For the second time in four home games, Miami led by two with under five minutes remaining and gave up a pair of extra-attacker goals.
And like four weeks ago, after allowing two 6-on-5 tallies, the RedHawks again surrendered the deciding goal in overtime – this time vs. No. 5 Denver – as they fell, 5-4 at Cady Arena on Friday.
Miami, which suffered the same fate vs. Mercyhurst on Jan. 4, is now winless in its last eight games (0-7-1). The RedHawks are 0-13-1 in conference play since Nov. 5.
RECAP: Denver (17-5-1) took the lead with 8:06 left in the first period when Cameron Wright carried a puck through the zone and whipped a wrister over the right shoulder of RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson on the power play.
Exactly three minutes later on a two-man advantage, Miami (4-19-2) tied it when Hampus Rydqvist snuck a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle through traffic and past goalie Magnus Chrona.
Rydqvist found the net again 15 seconds later on a nearly identical shot from the same spot on the ensuing 5-on-4 to put the RedHawks up, 2-1.
Wright answered on the man-advantage with 1:31 left in the opening period to even the score at two.
With 15 seconds left in the frame, Miami’s Matthew Barbolini won the puck along the left half boards and centered to Red Savage, and Savage knocked home his own rebound at the side of the net to give the RedHawks a 3-2 lead.
Following a scoreless second frame, Miami defenseman Alec Capstick fired an intercepted clearing attempt toward the cage, which Barbolini tipped and Savage pitchforked past Chrona 23 seconds into the final stanza, giving his team a two-goal lead.
But with 3:03 left and an extra attacker on, DU’s Sean Behrens wristed a shot from the blue line that Cole Guttman tipped in the slot from wrist level into the side of the net to cut Denver’s deficit to one, 4-3.
With 11 seconds left in regulation, Bobby Brink slid a pass from the corner to a wide-open Guttman at the top of the crease, and he shoveled it in to tie it.
Guttman set up the game-winner as well, as he seized a loose puck at the half boards and started a 3-on-1, and after carrying it into the slot, he fed Mike Benning at the right side of a cage for the tap-in with 1:57 left in overtime.
STATS: Quite the statistical anomaly: Four skaters netted two goals each to account for the eight regulation tallies.
Savage and Rydqvist both connected twice for the RedHawks. It was the second time this season for Savage – a freshman – who also netted two goals in the aforementioned overtime loss to Mercyhurst earlier this month.
Rydqvist had two goals on the season entering Friday.
— Barbolini, Matt Barry and Bray Crowder added two assists each.
The points were the first of the season for Crowder, who missed the first half of the season with an upper-body injury.
It was the third multi-point game of the season for Barry, who had not recorded a point in five games.
Barbolini has 12 points in his last 13 games.
— Miami has allowed five extra-attacker goals in January and is 0-2-1 in its last three games when leading with five minutes left in regulation (!!!).
— The RedHawks allowed at least four goals for the 16th time in their last 18 games.
— MU is second last in the NCAA in defense with 4.68 goals against per game. Only first-season program St. Thomas (coached by Enrico Blasi) is worse (4.73).
THOUGHTS: There were literally seven accidents on the 60-mile route we take to Oxford due to a badly-timed snow and there’s no way we would’ve made the game on time, so for the first time in 11 years, we missed a home game.
Plus we have a sick kitty at home we didn’t want to leave.
Fortunately we were able to watch the game on NCHC.tv and listen to the call of Greg Waddell and Drew Davis (the former admitted he was rear-ended on the way to Oxford in a hit-and-run). That was weird, because we’ve never watched a Cady Arena game on a computer monitor.
Stay-at-home con: It’s harder to see nuances of the game on a screen.
Stay-at-home pro: We had a whole cabinet full of antacids and alcohol ready to go after the Lucy-pulling-the-football-away-again ending.
We kept the razor blades and other potentially self-destructive sharp objects at length.
I can’t even begin to imagine where this team’s confidence is after getting curb-stomped back-to-back nights in St. Cloud and then playing a much better home game, leading by two with the Denver goalie out and giving up three in the balance of regulation and overtime.
For the second time this month.
LINEUP CHANGES: The good news for Miami was that Ryan Savage returned after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury.
Brian Silver was also back in the lineup up front after sitting last Saturday.
Out were Michael Holland and Michael Regush, who did not dress for just the second time this season.
On defense, Crowder and Capstick was back on the ice and combined for three assists. Freshmen Alex Murray and Nick Donato were scratched.
FINAL THOUGHTS: We substituted Miami Hockey Template No. 1 (blowout write-up) for Miami Hockey Template No. 2 (heartbreaking loss on late goals).
To be 3-6-1 when leading after two periods – a category in which Miami was perfect for several seasons as recently as a decade ago – is truly remarkable.
The bright side is the RedHawks defintely played much better, much harder than in St. Cloud (although they were still outshot, 45-20), so they can take that positive out of this game.
But in the standings all losses are equal and the conclusion to this one was excruciating to watch, even on a monitor.