Sometimes there’s a team that simply has your number. Northern Michigan seems to be it for the Miami RedHawks.
The Wildcats received first period goals from Justin Florek and Tyler Gron and that was all sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau would need as he made 40 saves and Northern Michigan defeated Miami for the third time this season in as many tries 2-1.
The RedHawks (14-11-2, 10-9-2-1 CCHA) dominated this game in every facet with the exception of the scoreboard outshooting NMU (12-8-5, 7-7-5-2 CCHA) by an incredible 41-13 margin. Including the December 2 game at Marquette, Mich., Coreau has a 2-0 record, 1.00 goals against average and an unbelievable .970 save percentage this season against Miami.
After falling behind as a result of two defensive mistakes that led to offensive zone rushes, and goals, for the Wildcats, Miami settled down and dominated play outshooting NMU 30-9 over the game’s final two periods.
Freshman Blake Coleman pulled Miami to within one with an early third period goal, but despite having a late powerplay opportunity, then an extra skater on for the game’s final 1:18, the RedHawks were simply unable to find the equalizer.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi felt his team lost a bit of its composure and became frustrated by the Wildcats’ netminder.
“When you get down to this time of year, one thing you can’t get is frustrated. You have to play with composure and discipline. You have to make plays under duress. Hopefully one thing we learned from tonight was exactly that, you have to keep playing no matter what.”
Frankly, it’s hard to blame the RedHawks for feeling the pressure as they battle to remain in the top 5 of the CCHA regular season standings and the top 16 in the Pairwise. And, with the tilted play in two of the three games against the Wildcats this season, it seems understandable that frustration could be mounting.
Senior tri-captain Alden Hirschfeld had this to say about the effort.
“It was a tough game, a tough one to lose. I thought we had a lot of chances out there. Their goalie made some good saves. We had a couple of turnovers that cost us. I thought we fought back really hard and we just have to let this one go and get ready for tomorrow.”
With last night’s loss, this much is clear.
Miami must find a way to win Saturday night because things do not get easier with next weekend’s series at Michigan, a home series against Notre Dame and the regular season finale, a home and home with Ohio State all still to come. Clearly there is still time for Miami to solidify their standing in the Pairwise and the league, but they will have to do so against the conference’s elite teams. So, it’s imperative they get started tonight, against a Northern Michigan team that Miami is clearly much more talented than.
Amazingly, Miami did not commit a single penalty all night after committing 14 in the previous matchup with the Wildcats.
– Miami is just 1-6 against the Upper Peninsula teams this year (1-3 vs. Lake Superior; 0-3 vs. NMU)
– Miami is an unimpressive 19-34-3 all-time against NMU
– Head coach Enrico Blasi is just 16-19-1 behind Miami’s bench against the Wildcats. NMU is one of the few CCHA teams that he does not have a winning record against.
– Miami is now tied for 10th in the Pairwise. With several games going the RedHawks way, they actually gained ground despite the loss. But, they are in a precarious league position having played two more league games than several contenders who are chasing Miami. They are essentially as close to first as they are to ninth.
– MURedHawks.com reports that senior goaltender Connor Knapp had his six-game winning streak snapped as he allowed more than one goal for the first time since a 5-3 win on December 9 at Ohio State. His last loss was December 2 at NMU. And, Miami had no penalties in last night’s loss for the first time since the 1996-97 season when they did it twice (vs. Michigan State and Cornell) in the same year.