Miami and No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth met for the second time in three days, and the result was the same: A Bulldogs two-goal win capped off by an empty netter.
UMD bounced back from a 1-0 deficit to beat the RedHawks, 4-2 at Baxter Arena in Omaha on Tuesday.
Like Sunday, the Bulldogs (4-0) fell behind by a goal before scoring four of the next five markers.
Miami (0-4) is off to its worst start since 1979-80, which was the second season of its existence as a Division I program.
RECAP: The RedHawks took the lead just 2:03 into the game when Bray Crowder stole the puck from goalie Zach Stejskal behind the net and fed a streaking Chase Pletzke for a tap-in.
The score remained 1-0 Miami until UMD tied it with 13:02 left in the second period, when Wyatt Kaiser wristed one toward the net from the blue line and Tanner Laderoute redirected it into the corner of the net from the slot.
Just 57 seconds later on the power play, the Bulldogs took the lead on a similar goal, again with Kaiser providing the blue line wrister and Noah Cates tipping the puck in from waist level.
The RedHawks tied it with 17:20 left in regulation when Matthew Barbolini threw one at the net from alone the boards, and the puck hit a UMD skater and deflected in.
But the Bulldogs took the lead for good with 3:09 remaining when Matt Cairns wristed a puck in from the blue line, and a wide-open Kobe Roth tipped it in from the top of the crease.
Nick Swaney’s empty netter with 62 seconds remaining sealed it.
STATS: Miami finally scored a power play goal. The RedHawks were 1-for-5 on the man advantage and are now 5.6 percent on the season.
— Barbolini’s goal was the first of his career. He is 1-1-2 in four games this season.
— Pletzke scored for the first time in nine games. It was his first point of 2020-21.
— Matt Barry picked up an assist for the third straight game.
— Miami went minus-10 in shots on goal, 35-25, but that was actually the RedHawks’ best margin of the season. MU has been outshot, 147-100 on the season.
THOUGHTS: Miami coach Chris Bergeron rightly identified the team’s lack of ability to defend last season as a root problem and has done his best to remedy that problem, but it’s hard to believe that UMD scoring all three of its non-ENG goals via tip drills at the top of the crease is a coincidence.
The go-ahead goal was especially egregious, as there were no Miami sweaters near the goal scorer in the slot.
It’s also concerning that both RedHawks goals were fluky, with one coming off a goalie turnover and the other caroming off an opposing skater.
That’s not to say Miami didn’t play well. Largely the RedHawks did. And this is a murderer’s row schedule.
But MU still has to do better in every facet if it hopes to rack up wins against opponents of this caliber.
— RedHawks freshman goalie Ludvig Persson was very good and – dare I say – has been slightly better than Ben Kraws with two games played apiece.
Bergeron will likely continue the rotation, which is a smart play at this point.
— Barbolini has played very well and has had a lot of in-close chances the first four games, and hopefully now that he’s broken through a lot more points will follow.
— John Sladic has also skated at a high level this season, but he extended his arm while skating by a UMD skater and made contact to his head, drawing a major and game misconduct that led to the Bulldogs’ second goal.
It was an undisciplined and costly penalty.
— Injuries are starting to pile up. Ryan Savage is considered “week to week”, according to the MidCo broadcasters, and Casey Gilling missed this game as well and was called “day to day” by the crew.
LINEUP CHANGES: Freshman Caleb Rule replaced Gilling up front.
On defense, Dylan Moulton was scratched and sophomore Alec Capstick made his debut.
The goalie rotation continued through Game 4.
STANDINGS: Colorado College earned two points in its first game of the season, so Miami is now tied with Western Michigan for last in the NCHC with one point.
FINAL THOUGHTS: So Miami is 0-4 and No. 9 Denver is on deck.
It’s an incredibly difficult situation for a rebuilding team to be in, facing a barrage of top-10 opponents that have major skill advantages.
Playing in the best league in college hockey and with no non-conference “breathers”, this is just going to be the way it is for the RedHawks in 2020-21.