OXFORD, Ohio – Miami was held to a season-low 16 shots on goal, including seven in the final 40 minutes of regulation.
But John Sladic backhanded a puck in with 2:34 left in regulation as the RedHawks salvaged a 4-4 tie vs. No. 1 North Dakota at Cady Arena on Friday.
Miami (6-11-4) lost the sudden-death shootout in the second round, as the Fighting Hawks (17-2-3) earned the extra league point.
It was a career night for both Karch Bachman and Casey Gilling, who finished with four points apiece.
RECAP: The RedHawks stunned top-ranked North Dakota, scoring twice in the first 89 seconds.
Bachman centered a pass from behind the net to Gilling, who slammed it home at the 1:03 mark to open the scoring.
Twenty-six seconds later, Bachman skated into the zone on the left wing and threw one on net. UND goalie Adam Scheel made the save, but Gordie Green crashed the net and banged the rebound in to make it 2-0.
With 4:13 left in the first period, UND’s Westin Michaud tipped a blue line shot by Jordan Kawaguchi just under the crossbar on the power play to cut the deficit in half.
Miami answered 83 seconds later, as Gilling wired one from the left wing into the near top corner of the net on a 2-on-1 to make it 3-1.
The Fighting Hawks’ Grant Mismash streaked into the slot and took a pass Kawaguchi, which he was able to kick to himself before batting it past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin just 17 seconds later.
Scheel was pulled after the first period.
North Dakota tied it at three when Kawaguchi ripped a one-timer from the side of the net on feed from Matt Kiersted on a two-man advantage with 12:37 left in the middle stanza.
It remained a 3-3 game until the Fighting Hawks took their only lead with 4:08 left in regulation when Gavin Hain centered a pass to Cole Smith, who got behind the Miami defense and slid one past Larkin.
But North Dakota led for just 94 seconds, when Gilling had a slot blocked and it caromed to a wide-open Sladic, who backhanded it through traffic and into the side of the net on the power play.
The Fighting Hawks appeared to have taken the lead in the final seconds on a blue line shot that was deflected in the slot, but it was ruled that the puck was touched with a high stick and after review the call stood.
Miami went on the power play late in the 5-on-5 overtime but could not convert, as the game was officially ruled a tie.
North Dakota had a man-advantage in the 3-on-3 session but also could not end it.
Mismash netted the decisive goal in the second round of the shootout, as the other three shooters for both teams failed to score.
STATS: Gilling and Bachman both set career highs with four points each.
Gilling ended the night with two goals and two assists, and Bachman racked up four helpers.
Gilling reached the 20-point mark, breaking his previous career high of 19 set last season, and Bachman is now the team leader in assists with 16.
— Sladic scored in his second straight game and is now tied for fourth on the team with six markers.
— Green’s goal gives him a team-best 10 for the season, and he recorded his 104th career point. That ties him with Justin Mercier and Andrew Miller for 49th on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.
THOUGHTS: It was the best start possible for Miami, scoring twice early and forcing UND to call time out in the second minute.
Predictably, the top-ranked team in Division I battled back and eventually took the lead, but the RedHawks didn’t give up, coming right back and knotting it at four just over a minute later.
In its last four games, Miami has earned wins at the No. 10 team (Bowling Green) and a blowout victory at altitude (Colorado College) and now a tie vs. a Fighting Hawks team topping the Division I poll.
Consistency has been an issue for the RedHawks, but overall they are 2-1-1 in their last four games in four difficult settings.
Even though this game goes down as a tie, and Miami earned just one of a possible three points, considering where the RedHawks were at this point last January – and the first couple of games this season – the progress the same pool of players has made is nothing short of remarkable.
— National television didn’t seem to bother Miami, which scored twice before much of the crowd had found its seats.
Ben Holden, Dave Starman and Shareen Saski did a great job as usual, and Starman was very complimentary of Miami.
Starman was especially impressed with the speed of Bachman and the netminding of Larkin.
— The first period was played at a furious pace, and the balance of the contest was much more controlled and choppy.
Miami generated a whopping two shots over about a 27-minute span from early in the second period to midway through the third.
The RedHawks tried to get a little too fancy with passes, and too often they resulted in turnovers. They also passed up too many shot opportunities as they tried to make the perfect play rather than put the puck on net.
— Faceoffs, an area of vast improvement for Miami this season, worked against the RedHawks in this one, as they won just 26 of 63 draws (41.3 percent).
— So the waved-off goal in the final minute was and still is quite a controversy among the North Dakota faithful. The ruling was that it was played with a high stick, then hit the body before trickling in.
Looking at replays, it’s really hard to tell if the puck hit the stick, although it did appear to change direction twice.
It touched the stick of Miami’s Bray Crowder before going in, but he did not possess the puck so that did not negate the high stick.
The original call was no goal, which was key, because if it was ruled a good goal initially, that call would’ve likely stood.
— Weird penalty sequence: Miami was whistled for four straight minors, then North Dakota was called for the final five.
FORWARDS: B+. It’s hard to ding this corps for a lack of shots and faceoffs wins when it scored four goals against one of the best defensive teams in the NCAA. Gilling was named first star, and it was a well-deserved honor, as he was best player on the ice. North Dakota – a super-quick team itself – had no answer for Bachman’s speed. Green scored and also took the penalty that resulted in UND’s 5-on-3 and the tying goal.
DEFENSEMEN: C. Grading on a curve considering the caliber of opponent, but the blueliners did get caught out of position on a couple of Fighting Hawks goals. Jack Clement, who is having an outstanding freshman season, let Michaud get around him for the tip-in first goal and later was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone as the puck went the other way and ended up in the Miami net. Crowder had one of his better games of the season.
GOALTENDING: B. Larkin made a couple of exceptional saves and his rebound control was outstanding, as it usually is when he’s playing well. He had no chance on the first and third goals, the second was an A-plus and the fourth was also a high-percentage chance. Larkin kept Miami in the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: Injuries continue to haunt Miami, as defenseman Alec Capstick is the latest RedHawk to go down. He joins Ryan Savage and Scott Corbett in MU’s triage unit.
Fortunately for the RedHawks, Mahalak came back and appeared close to 100 percent in limited action. He replaced Capstick, who had dressed for 16 of the first 20 games.
The only other change for Miami was Noah Jordan replacing Carter Johnson up front. Jordan has played in 15 games in 2019-20 after being in the lineup just six times last season.
STANDINGS: Earning their 12th conference point of the season, Miami is tied with St. Cloud State for fifth place in the NCHC. All eight teams have played 11 league games.
Miami is currently No. 41 in the PairWise.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s a tie vs. the No. 1 team, and while Miami did not play a perfect game, this is quite an accomplishment.
Progress is paramount this season, and the RedHawks – overall – seem to be making plenty despite battling key injuries.
This is an incredibly difficult four-game homestand, with No. 4 coming in next weekend, but Miami has started it well.