OXFORD, Ohio – Things were looking great for Miami most of the first period, as the RedHawks were buzzing and had found the net twice on wrist shots from the point.
But No. 5 Western Michigan scored five of the final six goals as the Broncos surged to a 5-3 win at Cady Arena on Saturday en route to completing a series sweep and extending MU’s winless streak vs. WMU to 10 games.
The RedHawks dropped to 1-8 in their last nine contests.
RECAP: Miami (3-12-1) took the lead just 37 seconds into the first period when a seeing-eye wrist shot from the right point by Hampus Rydqvist snuck past Broncos goalie Brandon Bussi.
The RedHawks made it 2-0 less than six minutes later when a similar shot by Derek Daschke from the left point was deflected in by Matthew Barbolini.
But Western Michigan (12-4) cut its deficit to one with 3:37 left in the opening frame when Ty Glover received a pass down low and was denied on his shot attempt, but the rebound came to Cole Gallant, who fired it past Miami goalie Ludvig Persson.
At the 8:36 mark of the middle stanza, WMU’s Jamie Rome centered a pass to a streaking Tim Washe on a 2-on-2, and he was able to backhand it home to tie it.
The Broncos went ahead for the first time when Miami failed to clear the zone on the power play, and from the slot, Paul Washe fed Ronnie Attard at the inside edge of the left faceoff circle, and he ripped home a one-timer with 14:35 remaining.
The RedHawks tied it with 9:15 to play when P.J. Fletcher and Ryan Savage teamed up to steal the puck at their own blue line and start a 2-on-1, and Savage buried the slap shot from the right faceoff dot.
But Western Michigan took the lead for good 76 seconds later on a 2-on-3 when Max Sasson left a pass for a streaking Luke Grainger at the right point, and he skated in and blasted one past Persson.
Ty Glover sealed it with 2:01 left when he intercepted a Derek Daschke pass at the blue line, skated into the slot and belted the puck into the open net.
STATS: Eight Miami skaters finished with one point.
Ryan Savage has scored three goals in four games and now leads the team with six tallies.
Barbolini is second in markers with five, all coming in the last 10 games.
Rydqvist netted his first goal of the season and the third of his career, with two coming against Western Michigan.
— Fletcher extended his points streak to three games with a goal and three assists in that span.
— Dylan Moulton pick up a point and has five in his last six games, and Daschke’s assist gives him three points in four and a team-best 10 points in 2021-22.
— It was the fourth time in five games Miami allowed at least five goals, and the RedHawks have given up four or more in eight of their last nine contests.
THOUGHTS: The first period was arguably the best hockey Miami has played this season.
The last 40 minutes were largely anticlimactic, and the score and shot totals reflected that.
Western Michigan turned its play up a gear following first intermission, and the RedHawks made a lot of bad decisions with the puck.
To its credit, Miami continued to fight until the end, tying the score in the third period, but the Broncos were relentless.
The shots were 7-7 in the first period but 35-14 WMU the rest of the way, including 15-4 in the final 20 minutes.
Some definite positives to take out of this game and weekend:
— Fletcher put together his best weekend of the season, as he was seemingly everywhere for Miami.
He didn’t get a point for it, but his hard work behind the WMU net led to the Rydqvist point shot and goal.
Then he singlehandedly manhandled a WMU skater in the neutral zone to start the 2-on-1 with Ryan Savage that resulted in the tying goal in the third period.
— Moulton continues to improve in his role quarterbacking the second power play unit, one he likely wouldn’t have had if Will Cullen hadn’t not gotten injured early and then turned pro.
— Chase Pletzke didn’t find the net on Saturday but he scored twice on Friday and was a major energy source all weekend. He has one of the oddest of scoring lines at 5-0-5.
— Rydqvist has been the other defenseman on the PP2 in recent games, with Daschke the lone blueliner on the first unit.
Rydqvist, who struggled on Friday, scored the goal in the first minutes and laid out two big-time hits in the first period.
— Speaking of which, how about the physicality? This was the most physical Miami has played all season.
— Like Friday, not in any way blaming the stripes for the outcome, but very inconsistent officiating.
LINEUP CHANGES: Persson was obviously the big one, as he had missed the past two games with an injury, but there was also one change among the forward and defense corps.
Up front, John Sladic was back in the lineup, replacing Jack Olmstead. The two have sort of rotated for one of the forward slots all season.
Defenseman Alec Capstick also dressed again in place of Nick Donato. That duo has alternated starts four straight contests.
STANDINGS: Miami fell into sole possession of last place in the NCHC, as Colorado College won in Omaha on Saturday. The RedHawks have just three league points in eight games.
MU is No. 46 out of 59 teams in the PairWise.
FORWARDS: C-. Hate to keep back to the lack of shots, but 12 skaters generated 11 shots. The two that found the net were pretty sweet goals, or else the might’ve been in the ‘D’ range. Joey Cassetti gets an ‘A’ in the hitting department – he laid out two of the best ones of the night for Miami.
DEFENSEMEN: C-. Daschke had five shots and an assist, but he also turned the puck over at the offensive blue line for the empty netter. Rydqvist scored. Moulton had an assist, two SOGs and took the minor penalty that resulted in Western Michigan’s go-ahead goal in the third period. Forty-one shots for the Broncos…
GOALTENDING: C. Persson finished with 37 saves on 41 shots, and all fell into two categories: A+ or very stoppable. Persson made all of the saves he should’ve and let in four high-percentage chances.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Improvement is great, and we saw a lot of that with Miami this weekend.
But the RedHawks are down to one game on their schedule for calendar year 2021 and they are 3-12-1 on the season and 6-23-2 since Jan. 1, including wins in their first two games at Western Michigan to ring in 2021.
That’s a .226 winning percentage and .179 since Jan. 4.
The RedHawks have just one game the next three weeks, but hopefully they can retain some of the energy they had this weekend, even if the past 12 months’ results weren’t what they had hoped for.