No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth broke one shots record and nearly eclipsed two others in its series finale vs. Miami.
Despite finishing with a 58-31 advantage in that category, the Bulldogs and RedHawks were tied until late in the third period, when UMD took the lead on the power play and sealed the 3-1 win at Amsoil Arena with an empty netter.
RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson stopped 55 shots and set the Miami single-period record with 27. The previous mark of 26 was established in 1988 by Lee Cannon, who also is the team’s record holder with 57 saves in a game.
The Bulldogs swept the unorthodox six-game regular season series between the teams. They won their sixth consecutive game, Miami dropped its sixth straight and extended its winless streak in this building to 15 games (0-14-1).
RECAP: At 12:53 of the first period, a wrister from the point by Minn.-Duluth’s Matt Anderson handcuffed Persson, and the rebound was batted in by Nick Swainey at the top of the crease.
The Bulldogs (12-5-2) had a chance to extend their lead late in that frame when Miami was called for three hooking penalties on the same play, resulting in a penalty shot followed by a 5-on-3.
Persson denied the penalty shot and the RedHawks killed the two-man advantage.
Miami (4-14-2) tied it four minutes into the middle stanza when Alec Mahalak turned and wristed one from the high slot that was tipped home by Matthew Barbolini at the inside edge of the faceoff circle.
But with 8:48 remaining, Minn.-Duluth’s Cole Koepke wired a shot from the faceoff dot that beat Persson high.
Kobe Roth tapped in an empty netter on a centering feed from Koepke with 23 seconds to play.
STATS: Persson set the record for the most saves by a Miamian in a period with 27 and nearly established a new single-game mark. And the team’s 28 shots allowed in that frame fell one short of its s all-time record.
That record of 29 vs. Lake Superior State in 1990 stands. The Lakers also set the mark for most shots on goal by an opponent in that game with 65.
— The UMD broadcasters said 28 shots in a period was a Bulldogs team record.
— After a quiet spell coming out of the Pod, Barbolini has scored twice in his last three games and is tied with Derek Daschke for the team lead.
— Freshman defenseman Dylan Moulton picked up his first career point on the play.
— Mahalak’s assist was his first point of the season. The senior had 21 his first three seasons, including 12 helpers in 2018-19.
THOUGHTS: This was one of the most bizarre games in recent history.
The 28 shots in the first 20 minutes were a ton, as the Bulldogs smelled blood following their 8-1 shellacking of Miami a night prior, but that wasn’t even the strangest part of that period.
The RedHawks were assessed three hooking calls on the same play, two by Robby Drazner and one on Scott Corbett, and one of Drazner’s hooks warranted a penalty shot according to the refs.
The officials conferred for quite a while before play resumed, and at one time they picked the puck up from center ice, indicating maybe they would stick to just minor penalties.
And Miami – down one at the time – actually survived the barrage and ended up tying the score in the second period.
The next three calls went against UMD, including an eight-second 5-on-3 overlap, and Koby Bender was given a major and game misconduct for making contact with Persson.
A major for goaltender interference is not a regular occurrence.
Allowing 28 shots in a period is never optimal, but in Miami’s defense (somewhat), the Bulldogs were absolutely buzzing. UMD is an excellent team and was obviously eager to put away a team it had obliterated the day before.
The RedHawks – to their (deserved) credit – battled back after being slaughtered in every facet of the game for four periods and tied it. They trailed the Bulldogs in shots by a respectable margin of two in the second period.
Then Koepke fired an uncontested laser seemingly through Persson. Slow-mo on the NCHC site can’t even give a good indication of there that shot got through.
That, and the ensuing ENG shifted this game into the we-were-in-it-but-lost-in-the-third-again? pile. A more confident team, one that hadn’t seen Lucy pull the football out from under Charlie Brown so many times, would have had a better shot at salvaging a win in this one.
— On the penalties…
You can make a case for all of the hookings on the play that gave Duluth the penalty shot AND 5-on-3, but 99.9999 times out of a million officials don’t bury a team this badly. Maybe pick up one flag and go 5-on-4 after the penalty shot?
But it didn’t matter because Miami actually survived the gauntlet.
Not a strong opinion on any of the others, but the Bender 5-and-10 really didn’t look that blatant. He could’ve/should’ve avoided making contact, but didn’t, which is why the minor was rightly called, but a major was definitely overkill.
— Speaking of Koepke, he finished with 15 shots on goal. That’s how many shots Miami’s entire team generated last Friday in Oxford. Earlier this season MU finished with 12.
— Persson is 21 years old, so the entire team owes him a drink whenever the team is able to get uptown next.
— It was amusing listening to UMD’s color guy complain about every non-call the for his team the final 40 minutes after his team had been awarded the red carpet to the crease via the officiating in the first stanza.
— Lost in this game is the awesomeness of Barbolini’s goal. Following a faceoff, it appeared the Bulldogs would clear, but Barbolini forcefully dislodged the puck with his stick, and the RedHawks were able to hold the zone, with Mahalak ultimately wristing a shot through the slot that Barbolini tipped home.
LINEUP CHANGES: Coach Chris Bergeron went back to seven defensemen from eight and shifted Bray Crowder back from forward to D.
So the odd blue liners out were Rourke Russell and Alec Capstick.
Back in the lineup were defensemen Mahalak and forward Brian Silver.
STANDINGS: Miami is still tied with Colorado College for last in the NCHC with 15 points, but the idle Tigers now have four games in hand over the RedHawks.
Western Michigan (21 points) and Denver (25 points) are still mathematically in striking distance.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The final two periods were encouraging after Miami was beaten into submission.
The RedHawks seemed to feed off the fact they had survived “Urban Assault: Our Crease” for 20 minutes and played extremely competitive hockey down the stretch.
Unfortunately, moral victories aren’t going to get Miami out of the NCHC cellar.
At least the RedHawks are done with their six-game set against UMD, but at some point Miami is going to have to figure a way to beat the Bulldogs if they want sustained success in this league.