OXFORD, Ohio – Miami took control with even-strength goals and sealed its first win of 2022-23 with special-teams tallies.
The RedHawks scored on the power play and shorthanded to nail down a 4-1 win over Ferris State in the series finale at Cady Arena on Sunday.
The teams tied the opener.
Matthew Barbolini and Joey Cassetti both scored for the second time in as many nights, and Jack Olmstead and Red Savage both netted their first goals of 2022-23.
Miami (1-0-1) heads to UMass-Lowell for a two-game set next weekend.
RECAP: Hampus Rydqvist sent a pass from the base of the left faceoff circle through traffic to Olmstead, who backhanded it into the side of the net to open the scoring 3:38 into the game.
Rydqvist carried the puck behind the Ferris State (0-1-1) net and whipped a backhand pass through the top of the crease to Barbolini, who buried a forehand wrister to make it 2-0 with 8:00 left in the opening period.
Stepan Pokorny cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to one midway through the second period, but 1:59 later, Cassetti fired a loose puck home with one second left on the power play after a shot from the high slot by Dylan Moulton hit a defender to give Miami a 3-1 lead.
Red Savage sealed it when P.J. Fletcher sprung him loose for a shorthanded breakaway with a neutral zone feed, and Savage buried a forehand shot inside the left post.
STATS: Red Savage finished with a goal and an assist, and Rydqvist and Dukovac ended the night with two assists each.
Those three are tied for the team lead in points with three.
Barbolini and Cassetti both scored for the second time in two games, and Olmstead netted the eighth goal of his career.
— Goalie Ludvig Persson stopped 30 shots to earn the win.
— The last time Miami notched a shorthanded goal was also scored by Savage on Nov. 27 vs. Long Island. The RedHawks only netted two SHGs last season, and the other one was against Ferris State.
THOUGHTS: This isn’t the best tease sentence ever to be written, but Miami’s shut-down defense after the team took the lead was the biggest takeaway from this game.
Ferris State enjoyed seven minutes of power play time in the third period and was obviously in press mode, down by two after 40 minutes, but the Bulldogs manged just five shots on goals in the final stanza and Miami exploited the late major for a shorty.
The RedHawks were dead last in Division I in shots allowed per game last season but in this game they were able to not only hold their lead late but expand it.
— Anyone who has read my philosophical flotsam for any time knows I hate to play the ref card, but it’s hard to wrap one’s head around the PIM total being 40-8 in favor of Miami, including two majors.
Didn’t see the Demsey roughing and not really disputing the minors, but William Hallen’s hit seemed to be from the side and Ryan Savage was battling for a puck. Both were assessed majors and Savage was ejected.
— But the Savage family had the final laugh, as Red Savage scored his shorthanded goal 42 seconds after his brother was shown the gate.
— All of that PK time may have benefitted Miami, as the RedHawks were able to audition many skaters in that role. Chase Pletzke and Brian Silver held their own, which could prove invaluable as MU needs to find people not named Red Savage and P.J. Fletcher to kill penalties or that duo will be hospitalized by February.
— It’s been really impressive to see Jack Clement’s level of play this season since being named captain. That role has caused current NHLers to struggle, but in a small sample size, Clement has gotten better. He’s been even tougher to play against and has moved the puck well.
— Odd-man rushes were very rare this weekend, thanks largely to a more responsible defensive approach. Excellent backchecking shut down a couple of potential rushes.
— Thank you for whomever finally got through to whomever that rock should be the music of choice at a hockey game. Most of the selections this weekend were. “Hell’s Bells” and “Stanglehold” to lead off warm-ups is a major, major upgrade.
— That second period seemed like it lasted two hours. Way too many faceoffs. Lots of choppy play this weekend, but that’s not uncommon in October.
LINEUP CHANGES: One forward substitution and another on defense.
Frankie Carogioiello debuted up front and sophomore Alex Murray was the seventh defenseman.
Carogioiello, like almost every other forward this season, showed feistiness in terms of chasing loose pucks, and he displayed his high-end speed.
Murray only played one of the final 23 games last season, but he played a smart, conservative game and made quality outlet passes when necessary and wasn’t afraid to battle for pucks along the boards.
FORWARDS: A-. All four lines played well. The chemistry on the second line of Cassetti-Barbolini-Dukovac has been impressive through two games. This corps was responsible for 38 of Miami’s 40 penalty minutes…
DEFENSEMEN: B+. …and while the forwards took 38 PIM, the blueliners took just one minor. It’s just two games against a below-average CCHA team, but it’s been refreshing to see the in-your-face approach taken by this corps vs. previous seasons. Zane Demsey is already earning a ton of minutes, and Robby Drazner has shown no ill-effects from the injury that cost him the second half of 2021-22, breaking up a potential odd-man rush with rigorous backchecking. This group of seven were exceptional in the third period in protecting the lead.
GOALTENDING: A. Persson faced a couple of weird shots on bouncing and redirected pucks, but he turned all aside and was outstanding overall. Rebound control was again excellent. Persson’s save percentage rose to .942, further cementing himself into to starting role.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was a good opening weekend, keeping in mind that all seven of Miami’s conference opponents will probably be better than Ferris State.
In a limited sample, it seemed like Miami made a better effort to control the front of the net on both ends of the ice.
Including Red Savage’s breakaway, all six RedHawks goals were in close, including several rebounds, thanks largely to Miami generating traffic in front of the FSU net.
And while Ferris State was able to score from the edge of the paint against the RedHawks, its chances were few. Thus the final weekend goal total of 6-3.
Definitely a quality start overall.