For the second straight night, Miami led by one heading into the third period only to see Colorado College tie it then win in overtime.
Unlike Friday when the Tigers netted the winner with 15 seconds left in the extra frame, they finished off the RedHawks just 27 seconds into OT, winning 3-2 at Robson Arena on Saturday.
Colorado College swept the four-game season series, the first time the Tigers have taken all four from an opponent since the NCHC’s inception nine years ago.
The RedHawks are 1-8-1 vs. CC in their last 10 meetings.
RECAP: Colorado College’s Jackson Jutting skated behind the Miami net and centered a pass to Tyler Coffey, who whipped it past Miami goalie Ludvig Persson with 9:10 to play in the first period.
The RedHawks evened the score 52 seconds into the middle frame when Matt Barry fired a slap pass from the top of the left faceoff circle to the slot, where Chase Gresock redirected it into the net.
Miami went ahead with 7:18 left in the second stanza when Hampus Rydqvist surprised CC goalie Matt Vernon with a rip from just inside the blue line at the right point.
But Coffey tied it at two with 12:48 left in regulation when he curled from along the end boards and whipped a quick wrister past Persson on the short side.
The Tigers won at the 27-second mark of overtime when a sliding Matthew Gleason batted a pass from the side of net to the top of the crease, where it hit Persson and slid in.
STATS: Rydqvist – a defenseman who entered February with four career goals – scored for the fourth time in six games.
Rydqvist has twice as many goals as any other Miami blueliner, and six of his nine points this season have come during this six-game stretch.
— Gresock found the net for the third time in three contests and has points in all four games since returning from injury (3-5-8).
— Derek Daschke assisted on both goals and has seven points in his last six contests.
— Barry earned a helper and also has seven in six, and Joey Cassetti played his fourth game since his injury and notched his third point in that span.
— The RedHawks slipped to 2-5-1 (.313) this season when leading after two periods and 5-13-1 when tied or leading through 40 minutes.
THOUGHTS: [heartbreaking loss template]
The proverbial elephant in the room was goaltending, as Persson lost sight of all three Colorado College goals in this game.
Persson’s numbers were still good overall on the weekend (80-of-87 saved, .920), and there’s no reason to believe this will be a long-term problem, but his last five goals against this weekend were all directly or indirectly the result of sightline issues on his part.
Total speculation but maybe it was lighting at brand-spanking-new Ed Robson Arena?
Counterpart Colorado College goalie Vernon – like Persson, a quality netminder – also seemed to just lose sight of the puck as it was being moved around.
Or altitude (the default excuse when losing here)? Or too much workload (he has logged every minute since Jan. 8). Or PTSD from 19-1 weekend (just kidding….mostly)?
It’s a maybe once-in-every-five-games occurrence to see a goal when a goalie loses the puck in that fashion. It happened all the time this weekend. Bizarre.
Persson has shown he can overcome a lot in his two years at Miami, and while this season has been a sophomore slump of sorts, he’ll bounce back and the RedHawks should have a steady No. 1 in net for the next two years.
Which is a nice segue because with Miami’s lopsided record, analysis inevitably swings toward future seasons.
A quick look at the team from that perspective:
— What’s really caught the eye recently is the improvement of P.J. Fletcher, who is going to play a major role in the RedHawks’ rebuild. He’s 6-feet-2, plays defense, is excellent on the power play and – as we’ve recently learned – has a killer slap shot.
He didn’t score in 30 games with Quinnipiac and had two collegiate goals through his first 44 contests, but Fletcher has netted six markers in his last 16 games.
Looks like a classic late bloomer with tons of upside.
Speaking of big forwards, Matthew Barbolini is practically getting his mail sent to the top of opponents’ creases and has become one of Miami’s best redirection and garbage-goal specialists in some time.
He is tied for the team lead in goals with nine and still has two years of eligibility left.
Of course the youngest player on the team, 18-year-old true freshman Red Savage, has seemingly taken major strides every weekend.
This weekend wasn’t the best for either Savage brother, but Ryan Savage also has nine goals and is a junior who has improved each season.
On defense, three sophomores appear poised to rack up most of the TOI the next two seasons – Rydqvist, Dylan Moulton and Robby Drazner.
Rydqvist’s hard slap shot has helped him rack up six goals, and despite being undersized, he’s physical and has improved significantly on puck battles the past couple of months.
Rydqvist and Moulton are the current pairing on the second power play unit.
Moulton has benefited the most from Will Cullen’s in-season departure to pro hockey, as he has logged much more power play time on the second unit and gotten quite comfortable in that role.
Drazner is more of a shut-down blueliner and has shown much promise in that area, although he has certainly shown he can move the puck. He was hurt in the Omaha series and his status for the balance of the regular season is unclear.
All of those guys and others are slated to return for at least two more seasons.
Others have taken steps forward as well.
We had to insert that obligatory positive into the write-up. Reader and writer sanity depends on a little sunny spin.
Now back to the game…
— That’s 0-2 on the weekend when leading after two periods, dropping Miami to 2-5-1 on the season.
2-5-1. When LEADING heading into the final frame.
So Miami has a .313 winning percentage this season when it has the lead with 20 minutes left in a sport that sees and average of six goals scored.
An 0-5-1 overtime record isn’t a great look either.
— Miami scored one 5-on-5 goal this weekend.
[/heartbreaking loss template]
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one at forward: Thomas Daskas replaced Chase Pletzke. Daskas was the fourth line center and Cassetti shifted from center to left wing on that line.
STANDINGS: So after being swept by Colorado College, Miami can finish no better than seventh in the NCHC and is four points behind the Tigers with four games remaining.
North Dakota and Denver are currently in the top two league spots and are the most likely conference tournament suitors for MU in the first round, although Western Michigan could still mathematically sneak into either of the top two spots.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Since the good ol days of 2015 when Miami had five future NHLers on its roster, Colorado College and MU have almost exclusively been the guardians of the seven and eight seeds.
Now it’s unfair to link the two.
The Tigers just swept a four-game season series against Miami. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games vs. the RedHawks. They once trailed in the all-time series but now lead by five games (16-11-3).
CC edged out Miami on a tiebreaker for the seventh seed last season, and the Tigers bested the RedHawks two of the three seasons prior and leads MU by four points with four games left in the 2021-22 regular season.
Colorado College just opened a beautiful on-campus facility in October, and six of its top seven scorers entering this weekend were sophomores.
The other is a freshman.
(Oh yeah, and the team captain is Miami cast-off Brian Hawkinson, adding hot sauce to the proverbial wound already bubbling over with salt)
Miami has a .150 winning percentage against this team since Nov. 18, 2018.
This Tigers team has much more talent than in previous seasons and boasts NHL pedigree, with Danny Weight, Brett Chorske and Vernon all having fathers who exceled at the highest level. And their sons have obviously inherited some of their hockey traits.
If the RedHawks are no longer even competitive with Colorado College, league wins will be even tougher to come by in future seasons.
With its misery-loves-company partner showing vast improvement, Miami needs to reverse course quickly or it will be visiting a lot more No. 1 seeds’ campuses to open the NCHC playoffs in the near future.