Both teams scored five times in the first two periods.
But a Kobe Roth goal with 13:17 left in regulation was the difference maker in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth’s 6-5 win over Miami on Saturday.
In a crazy game that saw the Bulldogs score twice in the first 90 seconds and ultimately fall behind by a goal in the second period, UMD (21-9-2) completed a four-game season series sweep of the RedHawks.
MU dropped its third straight game and is 0-11-2 in its last 13 games on the Bulldogs’ home ice.
RECAP: Just 86 seconds into the game, the Bulldogs led by two thanks to a pair of Nick Wolff goals scored on outside shots, 23 seconds apart.
Miami (11-19-4) went on a two-man advantage and powered home a pair of quick goals of their own, tying it on markers scored 55 second apart.
Josh Melnick whipped a wrister home from the high slot on the 5-on-3, and Jonathan Gruden grabbed a rebound off a Grant Hutton shot and backhanded it home to tie the score at the 5:42 mark of the opening stanza.
Riley Tufte tipped home a slap pass from the edge of the crease on the power play to give Minnesota-Duluth a 3-2 lead with 10:30 left in the first frame.
The RedHawks again answered with a man-advantage goal of their own, as Hutton ripped a shot from the high inside edge of the faceoff circle that found its mark with 3:34 left in the first period.
A blue line blast by Dylan Samberg put UMD ahead by one again, 4-3 less than three minutes into the middle stanza, but Gordie Green tied it for Miami with a one-timer from the slot off a centering feed by Ryan Siroky along the boards.
RedHawks forward Carter Johnson stole the puck behind the Bulldogs’ net, wrapped around and poked it into the net less than two minutes later to give the RedHawks their only lead.
But with 20 seconds left in the second period, Parker Mackay cleaned up a rebound off a blue line wrist shot by Scott Perunovich to tie the score at five.
The game winner also was scored on a rebound, as Roth banged home a Billy Exell shot from the side of the net 6:43 into the third period.
STATS: Hutton finished with a goal and two assists, tying his career high in points. It was his fourth-ever three-point game.
— Melnick and Green both found the net and picked up a helper. Green snapped a five-game goalless streak and Melnick recorded his third tally in five games.
With 107 career points, Melnick moved into a tie with Blake Coleman for 45th on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.
— Gruden broke out of a 12-game skid without a marker, and Johnson scored for the first time since opening night.
— The RedHawks were 3-for-5 on the power play, scoring three times on the man advantage for the first time since Jan. 12, 2018 in an 11-7 loss at Omaha.
Miami also gave up two PPGs on four chances. MU is 15 of 24 on the penalty kill in its last eight games, a clip of 62.5 percent.
— The RedHawks generated just 19 shots and have failed to put up more than 22 shots in five consecutive contests. They have been outshot by 94 in that span, or 19 shots per game.
THOUGHTS: Miami played much better overall than on Friday, especially considering the RedHawks went down two within the first 90 seconds.
MU was assisted by a 5-on-3 later in the first period, as the team scored twice to tie it.
The RedHawks actually led heading into the final minute of the second period but ultimately two Minnesota-Duluth rebound goals in the final stanza were the difference.
As tough as Miami has had it at Amsoil Arena, it’s looking more likely the RedHawks return there for their first-round NCHC Tournament series again.
MU has gone to Duluth two of the previous three years for the best-of-3 and its season has ended there both times.
— Gruden seems to be heating up at the right time. He made a highlight-reel pass to set up Phil Knies‘ goal on Friday and scored one of his own in this game.
— Funny how a game with the same officials as Friday played about at an equal level physically sees these teams combine for nine power play chances after racking up only two in the series opener.
Even the UMD broadcasters were commenting on that and how calls against both teams that weren’t made on Friday were minors on Saturday.
Miami and UMD combined to go 6-for-11 on the man advantage for the weekend (54.5 percent).
— Jordan Uhelski made the start and allowed six goals on 39 shots. It wasn’t one of his better games, and Ryan Larkin was not in top form on Friday.
LINEUP CHANGES: River Rymsha was back in the lineup after serving his league-imposed one-game suspension. He replaced Noah Jordan.
The only other move was Uhelski in net for Larkin.
STANDINGS: At 5-15-2 in the NCHC, Miami is locked into a seven or eight seed.
The RedHawks are tied with Omaha for seventh place but are technically behind the Mavericks because they lose the tiebreaker, which is goal differential in head-to-head meetings (UNO has outscored Miami, 12-11 in their four meetings).
MU is six points behind sixth-place Colorado College but cannot win the tiebreaker vs. the Tigers because of a 1-3 head-to-head mark.
St. Cloud State has locked up the No. 1 seed, and if the season ended today that’s where Miami would head. Minnesota-Duluth is likely to finish second, as the Bulldogs are four points ahead of Denver.
One of those three teams will host Miami in two weeks. SCSU is No. 1 in the PairWise, UMD is third and Denver sixth.
The RedHawks host Western Michigan next week while Omaha travels to North Dakota.
MU is No. 34 in the PairWise.
FINAL THOUGHTS: One weekend left in the regular season and all that’s left to decide is where Miami will head for the NCHC Tournament.
For whatever reason the RedHawks have had more success in Denver than Duluth or St. Cloud, but Denver is also the least likely opponent for Miami, as the Pioneers would have to rally from four points down to catch UMD.
However, Duluth heads to St. Cloud State next week while Denver hosts Colorado College.
Miami needs a strong finish to its regular season against Western Michigan next week to carry some confidence into the postseason.
Miami saw quite enough of Noah Cates on Friday, as the Minnesota-Duluth freshman finished with more points than the RedHawks had goals.
The No. 3 Bulldogs won the series opener, 4-2 over MU at Amsoil Arena, as the Philadelphia draft pick scored the first two goals of the game and assisted on UMD’s third marker.
After falling behind by two, twice Miami pulled to within a goal but the Bulldogs (20-9-2) were able to reextend the lead each time.
RECAP: Following a scoreless first period, Cates wristed one from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the stick side 4:25 into the middle stanza.
Less than four minutes later, Cates scored on another wrist shot from the upper edge of the opposite faceoff circle, sneaking one inside the far post.
Miami (11-19-4) answered 81 seconds later, as Jonathan Gruden skated around a defender and backhanded a pass through the slot to Phil Knies for a one-timer.
A streaking Cates took a pass from Peter Krieger and returned the favor, setting him up at the edge of the crease for a tap-in goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead 55 seconds into the third period.
Miami again trimmed its deficit to one when Ryan Siroky tipped home a Derek Daschke wrister on the power play with 15:27 left in regulation.
But Cole Koepke snuck a wrister through the five hole with 11:56 left to seal it.
STATS: Siroky’s 2018-19 goal total has eclipsed that of his first three campaigns combined.
His eighth goal of this season also gives him three in his last three games. Siroky had netted seven goals in 2015-18.
— It was the second goal in four games for Knies, which is a positive sign.
The sophomore, who found the net 11 times in 2017-18, scored for just the fifth time this season. Knies did miss six games with an upper-body injury earlier this season.
— Miami extended its winless streak at Amsoil Arena to 12 games (0-10-2), dating back to Halloween of 2014.
Overall the Bulldogs have won five straight games vs. MU.
— The RedHawks did not have to kill a single penalty, the first time that has occurred for Miami in the NCHC era.
THOUGHTS: Miami was manhandled early and although the RedHawks pulled to within one on two occasions you never really felt like they were going to earn points.
MU could barely clear its defensive zone in the first period, generating just two shots.
Larkin was a save-ior in the first 20 minutes, turning aside 11 shots including multiple stops on A-plus chances.
Then things evened out in the second period, as shots Larkin probably would’ve liked back found twine.
Miami showed better life in the final frame, where was that intensity the first 40 minutes?
Inconsistency has been a major issue for the RedHawks this season.
But their record against Duluth in recent years has been very consistent.
— So Miami came back from 2-0 down and made it 2-1, which was the score heading into the third period.
Then the guy who had scored both UMD goals is allowed to skate into the zone uncontested, receive a pass and return it for an easy tap-in.
Grant Hutton, the right defenseman, was caught out of position and forwards Gordie Green and Knies also were caught flat-footed on that crucial Krieger pass.
The Bulldogs’ fourth goal also was the result of players skating into the zone on the left wing unchallenged.
— Gruden’s move and backhand pass to Knies for Miami’s first goal was one of the highlights of the year.
LINEUP CHANGES: River Rymsha was suspended by the NCHC for his hit at the end of last Saturday’s game vs. Denver. The league is wrong on that, by the way.
Christian Mohs also sat after dressing for 16 straight games, and Scott Corbett missed his third straight game with an upper body injury.
Carter Johnson was in the lineup after sitting for three of the last four contests, and Noah Jordan played for just the sixth time this season.
It was the sixth consecutive start for Larkin.
FINAL THOUGHTS: With Miami’s fate as a road team to open the NCHC Tournament sealed, the goal is getting better heading into the tournament.
We saw no evidence of this on Friday.
The RedHawks should’ve been down by at least two in the first period but Larkin bailed them out, then he gave up two he maybe shouldn’t have, and Miami answered with a goal twice but surrendered a third and a fourth on shaky defense.
Doesn’t exactly sound like a team that could make a run at an NCHC Tournament title.
Miami is currently in league tournament prep mode, which is a larger body of work than just one game, so it’s unfair to summarily judge based on a single night.
But the point is that this is the caliber of team Miami will face to open up the league tournament in two weeks, and the RedHawks did nothing to show they have a chance to steal a road series and advance to the Twin Cities for the first time in four years.
OXFORD, Ohio – For the first 18 minutes, Miami played evenly against No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth and nearly matched the Bulldogs in shots.
But a UMD goal late in the opening period and three more in an 89-span of the second spelled a 4-0 loss for the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Friday.
Hunter Shepard stopped all 23 Miami shots he faced for Minnesota-Duluth, which doubled up the RedHawks in that category the final 40 minutes.
The loss extended Miami’s winless streak to nine games, its longest stretch since going 0-9-1 to close out 2016-17.
RECAP: The RedHawks (9-10-4) appeared to win an offensive-zone faceoff on the power play, but the puck shot back to neutral ice, where Nick Swaney beat the defense to it, skated in, was partially tripped by Miami’s Derek Daschke and recovered to roof one glove side with 1:24 left in the opening stanza.
The Bulldogs (13-6-2) made it 2-0 when Jackson Cates redirected a slap pass in from Dylan Samberg after the RedHawks’ Jonathan Gruden turned the puck over along the boards 3:45 in the middle frame.
Noah Cates one-timed one past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the power play 55 seconds later off a feed from Scott Perunovich to make it 3-0, sneaking his slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle inside the far post.
Just 34 seconds passed before UMD’s final goal, which was scored after Larkin lost his stick while being bumped out of position, and Parker Mackay deposited a behind-the-net pass from Justin Richards into the vacated net.
That ended Larkin’s night, as he was relieved by Jordan Uhelski.
The game got chippy late, as RedHawks captain Grant Hutton was later given a major and game misconduct for checking from behind and MU’s Karch Bachman and UMD’s Riley Tufte were assessed roughing penalties after their lines paired off following an interference call against the Bulldogs.
STATS: Coming off the bench, Uhelski stopped all 15 shots he faced.
— Miami was 20-40 (.333) in the faceoff circle.
— The RedHawks shut out Minnesota-Duluth in the third period, snapping a string of 15 straight frames allowing a goal.
— Eleven of Miami’s 23 shots came on its five power plays, as the RedHawks spent 8:06 on the man-advantage.
— This was the third time this season MU has been blanked.
THOUGHTS: It’s become a recent MO for Miami: The RedHawks came out strong again but were once again deflated when allowing that first goal.
With 90 seconds left in the first period, Miami went on the power play so it appeared the worst-case scenario would be a 0-0 score heading into the second with a brief 5-on-4 to start the next frame.
Instead, Swaney’s shorthanded goal in the final minute-plus gave UMD a huge momentum boost heading into intermission.
Arena staff made its best effort to fire up fans by cranking ABBA, but three Bulldogs goals early in the second frame later essentially sealed the game. That makes eight middle-stanza goals against in five games for the RedHawks.
To be fair, once again MU battled hard in the third period but the outcome had been decided by that point.
Duluth was the better team in practically every aspect: The Bulldogs scored twice at even strength, once on the power play, once on a Miami power play, they dominated on faceoffs, seizing loose pucks, were way better passing, miles better defensively and got better goaltending.
— The major on Hutton was the right call. He had multiple seconds to decide if he was going to bury Cole Koepke, who had his back to the play along the boards, and the ultra-strong Hutton followed through and hammered him face-first into the glass.
Especially as a captain, Hutton can’t make that play.
— Uhelski prevented this game from being 7-0 or 8-0, stopping a breakaway and a 3-on-1. Following the latter, a Miami fan yelled “where’s the rest of your team?” There was no answer.
— Miami had taken a major step forward on draws this season, especially with the addition of Monte Graham, but the team has been miserable in the circle recently. The RedHawks are 40.9 percent on faceoffs their last six games and have won a third or fewer draws in three of those contests.
Part of the reason for that is…segue…
— Miami’s leading scorer, Josh Melnick, was scratched for the third straight game with a lower body injury. He is considered week-to-week.
His absence is huge because in addition to his 19 points, he is solid on draws and one of the team’s best defensive forwards in addition to being a team captain.
FORWARDS: F. Thirteen forwards scored zero goals and generated 14 shots, many of which were of the low-percentage variety. Despite the decent shot total on the power play, there was no flow on the man-advantage from this corps. Gruden had an easy clear opportunity on the second UMD goal but overskated it. He was also the forward at the point when Swaney blew past all five Miami skaters to score on his breakaway. This Melnick-less group’s passing wasn’t particularly impressive either. Scott Corbett dished out a couple of good hits, but that was one of very few forward highlights.
DEFENSEMEN: D+. Friday’s game footage will not be used by Hutton for his personal highlight reel. He was late reacting when Jackson Cates scored that second goal and as mentioned above, he deserved his major. Daschke was a little flat-footed on that shorthanded breakaway. UMD managed 37 shots, equaling the fourth-highest total allowed by Miami this season. River Rymsha was first star out of this group.
GOALTENDING: B-. The first goal was on a breakaway, the second Larkin had no chance on, the third he should’ve stopped and the fourth he lost his stick and positioning when he was bumped at the side of the crease. Larkin wasn’t that bad but he wasn’t great either. Uhelski was great and had to be or this one would’ve gotten out of hand. Individually Larkin was a C-, Uhelski an A.
LINEUP CHANGES: Melnick missing his third straight game was the biggest news in terms of the lineup. It was hoped he would return for this series but he will shoot for Colorado College next weekend.
Defenseman Andrew Sinard sat after playing six straight games, as the RedHawks elected to use 13 forwards. Zach LaValle dressed in that extra spot after being scratched for the last six.
Uhelski was the starter last Saturday and ended up logged 35 relief minutes in this one.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was the first regular season home game for Miami in seven weeks and proved quite anticlimactic.
It feels like the game could’ve been completely different had Swaney not scored late in the first period but that seemed to shift the Bulldogs’ play to a higher gear and Miami could not match UMD in any facet for the balance of the game.
Minnesota-Duluth looks like a team poised to repeat as national champions, and in this game, the RedHawks were nowhere near that level.
Minnesota-Duluth entered the NCAA Tournament just five games over .500 but pulled off four straight one-goal wins to earn its second Division I title.
And the goalie that was in net for every minute of the Bulldogs’ playoff run, Hunter Shepard, returns for his junior season.
NCAA titles: 2 (2011, 2018).
COACH: Scott Sandelin (340-300-85 in 18 seasons).
2017-18 RECORD: 25-16-3.
POSTSEASON: Won NCAA Tournament.
RINK (capacity): Amsoil Arena (6,726).
MIAMI VS. UMD LAST SEASON: 1-3.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Minn.-Duluth leads, 15-4-2.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Jan. 18-19 – at Miami; March 1-2 – at Minn.-Duluth.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: G Hunter Shepard, F Parker Mackay, D Scott Perunovich, D Nick Wolff, F Riley Tufte, D Mikey Anderson, D Dylan Samberg, F Peter Krieger, F Joey Anderson.
KEY NEW FACES: F Jackson Cates, F Noah Cates, F Cole Koepke.
NOTES: A couple of pieces may be gone from last season’s championship team, but Minn.-Duluth’s back end looks as good as any in college hockey.
Shepard logged 41 games and posted a 1.91 goals-against average and a save percentage of .925, and four returning defenseman recorded at least 13 points in 2017-18.
Shepard was second in Division I with 25 wins, 10th in save percentage and sixth in GAA. He won all four of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Tournament games this spring.
Blueliner Scott Perunovich led the team in plus-minus (22), assists (25) and points (36), and Mikey Anderson went 5-18-23.
Nick Wolff and Dylan Samberg finished with 13 points apiece, with Wolff hitting the net seven times and leading the Bulldogs with 81 penalty minutes.
Wolff and Samberg combined for 150 blocked shots.
Minn.-Duluth brings all that experience back after allowing just 2.09 goals per game last season – the fourth-best clip in the NCAA – and surrendering just 57 even strength tallies.
UMD also returns its top three points-producing forwards from its title year.
Peter Krieger led all forwards with 30 points and netted a team-best five game-winning goals. Riley Tufte finished with 29 points including a Bulldogs-high 16 markers, and Nick Swaney went 6-16-22, posting a plus-11 rating.
Newly-named captain Parker Mackay is also back and is a two-way stud up front.
The Bulldogs still have not released their 2018-19 roster, so it’s unclear how many freshmen they will bring in, but three players from that incoming class participated in NHL development camps this summer – Cole Koepke, Noah Cates and Jackson Cates.
NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the third of seven installments.
Here are the links for the other snapshots:
It’s not the type of hat trick Miami was hoping for.
The RedHawks set a school record by being shut out for the third straight game, this time 3-0 vs. No. 11 Minnesota-Duluth at Amsoil Arena.
That loss mathematically eliminates Miami from the possibility of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and also crushes any hope the team had for home-ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC Tournament.
The RedHawks have not scored in 212:01 or more than 10½ periods.
To qualify for the NCAAs by an at-large berth, a team has to have a winning record. Miami is seven games under .500, and running the table through the NCHCs is the only way it could pull that off.
Winning the NCHC Tournament would give the RedHawks an automatic bid.
MU, currently in last place in the conference, can finish no higher than sixth place. It could catch Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College or Western Michigan but not both of the latter. Though both are technically in striking distance for Miami, CC and WMU play each other and are guaranteed six points between them that weekend.
Which means for the third straight season, the RedHawks will head to the road to open the NCHC Tournament. They were swept by Minnesota-Duluth in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, ending those seasons.
Miami is 0-10-1 in its last 11 games in this building, with its last win coming on Oct. 31, 2014. The RedHawks have been outscored, 44-22 on UMD’s home ice during that stretch.
RECAP: Jared Thomas opened the scoring for the Bulldogs (16-13-3) midway through the first period.
That score held through a second period that saw Miami outshoot UMD, 14-1.
But the RedHawks could not generate the equalizer. Casey Gilling came the closest, ringing one off the post.
With 6:13 left in regulation, Nick Wolff extended the Bulldogs’ lead to two, and Joey Anderson found the empty net with 24 seconds remaining.
STATS: Kiefer Sherwood led all Miami skaters with five shots on goal. Gordie Green and Louie Belpedio added four each.
Chaz Switzer finished with a team-best three blocks.
— Miami played six times in January and averaged 3.67 goals. In six February contests, the RedHawks are scoring 1.33 goals per game and 0.80 in their last five.
— MU’s 34 shots on goal was its second-highest total of the year. The RedHawks fired 44 shots in a 7-1 win over Connecticut on Oct. 28.
— The last time Miami won on Saturday, it was against this team. That was Nov. 18. The RedHawks are 0-7-2 in series finales since.
THOUGHTS: Like last Saturday, Miami deserved a better fate than a 3-0 loss.
The RedHawks once again ran into a hot goalie, as Hunter Shepard turned 34 shots aside in this game and stopped all 50 that he faced on the weekend.
So while it’s easy to look at three straight zeroes and say Miami’s offense must be in complete meltdown mode, in two of these games the RedHawks actually played pretty well.
But when you only play well one night of a series against teams of this caliber, it’s going to be a long season.
LINEUP CHANGES: Coach Enrico Blasi shook things up a little bit, bringing back defenseman Chaz Switzer after two games of sitting out. Grant Frederic was scratched to make room.
Up front, Willie Knierim and Zach LaValle both dressed. Knierim had not played in two games in a row and LaValle was a scratch five straight contests. Not in the lineup were Austin Alger and Carter Johnson.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Yes, Miami could technically pull itself out of eighth place in the conference if it strung some wins together in its final four regular season games, but the RedHawks’ fate has been sealed.
They will head on the road against a top-10 team to open a conference tournament they will need to win if they hope to avoid missing the NCAAs for the third straight season.
Most likely MU will head to St. Cloud State or Denver, two of the top five programs in college hockey.
As an eight seed, Miami nearly pulled that off in 2013-14 by sweeping St. Cloud on the road and beating North Dakota in the semifinal before falling a goal short in the championship game.
But that’s a tall, tall task especially this season with the NCHC being undoubtedly the premier league in Division I.
Back to the house of horrors for Miami.
The RedHawks were shut out in their personal torture chamber, Amsoil Arena, 4-0 vs. No. 11 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday night. It was the second straight game in which Miami failed to light the lamp, bringing their scoreless streak to 152:01.
MU was also blanked by St. Cloud State in its series finale vs. St. Cloud State last Saturday.
The loss drops the RedHawks (10-16-3) a season-worst six games under .500, as they are guaranteed their third straight losing regular season.
Miami slipped to 0-9-1 in its last 10 games in Duluth.
RECAP: A pair of quick goals midway through the first period was all Minnesota-Duluth would need.
Mikey Anderson got the Bulldogs (15-13-3) on the board at the 8:19 mark and exactly two minutes later, Billy Exell extended their lead to two.
Jade Miller and Louie Roehl added markers in the second and third periods to seal it.
STATS: Miami was outshot, 13-4 in the first period and 29-11 through the opening 40 minutes.
— Gordie Green and Carson Meyer fired three shots each. Josh Melnick and Louie Belpedio blocked three shots apiece.
— The RedHawks slipped to 1-13-1 in their last 15 games in February and beyond.
THOUGHTS: It was Jan. 5 when Miami beat Denver to improve to 9-8-2, and at that point an NCAA at-large berth seemed like a legitimate possibility.
The six weeks since have been a dumpster fire, with the RedHawks going 1-8-1 and pretty much eliminating themselves from NCAA Tournament consideration by any means other than an NCHC Tournament win.
The RedHawks were beaten soundly in that finale vs. the Pioneers, which was not surprising considering they’re one of the best teams in Division I.
Miami had winnable road games vs. UNO and Colorado College, but its defense was a no-show for those series. MU went 0-3-1 and allowed 25 goals in those games.
The RedHawks won their first game back on home ice, 4-2 vs. Western Michigan but dropped the next three in Oxford, one to WMU and a pair to St. Cloud State.
Now the offense is AWOL, as Miami was shut out for the final 92:01 of its series vs. the Huskies.
Add 60 to that after failing to score in this contest.
The difference between that SCSU shutout and this one is the RedHawks actually played well for most of their game against the Huskies. They laid an egg on Friday – a goose egg.
LINEUP CHANGES: It was the same 18 skaters for Miami, but Ryan Larkin was back in net after sitting the Saturday game vs. St. Cloud State due to an illness.
Chase Munroe was between the pipes for that contest.
FINAL THOUGHTS: With Miami destined for a road series to open the NCHC Tournament, it’s becoming a distinct possibility the RedHawks finish the regular season at Denver and return there the following weekend a la 2015-16 vs. Duluth.
MU’s chances of having a lucrative postseason get longer with every February loss.
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.
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.
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.
– 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?
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.
OXFORD, Ohio – Of all the sounds at a hockey rink, the final horn was the sweetest for Miami.
The RedHawks led by two with under two minutes left but held on – literally by inches – for a 3-2 win over No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena on Saturday.
The teams split the weekend series, as Miami snapped an 11-game winless streak against the Bulldogs.
Miami led, 3-1, but a wrister by UMD’s Parker Mackay with 1:23 left in regulation beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the glove side, cutting the lead to one.
In the closing seconds, a loose puck in the Miami crease was poked toward the net but was turned aside just shy of the goal line.
Minnesota-Duluth (6-6-2) took the lead when a rebound kicked out to Nick Wolff, who slammed it just under the crossbar with 7:25 left in the first period.
Miami’s Willie Knierim slid a pass from the side of the net that hit a body and slid back to Ryan Siroky in the high slot. Siroky stepped into it, and his slap shot tied it at the 13:23 mark of the middle stanza.
The RedHawks (5-6-1) went ahead when Carson Meyer batted in a puck from the side of the net on the short side, as goalie Hunter Shepard was unable to hug the post. Scott Dornbrock had fed the puck to Meyer from the blue line with 1:39 left in the middle frame.
Miami’s Gordie Green and Josh Melnick played give-and-go at the blue line, as Melnick took the return pass from Green, skated in and buried a shot from the center of the faceoff circle three minutes into the third period, giving the RedHawks a 3-1 lead.
That set up the frantic final moments, as Shepard headed to the bench at the 18-minute mark.
Meyer scored for the second straight game. Siroky found net for the second time in three contests, and that makes four in seven for Melnick.
Louie Belpedio picked up an assist, extending his points streak to three games.
Knierim also earned a helper for his first point of 2017-18.
The RedHawks were 0-9-2 in their last 11 games against the Bulldogs, as they snapped a 33-month winless drought vs. UMD.
Miami is now 2-3-1 in NCHC play and is in sixth place in the league. The RedHawks improved to 40th in the PairWise rankings.
MU heads to Bowling Green for a weekend series Nov. 24-25. Game times are 7:37 p.m. on Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
OXFORD, Ohio – Puck luck played a major role in Friday’s outcome.
And Miami had none.
The RedHawks hit four posts and were unable to convert several other close chances as they fell, 3-1 to No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena.
The Bulldogs extended their unbeaten streak against MU to 11.
Miami (4-6-1) controlled play during the first 14 minutes, but after a defensive-zone turnover, a wrister from the high slot by the Bulldogs’ Jared Thomas was partially deflected by RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin, popped over the netminder and rolled across the goal line to give UMD the lead.
A pane of glass broke in the corner of the rink, causing a 15-minute delay and killing any energy remaining from MU’s surge.
Miami tied it less than four minutes into the third period when Louie Belpedio connected on a pass from along the boards to Carson Meyer, who was in the slot. Meyer whipped an off-balance shot that found twine with seven seconds left on a power play.
But Minnesota-Duluth (6-5-2) regained the lead on a man-advantage of its own. With 5:09 left in regulation, Thomas blasted a one-timer past Larkin from the center of the faceoff circle after a long shift in the offensive zone.
Thomas had not scored this season entering Friday.
Again, MU had dictated play prior to that decisive power play.
The Bulldogs sealed it 76 seconds later on a slap shot by Scott Perunovich from just inside the blue line, as his shot slipped through Larkin’s pads.
Miami had rang the puck off posts twice in the same shift earlier in the period and finished with 15 shots on goal in that frame.
The RedHawks outshot UMD, 29-19 and have led on the shot counter in eight of their 11 contests this season.
Meyer snapped a six-game scoreless streak. Belpedio picked up a point for the second streak tilt, and Karch Bachman picked up the other helper, his second point in three games.
Miami’s power play goal was its first in five games.
The RedHawks are now 0-9-2 in their last 11 games against Minnesota-Duluth. MU’s last win against the Bulldogs came on Feb. 21, 2015.
Miami falls to 1-3-1 in the NCHC and is winless in its last four, going 0-3-1.
The teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.