OXFORD, Ohio – St. Cloud State ruined Grant Valentine’s home starting debut.
A blast by Luke Jaycox beat the junior goaltender with 25 seconds left in regulation, snapping a tie and lifting the Huskies to a 2-1 win over Miami at Cady Arena on Friday.
The RedHawks’ loss was their third straight, and they have won just two of eight games on their home ice this season.
SCSU was previously 0-4 in NCHC play.
RECAP: St. Cloud State (3-6-4) opened the scoring 17:19 into the first period when a Nick Perbix pass up the middle of the ice sprung Jami Krannila loose for a breakaway, and Krannila snuck a backhander just inside the post.
Following a scoreless second period, Miami (4-9-3) tied it when Karch Bachman skated around a defender and fed a pass from the side of the net to Casey Gilling at the top of the crease, and Gilling backhanded it home at the 1:52 mark.
But Easton Brodzinski slid a pass through the slot to Jaycox, who ripped a one-timer home from the top of the faceoff circle with time winding down.
Miami challenged, claiming the play was off-side, but the call was upheld.
STATS: It was the first career home start and second overall for Valentine, who stopped 26 shots. His save percentage is now a team-best .894.
— Gilling scored for the third time in five games, giving him 13 points on the season. He recorded 12 all of 2018-19.
— Bachman picked up just three assists in his first 11 games but has five in his last five contests. He notched a point for the fifth straight game, a team high.
— Gordie Green, who was awarded the second assist, has points in six of seven games and leads Miami with 18 for the season.
He has 97 for his career and would become the 53rd player in team history to reach triple digits.
— This was the 10th consecutive game in which the RedHawks were outshot.
— It was also the fifth straight contest in which Miami used a different starting goalie. All three have made at least three appearances in 2019-20.
THOUGHTS: The RedHawks played well for the first 16 minutes of the third period but were unspectacular the other 44.
There were a lot of long offensive-zone possessions in the first period, with St. Cloud State controlling the puck for most of those extended shifts. Green had a breakaway in that first 20 minutes but shot wide.
Miami generated just two even-strength shots in the second period.
The light seemed to come on for the RedHawks in the third, and then the light did come on when Gilling scored two minutes in. That stanza started with Miami having to kill a portion of a penalty, and the RedHawks seemingly spent more time in the zone during that first minute than the entire middle frame.
Miami was playing well, but with six minutes left, the RedHawks were unable to score on a power play and St. Cloud State seized the momentum, culminating in the winning goal in the final minute.
Despite their record, the Huskies are still a quality team with excellent speed and was the better team overall in this game.
— Since playing so well in Omaha, Miami seems to have reverted defensively, as too many times skaters were chasing the puck instead of maintaining their positioning.
On the first SCSU goal, defensemen Alec Mahalak and Alec Capstick were at the points with no Miami forwards in site when the Huskies sprung Krannila loose for a breakaway right through the middle of the ice.
On the winning goal, three Miami players went into the corner – again, chasing the puck – and when St. Cloud State dug the puck out, Brodzinski was able to feed a perfect one-time pass to a wide-open Jaycox.
Valentine bailed the RedHawks out at the end of the first period, stopping five shots on the power play as the Huskies were not adequately defended and generated multiple point-blank blasts as a result.
— Ben Lown returned to the lineup after missing the last eight games with a lower-body injury, and he appeared nearly 100 percent.
With him healthy and Matt Barry set to become eligible for the Bowling Green game, Miami will boast much better forward depth.
FORWARDS: D+. Once again, Bachman was able to use his speed to create a goal, as he blew around a defender before feeding Gilling at the top of the crease. Unfortunately for the RedHawks, that was one of only 15 shots this corps would generate. Phil Knies played well and finished with five shots, and Gilling tallied four, but the other 10 forwards recorded a total of six. Even Bachman was held to one. Green, who was unable to score on his breakaway, ended the night with zero.
DEFENSEMEN: C-. It seems this group is too eager to jump into plays when it hasn’t proven it can collectively do its job in its own end. It’s sort of like shoveling your neighbor’s driveway before taking care of your own. Derek Daschke has more than established that he can pinch while handling his defensive responsibilities, but at this point the rest of this corps would be better suited playing a more conservative game. Daschke was absolutely robbed by David Hrenak on a 2-on-1 in the third period but that was the only quality scoring chance any blueliner had. Mahalak is getting very little power play time, possibly because he’s being brought along gently after the injury that cost him the first six weeks of the season, but his presence at the point could jump-start the man-advantage.
GOALTENDING: A-. Valentine entered the season as Miami’s third goalie but he had a .929 save percentage in this game and is .909 in his two starts. And he faced some A-plus chances in this game. He singlehandedly kept the RedHawks in the game late in the first period when SCSU already held a one-goal lead and fired seemingly at will during its power play. The Huskies’ first goal was on a nice backhand move and the other was on a rip from the top of the faceoff circle after a quick pass, and Valentine had little chance to stop it. He is making coach Chris Bergeron’s decision about who to stick between the pipes each night a lot more difficult.
LINEUP CHANGES: With Lown back in the lineup, Carter Johnson was scratched about dressing for eight straight games.
Jack Clement, Brayden Crowder and Noah Jordan all returned to the lineup after sitting last Saturday, replacing Grant Frederic, Chaz Switzer and Christian Mohs.
Miami has started three different netminders in its last three contests.
STANDINGS: Despite suffering its first three-game losing streak of 2019-20 and falling to a season-worst five games under .500, Miami is still in fourth place in the NCHC with eight points.
The RedHawks are currently tied with Colgate and Air Force for No. 40 in the PairWise rankings.
FINAL THOUGHTS: After collecting five points in Omaha, Miami was facing a four-game stretch vs. Connecticut and St. Cloud State, which were both in the bottom quarter of the PairWise.
Expectations were high after that UNO series, but the RedHawks were swept at UConn and lost the opener to SCSU.
The defensive lapses are a major concern considering how much better Miami had played against UNO and Minnesota-Duluth before that.
The RedHawks’ success this season hinges on their ability to tighten up in that area and stop allowing opponents to skate unabated into high-percentage scoring areas at will.
So which Miami team is this?
The one that allowed 38 goals in its first nine games, or the one that gave up just eight in four games against the two-time defending national champions and the No. 18-ranked team in Division I on the road?
We’ll see in the next four months.