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Analysis: Miami still battling despite odds

Miami has not won in six weeks, but its next loss will be its last of the season.

The RedHawks lost their NCHC Tournament first-round opener in their best-of-3 series, 5-4 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth at Amsoil Arena on Friday and now face elimination in that series.

Miami’s path from here on out couldn’t be more clear: Win or go home. The RedHawks would need to win on Saturday and Sunday at No. 3 UMD then run the table in the semifinal and final of the league tournament in Minneapolis.

That would earn them a berth into the NCAA Tournament, which, of course, is one and out.

An unlikely scenario made more improbable considering the first half of the opening sentence. Miami is 0-8-1 in its last nine and 1-11-2 since Jan. 14.

To Miami’s credit, it took the third-best team in Division I to overtime in the Bulldogs’ home building on Friday despite missing captain Louie Belpedio and losing stud goalie Ryan Larkin in the second period.

The RedHawks led three times in the game (2-1, 3-2 and 4-3) but were unable to close out the win, a common theme in 2016-17.

Backup goalie Chase Munroe had not logged a minute in exactly three months, and after stopping just three of the first five shots he faced, he turned aside 26 of the final 28. He faced a shooting gallery in the final 20 minutes of regulation and overtime, and didn’t get a lot of help from his skaters defensively.

It would’ve been easy for this team to mail it in, considering the near impossibility of its task of winning this tournament.

But the RedHawks didn’t quit, and in a season that will likely go down as their worst in a quarter century, that’s an encouraging sign.

Crazy things happen in conference tournaments, and it would take a run that makes 2013-14 look tame just for Miami to return the position it was in three years when it came within a goal of advancing to the NCAAs despite a 12-19-3 regular season record.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The RedHawks have their backs against the boards but are playing with passion, and in Game 2 we’ll see if that’s enough to extend the season.

Other thoughts…

– No idea what Larkin’s injury is or how severe, but when a goalie leaves a game and doesn’t return he rarely returns the next night. Already Belpedio-less, that makes MU’s chances of advancing in this round even more remote. If there is a bright spot it’s that Munroe earned valuable conference tournament experience, and as we recall, Jay Williams was shaky early before finding his groove, as was Charlie Effinger before him.

Miami forward Zach LaValle (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Scorers’ list from Friday boom: Ryan Siroky and Zach LaValle, in the bottom six of the forward list on the lineup card all season, both scored in this one. It was just their third and second goals of the season, respectively, although LaValle especially seems to have picked it up a notch recently. This is encouraging because Miami was able to hang without its go-to snipers finding the net, and also the lack of scoring from non-top six forwards has been well documented here.

– Scorers’ list from Friday bust: Josh Melnick hasn’t scored in seven games and Anthony Louis has been stuck on 13 goals for 13 games. Kiefer Sherwood was limited to one shot. Scoring from tertiary forwards is great, but the top players need to be top players in the playoffs for teams to advance.

– Yet another Gordie Green update. Hate to be redundant but Green has been the hottest forward on the team with seven points in four games and 11 in his last 10 – more than anyone else on the team.

– Speaking of points surges, two assists on Friday give Grant Hutton eight points in his last seven games. He picked up three helpers the first 28 games but has five in the last seven. On a team that has struggled mightily the past two months, it says a lot that a pair of underclassmen in Green and Hutton are two of the RedHawks’ top points producers. Green is a freshman and Hutton is a defenseman.

– Shots were close the first two periods: 14-12 UMD. Shots after: 27-10 UMD. Miami has now been outshot in 13 straight regulation periods. The RedHawks have allowed 474 shots while generating just 320 during their current 1-11-2 skid.

Miami falls in OT in NCHC opener

Miami had played in 10 overtime games this season without suffering a loss.

That streak was broken on Friday, as No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth edged the RedHawks, 5-4 in an NCHC Tournament best-of-3 opener in the quarterfinal round at Amsoil Arena.

Alex Iafallo skated behind the crease and had his wrap-around denied by MU goalie Chase Munroe, but Dominic Toninato was there at the top of the crease to slam home the game winner 7:24 into the extra session.

Miami is winless in its last nine games, going 0-8-1 in that span, and faces elimination on Saturday.

Parker Mackay stole the puck from Josh Melnick, skated across the slot and wristed one home to give Minnesota-Duluth the lead 5:21 into the first period.

Miami (9-19-7) answered with a pair of goals in the next 64 seconds. On a 2-on-1, Gordie Green passed through the slot to Zach LaValle, who skated around sprawled-out UMD goalie Hunter Miska and deposited the puck in the net to tie it.

Carson Meyer put the RedHawks ahead when he beat two defenders to a loose puck to gain the zone then ultimately grabbed the rebound off an outside shot from Anthony Louis, burying it to make it 2-1.

Moments later, there was a pile-up in the Miami crease, and RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin was injured. He did not return and was replaced by Munroe, who had not played in a game in three months.

The Bulldogs (22-6-7) tied it at two when Nick Wolff fired a blue line shot that caromed off the end boards to Riley Tufte, who was wide open at the side of the net for a tap-in at the end of a long shift with 16:16 left in the second period.

Green one-timed a shot from the slot off a pass by Grant Hutton from behind the UMD net as Miami regained the lead, 3-2 with 4:06 remaining in the middle stanza.

That RedHawks lead was short-lived, as Iafallo skated the length of the ice on a 2-on-2, crashed the net and backhanded it past Munroe to tie it just 43 seconds later.

Miami took its third lead of the game with 8:46 to play in regulation when Ryan Siroky whipped a puck on net from along the boards, and it hit a body in the slot, trickling past Miska.

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

Once again, Minnesota-Duluth answered quickly, as Karson Kuhlman slid a pass through two defenders to Tufte, who was wide open in the slot. Munroe made the initial save but Tufte corralled his own rebound and scored just 65 seconds after the RedHawks’ goal to make it 4-4.

Green finished with a goal and an assist, giving him helpers in four straight games and seven points in that stretch. Hutton earned a pair of assists and has 10 points in his last 11 contests.

Game 2 is scheduled for 8:37 p.m. on Saturday.

Miami a seven seed after another loss

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami officially locked itself into the seventh seed for the NCHC Tournament.

Consecutive No. 15 North Dakota goals late in the second period helped send the RedHawks to a 3-2 loss at Cady Arena on Friday.

Miami will travel to Minnesota-Duluth next weekend for a best-of-3 series. The RedHawks, who extended their winless streak to seven games (0-6-1), are 1-9-2 in their last 12.

Miami's Gordie Green goes in for a scoring chance on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Gordie Green goes in for a scoring chance on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

MU (9-17-7) went ahead 7:38 into the first period. Gordie Green had an initial pass denied, but the puck came back to him and he ultimately fed it to Zach LaValle across the blue line. LaValle backhanded a pass through the slot, and Green advanced it to a wide-open Kiefer Sherwood, who rammed it home from the inside edge of the faceoff circle.

The Fighting Hawks (17-14-3) tied it on the power play with 2:11 left in the first period when Rhett Gardner connected on a pass to Chris Gardner in the slot. Gardner’s point-blank shot was denied, but Ludwig Hoff shoveled the rebound in on the backhand.

The net was dislodged during the play, but after a lengthy review it was determined that the puck crossed the goal line first.

Miami again took a one-goal lead midway through the second period. Kiefer Sherwood carried the puck through the neutral zone behind the North Dakota net before curling and connecting with Green. Green’s initial shot was blocked, but the rebound came back to Green, who stuffed it in the short side.

Just 3:18 later, the Fighting Hawks again evened the score at two on a 4-on-3, as Tyson Jost whipped a wrist shot just under the crossbar from the slot.

North Dakota took its first lead of the game with 1:40 left in that stanza when Trevor Olson stripped RedHawks defenseman Scott Dornbrock, went in for a breakaway and beat Miami goal Ryan Larkin on the glove side.

The Fighting Hawks limited the RedHawks to four third-period shots and 16 for the game while racking up 41 themselves.

Green and Sherwood finished with a goal and an assist each. It was Green’s second consecutive multi-point game, as he now has eight points in his last eight games (3-5-8).

Sherwood found the net for just the second time in 13 games but in his last nine contests he has recorded eight points.

Miami dropped to 31st in the PairWise rankings and has 23 points in NCHC play. If the RedHawks had swept in this series, they could’ve improved to fifth or sixth in the standings.

MU is 0-6-1 in its last seven games in Duluth, and last season the RedHawks were swept there in the NCHC Tournament, ending their season.

Miami wraps up its regular season against North Dakota at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday in a game televised on Fox College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 608).

Analysis: Close doesn’t count in hockey

Having watched a lot of hockey at a lot of levels, it’s not hyperbole to say this is one of the most frustrating teams to watch in this lifetime.

Unfortunately, that cliché about “close” counting doesn’t refer to hockey and hand grenades, or else Miami would be in much better shape after its 3-3 tie at No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.

Because in many ways, close is what the RedHawks (9-16-7) are to being a successful team and not one mired seven games under .500, facing a brutal road series to advance in the NCHC Tournament in two weeks just to extend their season. And it’s frustrating that they’ve not been able to close teams out too many times this season.

Close – amazingly – is what Miami is to defaulting to home-ice advantage in that round despite a 5-12-5 league record, as the team is only six points out of that elusive fourth seed. Frustrating because with Duluth and Denver running away with the top two seeds, the points threshold for that seed is lower than in any of the four seasons of the NCHC.

Close in forward depth, as this team has true offensive stars in Anthony Louis, Kiefer Sherwood, Josh Melnick and Carson Meyer. Gordie Green’s stock has soared the past two months, and Willie Knierim seems to be figuring it out at a steady, big guy, 19-year-old-in-D-I pace. Frustrating because the other seven forwards on the roster have a combined total of seven goals.

Close at defense, an area BoB highlighted at the beginning of the season with half of its studly blue line from 2015-16 graduating, as Grant Hutton is becoming a leader among this group and youngsters like Chaz Switzer appear to be gaining confidence. Frustrating because that progress has been too slow for some, veterans are making too many unforced mistakes and opponents are still setting up shop in front of the Miami net far too often with over 90 percent of the regular season in the books.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Well past close to “arrived” status in net, as Ryan Larkin has been a savior for this team – pun intended – as he has faced far too many A-plus scoring chances this season but still owns a .912 save percentage. Even that area is frustrating because he appears to be either tiring or losing a bit of confidence and has allowed the occasional soft goal in recent weeks that never would’ve gone in during December or January.

Close because this team showed a flash of excellence when it ran off five straight wins around the holidays and outscored its opponents, 18-2 in the third period and overtime during that span, with Melnick netting a pair of highlight-reel OT winners. Frustrating because the RedHawks suffered through an 0-7-3 span – their longest winless stretch in a quarter century – and are currently 1-8-2 in their last 11 during their most important games when they were given every chance to move up both in PairWise and the NCHC standings to earn their way into the NCAAs. And oh yeah, they’ve been outscored, 16-4 in the third period in their last seven, giving up multiple goals in the final stanza in every one of those contests.

This weekend is a microcosm of close and frustrating. Miami came back from 2-0 on Thursday to tie the second-ranked team in college hockey on the road, then after the Bulldogs (20-5-7) surged ahead again, the RedHawks again evened the score at three. Finally UMD buried a power play chance with a minute and a half left. Miami salvaged a tie on Friday and earned the extra league point.

The RedHawks have played some of their best hockey against top-ranked opponents like Minnesota-Duluth. This was probably the toughest series on Miami’s entire season schedule, and even without its captain, MU hung with the Bulldogs both games.

But it’s the story of the season: the RedHawks couldn’t get the win either night. Close doesn’t count in hockey.

Very frustrating.

Other thoughts…

– Is this series an example, like we talked about last week, of a team that is playing loose because home ice and PairWise are no longer factors? At six games under .500 heading into this weekend, these outcomes really don’t matter except for NCHC Tournament seeding. That takes a lot of pressure off a team that was in a bad place after the recent St. Cloud series. The focus now is getting better next weekend and preparing for that all-important best-of-3 in two weeks.

– How much of an impact does the return of Justin Greenberg and the loss of Louie Belpedio have on this team? Greenberg’s injury hurt the team on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle, and Louie Belpedio missed this weekend after being kneed last weekend. Those changes can affect the chemistry of a team – positively or negatively – and based on where Miami was for the Denver series and where it was this weekend, it seems like the RedHawks got a boost from Greenberg and were more fired up after losing their captain.

– And on the latter, BoB wishes a speedy return to Belpedio, who is a team leader on and off the ice and a delight to talk to. He’s had some struggles this year with penalties and turnovers, but captaincy on this team is very difficult. We even saw it affect Austin Czarnik, one of the best Miamians in team history and a current NHLer who could play there for the next decade.

– In fairness to the above, injuries really have played a role with this team, as Meyer, Larkin, Belpedio, Greenberg and Jared Brandt have all missed time this season, and with just three extra skaters on the team, Miami doesn’t really have the depth to absorb personnel losses. Christian Mohs hurt his knee before the season even started and has been out for the season, which put the RedHawks shorthanded from Day 1.

– Miami was mathematically eliminated from home ice after failing to secure three points on Friday. Long story as short as possible, if the RedHawks won out and Nebraska-Omaha won on Saturday then was swept next weekend, and St. Cloud State was swept, that would be best albeit super-unlikely scenario, as Miami would finish in a three-way tie with whatever the Sioux are calling themselves these days and the Huskies. But the RedHawks would still be 3-4-1 against those two teams and would end up with a six seed. So much for the suspense.

– In the bizarre stats area, Hutton is now tied with Melnick for best shooting percentage on the team, as both have scored nine times on 49 shots (.184). Maybe Brandt’s first career goal in Oxford last Saturday instilled confidence in him, as he had 27 shots on goal all season entering this weekend and fired six times in these two games, finding the net twice.

– Tapping the old memory banks to recall a team that was more self-strangulation inducing, the 2000-01 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks come to mind. That team had to use 12 goalies during the regular season and lost player after player to Anaheim and Detroit, that team’s affiliates. They finished above .500 but took an early exit from the playoffs.

Miami ties, earns 2 points vs. Duluth

If only Miami was as good in the first 60 minutes as it has been in overtime and beyond.

The RedHawks and No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth tied, 3-3 at Amsoil Arena on Friday, and Miami came away with the second league point thanks to a 3-on-3 winner by Justin Greenberg.

MU (9-16-7) has played in 10 overtimes this season, winning three and tying seven. Of the five league ties that went to a 3-on-3, the RedHawks have picked up the extra point three times.

The two points gives Miami a razor-thin margin to earn home-ice advantage for the first round of the NCHC Tournament, but it would need a lot of outside help in addition to a sweep of North Dakota next week.

The Bulldogs (20-5-6) took the lead at the 13:00 mark of the first period when Alex Iafallo sprung Dominic Toninato down the left wing with a neutral-zone pass, and Toninato skated in and beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the short side from the center of the faceoff circle.

Miami defenseman Jared Brandt (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami defenseman Jared Brandt (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami tied it when Anthony Louis skated across the blue line and dropped a pass for Jared Brandt, who blasted a shot from the high slot that snuck through Hunter Miska and tricked in with 11:09 left in the second period.

With 1:02 left in the middle stanza, the RedHawks took their only lead of the weekend when Grant Hutton ripped a shot from the blue line that beat Miska.

UMD made it 2-2 on an Adam Johnson slap shot from along the boards, beating Larkin on the glove side.

Parker Mackay put the Bulldogs back on top when he snuck in front of the Miami net and batted home a pass from Jared Thomas with 11:48 remaining in regulation.

The RedHawks scored the equalizer when a shot by Gordie Green from the high slot eluded Miska with 3:25 left in the final frame.

It was Green finding the net again in the 3-on-3, taking a pass from Scott Dornbrock, firing a shot that was stopped by Miska, corralling the loose puck and burying the rebound.

Hutton has scored in three straight games and Brandt connected in his second consecutive contest. Green netted his sixth marker of the season, with five coming in the last 15 games.

Brandt and Green both finished with two points, giving Brandt his first career multi-point game. Green has recorded multiple points three times.

The tie extends Miami’s winless streak to six games but does end the team’s five-game losing streak. The RedHawks have just one win in their last 11 (1-8-2) and finish their regular-season road slate with just one conference win.

Miami wraps up its regular season with a two-game set vs. North Dakota at Cady Arena next weekend.

Analysis: Momentum shifted in 2nd period

To see how St. Cloud State was able to finagle a comeback win, highlighted by a three-goal third period, it is necessary to evaluate the second period.

That’s when momentum that was clearly in Miami’s favor was reversed, culminating in the Huskies’ tying goal and ultimately three more in the final frame of SCSU’s 4-2 win over the RedHawks in central Minnesota on Friday.

The first period was evenly played and entertaining. Both teams were solid, but neither was able to find the net.

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

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

Miami dominated to start the second period and drew the game’s first power play. The RedHawks capitalized, as Gordie Green collected his own rebound on his tipped shot and stuffed it home four minutes into that frame.

A hockey axiom is to watch for the pushback by the team that gets scored on first, but Miami continued to push the pace the next eight minutes.

Then Grant Hutton threw puck up the right wing that Alex Alger couldn’t reach, and the RedHawks were whistled for icing.

The puck remained in the Miami zone for 90 seconds until an exhausted MU unit took a penalty, which was on Scott Dornbrock for slashing.

The RedHawks did an exceptional job of killing that penalty, and Green stole the puck for a breakaway, on which SCSU goalie Jeff Smith made an outstanding save to keep it 1-0.

But Louie Belpedio took tripping penalty away from the play, giving the Huskies a brief 5-on-3. After Dornbrock returned to the ice, making it 5-on-4, the Huskies tied it.

That gave St. Cloud State (14-14-1) the momentum heading into the second intermission, and the next two goals both went the Huskies’ way. Miami played pretty well the final 16 minutes but could not recover.

CBS College Sports pointed to Kiefer Sherwood getting out of position as the key reason for that tying goal, but Belpedio can’t take that penalty, especially as a captain, especially away from the play, especially when his team is already shorthanded.

And especially in this critical of a game, and especially with his team up by just one on the road.

It was so far away from the play that there wasn’t a clear camera angle, but that alone tells you plenty. The fuzzy goal cam shows him clearly making unnecessary contact along the boards, and officials in this league give a lot of leeway to teams that are already a man down.

MU also had good looks at the net in that middle frame – one each by Josh Melnick and Anthony Louis stand out – and the team couldn’t finish those chances. Jeff Smith also played exceptionally in net for SCSU.

Miami needs points more than ever and was in an excellent position to earn some from this game, leading by a goal with 23 minutes left.

But the RedHawks got zero, making their potential road to the NCAA’s a whole lot harder.

Especially since St. Cloud State is currently on the Tournament bubble, and Miami’s final six games are all against top-10 teams, including four vs. Nos. 1 and 2 in the PairWise.

Other thoughts…

– That 90-second shift following the above-mentioned icing that led to the penalty that led to another penalty that ate the lead that Miami built was the second time the fourth line was caught on the ice for an extensive shift. Including the time that unit was out there prior to the icing, it logged about two straight minutes during the period of the long change. And keep in mind, the fourth line typically plays shorter shifts anyway and is not accustomed to logging 120 straight seconds against high-caliber NCAA opponents. In the first period this threesome was also caught for an extended shift, as it was unable to clear its defensive zone.

– Belpedio had a tough night, as he was also out of position on the go-ahead goal early in the third period. After a SCSU pass was deflected by Jared Brandt, Belpedio did not pick up the trailer, Mikey Eyssimont, who skated in uncontested and fired his shot over Ryan Larkin’s shoulder. To be fair, it was Belpedio’s shot from the blue line that resulted in Green’s goal, and he did assist on both Miami tallies.

– Done talking about PairWise and NCHC standings for a while. The road to home ice for the NCHC, as well as at-large for the NCAAs, is too narrow right now. Will revisit if this team can string together some consecutive wins, which is a huge “if” with this upcoming schedule. Fans best brace themselves for a best-of-3 road series against a top-10 team just to advance to Minneapolis.

– Third period update. So BoB documented that Miami was outscored, 14-3 in the final frame during its 10-game winless streak. Then the RedHawks ran off 18 goals to their opponents’ two in the last 20 minutes in overtime as they ran off five straight wins. Now MU has allowed six goals while recording just two (with one being a 6-on-4 marker in this game) during this current 1-4-1 slide. Overall, it’s actually been Miami’s best period (27-26 advantage), as it’s the only stanza in which the RedHawks have outscored their opponents, not counting overtime. Here’s one for the stats geeks: Miami has scored 23 times after the second intermission in its nine wins. In its 12 losses, the RedHawks have four markers, including Sherwood’s laser tonight. Opponents have scored 20 third-period goals in Miami losses, six in Miami wins.

Miami's Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Let’s insert some happy positive. Carson Meyer didn’t get a point, but he was dominating the first half of the game. He’s playing some of his best hockey of the season, and would be tied with Gordie Green if there was a most-improved-since-Game-1 award. Green, despite being having barely graduated from his Andy Miele growth chart, scored while camped out at the top of the crease, getting his own rebound. He’d subbed on for Melnick late in the power play and was with the top unit, possibly foreshadowing his 2017-18 role. He played that down-low role in the USHL despite his size. Green has 10 points this season, with six coming in his last 10 games.

Starman

Starman

– Continue to be impressed with Dave Starman on his CBS College Sports broadcasts. Anyone who can recite all six Miami goalies in the three tandems since David Burleigh deserves some credit, and yes, he did manage to mention Pat Cannone’s name. Most viewers will learn plenty about their opponents from any telecast, but people watching his games will almost certainly learn about their own team, which is especially impressive since this isn’t one of the Big Two college sports. His analysis of Ryan Larkin’s stance, and his ability to show a graphic and tie that to assistant coach Nick Petraglia goes beyond what one will see from almost any other college hockey commentator. Color jobs, like all in that field, can be based more on politics and connections than talent, but the guy is a delight to listen to and is incredibly unbiased in an era that sees less and less of this from media members.

St. Cloud scores 3 late to top Miami

Miami has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the third period this season.

The final stanza was the RedHawks’ demise on Friday, as they allowed three crucial goals in the last 20 minutes and fell, 4-2 at St. Cloud State.

It was the fourth time this season Miami had surrendered three or more goals in the final period and the second straight contest in which an opponent tallied multiple markers after the second intermission.

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

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

After a scoreless first period, the RedHawks (9-12-6) took the lead on the game’s first penalty, as a shot by Louie Belpedio was tipped on net by Gordie Green, who seized the rebound and beat Jeff Smith for a power play goal 4:04 into the middle frame.

The Huskies (14-14-1) tied it with 2:59 left in that stanza when a wrister by Dennis Cholowski was redirected home by Ryan Poehling on the man advantage.

Mikey Eyssimont put St. Cloud State ahead 2:35 into the third period. A lateral offensive-zone pass by Patrick Newell was partially deflected to Eyssimont, who fired it just under the crossbar.

Just 71 seconds later, the Huskies went ahead by two on another tipped shot, as Jon Lizotte deflected a blue-line rip by Robby Jackson into the bottom corner of the net.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

In the final minute, Miami did cut the deficit to one on a 6-on-4, as Anthony Louis slid a pass from the high slot to Kiefer Sherwood for a one-time blast that found the top of the cage.

But with 13 seconds remaining, SCSU sealed it for good on an empty netter by Jimmy Schuldt from his defensive zone.

The RedHawks have won just one of their last six (1-4-1) and are winless in their last four on the road.

Sherwood finished with a goal and an assist, extending his points streak to three games, and he snapped a six-game stretch without a goal.

Belpedio ended up with two helpers and also has a three-game point streak.

After scoring just once in his first 17 games, Green’s marker was his fourth in his last 10.

Miami entered this game in prime position to move up in the NCHC standings, as it was just one point back of the Huskies, who were in sixth place, but now MU is ensured of remaining in seventh after this weekend, as it is four points back of St. Cloud State.

The RedHawks slipped to 24th in the PairWise rankings, and would need to move up about 10 spots in the final weeks to warrant NCAA Tournament at-large consideration.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday. That game will be telecast on FSN North.

Analysis: Third period turnaround, Part II

It would have been hard to imagine anyone saying what a strong third-period team Miami is during the team’s 10-game winless streak earlier this season.

That’s exactly what the RedHawks are at present, with a five-goal third period solidifying that assessment in a 6-3 win at No. 7 North Dakota on Friday.

To revisit after this win: Miami was outscored, 14-3 in the final stanza during its skid. The RedHawks (8-8-5) have lit the lamp 18 times in the third period and overtime during their winning streak.

Their opponents? Twice.

Neither a psychologist nor a hockey coach, so this is speculation based on observation, but two of the key reasons for the turnaround late in games are better stamina and better confidence.

We’ve said repeatedly that youth is not an excuse for that miserable 3-8-5 start, but it definitely seems like this team is in better hockey shape than it was in November.

Getting acclimated to the program for the younger players has likely helped, as college is obviously a big jump from the NAHL and USHL.

The team looks more confident in every aspect, from warm-ups to the final horn. Of course that’s a chicken-and-egg argument, as winning wields confidence, which wields wins, etc.

One of the best things about this win is it comes without a caveat.

With Colorado College, it was yeah but Miami should beat Colorado College. Then it was Ohio State, and yeah but OSU plays in the weaker Big Ten. Then St. Cloud’s ‘yeah but’ was that the team was struggling a bit and the games were in Oxford.

There’s never a ‘yeah but’ with a win in Grand Forks. Ever.

Other thoughts…

– As one following the game from 1,000-plus miles away, it got to 3-1 and the mentality went to, oh well, try for the split tomorrow. Let’s face it, that was and still is the realistic goal of this weekend anyway. Miami already has that and is playing with house money on Saturday. That said, a sweep is obviously a possibility now, but expect North Dakota to come out like the early-80s Islanders teams in the first period.

– When we first evaluated Miami’s record after the team fell to 3-8-5 (hey, maybe that’s the reason for the 5-0-1 run, viva Blog of Brotherhood!), it was looking like the team would have to go at minimum 13-5 the rest of the way to get to 16-13-5 and warrant consideration for an NCAA at-large. Now it’s 8-5, which seems much more doable, especially the way the RedHawks are playing. But the rest of the schedule is a murderer’s row of elite teams: Three more against UND (12-7-3) – Saturday in Grand Forks and a pair in Oxford to close out the regular season – two in Omaha, two in St. Cloud, two in Duluth and two at home against Western Michigan and Denver, both top-10 teams. There’s certainly reason for optimism but Miami is still paying the price for that awful start.

– Coinciding with Miami’s wins is the team’s rejuvenated power play. The RedHawks were held without a PPG for six straight games but have netted goals on the man advantage in four straight contests, scoring five in that stretch.

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

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

– Gordie Green has four points in four games after recording that many in the first 17. If we had to pick a most-improved player from October to now, he would certainly be one of the top candidates. He scored the first goal of the game on Friday. He scored once in those first 17 games but has found the net three times in the last four. Miami welcomes those contributions, because…

– On that note, this team is still incredibly top-heavy in terms of points. Forward leaders: Anthony Louis 27, Kiefer Sherwood 25, Josh Melnick 19, Carson Meyer 19, Green 8, then the next highest is five. So after the top two lines and No. 1 power play unit Miami’s offense is nearly non-existent.

Analysis: Win Saturday is a must

OXFORD, Ohio – Surely Miami’s winless streak has to end on Saturday, right?

If the RedHawks can’t at least earn one win on its home ice against Colorado College, MU will have to beat a top-20 team to snap its skid, since every one of its remaining opponents is ranked.

The RedHawks skated to their 10th straight non-win on Friday, tying the Tigers, 1-1 at Cady Arena. It was Miami’s third consecutive NCHC deadlock, and the team has yet to win in conference play (0-4-3).

After its series finale vs. CC on Saturday, MU is off the next two weeks, then it’s off to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 10 in the USCHO poll.

Here’s the remaining schedule with team rankings.

at No. 10 Ohio State
No. 17 ST. CLOUD (2)
at No. 8 North Dakota (2)
at No. 20 UNO (2)
No. 18 W. MICHIGAN (2)
at No. 17 St. Cloud (2)

(then it really gets fun)

No. 2 DENVER
at No. 1 Minn.-Duluth
No. 8 NORTH DAKOTA

Now back to this series.

The Tigers entered this weekend having lost seven straight and had allowed 31 goals in that span. Only one of their first 14 opponents had been held to one goal, yet Miami was unable to get out of the binary range.

Considering both teams’ woes, it’s sort of fitting that neither team would come away from Friday with a win.

But this can’t happen for Miami on Saturday if it wants to salvage this season.

The RedHawks’ finale against CC is their 17th game of the season. A win would put them at 4-8-5, and they would probably need to go at least 12-5 for get into PairWise-at large consideration.

A tall order, certainly, but a loss in this one would force a 13-4 finish or better. Reference the above remaining schedule to see Miami’s chances, or any NCAA team’s odds of winning 13 of 17 against those opponents.

Twelve wins in 17 would give Miami 43 points with a win vs. Colorado College and 40 with a loss. That could be the difference between an all-important fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC’s or a fifth seed and a road trip in a hostile rink to extend its season like in 2015-16.

The RedHawks have a ton of work to do if they hope to get back into NCAA consideration but that workload increases substantially if they can’t pick the only low-hanging fruit remaining on their schedule.

Other thoughts…

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

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

– This game was actually pretty boring, which can be expected when two teams that aren’t playing well show why their records are where they are. But just based on Friday’s 65-minute sample, it doesn’t look like Colorado College has the talent to compete in this league, while Miami is underachieving among other issues. Heading into the second half of the year, the RedHawks are in the better position to turn things around.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Coach Enrico Blasi has been playing with the lines, and one interesting combination was Gordie Green, Josh Melnick and Karch Bachman. Green was a solid point producer in the USHL but he has just four this season and two since opening night. Bachman has blazing speed and a great shot but he hasn’t been cast into a role in which he can thrive. Green set up Bachman with a couple of great passes and Bachman nearly found the net. It’s a small line with a ton of speed and has a lot of potential.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– Speaking of Melnick, he was double-shifted nearly the entire second period, joining the fourth line as well as his own. Colin Sullivan was listed as a forward but played a significant amount of defense and Melnick absorbed much of his ice time up front.

– Can’t take credit for this line – heard it used by Mike Babcock but not sure if he was the originator either – but if Miami’s power play gets much worse the RedHawks want to consider declining penalties. In six minutes on the man advantage Miami generated one shot. MU has not scored a PPG in five games.

– The attendance for this one was a season-low 1,992 despite class still being in session. That’s the worst gate total at Cady since Jan. 9 during the J-term. If this team doesn’t get better expect a half-empty arena the second half of the year.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D+. Colorado College isn’t an impressive lot yet Miami scored just one goal. The RedHawks had some dominant stretches but that should be a given against a team that is 3-11 and ranked in the bottom 20 percent of college hockey. Louis did have eight shots. Justin Greenberg continues to get better on faceoffs and may be the team’s best forward on draws at this point.

DEFENSEMEN: B. This corps kept the mistakes to a minimum, which has not always been the case this season. Grant Frederic quietly seems to get better every game. The strange thing with Miami’s defensemen is that three seasons ago only Matthew Caito appeared to have the green light to join the rush, and the other blueliners would act like they had bungie cords tied to them when they reached the blue line. Now all six/seven jump in all the time, sometimes even going behind opponents’ nets. Can there be a happy medium?

GOALTENDING: B+. Ryan Larkin was solid as usual but didn’t see a ton of high-percentage shots. He continues to do a fantastic job with positioning and controlling rebounds. Not sure what happened on the goal – it was a weird angle and seemed to surprise Larkin. It didn’t look like he saw it very well. What a goalie allows one goal his team should win most nights.

LINEUP CHANGES: Can this team ever get completely healthy? Jared Brandt missed his second straight game with an upper body injury but shouldn’t be out much longer. He has been a solid stay-at-home defenseman on a Miami team that has really needed a solid stay-at-home defenseman. The RedHawks played their other seven defensemen, with Sullivan listed at forward to start the game. At forward, Willie Knierim was a rare scratch and Alex Alger sat for the third straight game.

Scouting FutureHawks: Gordie Green

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Gordie Green is in his second full season of USHL hockey with Dubuque, and he is expected to make Miami a better offensive team in 2016-17.

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At 5-feet-8, he fits the physical profile of some of the most successful points-producing RedHawks in previous years. He has signed a National Letter of Intent earlier this season, meaning he will most likely move to Oxford this summer.

Green has not produced points en masse since joining Dubuque, but he should still be able to make a significant contribution to next season’s Miami team. In 85 career games with the Fighting Saints, he has 13 goals and 21 assists for 44 points, including 13 points in 25 games in 2015-16.

The Michigan native turns 19 in February and did play a game with the U.S. Under-17 team in 2013-14.

As always when writing about FutureHawks, it’s understood that the below opinions are based on the performance in one game, which typically does not provide a completely accurate representation of the player’s abilities but normally gives a good idea of what a player brings on game night.

With that in mind, Blog Of Brotherhood visited the Team USA facility last weekend to watch Dubuque take on the U.S. National Development Under-18 Team and took a look at Green:

GORDIE GREEN

Height: 5-8. Weight: 179. DOB: 2/24/1997. From: Detroit, Mich.

Games: 23. Goals: 4. Assists: 9. Points: 13. Plus-minus: 3. PIM: 25.

GAME NIGHT: Green was on the second line as a right wing with the Smith brothers – Mitchell and Evan – both Yale commits and significant offensive threats. Team USA’s Griffin Luce, an impressive player at 6-feet-3 and 214 pounds, spent much of the night covering Green and did not make his life easy.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Green has substantial muscle mass for his size, filling out at 179 pounds despite being just 5-8. Like many fitting that size profile, he tries to elude defenders and set up scoring chances. He loves to forecheck and is a pest in the offensive zone as he tries to force opponents into turnovers and uncomfortable passes as they bring the puck up the ice. Green sets up in front of the net and tries to redirect shots and knock home rebounds from the slot, which is somewhat unusual for a small forward.

FIRST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Fired a shot just wide after a Team USA turnover in its defensive zone…tape-to-tape pass in the offensive zone ultimately led to a scoring chance…hammered a player along the boards…on the power play, he won a battle along the end boards and connected on two passes to keep a threat alive…outskated a USA defenseman to avoid icing…stole the puck in the offensive zone but lost it…laid out a hit during a battle in front of the USA net.

SECOND PERIOD HIGHIGHTS: Earned an assist when linemate Mitchell Smith scored a bad-angle goal…great outlet pass from the defensive zone along the boards to get his team out of trouble…cleanly stole the puck in the defensive zone…logged a lot of power play time.

THIRD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Excellent pass from behind his own net to spring Dubuque loose…grabbed a loose puck in traffic for a shot but missed the net…buggy-whipped a low shot that was blocked by a defenseman…turned it over in the defensive zone but USA did not generate a scoring chance.

FINAL GAME INFO: Green finished with an assist — his ninth of the season — a plus-1 rating for the Smith goal and four shots on goal.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Green’s passing ability is his most notable attribute, as he rarely misses a teammate’s stick and appears very confident in this aspect of his game, which will translate in the college game. As mentioned above, his forechecking is tenacious. Often defense is one of the last areas to develop for players in Green’s age group, and he is already ahead of the curve. While he held his own against bigger players, he didn’t thrive down low, which is probably a key reason his points total is not higher than 13. While Luce is bigger than most in the USHL, big, tough, physical forwards are what Green will face in the NCHC, so this was a good test for him. He almost seems miscast at right wing – he is more of a playmaker, as well as a solid defender, than a sniper or a net-crasher. But Dubuque is loaded up the middle, which is possibly why he’s playing on the right side. There’s also a lot to like about his compete level, his physicality and his hockey IQ – he is almost never out of position and always gets back on defense.

WHERE HE FITS IN AT MIAMI: Miami needs scoring, and Green certainly has a lot to offer in the offensive area, but the question that’s of immediate concern is: How often will he be able to put the puck in the net? He will be another guy that can move the puck on the power play and is responsible enough that he could be a fourth forward on one of the RedHawks’ units. Green may also play on the PK, although in this game Dubuque was only shorthanded once so the sample size was too small to evaluate. Again, just based on one game as well as his track record in the USHL, Green does not appear to be the next Carter Camper-Andy Miele-Austin Czarnik in terms of points, but he looks like he should generate more points than an Alex Gacek or an Alex Wideman. He is averaging a half point per game in 2015-16, which is a realistic expectation in Oxford and would put him in the 20-25 range. He seems to be an excellent fit for Miami coach Enrico Blasi’s system, which should help his transition in 2016-17. And Blasi expects all of his forwards to play defense, which Green will do, and that could earn him more ice time. He should be a solid addition in what looks to be a quality recruiting class.

GAME PHOTOS BY CATHY LACHMANN:

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