OXFORD, Ohio – A return to 2021 is not how Miami hoped to rein in 2022.
But the RedHawks allowed two extra-attacker goals in the final three minutes of regulation and gave up another in overtime to complete a 5-4 implosion against Mercyhurst at Cady Arena on Tuesday.
The teams split the unorthodox home-and-home series, as the RedHawks won 7-4 in Erie on Dec. 12. It was the third-ever meeting between these teams, and this was the first MU loss vs. the Lakers.
Defenseman Dylan Moulton earned three assists to lead the RedHawks, who dropped to 1-6-1 on home ice this season.
RECAP: Red Savage gave Miami (4-13-1) the lead at 6:08 of the first period when he one-timed a centering feed by Matthew Barbolini from along the half wall that hit a defender’s skate and teed back up to him perfectly, as he picked the top right corner on the follow-through.
Savage scored again less than three minutes later when P.J. Fletcher fed him a pass from the slot to the right edge of the crease that was partially deflected, and he was able to bat it inside the far post.
Mercyhurst (5-11-4) cut its deficit to one 60 seconds later when Marko Reifenberger drove the net and forced Miami goalie Ludvig Persson to make a quality pad save, but the loose puck was batted in by Noah Kane.
The Lakers tied it with 6:11 left in the second period when Pierce Crawford won an offensive-zone faceoff to Dante Sheriff, who whipped a wrister past Persson.
Miami regained the lead on the 5-on-3 with 2:55 remaining in the middle stanza when Moulton slid a one-time pass to Fletcher, who blasted it home from the right faceoff dot, giving the team a 3-2 lead.
The RedHawks went up two again with 9:28 left in regulation on a tip-in by Barbolini off an odd-angle shot by Derek Daschke.
The Lakers again pulled within one when a shot by Crawford that drew iron was originally called no goal, but after about a minute of play, the replay team determined it hit the inside of the cage for a 6-on-5 goal with 2:34 left.
Again with the extra attacker, Cade Townsend snuck a wrister from the left point into the net to tie it 36 seconds later.
Less than two minutes into overtime, Rylee St. Onge took a feed in the slot, skated in and shoveled it past Persson to win it.
STATS: Moulton finished with a team- and career-best three points, all on assists. He has all nine of his points in his last 10 games.
Barbolini and Fletcher both finished 1-1-1. Barbolini has eight points in six games and Fletcher has recorded six points in five contests.
Daschke picked up two assists and leads the team with 12.
Red Savage had one prior goal in 16 games before netting two in the first period.
THOUGHTS: It’s almost like there should be a term for Miami blowing a two-goal lead on a pair of 6-on-5s in the final minutes and then losing in overtime. Like it has happened before…
Really, the RedHawks were fortunate to be ahead by two at the final media timeout, and they couldn’t even capitalize on that little bit of fortune to hold on for a win, or even a tie.
Mercyhurst, which played a fantastic road game and deserved the win a lot more than MU, started cycling the puck from the opening faceoff, putting seven shots on goal in the opening three minutes.
Miami was totally outplayed early in a wide-open first period but got better later in the frame.
The rest of the game was more controlled, but the RedHawks were outshot in every period by a Lakers team that entered Tuesday allowing 37 SOG per game.
MU was sub-par defensively most of the game so it wasn’t a huge surprise that a shot from the slot found the net to make it 4-3, an icing and lost D-zone faceoff led to a point shot tying it and blown coverage deciding the game in overtime.
– Making this loss even more disappointing – if that’s possible – is that the RedHawks were finally close to 100 percent healthy for this game. Chase Gresock was back after battling a lower-body injury for the past two months. Bray Crowder (upper body) played his first game of the season. Red Savage returned from the dumpster fire that was the World Juniors in Alberta.
– Miami ended up plus-1 on special teams for the game and while the penalty kill was solid, the RedHawks’ power play had nothing to do with power. Fletcher buried a shot seven seconds into a 5-on-3, but otherwise MU couldn’t even get control of the puck for much of its man-advantage opportunities, much less sustain offensive zone pressure.
— This was the final game of Miami’s non-conference schedule, which the RedHawks finished 3-6-1. MU split with Ferris State, Long Island and Mercyhurst, who have a combined winning percentage of .291.
The RedHawks went 0-3-1 against Michigan State and Bowling Green, ranked Nos. 18 and 30 in the PairWise.
LINEUP CHANGES: Gresock and Red Savage returned to the lineup up front, and Thomas Daskas was also back at forward. Scott Corbett, Brian Silver, John Sladic and Michael Holland were scratched.
Miami went with seven on defense again with the return of Crowder.
It was Persson’s third straight start in net.
FORWARDS: C. They accounted for all four goals and the goal scorers were largely the best of this group. Ryan Savage belongs in that group as well as Graham. But overall the first line was completely MIA all night and except for the Fletcher snipe, none of this corps was impressive on the power play. Not a great defensive effort by these lines either.
DEFENSEMEN: D+. Moulton was the best among this group and finished with a team-best three points to show. Daschke also had two assists. But as a whole the blueliners turned the puck over way too much, especially early, against a team ranked No. 49 in the PairWise. They did little in the transition game despite the assists.
GOALTENDING: D+. Persson was pretty good for 57 minutes, stopping 37 of the first 39 shots he faced. But Mercyhurst beat Persson on three of its final four shots. All quality chances, but at least one needed to be saved.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami was three minutes away from an actual winning streak (that’s when you win more than one game in a row – I know, crazy talk, that hasn’t happened for the RedHawks in exactly a year), and MU would’ve had momentum heading into Round 2 of NCHC play.
Colorado College is in town this weekend, and Miami that would’ve carried plenty of momentum heading into a winnable series, and who knows after that?
Now MU brings a 3-6-1 non-conference record into its final 16-game stretch, all vs. league opponents, and the RedHawks are 1-7 in the NCHC.
The schedule gets a lot tougher after this homestand, so the RedHawks may be stuck on four wins for a long time if they don’t show up with a lot more energy against Colorado College this weekend.