-. A little more life than Friday but not enough. The creativity of Gordie Green and Karch Bachman has been completely stymied by defenses for weeks and Miami isn’t deep enough up front to have its top scorers held off the scoresheet for long periods of time. Corbett figured in both goals (although he didn’t get a point for the second one), and Gilling and Jonathan Gruden earned assists. Gruden’s father, NY Islanders assistant John Gruden, was in attendance because of the All-Star break.
DEFENSEMEN: C. This corps did clean up its play substantially over Friday but is still allowing too many quality chances. No one picked up the trailer on the second CC goal (Bray Crowder and River Rymsha were on the ice) and the Tigers ended up with at least 10 shots in each period.
GOALTENDING: B. The first goal snuck through traffic, the second was a slam dunk and the third was a rip from the high slot. Maybe Uhelski could’ve stopped the first or last, but he made a radical save on a 2-on-1 (Corbett’s shift, see above) and stopped 31 shots overall and was outstanding at controlling his rebounds.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one among skaters: F Carter Johnson was back on the ice, replacing Zach LaValle.
LaValle had played the previous three games and Johnson had sat the prior two.
Uhelski started for the third time in five games and relieved Ryan Larkin in the other two.
He has been the back-up most of this season but is the hotter of the tandem right now, so it will be interesting to see how much he plays the final 10 games of the regular season.
Co-captain Josh Melnick remains week-to-week with a lower body injury, as he missed his sixth straight game. There’s a very good chance he returns next weekend.
Chaz Switzer was in the stands wearing a boot and fellow D-man Grant Frederic is also out with a lower-bod injury.
SCHEDULE: Miami heads to No. 1 St. Cloud State next weekend. Its other remaining road contests are against No. 4 Denver and No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth.
The four home games left on the RedHawks’ schedule are vs. Nebraska-Omaha in two weeks and No. 13 Western Michigan to wrap up the regular season.
STANDINGS: Colorado College entered the weekend needing all six points to pass Miami for sixth place in the conference standings, and the Tigers swept them all.
At 3-9-2, the RedHawks are currently seventh in the NCHC, just one point ahead of last-place Omaha.
Miami has dropped to No. 35 in the PairWise and are now a major longshot for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The question becomes: If Miami can’t beat Colorado College – playing its eighth and ninth straight road games – in its own rink, how many more wins will the RedHawks get?
Their six remaining road games are brutal. Omaha is beatable but Western Michigan is ranked No. 13 and swept the RedHawks in Kalamazoo.
Those seven and eight seeds are death sentences, with best-of-3s at St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth in those teams’ rinks, so Miami really needs to figure out a way to earn enough points to get out of this hole.
The disturbing thing is we’ve gone from wow, this team could fight for home ice and an NCAA berth to, OK, curb expectations because this is still a pieced-together team to for the love of God, Miami just got manhandled at home by the last-place team in the league — all in a span of 22 days.
And now we’re questioning this team’s compete level, something that was never an issue in calendar year 2018.
So what happened? Miami was going so well against St. Cloud, when the RedHawks tied the Huskies twice at Cady Arena to cap off the first half of the season.
The loss of one of the captains is huge, no doubt, but that doesn’t explain not showing up for Game 1 of this series and blowing Game 2 in the third period against a CC team that had two previous conference wins.
Hopefully the RedHawks’ coaching staff has the answer and solution, because it’s hard to be optimistic about Miami’s chances next weekend when the team is 0-8-4 in its last 12 and is visiting the top-ranked team in Division I.
And at this point the RedHawks’ odds of advancing to the Frozen Faceoff and beyond for the first time in four years are looking equally bleak.