It’s official: Miami will open the NCHC Tournament on the road for the fourth straight season.
Denver beat the RedHawks, 5-2 at Magness Arena on Saturday, which dropped MU 13 points behind the fourth-place Pioneers with four games remaining.
The top four seeds host best-of-3 series in the first round of the conference tournament.
RECAP: Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicius buried a one-timer from just inside the faceoff circle, set up by an Emilio Pettersen feed from the wall at the 3:31 mark of the first period.
The score remained 1-0 for over a period and a half until Miami’s Josh Melnick tied it shorthanded, whipping a shot just under the crossbar on a 2-on-1 after he and Brian Hawkinson played give-and-go with 5:17 left in the second period.
But the Pioneers would break it open in a 17-second span of the third period on a pair of goals Jack Doremus. He redirected a wrist shot by Griffin Mendel into the net at 5:17 and fired a slapper that beat Miami goalie Ryan Larkin moments later.
The RedHawks cut the deficit to one, 3-2 when Zach LaValle lunged into the crease to poke home a rebound after Filip Larsson couldn’t control a wrist shot by Monte Graham with 11:47 left in regulation.
Denver regained its two-goal lead on the power play, with Lukosevicius shoveling home a centering feed in the slot with 7:46 remaining.
Colin Staub sealed it with an empty netter, as he chased down a clearing pass and tapped it in.
STATS: The four goals allowed in the third period is the most surrendered in a frame this season for Miami.
— Melnick extended his points streak to three games, as he has two goals and two assists in that span.
With 105 points, the senior is now 47th on the RedHawks’ all-time scoring list.
— LaValle’s marker was his first since Oct. 27.
— Denver led on the shot counter, 43-17. For the weekend, the Pioneers outshot Miami, 90-38.
— The RedHawks did not score on the power play for the fourth straight game, and they are 13-for-20 on the penalty kill in their last six (65.0 percent).
THOUGHTS: Miami played pretty evenly with Denver following the first goal and set itself up to steal some road points with the score tied at one after 40 minutes.
But defending the slot area was a major issue for the RedHawks, who allowed two deflection goals and a one-timer by a loosely-covered Lukosevicius, arguably the best scorer on the team.
Even the empty netter was scored from that area.
Miami battled hard in this game, tying the score at one and cutting a two-goal deficit to one, but the sixth period of the weekend at altitude ultimately spelled the RedHawks’ demise.
— Normally a 1-1 weekend at the seventh-ranked team in Division I would be considered a victory, and it is to a large degree, but because Miami has dug itself such a deep hole in the standings, it needed more than three points for any chance at home ice for the playoffs.
With that decided, at least the RedHawks know for sure they will be packing their bags for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the only question remaining is where they will be heading.
— River Rymsha dished out a solid hit in the closing seconds and was chased down by Slava Demin as the horn sounded, but little came from it.
After review, Rymsha was assessed a major and game misconduct for a supposed hit to the head that even the homer Denver broadcasters didn’t see.
According to the broadcasters on Altitude Network, Miami coach Enrico Blasi was initially confrontational with DU coach David Carle before his handshake, though that was not shown.
On replay, it appeared the skater’s head dropped down as he wound up for a hard dump-in. Going full speed, there’s no way Rymsha could’ve known that or reacted to it in time.
Someone ask Rymsha how he feels about replay, since this is the second time he gotten 5-and-10 for a hit none of the four officials saw live and he’s now one misconduct away from a one-game suspension.
Typically don’t like to call out college broadcasting, but DU’s on-air team on Altitude was defending Demin for running Rymsha because the hit was late in the game. So a player is supposed to get a free pass because of how much time is left?
Why not just call the game when the margin reaches three goals?
— While we’re on the subject, Altitude did refer to Bray Crowder, who is 6-feet-6, as the second-tallest skater on Miami. That is correct.
The tallest? That would be Alec Mahalak at 6-9.
That’s even more hilarious considering the box score from Denver had Andrew Sinard – the RedHawks’ actual tallest player at 6-7 – listed as on the ice for two goals against when Mahalak was actually out there.
Altitude also kept referring to Miami’s recent winless streak as being 11 games, which is very polite but inaccurate. The RedHawks lost 11 games during an 0-11-4 stretch.
That’s 15 games. Eleven was also in the game notes, which is likely where they got that info.
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LINEUP CHANGES: Only one from Friday: Crowder was back from his upper-body injury. He missed two games.
As a result, Carter Johnson did not dress as Miami went with seven defensemen.
STANDINGS: At 5-13-2 in league play, Miami is in seventh place in the NCHC, one point ahead of Omaha and three behind sixth-place Colorado College.
St. Cloud State clinched the league regular season title this weekend, so the No. 8 seed will head there.
UMD and Western Michigan will likely finish in the two and three spots, so there’s a good chance the RedHawks travel to one of those two campuses for the conference tournament.
MU is tied for No. 35 in the PairWise rankings.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Four games remain in the regular season – two away, two at home – and at this point it’s all about getting ready for the postseason.
The road win on Friday was definitely nice but Miami needs to play better for 60 minutes if it hopes to advance to St. Paul next month.
Speaking of Minnesota, the RedHawks are off to their favorite home away from home next week: UMD.
But what a statement MU could make if it could pull off a win or two in its final road series of the regular season against the No. 3 team in Division I, where Miami is winless in its last 11.
Despite being outshot by more than a 2-to-1 ratio, Miami won its first game at No. 7 Denver in four years, largely thanks to a pair of Ryans.
Ryan Larkin stopped 46 shots and Ryan Siroky recorded his first career multi-goal game, scoring twice in the RedHawks’ 3-1 win over the Pioneers at Magness Arena on Friday.
Miami (11-16-4) snapped an eight-game road winless streak and gave the RedHawks their first winning streak since November.
MU’s last win on DU’s home ice came on Feb. 27, 2015.
RECAP: The RedHawks took the lead just 3:08 into the game when Siroky reached out with his stick and redirected a blueline pass from Alec Mahalak into the net with one hand from the side of the net.
Siroky scored again 1:53 into the second period when River Rymsha threw a puck at the net from the blue line and he was able to tip it home from the top of the crease.
Only 47 seconds later, Miami extended the lead to three when Karch Bachman eluded a defender at the faceoff dot, cut to the slot and backhanded one in on the glove side.
Ian Mitchell snuck a wrist shot in from the blue line to give Denver (16-8-4) its only goal just 55 seconds after the RedHawks had made it 3-0.
STATS: Larkin’s 46 saves were the second most of his career. His highest total was against Denver on Nov. 19, 2016 when he stopped 49 shots. He also turned 44 shots aside vs. the Pioneers last season.
— Siroky netted his sixth and seventh goals of the season, giving him as many tallies as his freshman, sophomore and junior years combined.
It was his second career multi-point game, with the other coming Jan. 5 at Providence.
— Bachman and Derek Daschke also finished with two points, with both of Daschke’s coming on assists.
Both have three points in two games, as does Josh Melnick, who notched a helper.
THOUGHTS: This was a case of the goalie proverbially stealing one on the road, as Larkin made a couple of highlight-reel saves in the first period.
Denver pretty much dominated in every other category and seemed to control the puck the entire game.
But winning on the road is tough, especially against highly-ranked teams, especially at altitude and especially when a team has not done so in over three months.
— Siroky is really thriving around the net, as he scored his first goal while practically falling away from the play and the second on a beautiful deflected in the slot.
— Bachman’s goal – the only one for either team not scored off a shot or pass from the blue line – snapped a 13-game drought for the junior and will hopefully boost his confidence. He has been streaky this season and is starting to heat up.
— That shot discrepancy looks even worse when you consider Miami had six shots on the power play vs. one for Denver. That means when the RedHawks were not on the man-advantage, they were outshot, 46-15.
The RedHawks did not score on the power play and the Pioneers scored their lone 5-on-4.
LINEUP CHANGES: The week off came at a good time for Miami.
Brian Hawkinson was back in the lineup after missing four games due to an upper-body injury, but Scott Corbett was mysteriously scratched for the third time this season.
Bray Crowder made the trip but did not dress, as he sat for the second straight game with an upper-body injury.
It was Larkin’s fourth straight game in net for the RedHawks.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s something about Denver that brings out the best in Miami, at least on the scoresheet.
This is a good experience for the RedHawks, who won a critical road game against a more skilled opponent.
That’s the situation they will face when the NCHC Tournament starts, as they will almost certainly be facing a top-10 team away from home in a best-of-3.
Miami snapped its 15-game winless streak two weeks ago.
Next on the RedHawks’ checklist is ending an 0-6-2 skid away from Cady Arena.
And Denver has been somewhat vulernable lately, winning just two of its last six.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: Miami RedHawks (10-16-4) at No. 7 Denver Pioneers (16-7-4).
WHERE: Magness Arena (3,642), Denver, Colo.
WHEN: Both games – 9:07 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 14-11-3.
TV: Saturday – Altitude Network (DirecTV Ch. 681).
MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
DENVER RADIO: Both nights – KKFN-FM (104.3), Denver, Colo.
The Pioneers have been held to eight goals in their last six games after scoring at nearly a three-and-a-half goal clip the first half of the season.
Liam Findlay hasn’t had any problem producing offensive for DU, as he leads the team with 27 points, including a Pioneers-best 15 assists.
A freshman, Emilio Pettersen, is tops in assists with 17 to go along with six goals for 23 points.
Jarid Lukosevicius and Cole Guttman are both in double-digits in goals with 13 and eight, respectively, and Brett Stapley has been another key contributor up front for the Pioneers with five goals and 12 helpers.
Denver’s defense corps moves the puck well and is solid in its own end.
Ian Mitchell has 13 assists as well as three goals to pace the blueliners, and Slava Demin has scored four times and chipped in nine assists.
Michael Davies is also in double digits in points with 11, and senior Lester Lancaster has four tallies.
The Pioneers have battled injury problems in net this season, but Denver has still been solid in net and it appears both of its starters are finally healthy.
Devin Cooley has the better overall numbers this far, with a 1.93 goals-against average and a save percentage of .934. Filip Larsson’s GAA is 2.43 and his save percentage is .918.
DU hasn’t been particularly impressive on special teams, with a 16.0 percent rate on the power play and a penalty kill clip of 80.4. But the Pioneers are disciplined, as opponents have just 103 man-advantage opportunities in 2018-19.
Miami has matchup well against Denver in recent years, earning a tie and a win vs. the Pioneers last season and tying them twice in Magness Arena when DU was No. 1 in early 2016-17.
Recently, the RedHawks have struggled to score and prevent opponents from doing so. They have scored two goals or fewer in eight of their last nine games, including three shutouts, and in 11 of 12 contests Miami has surrendered at least three markers.
Head coach Jim Montgomery left for the NHL this spring, and the Pioneers’ three top scorers and five of their top 10 points producers from 2017-18 bolted for the pros in recent months.
So Denver has a lot of work ahead if it hopes for return trip to the regional final.
NCAA titles: 8 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005, 2017).
COACH: David Carle (first season).
2017-18 RECORD: 23-10-8.
POSTSEASON: Lost to Ohio State, 5-1 in a regional final.
RINK (capacity): Magness Arena (6,315).
MIAMI VS. DENVER LAST SEASON: 1-2-1.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 14-11-3.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Feb. 22-23 – at Denver.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Colin Staub, F Jarid Lukosevicius, D Ian Mitchell.
KEY NEW FACES: F Brett Stapley, F Mathias Emilio Pettersen, F Cole Guttman, D Slava Demin, D Sean Comrie, D Les Lancaster, G Filip Larssen.
KEY LOSSES: F Troy Terry, F Dylan Gambrel, F Henrik Borgstrom, F Logan O’Connor, F Blake Hillman.
NOTES: Denver probably expected early departures this off-season, but the Pioneers were hit harder than many expected.
DU has 11 freshmen listed on its roster, and its goaltending threesome has logged a total of 20 collegiate minutes.
Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell – all of whom left before completing four seasons – combined for 143 points in 2017-18.
Leading the way up front this season will be Jarid Lukosevicius, who scored 21 times last season, and two-way stud and team captain Colin Staub, a senior who has logged 117 career games and tallied 51 points.
Undersized Liam Finlay and Jake Durflinger produced 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Several of Denver’s newest forwards have been drafted, and the Pioneers will need them to contribute right away if they hope to return to the top tier of the NCHC standings.
Brett Stapley (Montréal), Mathias Emilio Pettersen (Calgary) and Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay) were all taken in the last two rounds.
On defense, Ian Mitchell led all blueliners last season in assists (28) and points (30) as a freshman.
But other than Mitchell, only Griffin Mendel and Michael Davies were the only other DU blueliners to dress for the majority of games in 2017-18.
Les Lancaster is an interesting addition, as he racked up 81 points at Mercyhurst, and he is eligible this season because he’s a graduate transfer.
Slava Demin, a Vegas fourth-round pick who thrived in the BCHL last season, is also expected to make a pick impact on the DU defense corps.
In net, Devin Cooley played one period last season as a freshman, as Tanner Jaillet was a mainstay between the pipes, and Detroit draftee Filip Larssen is expected to log substantial minutes as a freshman.
Denver has a talented freshman class coming in, but the Pioneers lost a lot of NHL-caliber talent and lack experience at forward, defense and especially in net.
Coach Jim Montgomery accepted the head coaching job with the Dallas Stars, and assistant David Carle was promoted to his position despite being just 28.
Carle is an NHL draftee, but sadly his career ended when he was diagnosed with a heart problem prior to him dressing in the NCAA.
He was a student assistant for Denver during his collegiate years, and after a year at USHL Green Bay as an assistant coach, he returned to the Pioneers as an assistant to Montgomery the past four seasons.
NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the second of seven installments.
The first one on Colorado College can be read here: 2018-19 Colorado College preview
Miami didn’t win on Saturday, but it did come back from three down to eke out a tie in its regular season finale.
That was on the road vs. the fifth-ranked team in college hockey.
After falling behind, 3-0 less than five minutes in, the RedHawks rallied for a 3-3 tie at No. 5 Denver on Saturday and earned the extra point in the NCHC standings with a 3-on-3 win.
Despite earning seven conference points in its final four games, Miami finished last in the eight-team NCHC.
The RedHawks enter the playoffs having won just two of its last 15 games (2-10-3). They will travel to No. 2 St. Cloud State next week to open the NCHC Tournament in a best-of-3 series.
RECAP: Just 4:19 into the first period, Denver had already taken a 3-0 lead.
Henrik Borgstrom centered one from behind the net to Jarid Lukosevicius in the slot for a one-timer 73 seconds into the game.
Eighteen seconds later, Ryan Barrow went in alone and beat Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the forehand.
In another three minutes, Adam Plant found the net from the outside edge of the faceoff circle on a wrister through traffic.
Then the comeback.
The RedHawks converted on a 2-on-0, with Gordie Green tapping home the centering feed by Kiefer Sherwood with 3:15 left in the first period as a Denver defender collided with goalie Tanner Jaillet.
Jaillet finished the period but did not play the balance of the game.
New Pioneers goalie Dayton Rasmussen was beaten on his first shot. After Zach LaValle won a battle along the boards, the puck found Karch Bachman, who skated in and fired one home from a bad angle.
Bachman tipped home a blue-line shot by Louie Belpedio to tie it.
In the 3-on-3 overtime, Phil Knies stole the puck and wired one home over Rasmussen’s shoulder.
STATS: This was the 16th straight game in which the team that scored first also scored second.
That means either Miami or its opponent has taken a 2-0 lead or more in every contest since Jan. 5. The odds of that happening at random are over 65,000 to 1.
— The RedHawks snapped a seven-game streak without a power play goal, and they also scored in the first period for the first time in eight contests.
Miami’s first-period goal total and its PPG total have been identical in nine straight games.
— It was the first multi-goal game of Bachman’s career. The sophomore has already tripled his rookie goal-scoring input, as he has six markers this season vs. two in 2016-17.
— Sherwood extended his team-best points streak to four games. He is 2-3-5 in that stretch and picked up a pair of assists in this contest.
THOUGHTS: What a crazy ending.
A Miami team that went 0-3-1 on a four-game road trip vs. Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College and was 1-8-1 in its previous 10 contests broke even in its last four against North Dakota and Denver.
Crazier is that the RedHawks’ opponents that took a 3-0 lead the past two weekends finished 0-1-1 in those games.
Craziest: In Miami’s last 16 games, the team that has scored first has also netted the next goal. So RedHawks games have had a 2-0 score at some point in every contest since early January.
These games were irrelevant to Miami from a seedings perspective, but a 1-1-2 record in its last four regular season contests vs. North Dakota and at Denver should at least inspire hope.
— A big positive to take away from this game is Bachman’s scoring. He has been partly inaccurate, partly snakebitten while being placed on skill lines this season, and with his speed if he can start to find the net regularly his final two years could be very lucrative.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: At forward, Carson Meyer was reinserted and Christian Mohs did not dress.
It was just the second game Meyer has missed this season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: These games were irrelevant in terms of the RedHawks’ place in the tournament world but had to give them momentum heading into the NCHCs.
They hung with one of the top dogs in D-I for 125 minutes on the road.
It’s the beauty of March: A poor regular season can be reversed with a conference tournament win.
And desperation can be a strong weapon. St. Cloud State will play in the NCAAs, and any subsequent opponent in the NCHC field would likely be in that boat as well.
There is no future beyond next weekend if Miami doesn’t win this series.
Four years ago the RedHawks were in the same predicament and also faced St. Cloud in the first round. Miami won that series and ultimately fell a goal short in the NCHC championship game.
The odds of an NCAA berth for Miami are long, but a desperate RedHawks team again faces an elite SCSU team that will play on college hockey’s biggest stage regardless of this weekend’s outcome.
Denver had three power play chances in the first period and scored on two of them.
The Pioneers added another goal early in the second period for a three-goal lead it would not relinquish in Friday’s 6-3 DU win over Miami at Magnuss Arena.
The RedHawks (11-18-4) did pull to within a goal in the closing minutes but No. 5 Denver punched in a pair of late markers to seal the win.
Miami has lost 10 straight March games and is 0-9 in this month the past three seasons. The RedHawks are 0-7-1 on the road since their last victory outside of Oxford on Dec. 8, and they have a 2-10-2 overall record in their last 14 games.
RECAP: It was the Dylan Gambrell show early.
The DU forward scored on the backhand from the slot to open the scoring, and his shot from the same area was tipped in by Jarid Lukosevicius to make it 2-0.
Rudy Junda extended the DU lead to three when he took a behind-the-net feed from Kolin Olischefski, was denied by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin and batted home the rebound.
The RedHawks cut the deficit to two when Kiefer Sherwood knocked home a one-time pass from Phil Knies on a 3-on-1.
With 10:14 left in the second period, Logan O’Connor centered a pass to Henrik Borgstrom, and the puck hit off Borgstrom’s skate and into the net, making it 4-1.
Miami trimmed the lead to two with five minutes remaining in regulation when Conor Lemirande penetrated the zone and had his pass into the slot hit a Denver player and carrom in.
The RedHawks’ Casey Gilling’s feed also hit a Pioneers defender, deflecting off a stick and into the net with 3:57 remaining.
But a seeing-eye shot from the blue line by Adam Plant found the cage with 2:23 left to make it 5-3, and Colin Staub capped the scoring with an empty netter.
STATS: Slow starts have been the norm for Miami in recent weeks, as the team has been outscored, 9-0 in the first period its last seven games.
The RedHawks also have not scored a power play goal in that seven-game span, going 0-for-22 on the man advantage.
Denver (18-8-7) had five power play chances, scoring on two of them. Miami was on the man advantage once.
— It was the first career multi-point game for Rourke Russell, who picked up two assists.
— Sherwood has scored in consecutive games for the second time this season and has a team-best three-game points streak.
— Gilling scored for the first time in seven games. Lemirande had not scored in his last 25 contests.
THOUGHTS: Did we mention the early power play goals for Denver?
An opponent just can’t give the Pioneers three chances in the first period and expect to win, especially on their home ice.
Then it was 3-0, and that pretty much sealed Miami’s fate for the night.
To the RedHawks’ credit, they battled until the end, trimming a 4-1 Denver lead to one before ultimately surrendering a fifth goal followed by an empty netter.
Being an early no-show has been a theme for Miami this season and is a tough way to make a living in the ultra-competitive NCHC.
— Both early goals were scored because Denver was allowed to control the slot. Gambrell skated laterally to get in there for his goal, and he did the same from the opposite direction on goal No. 2, which was tipped in by Lukosevicius – a player allowed to camp out at the top of the crease.
— It was a strange night for redirected pucks. Miami had one go in off a skate and another hit a stick, as both completely changed direction en route to the net.
One could argue the RedHawks got somewhat lucky in getting back into the game, since those consecutive goals took the score from 4-1 to 4-3.
To be fair, Denver also scored one – its fourth of the night – when a centering feed hit Borgstrom’s skate before finding its mark.
LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, Christian Mohs dressed for just the eighth time this year, and Zach LaValle was in the lineup for only the second time in eight contests.
Carson Meyer was the notable scratch, as the Columbus Blue Jackets draftee has struggled this season. It’s the second time he has not played this season. Willie Knierim was also out of the lineup.
No changes on defense.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Officially these games mean nothing for Miami, which has one clear route to the NCAA Tournament: Beat St. Cloud next week and win the NCHC Tournament.
But it would’ve been nice if there were more positives to be taken from this game.
The RedHawks did battle after falling behind by three, which is admirable in an essentially meaningless game, and Sherwood continues to shine after a sub-par first half.
That’s the boom from this one.
The negatives: Opponents didn’t pay a price in the slot – a recurring theme – the team got off to a slow start, etc.
Ideally, it would be nice to have momentum heading into the opening round of the conference tournament. Denver and SCSU are the elite of the elite in this conference, and Miami needs to show it can compete on the road against Division I’s best.
Unfortunately, this game did little to inspire confidence.
OXFORD, Ohio – For a three-goal loss that was completely one-sided in the first two periods, Miami found a way to make the final 20 minutes interesting.
No. 5 Denver scored the first three goals in a 4-1 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday, as the teams split their weekend series.
The Pioneers (12-6-4) were a huge favorite, so winning one was a bit of a victory for the RedHawks. But since MU was .500 after the first half of the season, it needs to make up games somewhere, and this weekend wasn’t it.
This series was actually more of a reinforcement that, while the RedHawks (9-9-2) are improved over 2016-17, Miami’s overall talent does not match up with the NCAA’s elite.
RECAP: Denver scored twice in the first period and once more in the first minute of the final stanza to take a 3-0 lead.
The shots were 28-5 in favor of the Pioneers after 40 minutes.
But then it got interesting.
Miami pulled the goalie five minutes into the third period.
The RedHawks, who were anemic on the power play all night, thrived with the extra attacker.
Kiefer Sherwood broke after an extended 6-on-5 to make it 3-1.
And Miami drew a penalty on the goal, setting up a power play.
The crowd, comatose after the early domination, was suddenly into the game.
But the man-advantage fizzled and Denver eventually scored an empty netter to seal it.
Miami did outshoot Denver, 20-5 in the last 20 minutes.
STATS: Sherwood and Casey Gilling both extended points streaks to three games. Gilling is 2-3-5 in that stretch.
– Rare to see the starting/lone goalie of team log just 51:38.
– In the you’ll-see-something-new-every-time-you-go-to-the-rink department, Miami iced the puck twice while on a 6-on-5. The NCAA rule is that when a team ices the puck, no one on said team is allowed to leave, but apparently an exception is made for goalies. Both times the RedHawks did this they were able to pull one skater.
THOUGHTS: Not much to add from Friday’s game. Denver is more talented and came out aiming to prove that. Cudos to Miami for battling back in the third after an anemic first 40 minutes. And they were anemic.
FORWARDS: D. One goal only after the outcome had been decided. Gordie Green and Josh Melnick were both held without a shot.
DEFENSEMEN: D+. Too many high-percentage scoring chances for DU at this corps’ hands.
GOALTENDING: B. It was a shooting gallery for Ryan Larkin the first two periods. He made a couple of excellent saves and is certainly not accountable for the loss.
LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Zach LaValle was in at forward, replacing Willie Knierim. Knierim had dressed in the last nine games, and LaValle had sat for three in a row.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Splits against top-10 teams are nice, but when you’re .500 heading into the break, at some point you have to sweep someone.
Denver is an exceptional team, and Miami will have to gain ground against someone else.
OXFORD, Ohio – So it’s official: Miami will enter the NCHC Tournament with a losing record for the third time in four years.
That seemed like an inconceivable concept four years ago when the RedHawks joined the newly-formed league, having at that time qualified for eight straight NCAA Tournaments, including a pair of Frozen Four berths and a national championship game appearance.
Yet, here we are after the RedHawks suffered their second consecutive 5-2 loss to No. 2 Denver at Cady Arena and their fourth straight defeat overall. They are 1-7-1 in their last nine.
One of the tougher things to comprehend about this extended swoon is that Miami (9-15-6) is hosting the NCAA regionals for the third time since 2013, and now there’s about a 90 percent chance the RedHawks will not play a single NCAA Tournament game in Cincinnati.
And many have been so upset about Miami’s placement in the NCAA brackets over the years. It’s fair to say fans, players and coaches have no right to complain about that ever again. This spring the RedHawks would’ve traveled a whopping 35 miles south for their regional games, and the Frozen Four is just a five-hour bus trip away in Chicago, a city no college hockey team calls home.
Hockey has been THE sport in Oxford since the Goggin Ice Center and Cady Arena opened in 2006, with students camping out in front of the facility for days just to get into games when Miami was regularly the top-ranked team in Division I.
The number 3,642 was ingrained in the heads of those who followed the program: That was the attendance figure when games were sold out, which was almost always in the first half decade of the new facility.
In 2016-17 the high-water mark was 3,032 vs. Nebraska-Omaha, perhaps because some thought the “O” on the Mavericks’ jerseys stood for Ohio State. The RedHawks are averaging 2,528 this year.
Football has always been an easier sell in southern Ohio, and those RedHawks wrote quite a story this season, starting 0-6 before winning their last six and falling by a point in their bowl game.
They averaged 17,110 in 2016, and while of course schools have plenty of crossover fans, at a school like Miami that is in a rural area with many of its alumni an hour or more away – often much more – it doesn’t take a genius to realize more of those graduates will bring themselves, their families and their money to Yager rather than the ice center a mile south this fall when they visit Oxford.
In sports, fans have short memories and winning solves a lot of problems. Team morale and fan support – the latter of which ultimately generates that all-important revenue – will go away when this program starts winning again.
The sooner that happens Cady Arena can sell out games again as it tries to regain its spot atop the Miami sports pecking order.
– One of the most disappointing things about this 1-7-1 slide is there’s little fire being displayed. Some decent hits are being dished out, but goalie Ryan Larkin gets poked at and bumped on a regular basis and rarely has anyone shoved an opponent out of the crease. For that matter, when’s the last time there was any kind of skirmish? Not advocating a 1970s Boston Bruins line brawl, but some opponent hatred would be nice to see. This is the fourth season of the league, so the players are all too familiar with each other, yet there seems to be almost no animosity. This season Miami is not one of the most skilled teams in the NCHC, so it needs to grind out wins, and emotion is a huge part of hockey. Louie Belpedio played on the edge the most when Miami was reeling off five straight wins, but he had gotten away from that during this skid. And he’s the captain, so the example to the rest of the team comes from the top. Then when Belpedio was injured late Saturday, Jared Brandt did some light shoving but everyone else on the ice seemed checked out. Kind of mind blowing that your captain is laying on the ice, the victim of a kneeing major, and only one player on the ice seems upset.
– Speaking of injuries, Kiefer Sherwood got banged up late in the second period, giving everyone quite a scare, but he not only returned for the third period but seemed to be back into that game-takeover mode we’ve seen on occasion.
– Despite having just two true scoring lines, Miami was scoring at a decent clip, but the offense has dried up the past few weeks. The RedHawks have scored just 12 times in seven games and have netted more than two goals just once in that span. When you figure that MU has five of those goals have been on the power play and one more was shorthanded, the team has just six even-strength markers in seven games, or 0.86 per.
– And it’s been open season on the Miami net in the third period. Opponents have scored 12 times in five games in the most previous five games. Three of those were empty netters, but that’s still 1.8 per game with a goalie in net.
– Some of the leadership on the team has been disappointing in recent games. Anthony Louis picked up an assist, but he’s an assistant captain and is not playing like one. Too many turnovers, too little interest in any aspect other than offense. Belpedio had not been playing with that edge he had earlier in the year, when he got under the skin of opponents. Not sure how they’re perceived in the locker room, but despite being sophomores, Grant Hutton and Josh Melnick have done a better job of leading by example on the ice.
– Larkin has been sensational this season, but after the fifth Denver goal it was probably time to give him a rest. The last thing a team wants is its goalie lacking confidence, and a season like this could send a netminder to the psych ward.
– Gordie Green doesn’t seem to have a confidence problem. He seemed a bit cautious early this season, but he generated two breakaways and was a nightmare for Denver on its power plays.
FORWARDS: D. Carson Meyer’s shot that resulted in the first Miami goal was sweet, but there were few other positives among this corps. Really liked Zach LaValle’s hard-nosed play, and Sherwood seemed rejuvenated in the third period after getting banged up. Twelve forwards generated 17 shots and were outclassed by Denver overall in every aspect. The RedHawks did fare better on draws, going 30-32 with Sherwood finishing 9-9.
DEFENSEMEN: C-. Hutton ripped home the second Miami goal on the second power play unit, and he finished with five SOG, which is just as solid a strategy for that corps as any other, as the RedHawks have three PPGs from their non-top four forwards, with two by Gordie Green, who is transitioning to that top line. It was Hutton’s third power play goal of the season. For the most part it wasn’t a good night for the other five, with Scott Dornbrock and Grant Frederic struggling early. Denver finished with 38 shots, with 16 in the third period while the Pioneers were leading. This group still seems too eager to jump into the play in non-pinch situations.
GOALTENDING: D+. It’s so difficult to grade Larkin poorly, because even when he allows a borderline goal, he typically stops one that most wouldn’t to counter that. But in this game he surrendered a weak second goal, was beaten on a wicked shot for Goal No. 3, and he should’ve had the fifth one as well. He made a couple insane saves, including one in which he sprawled across the crease to cover the post on a one-time.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: Colin Sullivan was scratched in favor of Alex Alger. That gave Miami 12 true forwards, since Chaz Switzer has apparently cracked the top six, having playing in six straight games. Sullivan dressed in 21 consecutive games.
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.