OXFORD, Ohio – Miami has struggled all season in close games late, but the RedHawks thrived in that setting on Friday and as a result ended their 15-game league winless streak.
MU trailed or was tied the first 52 minutes but scored twice unanswered in a 2:40 span to take its only lead, 5-4 and held on to edge No. 18 Omaha at Cady Arena.
Hampus Rydqvist netted the game-winner with 4:39 left on a slap-shot missile for his career-best third point of the night.
The RedHawks snapped an 0-14-1 skid in NCHC play and a nine-game winless streak overall (0-8-1).
These teams wrap up their weekend and regular season series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
RECAP: Brandon Scanlin gave Omaha (17-12) the lead at 3:43 of the first period when his one-time power-play blast from just inside the blue line beat Miami goalie Ludvig Persson.
The RedHawks (5-20-2) tied it 29 seconds later when a shot by Chase Gresock hit the end boards squarely and caromed to a wide-open Dylan Moulton, who fired it into the open half of the net.
Omaha’s Jimmy Glynn was able to poke home a loose puck at the side of the crease at 3:56 of the second period after a shot hit the post and landed in front of the net.
With 12:24 left in the middle stanza, the Mavericks’ Kevin Conley wired a one-timer from the right faceoff dot past Persson inside the far post, making it 3-1.
Just over three minutes later, Miami capitalized on a 5-on-3, as Ryan Savage clutched in the high slot and picked the far corner with a hard wrister, cutting the RedHawks’ deficit to one.
MU also capitalized on the 5-on-4 portion of the power play, as Rydqvist put a puck high on net that landed near the top of the crease and Joey Cassetti was able to pitchfork it in traffic off Isaiah Saville’s skate and in to even the score 37 seconds later.
UNO again went up by one seven minutes into the final frame when Brandon McManus beat Persson and two sprawling defenders with a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle.
But the RedHawks again leveled the score with 7:19 left when the Mavericks were unable to clear the puck in their own end, and Rydqvist tipped the puck away from UNO to Derek Daschke, who skated in and whipped one inside the near post.
Rydqvist’s game winner came less than three minutes later, as he was teed up by a Matt Barry backhand pass.
STATS: Rydqvist had six points in 42 games entering this homestand, and he notched his first multi-point game vs. Denver two weeks ago.
He upped the ante by recording three in this contest, giving him five points in his last three.
Cassetti, Moulton, Daschke and Barry all finished with two points, with the former three going 1-1-2 and Barry earning two helpers.
Cassetti had missed the last four games with an injury. His last multi-point game was at Ferris State on opening night.
It was the second multi-point game of Moulton’s career, with the other being a three-assist effort Jan. 4 vs. Mercyhurst.
In the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department, Daschke’s last goal was the game-winner in Omaha on Nov. 5, Miami’s only other league win.
Barry picked up two points for the second time in three games – all assists.
— Ryan Savage’s goal was his first since returning from injury on this homestand and his eighth of the season, one off the team lead.
— Daschke and Red Savage have the longest points streaks at three games, and both have four points in that span.
— Miami’s final shot total of 35 was one off its season-best 36 at Michigan State on Oct. 10.
THOUGHTS: This was kind of a win-ugly situation, but that’s how this Miami team that is outmanned in conference play has to earn points.
It’s almost like every stereotype of this team was possibly/hopefully rebuked and dare we hope overcome? Ok, at the very least they were false for one night, and the team will hopefully retain the much-needed confidence from overcoming them for these 60 minutes.
The building was sold out, the crowd was rocking, and you guys fell behind by one, tied it, fell behind by two, tied it, fell behind by one again, tied it again then won it.
Excellent for any team despite its record.
And yes, Miami is buried in the NCHC standings further than the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators in the Wales, but this is still a big win for a team that is 95 percent scar tissue at this point.
Coming off of the Yugo of series in Duluth (look that up if you’re under 40), the RedHawks were completely engaged in the opening series of this four-game homestand two weeks ago against a Denver team now looked at as a Frozen Four favorite but couldn’t close out the opener and lost on a late goal again in the finale.
You don’t play well, you get smoked, you play well, you still lose.
But to come back with this effort and result is a major boost to the program, even if it doesn’t impact the standings.
— In terms of structure, the officials took care of the flow of this game with heavy-handed whistles.
The teams combined for 54 penalty minutes and 12 power plays.
That meant lots of special-teams play, especially since each team was assessed a major.
Miami killed off just two of five power plays and is now 13-for-23 in its last five games (56.5 percent).
But the RedHawks were 3 of 7 on the man advantage and are 6-for-14 on the homestand (42.9 percent).
MU had all kinds of trouble clearing the puck on the early penalty kills and despite the three PPGs, the RedHawks struggled to move the puck for large portions of their man-advantage opportunities.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just two, both up front.
With Gresock and Cassetti back from their respective injuries, Brian Silver and Thomas Daskas were scratched.
Cassetti finished with a goal and an assist, and Gresock picked up a helper and led the team with seven shots on goal in his return.
As MU gets healthier overall though, Robby Drazner went down with an apparent upper-body injury in the second period.
FORWARDS: B. Without a lot on 5-on-5 play, this group is tough to evaluate. Despite having lines spliced by special teams, all 12 on this corps seemed to contribute something positive. Gresock finished with seven shots and Red Savage – who seemed to play about 52 minutes – finished with six and was a huge factor on the PK. This was one of Barry’s better games, and Gresock looked close to 100 percent and will hopefully make a major impact the balance of the season.
DEFENSEMEN: B+. Any defensive shortcomings can be overlooked when the blueliners score three goals. And it was a pretty decent game overall by this corps. Drazner is quietly one of the best defensive defensemen on the team and if he misses significant time that will be a killer for Miami. Daschke is a senior, and it’s becoming obvious Moulton and Rydqvist are the future leaders of this corps.
GOALTENDING: B-. Two goals Persson allowed were quality snipes. One he was out of position from another save and the other was off a post and ensuing rebound in front of the net. Maybe the puck hitting the post shouldn’t have happened in the first place, so that’s partly on him, but he made several spectacular saves, including one side-to-side glove save on a one-time rocket. Persson was credited with 33 saves but it seemed like he turned more shots aside. Was there an official count on number of posts and crossbars hit by Omaha?
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s a good night when you can look down a line chart and instantly recall something good every single player did.
Persson’s save would be on SportsCenter if Miami played in the Uruguan Soccer League, or really if he played any sport other than hockey, a sport the network just spent a quadrillion dollars obtaining exclusive right to.
Not naming them all, but some top unsung highlights were Gresock forcing the turnover that led to Miami’s first goal, Moulton blocking a bomb of a shot from the blue line and Red Savage just being everywhere all the time.
Next step for the RedHawks Saturday night is to prove they’re a rejuvenated squad and not that this was just an aberration.