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Miami wins tune-up vs. Windsor

OXFORD, Ohio – Starting goalie Ryan Larkin logged 20 scoreless minutes, the Green-Melnick-Bachman line is a quasi-permanent thing and no one got hurt.

Those are the headlines from Miami’s 8-2 exhibition win over the University of Windsor at Cady Arena on Saturday.

To address the relevance of this meeting first though: This game was a well-scheduled tune-up for the RedHawks, whose last game was three weeks ago.

That’s a long time to go between contests in any sport. Plus in recent years, Miami has struggled in the games immediately following Christmas break.

This way, the RedHawks could get its regulars ice time and allow others to earn experience by logging valuable minutes as well.

The downside to NCAA-CIS (Canada’s version of the NCAA) matchups is CIS teams play more of a pro style of hockey. Meaning half-shields instead of cages and more importantly, an increased tolerance of chippiness.

That addresses the final headline point: No one gets hurt, and additionally, no one gets suspended.

It can seem like there’s little upside to these exhibitions.

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

Anyway, on Larkin: He played the first period, presumably to knock off any down-time rust. Good call by the coaches to keep him sharp without overusing him during a season he’s clearly destined to log almost all of Miami’s minutes between the pipes.

Chase Munroe played the second period, Grant Valentine the third, as both of Windsor’s goals were scored under Valentine’s watch.

Then there’s the first line: Karch Bachman joined Josh Melnick and Gordie Green at the end of the Cornell series, and they were together at Western Michigan and again in this game.

They combined for three goals and five assists, with each tallying at least two points.

Melnick recorded a game-best four points on two markers and a pair of helpers.

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

Bachman has blazing speed and a super-quick shot release, so he provides another sniper on the first line, and he has also moved into a penalty killing role this season. He is 3-6-9 this season after racking up just six points his freshman season.

Green and Melnick – should we call them Grelnick? – clearly make this offense go, and being the third member of their line is a privilege.

Other thoughts…

– To catch up: Decembers are tough in this part-time writer’s full-time vocational field, thus the lack of content here, but Miami split its final two NCHC games at Western Michigan, winning 5-2 on Friday and dropping a 4-3 overtime decision in the finale.

Saturday’s loss was tough to accept, as the RedHawks led 3-1 in the second player before allowing a natural hat trick – with the latter coming in overtime.

That was the second time in three weekends Miami saw a Saturday outcome flipped. The RedHawks also ended up tying Bowling Green on Nov. 25 on an extra-attacker goal with 38 seconds left.

– Miami is currently sixth in the NCHC with a 3-4-1 league record, although the RedHawks have played two fewer games than all of the top five teams. MU has completed its non-conference schedule, as its remaining 16 regular season games are all against league opponents.

– Perhaps the best news is that Miami is 17th in the PairWise rankings, which ultimately determine which teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament. In a 16-team Division I tournament with at-large bids, typically a PairWise rank of 12 or 13 is considered safe.

– Love the toughness from Chaz Switzer, who blocked a slap shot in the leg and returned after a brief stint in the locker room, and Conor Lemirande, who needed facial sowing after scoring a goal but returned.

– Also love the game-to-game improvement by Ben Lown. The freshman scored and picked up an assist.

– Miami had 21 skaters for this game, three more than is allowed in NCAA play, and forwards Christian Mohs and Zach LaValle and defenseman Grant Frederic were listed as the extra bodies. F Carter Johnson, F Alex Alger, D Bryce Hatten and G Evan McCarthy were the only RedHawks who did not dress.

– Denver’s up next. The Pioneers are No. 5 in the PairWise and second in the USCHO poll. Big two games in Oxford this Friday and Saturday.

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Analysis: Miami rallied with short bench

OXFORD, Ohio – Poll your average fan on what he or she thinks Miami’s odds of winning would be if the team was down a goal four minutes in, and two minutes later faced a five-minute penalty kill against the fifth-best team in the NCAA.

And for good measure, was without elite defenseman Grant Hutton for the balance of the game.

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

That was the RedHawks’ predicament early on Friday, and yet they rallied to a 2-1 victory over No. 5 Cornell at Cady Arena.

Like the UMD win sparked by Chaz Switzer’s fighting major, Miami’s emotions were tapped when Hutton was ejected for checking from behind.

The call, which for the record should’ve been a minor and no more, was initially read as a major and a game disqualification, which carries with it a compulsory suspension. It was announced at the first intermission Hutton actually received a game misconduct, which means he was done for the night but would be eligible on Saturday.

And if we take the player in question into account, Hutton had 50 penalty minutes in 86 career games entering this one. Zero major penalties.

Quite impressive considering this is a guy that logs more minutes than anyone on the team except possibly Louie Belpedio and defends opponents’ top forwards every night while playing a physical, punishing game.

Back to the game: Hutton out, five defensemen left. And oh yeah, Big Red were badly outplaying Miami to this point.

But instead of folding, Miami killed the penalty.

Seemingly galvanized by the Hutton incident and gaining momentum from the PK, the RedHawks took advantage of their first power play and tied it.

Then another confrontation: Six-three sophomore Willie Knierim ended up in a scrap with Morgan Barron, with both getting the boot in the closing minutes of the second period.

Miami netted the go-ahead goal with 54 seconds left in that frame.

The third period was excruciating, as the RedHawks went into late survival mode – a documented area of weakness for this team in recent years – and they turned the last 20 minutes into a giant penalty kill.

It was a gutsy win, an improbable win, and with team’s place in the Division I world still a bit of a question mark, Miami helped its resume royally by putting this one into the ‘W’ column.

Other thoughts…

– The chemistry evolution of Josh Melnick and Gordie Green has a delight to watch. These guys could probably complete passes to each other in the dark.

– Couldn’t believe Cornell, which played so well defensively, let Green skate in and score the go-ahead goal. He corralled a pass from Casey Gilling at the top of the faceoff circle and was unchallenged. So he penetrated and no one went to him. So he drove further and wired one home, lifting it over a sprawling defender.

– That was the second and third major penalties for Miami in its past four games, and its third and fourth 10-minute misconduct, three of which have been for the game. In that span the RedHawks have 91 penalty minutes.

– Melnick’s four-game point streak is the third-longest by anyone on the team. Melnick also had a five-game run earlier this season, and Green went five straight with at least one point as well.

– CU starting goalie Matthew Galadja was pulled after 40 minutes. He allowed two goals on 10 shots through two periods, and while the Gilling shot appeared stoppable, Green’s goal was point blank and ticketed for the corner. Backup Hayden Stewart only faced three shots in the final stanza but stopped them all.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C-. Definitely a case in which the results were much better than the process. Gilling and Green scored power play goals, but this corps was practically non-existent the rest of the game. Miami was down to 10 forwards for the final 24 minutes with Knierim booted and Austin Alger – in his first game back from injury – very limited in ice time. Kiefer Sherwood committed several turnovers in the first period, including one that ultimately led to the Cornell goal.

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

DEFENSEMEN: B. The Big Red finished with 30 shots, but not a ton were Grade-A chances. Cornell seemingly possessed the puck 80 percent of the game, especially early in the first period and the entire third, yet this corps playing with five – down a huge minutes eater in Hutton – did not seem to wear down. Scott Dornbrock didn’t dress for this one either, so this was an exceptionally young group post-Grant, with a senior (Louie Belpedio), two sophomores and two freshmen.

GOALTENDING: A-. Lots happened and that’s the only reason it takes this far down to reach the Ryan Larkin love-fest in this game. As mentioned, not a ton of exceptional chances but Larkin stopped all but one of the good ones, and the only Cornell shot that went in was on a wrister from the high slot through traffic. He stopped all 12 he faced in the third period and finished with 29 saves, which believe it or not ties a season high.

LINEUP CHANGES: For the second time in six games, Dornbrock was out. He had not missed a game since October of his sophomore year prior to the past month. Switzer returned to the ice after serving his two-game suspension. Grant Frederic remained in the lineup after taking Switzer’s place last weekend. F Zach LaValle also sat for the third time in five games after missing just three contests in all of 2016-17. Alger came back from an upper-body injury that cost him five starts.

Miami powers past No. 5 Cornell

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami was outshot by more than a 2-to-1 ratio and finished with its lowest shot output of the season.

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

But the RedHawks scored on both of their power play chances and rode 29 saves by goalie Ryan Larkin to a 2-1 win over No. 5 Cornell at Cady Arena on Friday.

It was the first meeting between these teams in Oxford, and Miami was swept in a two-game set in Ithaca last season. The Big Red finished with 30 shots to Miami’s 13.

The night certainly did not start off well for the RedHawks.

A wrister by Alex Rauter hit the top corner of the net, putting Cornell (9-2) ahead 3:59 into the first period.

Just over 2:30 later, Miami defenseman Grant Hutton was ejected for a checking-from-behind major.

In addition to being one of the RedHawks’ top penalty killers, Hutton leads college hockey with six power play goals.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

But Miami (7-6-2) killed the five-minute man advantage, and on a power play of their own, the RedHawks tied it with 3:25 left in the opening frame. Casey Gilling’s seeing-eye wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle snuck in the far corner of the net.

With 54 seconds left in the second period, Gordie Green took a pass from Gilling, penetrated on the left wing and buried a shot, top shelf to put Miami ahead.

The RedHawks survived a furious Big Red surge in the third period, as they were outshot, 12-3.

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

Miami has been exceptional in both facets of special teams recently, as the team is 5-for-10 in its last three games on the man-advantage and has played four straight contests without allowing a power play goal.

Green and Gilling both finished with a goal and an assist. It was Gilling’s first career multi-point game, and the fifth of the season for Green, who leads the team in assists (11) and points (17).

Josh Melnick and Louie Belpedio also picked up assists for the RedHawks. Melnick extended his points streak to four games, and Belpedio has six points in his last six games.

Miami stretched its unbeaten streak to four and are a game over .500 for the second time this season.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: That dreaded 6-on-5

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Ahh, 6-on-5 hockey.

Earlier this month it helped Miami tie that Colorado College home game in regulation, which eventually turned into a win.

But over the past eight years it has largely been RedHawk kryptonite, including Saturday’s 2-2 tie at the Slater Family Ice Arena in which Bowling Green scored the equalizer with 37.8 seconds left in the third period.

It was also the second time in 2017-18 Miami surrendered a decision-altering goal against in the final minute. Providence beat the RedHawks by scoring with 0.9 seconds left opening weekend.

An inability to close out wins is a legitimate criticism of Miami teams the past few years, but to the team’s credit it runs 6-on-5 drills all the time in practice.

Is it coaching? Is it heart? Is it just bad luck? Is it a statistical anomaly? Hard to say, but it’s definitely real.

On the flip side, there were 13 goals scored this weekend, and the RedHawks had eight of them in a road series against a team ranked in the top one-fourth of the PairWise.

They went 1-0-1 on Friday and Saturday, their best road series record since sweeping Nebraska-Omaha in late January of 2016. That was 22 months ago.

Overall Miami deserves a grade of ‘B’ for the weekend, but it would be tough to finish one or two spots out of the NCAA Tournament field because the RedHawks saw a win flipped to a tie because of yet another extra-attacker goal.

Other thoughts…

– Here were go with another edition of meaningless-3-on-3-exhibitions-suck. Regular readers have heard this rant before and can move on to the next long dash.

But seriously, can anyone please tell me why, for the love of God, we’re risking injury to some of the best Division I hockey athletes, for a demonstration between two non-conference opponents? It was 2-2 after the requisite five-minute overtime. So the game is officially a tie. Just leave it at that.

For whatever reason the teams played a five-minute 3-on-3 afterward, and while it was announced that the game had been completed, few on or off the ice got the memo. With a game story to complete on this end, following a mad ending to the actual game – which was highly entertaining, by the way – there was zero attention given to the skills competition on the deteriorating ice that was 30 minutes of game play old. Apparently BGSU won that, because the team and fans celebrated like they won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. In reality it meant absolutely nothing.

College hockey wants it both ways in this situation. It detests ties, so it creates “decisions” through artificial means like these. But the “wins” are utterly meaningless, and the process does a disservice to its fans.

We asked about going to a 4-on-4 for overtime like the NHL did, and the NCAA’s position – according to a conversation with NCHC commissioner and NCAA rules committee member Josh Fenton a couple years ago – is that college hockey believes overtime should be played by the same rules as regulation, and that means five players a side.

If conferences choose to alter rules beyond those five minutes, they may do so, but for NCAA purposes a game needs to be 5-on-5 for 65 minutes. After that, the league can hold an arm-wrestling competition at center ice to determine a “winner” from a points perspective if it so chooses.

OK. Respect that argument. Don’t agree, but respect it.

But the reality of that position is few games are resolved in five minutes of 5×5. It was 22 percent in the last sample studied on this end. In the NHL, which uses 4×4, that percentage jumps to between 40 and 50, depending on the season.

That leaves 78 percent of games that are tied through three periods, and the NCAA feels a compulsory need to generate a non-tie outcome at the expense of legitimacy.

Please, either break all ties by sane means or cut down the chance of ties and leave the occasional one alone.

– Love the weekend series at the in-state rival and hope these two can play four a year, since Ohio State has decided to bail on its annual home-and-home with Miami. The RedHawks and Bowling Green are less than three hours distance driving, and the teams can drive back on Saturday nights to cut out on the expense of a second game-night hotel stay.

– Staff at BGSU was top notch. Lots of Miami fans were in attendance, and the games got chippy, but never saw or heard about any problems.

Miami’s Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Ryan Larkin’s save percentage is not where he would want it, but he had a solid weekend. He faced a lot of high-percentage shots and stopped most.

– Grant Hutton and Louie Belpedio are giving the RedHawks a dominant defensive tandem it has not had in some time. One wonders if Belpedio was ever truly healthy in 2016-17 and Hutton seemingly gets better each shift.

– Didn’t think the penalty shot should’ve been awarded. It was close though. Kiefer Sherwood did all he could to prevent the goal and did commit a penalty, but it should’ve just been a two-minute power play.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C-. Only two points from this entire corps: Josh Melnick’s goal for his tip-in and Gordie Green’s assist for an outlet pass that hit Belpedio in stride, as he crossed the blue line and blasted one home. Carson Meyer has to stop taking penalties – he had 12 more PIM in this one.

DEFENSEMEN: B. Belpedio fired the shots that resulted in both Miami goals. Hutton picked up an assist. Both were stellar defensively. This group was shaky in the first period but got better as the game progressed.

GOALTENDING: B+. Larkin faced a lot of quality chances as usual, and the only goals he allowed were on a penalty shot and a well-placed wrister from the high slot on a 6-on-5.

LINEUP CHANGES: There was only one: Casey Gilling was back in the lineup, sending Carter Johnson to the bench. It was the first game missed by Gilling all season.

Analysis: Fighting major sparked Miami win

OXFORD, Ohio – In team sports, sometimes an emotional spark is needed.

Miami, which was 0-9-2 vs. Minnesota-Duluth the past two-plus seasons, was losing again on Saturday when its galvanizing moment occurred.

The RedHawks scored the next three goals and eradicated their winless streak vs. the Bulldogs, holding on for a 3-2 win at Cady Arena.

A quick stage set: UMD is an excellent team that has a reputation for playing chippy hockey, playing on the edge, sometimes over the edge.

Remember that one of the first times these teams met in Oxford, Chris Joyaux squared off after the final whistle with three dozen skaters and a handful of goalies on the ice.

Miami defenseman Chaz Switzer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

So on Saturday, Minnesota-Duluth took a late poke at Miami goalie Ryan Larkin after a puck was clearly frozen.

Chaz Switzer took exception and pushed another player behind the net, and the Bulldogs were not called.

Minutes later, UMD took a run at Larkin, and again it was Switzer coming to his goalie’s defense, using offender Avery Peterson as a human punching bag before officials intervened.

Switzer was given five minutes for fighting and a game disqualification penalty, which carries a one-game suspension. He left the ice to a standing ovation by fans that had little to cheer about to that point of the weekend.

And here’s where hockey and the attitudes of many its fans/players/coaches/etc., deviates from the majority of other team sports.

The hate mail may roll in from those in other sports’ camps and the college-hockey-is-pure-and-fighting-is-barbaric-crowd, and that’s OK. So here goes.

Not only is Switzer a stud for what he did, it’s the officials’ fault he’s going to be suspended.

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

Larkin is a RedHawks star. Anyone who knows anything about UMD hockey knows its players are old-school WCHA all the way. That means ultra-physical play, after-the-whistle confrontations and yes, the occasional fisticuffs.

If a dumb fan sitting at a word processor knows this, certainly NCHC officials do, right?

So when Larkin gets hit the first time, you assess a penalty. If you don’t really think it warrants a Miami power play, you penalize the violator and Switzer two minutes each.

That sends the message that we’re watching and goalie running will be punished.

You do that, the second incident and resulting fighting major/suspension almost certainly doesn’t happen.

Even if you blow that, there have been plenty of times when players in Switzer’s situation have just received a game misconduct than the DQ, which carries an automatic suspension.

The officials didn’t have Larkin’s back, so Switzer did.

Good for Switzer. If it wasn’t for players like Switzer, the NCAA would have 60 teams like Michigan who take out players’ knees and cross-check players in the head with relatively few repercussions.

Miami dressed seven defensemen for this game, so the team went in able to absorb the loss of a blueliner.

Switzer is a five or six defenseman who struggled at times last season and has stepped up his play significantly this fall. He had 294 penalty minutes in 121 games of juniors, so clearly he’s no stranger to extracurriculars.

Don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but it’s very, very likely Switzer earned ample respect from his teammates. He certainly made a lot of fans in his home rink.

The on-ice results were obvious in the final two periods.

Coach Enrico Blasi wasn’t asked about the incident (seriously, the event that changed the game never made it into the presser forum?), and while he wisely did not address the incident he acknowledged the team struggled in the first period but played much better the final 40 minutes.

Through the years, RedHawks teams rarely cross the line (think that was the first fighting major since Alden Hirschfeld seven years ago?), but they typically are prepared to defend themselves when their opponents do.

UMD took a couple of late shots at Miami’s goalie in an attempt to intimidate its southern Ohio rival, and it backfired.

Other thoughts…

– Now onto far less controversial topics. Despite the split, Miami was the better team this weekend and certainly didn’t seem overmatched by a ranked Bulldogs team.

Friday’s loss aside, it was a good weekend for Miami, which didn’t win its fifth game in 2016-17 until New Year’s Eve.

– Carson Meyer broke out with goals in both ends of the series after scoring just one the first 10 games. Meyer heating up means good things for the Miami offense.

– Same goes for Ryan Siroky, who scored on his only shot of the night for his second marker in three games. He had two more big hits on the weekend and has become a very solid third liner that no one wants to play against.

– Karch Bachman picked up another assist and has already matched his point total of 2016-17 with an identical 2-4-6 line. He was the only forward to finish plus-2 in this game.

– Despite those forwards stepping up, MU is averaging 1.8 goals over its last five games. Up next is Bowling Green, which is 11th in the NCAA in goals allowed per game.

– UMD had 10 skaters take faceoffs. That might be an NCAA record. Only two had winning records, so perhaps the Bulldogs are auditioning their forwards? But still, 10 skaters?

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. With 11 forwards, there were a lot of different line combinations. Despite the odd number, the overall chemistry of this corps was good. Josh Melnick and Gordie Green put on a show with their goal, passing back and forth before Melnick buried a wrister for the eventual game winner. This group was solid defensively all weekend as well.

DEFENSEMEN: B. Believe it or not, 29 shots allowed is the fourth-highest opponent total of the season for Miami. As mentioned above, the forwards chipped in on D, and the D was strong on D, thus the ‘B’. Many of those 29 shots were right at Larkin, who swallowed them up for easy saves. Grant Frederic played just two of the first eight games but has dressed for three of the last four and has been pretty much mistake-free.

GOALTENDING: B. UMD’s first goal was a rapid-fire missile that Larkin had no chance on. Maybe Larkin could’ve gloved the Bulldogs’ second shot, but he stopped 27 shots and as usual allowed few second chances.

LINEUP CHANGES: With Frederic in as the seventh defenseman, F Christian Mohs was scratched. Zach LaValle sat for the second consecutive game, and Willie Knierim played in his third straight. Frederic should play at least the front end of the BGSU series with Switzer suspended.

Late again: Melnick goal delivers tie

There’s no leaving early at Miami games this season.

For the second time in eight days, the RedHawks scored with an extra attacker late in the third period as they salvaged a 3-3 tie vs. No. 2 North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday.

Melnick

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

And once again it was Josh Melnick rallying Miami. He scored the overtime winner on Nov. 3 vs. Colorado College.

This time he evened it up with 1:24 left, sending the game to the extra session, a 3-on-3 and eventually a shootout, the latter of which Fighting Hawks won and earned an extra conference point.

The RedHawks managed one of a possible six points on the weekend, as they lost on Friday. They dropped to 0-8-3 in their last 11 conference road games.

Miami actually led, 2-0 in this game. Gordie Green put the RedHawks ahead when he took a feed from Josh Melnick, turned and fired it in from the high slot with 3:53 left in the first period.

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

MU went up by two when a rebound off a blue line blast from Grant Frederic kicked out to Ryan Siroky, who shoveled it in off his backhand from the side of the goal eight minutes into the middle stanza.

But North Dakota (7-2-3) answered 37 seconds later when a rip by Colton Poolman from just inside the zone deflected off a RedHawks defender and in.

The Fighting Hawks evened it up 33 seconds into the third period when Dixon Bowen skated into the zone and fired one past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin from the top of the faceoff circle.

UND went ahead, netting its third straight goal, with just 3:38 remaining. Grant Mismash was left alone for a brief 2-on-0 with Larkin but went behind the net when Larkin closed down his shooting lanes.

At a terrible angle, Mismash was somehow able to lift a pass to the other side of the crease for Shane Gersich, who batted it out of the air and into the net.

Down 3-2 with time running out and in front of nearly 12,000 UND fans, Miami defenseman Louie Belpedio somehow completed a slap pass through heavy traffic to Melnick at the inside edge of the faceoff circle. Like Siroky, Melnick hit twine with the backhand.

Melnick nearly won it in the closing seconds of regulation, but the game went to overtime, during which the Fighting Hawks outshot Miami, 4-2.

With the game officially recorded as a tie, the teams skated to a scoreless five-minute 3-on-3, and finally Christian Wolanin scored in the fourth round of the ensuing shootout to give UND an additional point in the NCHC standings.

It was the first league game this season that had advanced beyond standard 5-on-5 overtime. Miami received one point for the tie and the Fighting Sioux two for the tie plus shootout win.

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

Melnick was the lone RedHawk with multiple points, accomplishing that feat for the third time this season with a line of 1-1-2.

Green is now tied with Grant Hutton for the team goal-scoring lead with five, and Melnick has three – all in the past five games. Siroky’s marker was his first of the season.

It was the third time in 2017-18 a Miami game was decided in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. In addition to Melnick’s two late tallies, Providence scored a game winner against the RedHawks in the final second of the third period.

Miami is currently in sixth place in the NCHC with four conference points in four games. The RedHawks return home to host Minnesota-Duluth next weekend.

Analysis: Finishing an issue in finale

OXFORD, Ohio – For a period that did not see a goal scored, the final stanza of Saturday’s game was certainly bizarre.

After scoring the go-ahead tally with 0.1 seconds left in the second period, Colorado College held on for a 2-1 win over Miami at Cady Arena as the teams split the weekend series.

Just over six minutes into the third period, the Tigers appeared to have scored their third goal on a blast from the blue line.

The RedHawks’ coaching staff, players nor goalie Ryan Larkin seemed to have any objection, but after a review the goal was waved off because of an alleged crease violation.

Already down a player – and Gordie Green for that matter – his linemate and top penalty killing forward Josh Melnick was whistled for tripping, giving Colorado College a 5-on-3 for a minute and a half.

The Tigers were then assessed a holding penalty five seconds later, making it a 4-on-3 for 1:25.

On a side note, if that was intended as a make-up call, cutting an advantage from 5×3 to 4×3 doesn’t help the shorthanded team much, since a 4×3 is statistically almost as lethal.

But to continue, Miami killed the one-and-a-half-man advantage.

A couple of minutes later, Green ripped a one-timer from the slot that went just wide, and the goal light went on erroneously.

Then a Zach LaValle penalty with 5:14 left, and Casey Gilling received a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct on the same play (NOTE: The latter usually means a player used the magic word when talking to officials).

Miami killed that power play and drew a boarding call with a minute left. But despite finishing the game 6-on-4, the RedHawks were unable to repeat Friday’s comeback heroics.

Credit does go to the Tigers’ goalie Alex Leclerc, who stopped 26 of 27 shots.

Miami went 3-1 on the homestand and is now 4-4 after a 1-3 start, but the loss stings because the RedHawks outplayed Colorado College overall in this one.

On Friday, the teams were pretty even and both played well, but CC wasn’t on its game Saturday and Miami still couldn’t get any points.

Other thoughts…

– Annual disclaimer that we like to keep criticism of officials to a minimum, since in theory it should even out and making them a part of the game can appear whiny and hurt credibility. That said, the refs didn’t have a good weekend. The power plays were 14-8 in favor of Colorado College for the series, and the Tigers weren’t that much better than Miami. Actually the opposite.

It was called tight on Saturday, and then interference became a game strategy and was let go. To be fair, the goalie interference called on Colorado College in the first period on Friday was one of the worst calls at Cady Arena in some time.

It stings more when the borderline calls end up in the violators’ net, and the Tigers scored three times on the man advantage this weekend. Miami had zero PPGs.

– Miami had its chances but missed to net too often in this one. The RedHawks scored on their final shot of the first period and put 18 on net the final 40 minutes but none hit twine. A number more solid opportunities missed the net entirely, and there was also a late post on a one-timer (Grant Hutton maybe?). Miami possessed the puck a lot and ended the night with just one goal.

– Not sure who failed to pick up Wade Michaud, who joined the power play rush late in the closing seconds of the second period, but he was left wide open to skate in and score the decisive goal. The replay quality isn’t great, but it appears the pass from the along the boards was partially deflected by Green and ended up right on Michaud’s stick. Melnick, Grant Hutton and Chaz Switzer were also on the ice for that critical kill.

– A side note that Colorado College only had five healthy defensemen this weekend. So the Tigers are young (no seniors) and were shorthanded on the blue line, which means Miami will face an even tougher task when they head to Colorado Springs in January to play a jelling CC team at high altitude.

– Nice to see a good crowd at Cady Arena. The listed attendance was 3,137, which is 120 off the season high set in the 2017-18 opener vs. Providence.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C. The group was decent overall but only finished once. The power play wasn’t that good. Time of possession was excellent, and that alone cut down the number of scoring chances for Colorado College. Overall this corps helped hold CC to five shots on eight power plays, which included an extensive 4-on-3.

Miami’s Alec Mahalak (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

DEFENSEMEN: A-. As mentioned above, the forwards made the blueliners’ job somewhat easier, but the D deserves credit for the Tigers’ shot total of 14, a season low allowed by Miami and the third time in four games the RedHawks have given up fewer than 20 shots. Louie Belpedio took the cross-checking penalty that led to the decisive goal, but it was unclear if that was a warranted call since it was behind the play and there wasn’t a good camera angle of it. Alec Mahalak logged some power play time and looked confident handling the puck. That gives Miami four blueliners who jump on for the man advantage, which is atypical for recent RedHawks teams.

GOALTENDING: C. Ryan Larkin made one spectacular save, but he probably should have stopped one of the two goals. The first one beat him high to the glove side, and he appeared to have gotten the glove up in time. The second one was far enough out that he should’ve had a good look. He stopped only 12, putting his save percentage for the night at .857. That’s four straight games in which Larkin has allowed two goals or fewer. If he can do that most nights Miami should win plenty of games.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. Coach Enrico Blasi continues to ride this corps of 18 skaters plus Larkin. It was not only the fourth straight game using the same 19, the lines are remaining intact. The latter may change if forwards not named Melnick and Green can’t pick up the scoring. The other 10 forwards slots have generated just 11 goals through eight games. It’s a shame to see the same faces in the stands each night but there are no easy answers when a team has 28 players on its roster.

Analysis: End game going Miami’s way

OXFORD, Ohio – If Friday’s conference opener was any indication, this could be a fun NCHC season.

Miami led by one then trailed by one, scored the tying goal with 51 seconds left and the winner in overtime of a 3-2 victory over Colorado College at Cady Arena on Friday.

No one expects this to happen 100 percent of the time when games are close, but this is two games in a row in which the RedHawks faced adversity late and killed it.

Last Saturday, Connecticut had all the momentum heading into the third period and Miami came out with three quick goals to shut the door.

There have been a number of similar games the past few seasons in which the final outcome has gone the other way, and 6-on-5 has been RedHawk kryptonite.

MU entered this four-game homestand 1-3 and has won three much-needed contests in a row to pull a game over .500, and the RedHawks have a chance to sweep the four-game set and its first NCHC series of 2017-18.

The way Miami has played late in the past two games, things are definitely looking good heading into the RedHawks’ home finale.

Other thoughts…

– It was a well-played game by both teams, and as expected, CC is much better than in past seasons. Obviously the ending makes that easy to say, but the quality of play was high even in those first two fairly-uneventful periods, especially considering it’s still early November.

– Colorado College scored both of its goals on the power play. The interference on Rourke Russell was the right call, but Grant Hutton barely contacted a player with the puck and was whistled for tripping. The officiating was pretty inconsistent, and the Tigers received six power plays to Miami’s two.

Miami’s Ben Lown (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Ben Lown is currently the third member of the top line with Gordie Green and Josh Melnick, and he proved deserving of that role with the centering feed to Melnick for the overtime winner. Like several of the other freshmen, he seems to be gaining confidence with each game.

– Three RedHawks took at least eight faceoffs, and all had winning records. Melnick was 15-13, Casey Gilling finished 13-7 and Kiefer Sherwood won six of eight. Overall Miami was 39-29 on the night.

– Green and Melnick both have five-game points streaks. Green has all of his team-best 13 points in that span (4-9-13), and Melnick is 2-6-8. Louie Belpedio has three goals in his last two games, and Melnick has goals in consecutive games as well.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C+. Melnick and Gilling both found the net, but this corps combined for just 15 shots and four of its five minor penalties resulted in CC power plays. Ryan Siroky dished out a pair of huge hits, but Miami didn’t get much offensive production from its bottom three lines. Kiefer Sherwood and Carson Meyer combined for just one shot, and Karch Bachman had three – including some high-percentage attempts – as the third member of that line, but he appears somewhat snakebitten.

DEFENSEMEN: B+. Belpedio juked at the blue line and wired one home for one of the goals. Colorado College generated 30 shots but 11 were on the power play. Chaz Switzer stopped a 31st and a would-be goal when he blocked a shot at the top of the crease while goalie Ryan Larkin was scrambling to get back into position.

GOALTENDING: B. Twice Larkin sprawled across the goal mouth to stop A-plus chances, and he was 28 of 30 overall (.933). One of the shots slipped through in heavy traffic, and both were on the power play. Larkin had allowed 16 goals the first four games but has surrendered just three in his last three starts.

LINEUP CHANGES: None again. It’s the third straight game the same 18 skaters have dressed, and Larkin has been between the pipes for the start of all seven of Miami’s contests.

Another OT winner for Melnick

OXFORD, Ohio – Josh Melnick loves overtime, especially when Miami plays Colorado College.

Miami celebrates after Josh Melnick’s game winner on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The last time the RedHawks played the Tigers, MU won, 3-2 in overtime at Cady Arena, with the winner coming from Josh Melnick.

Copy and paste, as Miami won by the same score at the same venue with the same guy scoring the OT winner on Friday.

It was the third career overtime goal for Melnick.

The extra session came after a wild third period that saw the RedHawks go from up one to down one and finally even after tying it with 51 seconds remaining.

Following a scoreless first period, Miami (4-3) took the lead when Louie Belpedio juked at the blue line and whipped into the top corner of the net with 12:34 left in the second period.

It remained 1-0 until the 6:51 mark of the third period, when Trevor Gooch’s tip-in tied it on the power play.

Colorado College (5-4) went ahead with 4:40 remaining when a blue-line shot snuck past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin in heavy traffic.

But with the extra attacker on, Gordie Green gloved down a puck and slid a pass across the slot to Casey Gilling for a game-tying one-timer with 51 seconds remaining.

In overtime, Ben Lown chipped a centering pass to a streaking Melnick, who was able to bat the puck past goalie Alex Leclerc and into the back of the net with 2:23 left in that stanza.

It was the third straight win for Miami and it snapped an 0-9-1 skid for the RedHawks against conference foes.

Green finished with two assists, giving him a team-best 13 points, all in the last five games.

Ryan Larkin stopped 28 shots to earn the win for Miami.

It was the NCHC opener for the RedHawks, who are in a five-way tie for first with three points.

These teams will wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Miami nets 5 late to blow out UConn

OXFORD, Ohio – For the second straight night, Miami put a game away with a flurry of goals.

On Saturday, it was a four-goal outburst over a six-minute span of a five-marker third period that lifted the RedHawks to a 7-1 win over Connecticut.

That completed the series sweep, the first for Miami since early January.

Defenseman Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Defenseman Louie Belpedio netted two goals and tallied three points, both tying career highs, and Gordie Green finished with a goal and two assists as he extended his points streak to four games.

At 3:40 of the first period, Kiefer Sherwood put Miami on the board with a power play blast from the top of the faceoff circle that snuck in the short side off a feed from Scott Dornbrock.

With two minutes left in the opening stanza, MU defenseman Grant Hutton carried the puck the length of the ice and temporarily lost it before regaining possession and sliding it through the top of the crease to a wide-open Green for a one-timer to make it 2-0.

That score remained until the 18:45 mark of the second period when UConn (2-5-1) forward Adam Karashik emerged with the puck along the boards in the offensive zone, skated across the top of the crease uncontested and deposited the puck in the back of the net shorthanded.

It was 2-1 at the second intermission, but the RedHawks’ offense awakened in the final frame.

Sherwood dropped a behind-the-back pass to Phil Knies, who skated around the back of the net and dumped it into the open side of the cage just 1:25 into the third period.

Then it was Belpedio’s turn. Josh Melnick skated behind the net to the sideboards and connected with Gordie Green in the faceoff circle, and he sent a pass to Belpedio for a high wrister that snuck under the crossbar less than two minutes later.

Green next set up Melnick, feeding him at the top of the crease. Melnick tipped the puck under Adam Huska on a change-up shot, as the puck sat just across the goal line at the 6:13 mark of the period.

Belpedio struck again 1:24 later, hitting the corner of the net from the slot for an unassisted tally.

Austin Alger capped the scoring on a late power play, notching his second goal of the season as he slammed home a deflected puck thrown at the net by Conor Lemirande.

Thirteen Miami (3-3) players recorded at least one point. Melnick and Sherwood also notched two points.

The RedHawks led, 19-3 on the shot clock early in the second period and ended the night with a 44-18 edge.

It was the third time in four games Miami recorded at least three power play goals. The RedHawks were 4-for-7 in this game and are 52.4 percent during that stretch.

Miami will host Colorado College next weekend as it opens its NCHC slate. The teams will play at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.