OXFORD, Ohio – Miami had already lost its series opener by three goals, and at the two-minute mark of the first period of the finale, MU was already behind down a goal vs. No. 7 North Dakota.
The RedHawks largely trailed from that point on but still ended up losing by a single goal, 5-4 to the Fighting Hawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.
UND (8-3) scored three times in the first period, taking a two-goal lead into intermission that it wouldn’t relinquish.
The RedHawks (2-7-1) are now winless in their last nine games vs. North Dakota.
RECAP: The Fighting Hawks took the lead 97 seconds in when Brady Ferner wound up for a slap shot from the blue line that deflected in off teammate Ashton Calder.
At the 5:56 mark, Miami’s Chase Pletzke tied it when he stripped a UND skater at his defensive blue line and went in for a breakaway, beating North Dakota goalie Zach Driscoll on the forehand.
The Fighting Hawks went ahead for good 2:01 later when Chris Jandric dropped a pass to Tyler Kleven for a one-timer that slid through Miami goalie Ludvig Persson’s legs.
North Dakota’s Jake Sanderson made it 3-1 when he carried the puck from the blue line to the inside of the left faceoff circle and whipped a wrister through traffic and into the corner of the net with 7:56 left in the opening period.
Miami pulled to within one with 3:16 remaining in the stanza when Matt Barry fed a faceoff-dot-to-faceoff-dot one-time pass to Michael Regush, who belted the puck in.
The Fighting Hawks regained their two-goal lead when Sanderson carried the puck through the top of the crease and tried to stuff it home and the loose puck caromed to Calder at the side of the net, and he batted it in at the 5:15 mark of the second period.
Regush fed Matthew Barbolini at the side of the cage for a tap-in on a 5-on-3 2:09 later, making it 4-3.
North Dakota’s Riese Gaber picked the top corner of the net on a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle for a power play goal 2:34 into the final frame.
Miami again pulled within one when P.J. Fletcher whipped a wrister from the blue line that beat Driscoll with 2:56 to play, but the RedHawks were unable to generate the equalizer.
STATS: Regush finished 1-1-2 and Derek Daschke ended the night with two assists.
The goal snaps an eight-game drought for Regush, who is now in a three-way tie for second on the team with six points.
Daschke now leads the RedHawks with seven points (2-5-7). It was the ninth multi-assist game of his career.
Regush and Daschke both recorded multiple points for the second time this season on Saturday.
— Barbolini scored his third goal in four games. He is tied with Joey Cassetti, Chase Gresock and Ryan Savage for tops on the team in tallies.
— Fletcher earned points in both games this weekend and netted his first goal since Game 2.
— Pletzke’s goal was his first point since opening night at Ferris State and the 10th marker of his career.
— Matt Barry picked up an assist to give him three points in his last four contests, and Red Savage earned his four helper of the campaign.
— Miami scored on the power play for the fifth straight game, going 2-for-4 including a two-man advantage marker. The RedHawks are 6-for-20 (30.0 percent) in that span.
This was the second time Miami has recorded multiple PPGs.
— RedHawks opponents have scored 15 goals in the first two periods the past five games, finding the net in all 10 frames. In other words, Miami is allowing an average of three goals in the first 40 minutes alone during this span.
THOUGHTS: Despite the closer final score in this game, North Dakota again set the tone in the first period with its dominance in the offensive zone, possession time, passing, transition, shots on goal, and oh yeah, scoring.
Shots on goal were 26-6 in favor of UND in the first period of Games 1 and 2 – 14-3 on Friday and 12-3 in this game.
Like Friday, Miami was able to hang with North Dakota at times but not often enough.
Unlike Friday, the RedHawks were able to capitalize on some of their Grade-A chances, which is why this ended up a one-goal game.
At a fundamental level, the biggest difference between these teams for 120 minutes was passing. It seemed like most of the weekend, Miami struggled in its transition game and at times failed miserably getting the puck out of its zone.
Meanwhile, North Dakota completed passes at a higher rate in all three zones than Cady Arena’s mask mandate non-compliance, and UND almost never turned the puck over in dangerous situations.
The Fighting Hawks were absolutely on top of their game both nights, and it’s hard to understand how they’ve lost games to Quinnipiac, Bemidji State and Penn State this season.
— What an individual effort by Pletzke on Miami’s first goal. He strips the puck, out-skates pursuing defenders and unloads a forehand into the cage.
— Great overall game by Regush, even beyond the two points.
— Sanderson, the fifth overall pick by Ottawa in 2020, is NHL ready. It would be shocking if he wasn’t starting every night for the Senators in two years.
— Miami had been whistled for too many men on the ice three times in two games entering Saturday, but North Dakota was called for it twice in this game, and both times the RedHawks scored.
— So the NCAA isn’t kicking guys out of the faceoff circle but instead is parroting the NHL and issuing warnings then ultimately can assess penalties, all in an attempt to speed up the game.
Looks like Miami has another strategy: Play some of the worst music of all time prior to the draw and hope the linesmen drop the puck quicker to force the DJ to kill the clip.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: Jack Olmstead was back in the lineup up front, replacing John Sladic.
Gresock, one of Miami’s top offensive weapons this season, is week-to-week with a lower body injury, according to coach Chris Bergeron, and he was wearing a boot at the concourse level during the game.
That’s a huge loss for MU if he misses significant time, and it looks like he will.
STANDINGS: Miami dropped its third straight game – all in NCHC play – and is now tied with Western Michigan for sixth place. Colorado College is last at 0-2, with both losses coming in overtime.
FORWARDS: B+. That grade is based on results, and RedHawks forwards cashed in four times despite being stymied much of the game. Pletzke’s effort was a highlight. Regush was outstanding, with the sweet goal and incredible 5-on-3 pass to Barbolini for the easy tally. Scott Corbett does a lot of good things but needs to stay out of the penalty box. He finished the weekend with 14 PIMs and the final UND goal came on a power play after Corbett was whistled for elbowing.
DEFENSEMEN: C. Daschke was excellent for 60 minutes, going 0-2-2, but no one else among this corps stood out. No other RedHawks blueliner earned a point.
GOALTENDING: D+. Of the five goals North Dakota scored, it didn’t feel like any were unstoppable, and while all of UND’s tallies were the result of quality plays, Persson probably comes up with one or more saves on those chances a better night. With Logan Neaton playing a stellar 20 relief minutes in Omaha, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Winnipeg draftee start again soon.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a tough matchup for Miami, and North Dakota played at the top of its game all weekend.
There was a stark disparity in the speed, transition game and passing ability between these teams.
The RedHawks were able to keep the score close early in Game 1 and lost by just one on Saturday, which is encouraging.
They are holding their own offensively, but what’s now concerning is the number of goals Miami is allowing. Opponents are scoring 3.70 times per game, once of the worst rates in Division I.
And the schedule doesn’t get any easier, as Miami heads to Denver – one of the six NCHC teams that could potentially qualify for the NCAA Tournament this season.