Remember when Miami was tied for first place in the NCHC after winning its league opener?
The night was Nov. 5, 2021. It feels like both 20 years ago and 20 minutes ago as many things do in the COVID era.
The RedHawks scored twice late, with a well-placed low wrister from the left point by Derek Daschke slipping inside the far post that put Miami ahead, in a 4-3 win over Omaha at Baxter Arena on the opening night of league play.
After all games were completed that night, MU was tied with Western Michigan and North Dakota atop the conference standings (St. Cloud won too, but in overtime, so it only received two points).
The RedHawks are 0-14-1 in league play since, but Miami now hosts that Mavericks team it was able to secure its lone NCHC victory against on the road over three months ago.
A look at this weekend’s matchup:
WHO: No. 18 Omaha Mavericks (17-11, 7-9 NCHC) at Miami RedHawks (4-20-2, 1-14-1).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,019), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 7 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 27-21-7.
TV: Friday – CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 221).
STREAMING: Both nights – NCHC.tv ($).
OMAHA RADIO: KZOT-AM (1180), Denver, Colo.
MIAMI RADIO: Friday – WKBV-AM (1490). Saturday – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.
NOTES: In a way, Omaha’s season is a paradigm of Miami’s gameplan entering 2021-22.
Play a lighter schedule early. Pile up wins against said opponents. Then try to tread water against the gauntlet that is the NCHC slate.
Problem is: Miami didn’t win those winable games and has found remarkable ways to lose several that have been in the proverbial bag.
So here we are: The RedHawks are 4-20-2 with eight remaining regular season games. That means a near-certain eight seed in the conference tournament and a sisyphean task of toppling one of the top five teams in Division I in a best of three on that team’s home ice.
With this season appearing to be a near write-off, watching all 120 minutes of Denver’s series against SCSU last Friday and Saturday helped at least put a positive spin on Miami’s last two weekends.
That didn’t make the film of the SCSU series any less likely to induce vomiting, but it gives more credence to the RedHawks’ rebound effort vs. the Pioneers a week later.
Denver is one of the hottest teams in college hockey, riding a 16-1-1 run in its last 18 games.
Miami was competitive until the end both nights against DU, which appears to be the Alpha team heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.
So despite their record, hopefully the RedHawks build on that momentum and show that they aren’t as far away from competing in the NCHC as the 2021-22 standings would indicate.
Fortunately for Miami, while Omaha has largely navigated NCHC hell, the Mavericks haven’t been nearly as hot as Denver.
UNO, which is capping a stretch of 16 road games out of 20, is 5-8 since Dec. 4.
Scoring has been a major reason for the Mavericks’ recent struggles, as they have averaged just 2.23 goals during that span.
That contrasts with the RedHawks’ just-say-no approach to goal prevention, as they have given up at least four tallies in 17 of their last 19 games.
Large crowds are expected at Cady Arena this weekend, as only SRO tickets remain for both games.