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Miami ties PC on late goals

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.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

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.

Miami’s Christian Mohs (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

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…

Miami’s Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— 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.

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— 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.

Miami’s Andrew Sinard (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

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.

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Miami lead slips away at Providence

Miami didn’t show any ill effects from its five-week holiday layoff in its first period of regular season hockey since Dec. 1.

The final 40 minutes, however, saw No. 10 Providence dominate the No. 16 RedHawks, as the Friars scored three unanswered goals in a 4-2 win over MU at Schneider Arena on Friday.

Miami’s Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Providence (12-4-3) erased a one-goal deficit to record its fifth straight win while the RedHawks extended their winless streak to five.

Josh Melnick did record his 99th career point in the Miami loss on a late first period goal.

RECAP: Providence took the lead 4:22 into the first when Tyce Thompson wired home a one-time pass from the faceoff dot short side over the shoulder of RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin off a feed from Brandon Duhaime.

Miami’s Ryan Siroky (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

But Miami (9-7-3) took advantage of its early power play chances, scoring twice in the first-period opportunities.

Ryan Siroky was left alone in the slot and rammed home a one-timer from Phil Knies 100 seconds later, tying the score.

Melnick scored on the man-advantage with 2:50 left in the opening frame, whipping a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle through Friars goalie Hayden Hawkey to give the RedHawks a 2-1 lead.

Scott Conway tied it at the 6:33 mark of the second period, knocking home a backdoor feed from Kasper Bjorkqvist on the power play.

The score remained 2-2 until Matt Koopman redirected a Josh Wilkins wrist shot midway through the final frame.

With 4:04 left, Greg Printz fed Vimal Sukumaran from along the boards to the top of the crease, and Sukumaran was able to bat one by Larkin to seal it.

STATS: Shots aren’t always an accurate gauge of team performance, but it’s pretty telling that Providence finished with a 42-15 edge in that category, including 30-7 the final two periods.

Derek Daschke led RedHawks skaters with two points on a pair of assists.

— Melnick is one point away from becoming the 52nd Miamian to record 100 career points. He also extended his points streak to six games with three goals and four assists in that stretch.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Grant Hutton picked up the primary assist on that goal, his first point in nine games.

— Knies also earned a helper in his return from an upper-body injury that held him out of the RedHawks’ last six contests.

— Siroky’s marker was his fourth of the season, giving him a career high.

— Miami’s shot differential of minus-27 was its worst in 364 days. On Jan. 5, 2018, Denver outshot the RedHawks by 28 but MU won that game, 4-3.

THOUGHTS: The thought was that if Miami survived the first period it would be OK, but the last 40 minutes ended being its demise.

To be fair, Providence is one of the best defensive teams in Division I – the Friars blanked the RedHawks in Erie earlier this season – as PC allows fewer than 23 shots per game.

Miami finished with 15: Eight in the first period, three in the second and four in the third. That’s despite having four power plays vs. two for Providence.

And beyond just shots, the Friars seemed to control play almost the entire final 40 minutes. The RedHawks hung in, holding the lead until the 14th minute of the middle stanza and remained tied until midway through the third.

Obviously, this road matchup was going to be a difficult one for Miami, and while it certainly wasn’t a disaster, the RedHawks’ inability to do anything the last two-thirds of the game was disappointing.

— Not to pile on, but Hawkey, the Friars’ all-world goalie, probably should’ve stopped one or both of Miami’s goals.

Hawkey was in position to deny the Siroky shot but it slid under him, and Melnick’s wrister found a hole up high.

Miami’s Christian Mohs (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

LINEUP CHANGES: Larkin and Knies returned from injuries, meaning Jordan Uhelski – who led Miami to a pair of ties vs. St. Cloud State – was relegated to backup while Knies supplanted Carter Johnson, who had dressed in Miami’s previous four games.

Christian Mohs was in the lineup for the third straight contest, as he seems to be slightly ahead of Zach LaValle on the depth chart at this point. LaValle sat for the fourth straight game.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Basically, a good team lost to a very good team in the very good team’s rink.

Both of Miami’s goals were on the power play, so the RedHawks still have not scored at even strength this season against the Friars.

The good to take from this is that Miami came out ready to play in a hostile rink after a long layoff (Providence played on Dec. 7 and twice last weekend) and hopefully moving forward this game will have served as a proverbial character-building opportunity.

Season preview I: New faces

Four forwards and two defenseman join the Miami program this fall.

Plus Christian Mohs enters his redshirt freshman season after injuring himself prior to 2016-17.

All of the incoming freshmen played their juniors hockey in the USHL, the top such league in the U.S., and Mohs thrived in the NAHL.

BoB takes a look at the new faces in Oxford this fall.

F Ben Lown, Omaha (USHL) – A product of the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s (Minn.) program, he scored 70 goals in two seasons in their youth development program. He logged the majority of 2015-16 in the NAHL and played his first full season of USHL hockey last year as an 18-year-old with a brutal Omaha team, going 11-12-23 with a minus-25 rating in 51 games. He’s super small at 5-feet-7.

F Christian Mohs, Minot (NAHL) – Mohs blew his knee out prior to last season and was reshirted. He played high school hockey for three years in his native Minnesota, and after a year of NA3HL, he joined Minot for 2015-16. In two seasons there he racked up 101 points in 118 games, including 35 goals. Mohs is already 22, so he has plenty of experience, but the question is how well he will do when he puts his repaired knee to the test. With hockey players, it often takes time to regain confidence.

F Casey Gilling, Muskegon (USHL) – Gilling played his first full season in the USHL in 2016-17, and he racked up 15 goals and 18 assists in 33 games, thriving after playing the previous season in the NAHL. He has good size for college at 6-feet-1, 185 pounds. He’s still just 19 and has over two full seasons of juniors experience under his belt.

F Phil Knies, Sioux City (USHL) – Knies was actually born in Slovakia but grew up in Phoenix. Another small guy at 5-9, 170, Knies thrived in his second USHL season. He scored 21 goals, set up 20 more and was plus-17 and picked up 10 points in 13 playoff games as Sioux City was a Clark Cup finalist.

F Austin Alger, Muskegon (USHL) – The younger brother of teammate Alex Alger, Austin recorded 43 points in 57 games last season with Omaha and Muskegon. It was his second season in the USHL and he nearly doubled his point rate over 2015-16. Alger is almost identical in size to his brother at 5-11, 167. He was named Mr. Hockey in Michigan his senior season of high school prior to his USHL career. He scored 86 goals in four prep seasons.

D Alec Mahalak, Youngstown (USHL) – In his first USHL game, Mahalak recorded three assists. That was the only contest he would play in for Youngstown in 2015-16, but he logged 58 games last season and tallied 23 points, including five goals. Mahalak is definitely small for a defenseman (5-9-171) but has good puck-moving skills and will hopefully be able to quarterback the power play at some point.

D Rourke Russell, Green Bay (USHL) – Last season, Russell made the jump from NAHL to USHL and thrived, dishing for 10 assists and recording a plus-15 rating in 59 games for Green Bay. He’s never scored a lot at any level but has a reputation as a solid shut-down guy. He is still building much-needed muscle for bone-crunching NCHC play. Russell is 6-1-176 and has a great hockey name.