Eight seconds.

That’s how long it took for No. 6 St. Cloud State to flip a one-goal deficit into a lead early in the third period, and the Huskies would not relinquish that advantage in a 4-2 win over Miami at Cady Arena on Saturday, as the teams split the two-game weekend set.

SCSU’s Brendan Bushy and Kevin Fitzgerald found the net at 4:57 and 5:05 of the final stanza, respectively, for the tying and winning goals as the Huskies pulled ahead for the first time in the game.

St. Cloud State (13-8) won the season series vs. Miami (5-15-2), three games to one.

Matthew Barbolini (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

RECAP: Miami took the lead with 8:48 left in the first period on a 4-on-3 when Matt Barry fed a pass through the slot to Matthew Barbolini, who rifled a one-timer home from just inside the faceoff circle.

But 27 seconds later, a Miami clearing attempt from the behind the net teed up a one-time blast for Easton Brodzinski, who ripped it past RedHawks goalie Grant Valentine on the stick side.

MU regained the lead with seven seconds left in the opening frame. Defenseman Dylan Moulton tried to sneak one in short side and was denied, but the rebound ended up on his stick, and he skated behind the back of the net and stuffed the puck in.

With 15:03 remaining in regulation, Bushy tipped home a slap shot from the left point by Will Hammer to tie the score at two.

Off the ensuing faceoff, SCSU’s Chase Brand emerged with the puck along the boards and led a 3-on-1, sliding a pass through to Fitzgerald for the one-time goal that put the Huskies ahead.

Fitzgerald capped off the scoring with 1:22 to play when he fired a puck into the empty net from behind the red line.

Dylan Moulton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

STATS: It was Valentine’s sixth career appearance, and he finished with the second-highest winning percentage of any of them, stopping 28 of 31 shots (.903).

— Moulton not only scored his first career goal, it was the first point of his Miami career. He led the team with four shots on goal.

— Barbolini found the net for the third time in five games and owns the team’s longest points streak at three games (3-2-5).

— Barry finished with an 0-2-2 line, snapping a five-game points drought. He leads the team in assists (14) and points (16).

Derek Daschke and Jack Olmstead picked up the other assists. Daschke has four points in his last five games, and Olmstead notched his second helper in five contests.

— The defense outshot the forwards, 12-11.

— Miami won the special teams battle again, going 1-for-4 while killing all four SCSU power plays.

On the weekend, the RedHawks were 9-for-9 on the PK and 2 of 8 on the man advantage.

THOUGHTS: The headline wanted to write itself: A goalie named Valentine came within 15 minutes of winning a game on Feb. 13. Like, early Valentine’s Day for Miami or something similar.

It would’ve made for an especially good story since Valentine’s last start – one of three prior in his four-year career – came on Dec. 7, 2019, and Saturday was Senior Night.

And the RedHawks played well all weekend overall against the sixth-ranked Huskies, keeping high-percentage chances against to a minimum, making key saves in net and yes, even scoring timely goals.

But St. Cloud State ruined that narrative in an eight-second window of the third period, and really, the credit belongs entirely to that team.

Miami defenseman Jack Clement was defending Bushy well at the top of the crease when he tipped the tying goal past Valentine.

Then SCSU sent the house on a loose puck – taking a major gamble if the Huskies didn’t sustain possession – and their neutral-zone blitz resulted in a 3-on-1 and game winner by Fitzgerald.

The RedHawks played well overall the entire weekend, especially considering the exorbitant number of injuries they have sustained up front.

A split against a top-10 team at this point is nice, but because of Miami’s track record in its first 20 games, a three-point weekend isn’t going to move the needle in the NCHC points column.

A couple of in-game thoughts…

— Late in the first period with the score tied at one, St. Cloud State was whistled for holding behind the Miami net a split second before a one-time rip into the RedHawks’ net. Huge break.

— This game featured multiple stretches of several minutes without whistles and plenty of end-to-end action. The second half of the second period saw the teams skate for over six minutes between faceoffs.

— Officials never get any love – typically quite the opposite – but Brian Hankes and Andy Thackaberry did a very good job in this game and were pretty good Friday as well.

They called the obvious penalties, were consistent about that and otherwise generally allowed the teams to play.

And this was a physical series, with Miami dishing out more hits than normal and SCSU laying out the body as well.

As will happen when teams play each other four times in a short period, tempers did flare at two points – including after the final whistle – and coincidental roughings were issued, which was the right course of action.

Nothing this weekend warranted a major or game misconduct.

That said, Miami took multiple silly penalties including one in the offensive zone (Barbolini) and another at neutral ice an area code away from the puck (Moulton).

— One more thought on the topic: Wasn’t a fan of the final stick tap at the blue line. Because of COVID, teams are lining up and tapping their sticks at their opponent in respect after games rather than shake hands.

But Miami and SCSU had just finished the game and had a small skirmish along the boards. So both teams were jawing at each other in the second before the tap, and a number of Huskies were still chirping on their way off the ice.

In a perfect world that wouldn’t happen and tensions would return to normal levels when the third period ends.

But that isn’t always the case, so maybe if we’re going to do a more informal stick tap after a dust-up, the teams go to the bench for a second to cool down. And maybe the coaches can help players regain their composure, and then they skate to the blue line.

Miami’s Grant Valentine (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— Valentine, especially for a guy who hadn’t played D-I hockey in 14 months, was good in net. The first goal was a rifle off a giveaway, and the third one was a slam dunk off an odd-man chance. The second one was tipped home, which he might have had a chance on, but it was still a Grade-A opportunity.

Miami certainly didn’t lose because of its netminder.

Scott Corbett was outstanding on the penalty kill, as he won those critical boards battles and cleared the puck numerous times. He hasn’t seen a ton of PK time this season but exceled in that role in this game.

— Defenseman Alec Capstick has improved vastly this season, but he can’t make that pass up the middle of the ice that resulted in St. Cloud’s first goal.

He was defending behind his net and had multiple opportunities to play the puck out along the boards, but instead he tried to clear it through the slot.

It was teed up on a platter for Brodzinski and SCSU’s first goal.

— Coach Chris Bergeron pulled Valentine with 1:53 left down by one, and while the puck was in the RedHawks’ offensive zone, they weren’t in firm control.

That’s on the aggressive side for Bergeron. The Huskies sealed it on the empty netter with 1:22 left.

Other notes…

Robby Drazner (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Robby Drazner has quietly climbed the defenseman depth chart and he was on the top pairing with Daschke all weekend. He seems to get better every night in his own end and he is always able to make good outlet passes to get the puck out of dangerous spots.

— Yet another injury: Michael Holland – one of just 11 forwards dressed – appeared to hurt his shoulder in the first period. He skated down the tunnel and did not return.

Ben Lown also did not play after taking just a few shifts on Friday.

That means six forwards are now on the mend, with Holland, Lown, Ryan Savage, Monte Graham, Joe Cassetti and Chase Pletzke – who left the series opener and was scratched in this one – all banged up.

— St. Cloud State entered this weekend 24 percent on the power play, but Miami was 9-for-9 on the penalty kill, raising its PK rate to 78.1.

Despite the shortage of forwards, the RedHawks scored on the man-advantage and went 2 of 8 for the series.

— Not to get involved in the COVID discussion, but can we please bring back some fans at this point? This building has a 50-foot ceiling and spacious seating and concourses, better than most in Division I. It’s time to open up the building to a few hundred season ticket holders.

We keep hearing about budget cuts…here’s a great way to generate some money, doing it as safely as possible of course.

LINEUP CHANGES: Eight defensemen dressed again for Miami – plus Bray Crowder at forward.

Lown and Pletzke were out because of injuries, and Caleb Rule and defenseman Alec Mahalak were back in the lineup.

Valentine had not seen ice time in 39 games.

STANDINGS: Miami can only finish seventh or eighth in the NCHC, and it leads last-place Colorado College by three points.

But the Tigers have four games in hand over the RedHawks.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was Senior Night, and while Miami has at least been able to play 22 games to this point while other Division I teams will never reach that mark, it was still sad to see the RedHawks’ six fourth-year players take a lap to a nearly-empty rink.

At least their families were able to attend.

But the seniors – and the entire team – did give a quality effort for 120 minutes this weekend, pulling off a win against the sixth-ranked team in the opener and leading with 15 minutes left in Game 2.

It feels like Miami has made much progress in its last three games since getting slaughtered, 8-1 at Duluth last Friday.

While the RedHawks are locked into one of the bottom two seeds in the conference tournament, everyone on the team has plenty to play for.

Even the seniors could be awarded a fifth season of eligibility because of the abrupt end to 2019-20 and abridged version of this campaign.

The rest, especially on a team with five wins, could have their Miami livelihoods on the line, as it’s almost certain not everyone on the team won’t be asked back this fall.

What’s important now is that the RedHawks are playing well heading into tournament time, and especially in a single-elimination tournament, anything can happen.


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