The start of a new month didn’t help Miami reverse its recent struggling trend.
The RedHawks were shut out, 3-0 by St. Cloud State at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Saturday, as they lost their fifth straight game and saw their winless streak extended to seven.
The Huskies (10-12-4) swept the four-game regular season series from Miami. They have won eight consecutive contests against MU and are unbeaten in their last 11 vs. the RedHawks.
It was the first time in 35 games Miami (6-16-4) was blanked.
RECAP: RedHawks goalie Ben Kraws stopped 16 shots in a scoreless first period, including two point-blank chances on a breakaway.
St. Cloud State finally broke through at the 8:15 mark when Nick Poehling batted a waist-high pass from Easton Brodzinski into the net at the top of the crease.
The Huskies made it 2-0 five minutes into the third period, as Poehling fired a shot from the slot that was stopped by Kraws, but the rebound caromed to the side of the cage, off the skate of Micah Miller and into the net.
Brodzinski sealed it less than three minutes later on a breakaway, shoveling a shot in on his backhand.
STATS: Kraws finished with a career-best 35 saves, and his save percentage of .921 was the second best of his career.
— Miami was held without a power play goal for the fourth straight game, going 0-for-8 in that span.
— This was the fourth time this season the RedHawks were outshot by at least a 2-to-1 margin. MU ended the night with 18 shots. St. Cloud State had 38.
THOUGHTS: One more stat: Miami has been outscored, 10-0 in the third period in its last five games.
This game sort of followed the RedHawks’ recent MO of hanging around in games until the third period only to have their opponents come away with the win.
Except it didn’t feel like a close game, and it wouldn’t have been had Kraws not stood on his head.
He turned 16 shots aside to keep it scoreless through the first 20 minutes, during which Miami played OK hockey but St. Cloud State was definitely the better team.
After a choppy first seven minutes of the middle stanza, the RedHawks were whistled for too many men as Karch Bachman was streaking through the neutral zone for what would’ve been an odd-man rush.
That ended up being the turning point, as SCSU scored on the ensuing man-advantage and stepped its game up a couple of levels for the balance of the period while Miami remained flat.
More in the third period. The RedHawks looked frustrated and tired while the Huskies skated around them like pylons.
St. Cloud State’s second and third goals were inevitable. Credit to the Huskies: They played a fantastic game overall, and they will be a tough out come tournament time.
The expectation for MU this season has been to play hard and show improvement.
Miami did neither on Saturday.
— The top line of Gordie Green, Bachman and Casey Gilling was held to a combined total of two shots, both by Bachman.
The forwards as a whole generated a whopping nine SOG. The defense corps actually tied them in shots despite being, well, defensemen, and having half as many players.
If we were doing grades, the forwards would’ve taken an ‘F’.
Kraws was one of the only bright spots for the RedHawks. He has been the best of Miami’s three goalies in terms of stopping grade-A chances this season.
LINEUP CHANGES: Two more regulars were healthy scratches on Saturday: Rourke Russell and Brian Hawkinson.
Russell had not missed a game all season, and it was just the second time in 2019-20 that Hawkinson was not in the lineup.
Returning to the ice were Andrew Sinard and Christian Mohs, who did not dress on Friday.
The rotation of Ryan Larkin and Kraws in net looks like it’s a regular thing, as this is the third consecutive weekend that Larkin has played on Friday and Kraws was between the pipes in the finale.
STANDINGS: Colorado College lost again, so with 12 points, Miami remains two ahead of the last-place Tigers.
But thanks to an UNO win, the RedHawks are now nine points behind both the Mavericks and St. Cloud State, who are tied for fifth with 21 points.
Miami dropped one spot to No. 43 in the PairWise rankings.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Laying a giant steamer like this is baffling and pretty disheartening considering how far Miami has come from Game 1 this season.
This looked like a shadow of the team that went to Bowling Green and outplayed the tenth-ranked team in Division I then came home and hung with No. 1 North Dakota for 125 minutes, salvaging a tie in the opener.
Again, it’s understood that this season was going to be a struggle, but this poor of a performance leaves one wondering how that could happen.
Coach Chris Bergeron has already proven that he’ll bench regulars if warranted.
Fatigue shouldn’t be an issue at this point, as this is the fourth straight weekend of games for Miami, but two series were at home and the RedHawks had played one game in a month prior.
Bowling Green is less than a three-hour drive, so this is only a second real road trip for MU since Thanksgiving.
The top line has logged a lot of minutes, as they key the power play and also are crucial penalty killers, but still, this team has played nine games in seven weeks.
Fortunately, low-energy games like this have been an aberration this season.
Almost every team in this league has more talent than Miami this season, so if the RedHawks don’t bring their best each night, they have almost zero chance of winning conference games.