Miami took the lead early in the first period and again in the opening minutes of the second, but Western Michigan ran off four of the last five goals to earn the win.
The Broncos sealed the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament and kept the RedHawks in the league cellar with a 5-3 win over Miami at Lawson Arena on Friday.
MU enters the final night of regular season play one point behind seventh-place Colorado College.
RECAP: The RedHawks (7-24-2) went up one at 6:25 of the first period when Thomas Daskas wristed one from the top of the right faceoff circle that slipped through WMU goalie Brandon Bussi on the stick side.
Western Michigan (21-10-1) answered less than three minutes later, as Ethen Frank buried a loose puck at the side of the net after a couple of Broncos had taken a whack at it.
Miami went up, 2-1 just 92 seconds into the middle frame when Matt Barry fired a slap pass to Matthew Barbolini, who redirected it in from the right side of the net.
But with 13:24 left in the middle frame, a wide-open Michael Joyaux shoveled a centering feed from Tim Washe into the top corner of the net to tie it for WMU.
The Broncos took their first lead on a blue-line wrist shot by Daniel Hilsendager that beat Miami goalie Ludvig Persson six minutes later.
Western Michigan went up, 4-2 with 11:45 left in regulation on another scramble in front of the net, which Luke Grainger was credited with tapping home off a hard turn-around shot by Hilsendager.
With the extra attacker, Chase Gresock tipped another hard slap-pass by Barry into the net from the slot, but the Broncos’ Ronnie Attard sealed it with his 200-foot empty netter in the closing seconds.
STATS: Daschke assisted on all three goals, his second-ever three-point game (his other was vs. Ferris State on Oct. 18, 2019 as a sophomore).
That gives him 85 career points, moving him ahead of Louie Belpedio and into eighth place all-time among Miami alums in defensemen points.
Barry finished with two assists, his fifth multi-point in his last nine. He is 2-9-11 in that stretch.
— Barbolini became the team’s first double-digit scorer with his 10th goal, and Gresock netted his sixth in seven games since returning from injury.
— Daskas scored his fourth of the season – all of which have been on the road.
— Miami allowed at least 40 shots for the third straight game and has been outshot, 520-288 in its last 12 contests. That’s an average of 43-24.
THOUGHTS: Western Michigan is one of the best offensive teams in Division I and showed Why (Western) on Friday.
The Broncos scored four times plus the ENG and missed a number of Grade-A chances, of which they had way too many.
The game was pretty even in the first period, but WMU started to take over in the second, and Miami – which had largely cut down its glaring defensive mistakes the past few weeks – seemed like it blew coverage or allowed odd-man rushes on every shift the final 40 minutes.
Western Michigan could’ve easily scored seven or eight.
Other than those defensive lapses — a major story line in the game — the RedHawks played OK. They didn’t give up, scoring an EAG before that (Hilsen)-dagger ENG with a second left.
— Barry set up two goals from the left faceoff circle, as defenses haven’t seemed to respect him recently. Both markers were on slap-pass type plays to wide-open teammates at the top of the crease.
He has been arguably the team’s top weapon the power play since 19-1 series.
— Persson may have given up four goals, but he was excellent overall. The third goal was a little shaky, as a wrister from the blue line seemed to elude him, but he made several stellar stops and was very good overall on rebound control, especially tough considering some of the high-percentage shots he faced in the final 40 minutes.
LINEUP CHANGES: Only one move from last Saturday.
Daskas dressed in place of John Sladic, and he scored the first goal of the game.
STANDINGS: North Dakota clinched the Penrose Cup on Friday, and Denver will finish second in the NCHC.
Miami is one point back of Colorado College and would lose any tiebreaker, so the RedHawks need to better the Tigers by two points in their regular season finale to climb into the seventh spot.
A trip to Grand Forks is almost certainly in MU’s future, as the NCHC Tournament begins next weekend.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The defensive breakdowns were disappointing, but much of that was Western Michigan’s offensive prowess and aggressiveness.
Miami needs a much better effort defensively – other than Persson, who was very solid – if it hopes to earn a split and possibly avoid repeating a last-place finish in the league.