OXFORD, Ohio – Partly due to injuries, Miami dressed 11 forwards and eight defensemen against No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.
By the third period, two more skaters up front had gone down the tunnel and the RedHawks were down to nine forwards, as they fell to the Bulldogs, 2-1 at Cady Arena in the series opener.
MU’s Ryan Savage was lost in the first period after he endured a hard hit along the bench-side boards, and Scott Corbett was checked in the head late in the middle frame, drawing a major penalty.
RECAP: Minn.-Duluth (9-5-2) jumped in front when Jesse Jacques intercepted a clearing attempt, penetrated and slid a pass through the slot to Cole Koepke, who corralled it, paused and whipped it under the crossbar.
The Bulldogs extended their lead with 6:08 left when Noah Cates fed Quinn Olson at the faceoff dot and Olson went top shelf over Miami goalie Ludvig Persson.
The RedHawks’ lone goal came with 3:43 left in regulation, as Robby Drazner stole a clearing attempt at the right point, wristed one toward the net that was kicked out into the slot to Michael Holland, who buried the rebound over the pads of UMD goalie Ryan Fanti.
STATS: Holland’s goal was not only the first point of his collegiate career, it was his first-ever point.
— Miami (4-11-2) only had one assist, and that went to Drazner, his second helper in three games and third point in his last six.
— The RedHawks finished with 15 shots – their second-lowest total of the season – and defensemen actually outshot the forwards, 8-7.
— How rare is it to see this big of a disparity in total penalty minutes: UMD 29, Miami 2?
THOUGHTS: For a team that finished with 15 SOG, the RedHawks didn’t play badly.
Minnesota-Duluth’s first goal came on an unfortunate turnover by MU blueliner Rourke Russell, whose failed clear resulted in an odd-man chance and UMD tally.
The second was on a wrister that seemed to surprise Persson, who actually flinched to the far side when the puck ended up near side.
Miami had a stellar 2-on-1 chance denied by a sprawling Fanti save across the crease, saw John Sladic rink the inside of a post and couldn’t get a shot off on another chance when the RedHawks snuck through the UMD defense.
— MU’s top line struggled to make anything happen offensively, and the combination of Matthew Barbolini, Casey Gilling and Jack Olmstead finished with two shots and a minus-6 rating.
— Holland’s goal snapped a string of eight straight periods with a goal by a forward for the RedHawks.
— Miami’s power play, down three regulars after the Savage injury, was atrocious, tallying for just two shots on its two minors and zero on its major while surrendering three scoring chances to UMD.
— On the two injuries: Couldn’t see the Savage hit because it was along the boards I was watching from. Corbett’s shot didn’t look malicious, but a hard play that should’ve been a penalty,
LINEUP CHANGES: Forwards Joey Cassetti and Ben Lown, both regulars on the lineup sheet, did not play and both are day-to-day with lower-body injuries suffered recently.
Chase Pletzke skated in place of one of the injured forwards, and coach Chris Bergeron went with eight defensemen. Alec Capstick was the extra blueliner added to the lineup card.
Persson started his seventh straight game, and before opening faceoff, Bergeron was asked about his choice and said Persson “gives us the best chance to win”.
That would imply he will start most or all of Miami’s remaining games unless he struggles.
STANDINGS: Miami and Colorado College are tied for last in the NCHC with 15 points, although the Tigers have a game in hand over the RedHawks.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The RedHawks have scored 32 goals in 17 games, or 1.88 per contest – 47th out of 51 Division I teams competing this season – and 13 of those have come from defensemen.
We hope for a quick return for all of Miami’s banged-up skaters, as the RedHawks cannot to miss multiple cogs of their forward corps as they already struggle to find the net when healthy.
If there’s an upside, it’s that the defensemen defended a national power pretty well overall, allowing just 25 shots and only a few Grade-A looks.
Offense is an area everyone knew would be light for Miami this season. But a tighter defense corps – combined with a stud in net – could make up for a lack of goals.