OXFORD, Ohio – Just like when these last time these teams met, Miami and Ferris State needed overtime to determine an outcome.
Unlike that series finale in Big Rapids a year ago, which ended up in a Bulldogs win on a shorthanded goal, this matchup ended in a 2-2 tie at Cady Arena on Saturday in both teams’ season openers.
Ferris State (0-0-1) took the lead twice but both times the RedHawks battled back to even the score, including the game-tying tally by Joey Cassetti with 54 seconds remaining.
Matthew Barbolini also found the net for Miami (0-0-1).
RECAP: After a scoreless first period, Jason Brancheau put Ferris State ahead just 81 seconds into the second period when he slammed home a rebound off a shot by teammate Brenden MacLaren that was turned aside by RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson.
Miami tied it at the eight-minute mark of the stanza when Zane Demsey blasted a wide-open slap shot from the slot that was stopped by FSU goalie Logan Stein but caromed to Barbolini on the left side of the net for a tap-in.
The Bulldogs went ahead, 2-1 at the 2:18 mark of the third period when Stepan Pokorny fed a loose puck through the crease to Jacob Dirks, who backhanded it into the side of the net.
The RedHawks scored the equalizer in the final minute, as Hampus Rydqvist whipped a wrister from the point that was denied by Stein, but the rebound tricked across the top of the crease where Cassetti shoveled it home.
Both teams were limited to one shot in the 3-on-3 overtime, and the teams did finish with a shootout, although it had no bearing on the result since the teams are in different conferences.
STATS: Barbolini led the team with 10 goals last season and picked up No. 16 on this career.
Cassetti scored on opening night last season as well as his line with Barbolini and Max Dukovac recorded both tallies.
— Speaking of Dukovac, he and Demsey both earned their first career point, picking up assists on the Barbolini goal.
Rydqvist and Red Savage notched the other helpers.
— The last time Miami opened a season with a tie was 2008-09 vs. Ohio State, and the RedHawks went to the national championship that year.
THOUGHTS: Miami played with tons of energy the first 40 minutes then seemed to ease off in the third before finding a proverbial second wind late and salvaging a tie.
A lot of good came out of this game, but the biggest blemish on the RedHawks’ report card from this one is the first 15 minutes of the final frame.
That said, so many times the past couple of seasons Miami has squandered late leads, so being the scorer instead of the score-ee in the final minute had to help this young team’s confidence.
Ferris State deserves a lot of credit as well, as Stein turned 25 shots aside including some grade-A chances, and the Bulldogs only allowed one odd-man rush all game.
— He didn’t record a point, but P.J. Fletcher dominated the first 40 minutes, skating around like his pants were on fire. He was everywhere on both ends, stealing the puck and deking defenders and doing so at seemingly a much faster pace than anyone else on the ice.
If Fletcher plays like that all season, his ceiling is limitless.
— Of the freshmen, Dukovac stood out the most. He picked up the second assist by feeding Zemsey in the slot and seemed to create an offensive chance every shift.
Demsey was excellent and seemed right at home on the Miami blue line, picking up a point and playing solid defense. He also dished out a quality hit along the boards.
Artur Turansky and Michael Feenstra both showed a lot of promise but looked a little nervous, especially early.
It was also the first Division I game for forwards William Hallen and Blake Mesenburg, who played center. Hallen seemed to enjoy battling for pucks and won his share, and Mesenburg showed outstanding speed and playmaking potential.
— The crowd, especially the student section, was numerous and loud. The listed attendance was 2,805 despite going opposite the football team’s game at Buffalo.
Cady Arena was absolutely rocking after Cassetti’s tying goal.
— Why was there a completely meaningless shootout in this non-conference game?
No one in the rink seemed to understand how pointless it was, including the Ferris State players, who celebrated their five-round, 2-1 shootout “win” like they had won the Stanley Cup.
So while the sport is still trying to grow and return to major standing in Oxford, and we basically deceive 3,000 fans into thinking every penalty shot means the difference between a win and a loss when really each were completely irrelevant to the outcome.
I get that later in the season shootouts are decided in conference games for additional points and Miami and Ferris State were using this for practice, but in addition to an announcement that no one heard, can we post a disclaimer on the video boards?
Something like: “Attention fans: The game has officially ended in a tie. The following skills contest has absolutely zero bearing on the outcome. If you want to watch it, enjoy, but it’s just an exhibition and there’s a lot of cold beer waiting to be consumed uptown. Thank you for attending Miami’s official event, the one that matters, unlike the following, which does not”.
— Apologies for the late post. A tree came down in our neighborhood last night and knocked the power out for over five hours, which bled into my much-needed sleep time after a long week.
FORWARDS: B-. Miami should’ve deposited one or two more of those high-percentage chances in the net, but the energy level was excellent and it seemed like all 12 members of this corps was willing to fight for loose pucks in open ice and along the boards. The D and goaltender deservedly take a lot of credit for goals against and shots against, but the forwards did their part to shut down Ferris State’s offense too. Ryan Savage battled injuries last season but appeared in top form, and Chase Pletzke also played one of his better games and was super-aggressive on the forecheck.
DEFENSEMEN: A-. Granted this wasn’t the typical NCHC top-20 opponent Miami normally faces in the winter, but compared to the past few seasons, this was a herculean effort. The RedHawks made Ferris State earn everything it got and had sticks and bodies in the way seemingly every time the Bulldogs touched the puck. And the blueliners even chipped in offensively, with Rydqvist and Demsey earning assists. If we see this type of effort from the D-corps every night this season, MU could surprise a lot of people.
GOALTENDING: B+. It looked like Persson didn’t make the best play on Ferris State’s first goal, deflecting it to the side for a wide-open rebound, but other than that he looked confident and had excellent rebound control. He had no chance on the second tally, which came on a broken play with a wide-open forward batting home a cross-crease feed. Against a brutal schedule, Persson posted a .919 save percentage his final 12 games of 2021-22 and looked like the same quality netminder that earned three late wins including a shutout at the end of last season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall it was a pretty good opening night, but it feels like if Miami had more jump in the third period this could’ve been a win instead of a tie.
But the freshmen seemed to bring a lot of verve and the returning players were very much engaged, so there’s definitely a lot more positive than negative to take out of this game.