OXFORD, Ohio – Miami tied its season high in shots allowed on Friday.
Minnesota-Duluth finished with 52 of them – 46 in the first two periods – en route to a 3-1 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Friday.
The last Miami opponent to register 52 SOG? The Bulldogs on Jan. 15 in the last meeting between these teams in Duluth.
The RedHawks (6-23-2), who snapped a two-game home winning streak, wrap up their home schedule against UMD at 5:05 p.m. on Saturday.
RECAP: Minn.-Duluth (16-13-4) opened the scoring with 2:22 left in the first period when Quinn Olson saucered a pass from the corner to Blake Biondi, who chipped a backhander just under the crossbar from the inside edge of the faceoff circle.
The Bulldogs made it 2-0 with 10:20 left in the second frame when Wyatt Kaiser sprung Matt Anderson loose with a spin-move feed to a streaking Matt Anderson, starting a 3-on-1. Anderson elected to shoot and buried it inside the far post.
With 6:52 remaining in the middle stanza, Miami cut its deficit to one when Derek Daschke centered a pass through the neutral zone to P.J. Fletcher, starting a 2-on-1. Fletcher skated around the sprawling defender and centered to Chase Pletzke, who shoveled it home on his forehand in the slot.
Minn.-Duluth answered with 1:36 left in the second period when Kaiser’s blue line wrister through the slot was turned aside and the rebound deflected right to Biondi, who punched it in from the top of the crease.
STATS: Pletzke netted his sixth goal of the season and snapped a 14-game scoreless streak.
Fletcher’s primary assist was his sixth point in five contests.
Daschke also picked up a helper, giving him eight points in seven games and a team-best three-game points streak.
— Miami goalie Ludvig Persson stopped 49 of 52 shots, the third-highest save total of his career. His top two are also against Duluth, as he stopped 50 in the Jan. 15 tie at Amsoil Arena and he turned aside a career-high 55 shots on Feb. 6, 2021 – again in Duluth.
— The RedHawks were 4-for-5 on the penalty kill and generated just two power play chances. In its last four games, Miami has been shorthanded 20 times but has had just 11 PP opportunities.
THOUGHTS: The shot total for the Bulldogs is glaring, but there’s no specific area of Miami weakness that led the UMD shot onslaught.
Didn’t see a final power play shot total for Minn.-Duluth, but while shorthanded it seemed like the RedHawks’ slot area resembled a pinball board, complete with the scoreboard overhead recording shots at a video screen-like pace.
During one of the media time outs, an oxygen tank was hurled down the ice at Persson in addition to his replacement water bottle.
Seven minutes into the second period the ratio was 36-7. After two periods, shots were 46-15, and 43 saves at that point would’ve been fourth on Persson’s career saves table.
And UMD was impressive in lockdown mode, as it transitioned to a defense-first mentality in the third period and held the RedHawks to six shots while generating just six of its own, or else the Bulldogs would’ve finished with over 60.
Having watched all three Miami games vs. Duluth this season plus a few others on satellite, it’s head scratching that the Bulldogs are just three games over .500 and would be at even-par if it wasn’t for a 3-0 record vs. MU.
— The RedHawks had killed a 1:48 two-man advantage and pulled within one in the second period, seemingly adding to its life meter, but that third goal by UMD was an absolute dagger.
— It’s infuriating when coaches don’t pull their goalies on offensive-zone faceoffs with under two seconds left in a period.
Miami had a draw in the UMD zone with 1.2 seconds left in the second stanza (the officials even huddled and adjusted the clock from 0.8, as if a sign from the officiating gods to put a sixth skater on the ice.
There’s zero chance of getting scored on from just under 200 feet in that timeframe. An in-his-prime Al MacInnis couldn’t wind up and rip one into the net uncontested from that distance in that span.
— Miami only scored once, but what a beautiful goal. Daschke with the outlet through traffic, Fletcher the deke around the sprawling D-man, Pletzke the finish.
Would that tandem be known as Fletzky or Pletcher?
Pletzke was scratched last Saturday and was shifted to the top line because regular first-liner Matthew Barbolini did not dress.
FORWARDS: D. Other than the lone goal there was nothing doing from this corps. Fletcher nearly scored another goal earlier and was Miami’s best overall skater. Red Savage looked like he might be feeling the effects of traveling to the World Juniors and logging ice time on every penalty kill and power play in addition to his regular first-line duties.
DEFENSEMEN: D+. Really didn’t see enough boards-battle wins or transition from this group, and while UMD seemed to have a defensive stick in every lane when Miami had the puck, the RedHawks didn’t reciprocate. Daschke had a great pass that led to MU’s lone goal but was also caught up ice on the 3-on-1 goal.
GOALTENDING: B+. It was an excellent bounce-back for Persson, who — although his overall save percentage was strong last weekend — struggled with puck recognition. Persson made one highlight-reel, cross-crease stop with his blocker that seemingly defied physics. The first two UMD goals were on outstanding shots and the third was off a blue line wrist shot shot that resulted in a rebound. The latter may have been one he would’ve wanted back (is there any other kind for a goaltender?) but he stopped 49 shots overall and kept his team in the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: Two forwards and one defenseman were out from last weekend’s finale in Colorado Springs.
Up front, Pletzke replaced Barbolini as mentioned above, and Thomas Daskas sat with Brian Silver dressing in his place.
On defense, Nick Donato was in the lineup while Bray Crowder was scratched.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s not some deep storyline to take from this game.
It was more of a two-time recent NCAA champion taking care of business against a team that doesn’t quite match its recent credentials.
Duluth is going to Duluth.
Miami could technically shift out of the cellar and into seventh place in the league if it can make up the four points it trails Colorado College.
(And, in that scenario, the RedHawks would need to finish ahead of the Tigers because they lose the tiebreaker by going 0-4 in the season series.)
So the final three games of the regular season are more of a playoff audition for the bottom portion of the line chart.
Hopefully we see a team playing its best hockey heading into the NCHC Tournament, which starts in two weeks.