Allowing 10 power play chances is not the best way to start a league road slate.
Miami suffered its worst loss since its infamous St. Cloud State weekend in late January, falling 7-1 in its series opener at No. 18 Western Michigan on Friday.
The RedHawks (4-4-1), who took 40 minutes in penalties and allowed four power play goals, started the season 4-1-1 in non-conference play but is now back to .500 after an 0-3 start in the league.
The weekend finale is at 6:05 p.m. on Satuday.
RECAP: Western Michigan (6-4) opened the scoring on a one-time blast by Jamie Rome from the right faceoff dot that snuck through RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson just 2:52 into the game on the power play.
Three minutes later, Jason Polin shoveled in a 2-on-1 feed from Max Sasson at the top of the crease.
It remained 2-0 until Miami’s Joey Cassetti backhanded a rebound through traffic on the man advantage to cut the Broncos’ lead to one with 6:28 left in the second period.
But less than two minutes later, a RedHawks clearing attempt from in front of their net popped into the air and Polin was able to knock it home to make it 3-1.
Carter Berger and Jack Perbix extended the WMU lead with PPGs on a Miami major later in the frame.
Polin completed his hat trick with a shorthanded goal less than four minutes into the final stanza, and Zak Galambos tacked on the final goal minutes later.
STATS: Cassetti’s fifth goal of the season gave him the team lead outright. He had eight goals in 50 collegiate games entering 2022-23.
P.J. Fletcher picked up his second assist in as many games, and Ryan Savage also earned a helper, giving him five points in his last six games.
— Logan Neaton relieved Persson and stopped 7-of-8 shots in 17 minutes as he saw his first action since injuring his knee vs. Colorado College on Jan. 7.
— Miami had not allowed four power play goals in a game since Jan. 12, 2018, the infamous 11-7 loss at Omaha.
— The last time a team had 10 or more power play chances vs. Miami? Denver’s playoff series clincher on March 12. The last time the RedHawks gave up a shorthanded goal? Same game.
— Opponents had scored just seven times against the RedHawks in the first and second periods combined through eight games. WMU found the net five times in the first 40 minutes in this game.
— With 40 penalty minutes (vs. 10 for WMU), Miami is now tied with Omaha for third-last in penalty minutes per game (18.2). Only RIT and first-year Division I program Lindenwood are worse.
THOUGHTS: Brief game summary…
Miami was competitive for the first two minutes, took the first of about 95 penalties on the night, got scored on and only briefly showed any signs of life after that.
The RedHawks had done an excellent job of preventing odd-man rushes this season but allowed three 2-on-1 breaks later in the first period, one of which resulted in a goal.
Then after cutting the deficit in half, Western Michigan scored on a wacky bounce then put the game away by netting a pair of goals on Miami’s latest major penalty (the RedHawks would allow a fourth PPG on a second major in the third period to seal it).
— A lack of energy, poor discipline and defensive breakdowns are a loss cocktail nearly 100 percent of the time in hockey.
The RedHawks just didn’t seem prepared for this game. During its first four weekends of the season, there has rarely been any question about this team’s effort level but it was not up to standard in this game, not even close.
Miami was knocking on the door of the top 20 heading into Denver, and WMU is ranked No. 18, so according to the pollsters this should be a competitive series, but obviously Game 1 was not.
— Matthew Barbolini, MU’s points leader entering this weekend with a 4-4-8 line, did not make the trip to Kalamazoo. Before the game, RedHawks coach Chris Bergeron said he remained in Oxford because of ‘academic issues’. It is hoped he will be back in the lineup for the Colorado College series next weekend.
— Persson did not have a great game, but he wasn’t the reason Miami lost. Good for Bergeron to pull him, sending a message to the team, and for the first time in 10 months, Neaton was able to log 17 minutes, allowing one goal.
— Faceoffs and other battles for 50/50 pucks were abysmal.
LINEUP CHANGES: Barbolini and Blake Mesenburg sat this game out and Jack Olmstead and Chase Pletzke dressed.
On defense, Zane Demsey returned to the lineup and Alex Murray was scratched.
STANDINGS: Miami is tied with Duluth and Omaha for last in the NCHC with zero league points, although the Bulldogs and Mavericks have only played one league game while the RedHawks are 0-3.
MU slipped eight spots to No. 23 in the still-way-too-soon edition of the PairWise.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This loss doesn’t undo the ample progress made by this team in October, but it’s definitely an unexpected step back for a team that led the defending national champions heading into the third period six days ago.
The second line of Cassetti and freshmen Max Dukovac and John Waldron seemed to be the only source of even-strength offensive chances for Miami, and three shots in the third period in unacceptable.
Of all of Miami’s shortcomings in this game, bad penalties were the most costly, as they directly led to four Western Michigan goals. Two majors and 40 PIMs crushed any chance the RedHawks had of being competitive.
Expect Bergeron to shake the lineup a bit for Saturday, and he’ll likely sit some skaters that are regular starters.