OXFORD, Ohio — Red Savage scored Miami’s lone goal in the second period, giving him three of the RedHawks’ last eight tallies during the team’s woeful six-game scoring drought.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, Savage left the game after suffering a head shot in the final minutes of regulation.
Despite an ensuing major power play and five-minute 3-on-3 overtime, the rest of the Miami skaters were unable to break through, as the RedHawks skated to a 1-1 tie vs. Colorado College at Cady Arena on Friday.
The Tigers won the shootout, 1-0 and earned the second league point.
Miami (4-5-2), now winless in its last five games, wraps up the weekend series with Colorado College (4-6-1) at 5:05 p.m. on Saturday.
RECAP: Matthew Barbolini connected with Savage on a shorthanded stretch pass to the blue line for a breakaway, and Savage roofed a forehander over goalie Kaidan Mbereko 6:37 into the second period.
With 6:29 left in that frame, Nicklas Andrews‘ pass through the crease hit a skater and pinballed to Matthew Gleason, who was able to shovel it past Miami goalie Ludvig Persson on the power play.
Savage was initially hit by Hunter McKown then spun into the path of the oncoming Danny Weight, who tried to push Savage away in stride, but he contacted Savage’s head and drawing the major.
STATS: Savage has scored in consecutive games — amazingly — for the first time in his career.
It was his fourth tally of the season, tying him for fourth on the team with Barbolini, who sent him in for the breakaway.
Barbolini’s assist gave him the RedHawks’ points lead outright with nine, and he has points in eight of the nine games he has played in 2022-23.
— Miami extended its streak of scoring two goals or fewer to six games, its longest stretch since Jan. 24-Feb. 14, 2020.
— That was the third shorthanded goal of the season for the RedHawks, who have not scored that many SHGs in four years and have not eclipsed that total since 2014-15.
THOUGHTS: Energy, or lack of, was the theme of the night.
Miami just didn’t have it much of it and couldn’t even get fired up when Savage was injured, and honestly the RedHawks are lucky they earned even one point.
We agree with coach Chris Bergeron, who in his postgame comments, said the first period was pretty good but the second was excruciating, even though that’s when Miami scored its lone goal.
The RedHawks played OK the first 13 minutes of the final stanza but appeared lost without Savage on the power play and in overtime.
Overall it just wasn’t good enough.
Two of the usual suspects: Poor passing resulting in way too many turnovers and low faceoff win percentage were huge factors.
So many passes seemed to be rushed or complete misfires. That has been a major trend the past few weeks.
Faceoffs, especially in high-leverage situations, have also been a detriment to the team, and this game was no exception, as the RedHawks lost several minutes of power play time due to easy clears after draw losses.
— Specifically on the lack of energy after surrounding the Savage hit: I get that it was kind of a fluky play, but again, if I’m his teammate, I’m ready to stick it to the team that did that to him. The major power play raised the question if Miami should consider declining penalties in the future.
— Speaking of energy: The building lacked it as well.
Choppy play and little offense leads to lack of enthusiasm, though the building got loud after Savage’s goal and on several other key scoring chances.
But only 1,978 attended this game, which is a poor showing for a Friday night in mid-November when — despite their recent struggles — the RedHawks are still a much better team in a much better position than the past few seasons.
— Colorado College deserves tons of credit for playing a quality road game, and specifically, for foiling Miami’s power play with aggressive penalty killing. A Tigers skater was in the face of every RedHawk that held the puck above the faceoff circles, and Miami was unable to counter.
— Miami’s fourth line deserves some credit. Frankie Carogioiello, Blake Mesenburg and Brian Silver combined for three shots on goal and helped kill penalties, with Mesenburg being one of the few RedHawks to have success in the faceoff circle.
Silver also generated a couple of scoring chances in limited ice time.
— Both teams seemed to have pucks roll on them — a CC skater lost the puck during the shootout! — and too many skaters fell down during the game, although from ice level it didn’t appear the ice was at all compromised and very few pucks skipped unnaturally.
It was 70 degrees late this week, then Oxford had the remnants of Hurricane Nicole glance it earlier in the day, and ultimately it was colder than normal at the concourse level. Perhaps the playing surface was affected by the wacky recent weather. That’s the best theory we can surmise.
LINEUP CHANGES: Silver and Carogioiello returned to the lineup up front after sitting last Saturday, and Barbolini returned after missing last weekend due to academics.
William Hallen, Jack Olmstead and Chase Pletzke did not dress after playing in the Western Michigan finale.
On defense, Zane Demsey replaced Alex Murray.
STANDINGS: Miami earned its first NCHC point but is still last in the league, one point behind Minn.-Duluth.
The RedHawks slipped to a tie for No. 26 in the PairWise rankings.
FORWARDS: D-. Other than Savage’s goal, not much to see here. Freshmen standouts Max Dukovac, John Waldron and Artur Turansky combined for four shots on goal despite seeing ample power play time. P.J. Fletcher and Joey Cassetti also underwhelmed, finishing with two SOG and one, respectively. Faceoffs were again an issue and way too many boards and open-ice battles for loose pucks were lost. Thomas Daskas has seemed to be all over the ice since rejoining the lineup several weeks ago.
DEFENSEMEN: B. Good overall, and this corps was pretty good at squelching odd-man rushes and breaking up those that did materialize.
GOALTENDING: A-. The only goal Persson allowed was on a rush in which a loose puck found a CC skater in the Tigers’ happy zone, and Persson couldn’t have done much with that. A crossbar bailed him out in the first period and Colorado College missed on some high-percentage chances, but overall this was one of Persson’s better outings.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Let’s face it: When a team wins seven games and graduates its seniors, that means the next year its returning players need to elevate their play, or its freshmen had better Jack Eichel.
Miami has several skilled freshmen who have showed glimpses of future excellence, but they aren’t ready to carry the team at this point, nor should they be expected to.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, their veterans have not stepped their play up significantly in recent weeks.
So now we have Miami Version 2022-23, which is a team that is certainly better than last season but not quite competitive in the NCHC.
The RedHawks were 4-1-1 entering league play, including a win at then-No. 15 UMass Lowell. But as soon as conference play started, 0-4-1, six goals scored, 21 goals against.
Miami has still made major improvement over last season and appears to have significantly more talent, which is easy to overlook during a winless streak.
Its next hurdle is adapting to its current league and regularly winning games in NCHC play.
The RedHawks have an excellent opportunity to make a stride in that area on Saturday vs. a team that is still winless on the road this season.