Miami tied its 40-year-old program record for most losses to start a season.
The RedHawks fell, 5-1 to No. 9 Denver at Baxter Arena in Omaha on Thursday, dropping their fifth straight to open 2020-21.
That equals their worst-ever start, which was in 1979-80 when they went 0-5 and tied their sixth contest.
Miami (0-5) took the lead at the 1:34 mark, but the Pioneers (2-3) netted the final five.
RECAP: The RedHawks went ahead 94 seconds in when a clearing attempt was intercepted by Robby Drazner at the point, and he wristed one on net that was stopped, and Chase Pletzke was able to bat the rebound in.
Denver tied it with 1:02 left in the first period when Mike Benning fed a pass from the slot to the right faceoff circle to Carter Savoie, who was able to whip the slightly-tipped feed home on the short side.
The Pioneers went ahead for good at the 91-second mark of the second period when Ryan Barrow one-timed a shot from the slot past goalie Ben Kraws through traffic off a feed by Steven Jandric from along the boards.
Just 15 seconds later, Denver’s Brett Stapley put a shot on net from the right wing, and the rebound trickled past the corner of the net, where Stapley pitchforked it home to make it 3-1.
At the 2:41 mark of the third period, the Pioneers’ Mike Benning converted a 2-on-0 by wristing a shot past Kraws on the near side after corraling a cross-ice pass from Cole Guttman.
McKade Webster sealed it for DU when he skated through traffic, beat Kraws 1-on-1 at the side and net and banked the puck in off the stick of a Miami skater.
STATS: Pletzke scored for the second straight game, the first time he has done that in his career. He netted six goals as a freshman.
— Drazner and Jack Olmstead earned the first points as RedHawks with assists on the lone goal.
— Here’s a rough one: Miami has been outscored, 15-3 after the first period. The RedHawks have outscored their opponents, 4-3 in the opening stanza.
THOUGHTS: The MidCo announcers said it best: Paraphrasing here, but Miami was dominating play and then a pair of penalties killed the momentum. Then Denver pounced.
The RedHawks had the lead and were cycling in the Pioneers’ zone, but MU’s Matthew Barbolini was called for an offensive zone penalty for boarding. Having watched this several times, it looks like both players were going for the puck.
With four seconds left in that penalty kill, RedHawks defenseman Bray Crowder was whistled for interference, which was a good call, as he took out a skater who had gotten rid of a puck a couple of seconds earlier.
While Miami did kill both penalties, it lost its momentum, and Denver tied it in the closing minutes of the first period.
Then scored twice in a 15-second window the second. Then two more tallies in the third.
— Funny that the shots were 18-9 DU in the first period and a much closer 19-14 the final 40 minutes, since that’s the opposite of who was in control during those frames.
— Derek Daschke played his best game of The Pod, generating seven of Miami’s 23 shots.
The RedHawks went on the power play and had a chance to gain momentum when down, 3-1 early in the third, but Monte Graham was called for a roughing six seconds into the man advantage for running a skater over who had the puck a half second prior.
It was an awful call, and Denver scored on the 4-on-4 seconds later, as Daschke stepped into a shot but when the rebound came way out, the Pioneers went on a 2-on-0 and scored easily. Linemate Jack Clement was also pinching and was at the side of the DU net when Daschke unloaded.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one skater change: Rourke Russell returned to the lineup on defense in favor of Alec Capstick.
The goalie rotation continued for the fifth game, with Kraws starting.
STANDINGS: Miami is in last place in the NCHC with one point, and the RedHawks are the only team in the conference without a win or tie.
FINAL THOUGHTS: For Coach Chris Bergeron, this must be an incredibly difficult situation.
Typically in college hockey, you prepare for an opponent, you play them back-to-back days on your campus or theirs and then you have several days to practice and prepare for the next foe.
This season, Miami has played five games in nine days against four different opponents, all of which are nationally ranked in at least one of the polls.
Bergeron is already outmanned, and his weapon of preparation has been taken away.
Add to that the loss of Casey Gilling and Ryan Savage – two of the team’s top offensive threats – and the RedHawks are averaging 1.40 goals a game and are 4.8 percent on the power play.
The RedHawks have proven they can hang with and even dominate elite opponents, but they’re not consistent for 60 minutes and are prone to costly lapses.
Lacking the talent of the top teams in this league, Miami absolutely has to improve in those areas, or wins will continue to be rarities.