Miami’s catastrophic start to its league slate extended itself into a fourth weekend.
The RedHawks were torched by No. 19 North Dakota, 7-1 at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday, dropping them to 0-6-1 in the NCHC with just one conference point.
Miami (4-7-2) fell behind by five before recording its lone goal, as MU has scored just eight times in its last seven games.
The series concludes at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday.
RECAP: Gavin Hain put North Dakota (5-5-2) ahead just 3:31 into the first period when he joined a rush and was able to bat a centering pass from Louis Jamernik through Miami goalie Ludvig Persson.
Ben Strinden gave the Fighting Hawks a 2-0 lead late in that frame when he stole the puck along the half wall, carried it to the top of the crease and shoveled it through Persson’s legs.
Miami’s Axel Kumlin was assessed a major penalty early in the second period, which North Dakota’s Jackson Blake and Griffin Ness converted on to extend the Fighting Hawks’ lead to four.
Mark Senden made it 5-0 less than two minutes later, and Judd Caulfeld also found the net for UND, with Blake capping the scoring with his second marker of the contest.
Blake Mesenburg scored Miami’s lone goal with 1:45 left in the second period — the first of his career — but Caulfield answered 18 seconds later to kill any momentum.
Persson, who has made every start this season for the RedHawks, was pulled for the second time in 2022-23, this time after two periods in favor of Logan Neaton.
STATS: Miami’s 0-6-1 start to league play following a 4-1-1 non-conference start is the most important one.
The RedHawks are winless in their last 10 games vs. North Dakota (0-9-1).
— Miami has scored eight goals in seven games (1.14). Another relevant one.
— A couple of positives: Mesenburg, who has worked as hard as any RedHawk the past couple weekends, was rewarded with his first career goal.
— Matthew Barbolini picked up the primary assist and extended his points streak to three games. He has found the scoresheet in 10 of 11 games this season.
— Hampus Rydqvist earned the secondary helper, giving him points in consecutive games. The defenseman scored Miami’s lone goal in its 2-1 loss to Colorado College last weekend.
THOUGHTS: What was striking about this game from a Miami-centric perspective was just the lack of cohesiveness among the skaters.
For example, on the RedHawks’ first power play, no one seemed on the same page and they actually lost possession in the offensive zone twice during that man-advantage despite the lack of a pursuing defender.
It’s understandable that a team that isn’t scoring and is missing key players will shuffle lines, but the level of disconnect was unacceptable two months into the season.
No objection to the effort by most of the team, but there was no gestalt. The fact that North Dakota is a really talented hockey team — we already knew that — and Grand Forks is an exceedingly difficult place to play for opponents, didn’t help.
— Miami was down 2-0 when Kumlin was tossed for contact to the head or something.
I’m not a rules expert but it’s hard to understand what the ultimate benefit is to eject a player over this play.
There’s a rule in place effective this season that players assessed majors aren’t automatically booted via a game misconduct.
Yet this crew decided to send Kumlin to the showers early anyway.
Every attempt should be made to limit hits to the head in hockey, but it’s still a contact sport and it’s tough to see a penalty assessed that pretty much sealed one team’s fate over a hard but fluky play.
Strange coincidence, Red Savage didn’t make this trip because of a weird play last weekend in which a Colorado College skater contacted Savage’s head, and he was given five minutes but not a game misconduct.
That said, nothing should be taken away from North Dakota’s win and overall dominance. This team has played a brutal schedule to this point and appears primed for another Penrose Cup run.
— In addition to Savage, Max Dukovac, one of Miami’s top freshmen forwards, also did not travel to UND due to injury. That certainly didn’t help an already-struggling offense.
LINEUP CHANGES: William Hallen, who battled illness last weekend, was back in the lineup up front, and forward John Sladic dressed for the second time this season.
They replaced Savage and Dukovac.
STANDINGS: North Dakota held the No. 7 spot in the conference prior to Friday, three points ahead of last-place Miami.
So the RedHawks — with one point in the league — are now six points away from climbing out of the cellar.
Miami has dropped to No. 37 in the PairWise.
FINAL THOUGHTS: No Washington lawyer could spin this loss or Miami’s start to league play. It’s dreadful.
What’s scary is the Colorado College at home last week was the best opportunity at NCHC wins Miami will have all season, and the RedHawks went 0-1-1 in those games.
Miami has not only three remaining games against North Dakota, it will face St. Cloud State and a rejuvenated Omaha team four times each. And that WMU team that curb-stomped Miami in Kalamazoo comes to Oxford.
Oh yeah, and the RedHawks head to Denver in mid-February.
Miami has the skill to hang with quality opponents, but the RedHawks have not shown it to this point in conference play.