OXFORD, Ohio — Freshman John Waldron notched the first hat trick by a Miamian in nearly seven years on Friday.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, No. 4 St. Cloud State scored three times before Waldron found the net and three more times after he capped off his scoring run as the Huskies beat MU, 7-3 at Cady Arena.
SCSU (14-3) has won 14 of its last 15 games against Miami and has outscored the RedHawks, 26-4 in their last three meetings.
MU is now 1-9-1 in its last 11, winless in seven straight at home dating back to its opening-weekend victory over Ferris State and 1-7-1 in NCHC play with just four league points.
RECAP: St. Cloud’s Dylan Anhorn fired a shot in from the high slot to open the scoring just 49 seconds into the first period on the power play, and Anhorn centered a pass to Jani Krannila for a slam-dunk one-timer in the slot less than two minutes later to make it 2-0 before half of the Miami crowd had found its seats.
The Huskies extended their lead to three five minutes later when a blast by Krannila shattered a defenseman’s stick, and the deflected puck found Anhorn him at the side of the net for an easy tap-in on a 4-on-4.
Miami (5-10-2) cut the deficit to two on the power play just 26 seconds into the second period on a highlight-reel tic-tac-toe passing play from P.J. Fletcher to Matthew Barbolini to Red Savage to a wide-open Waldron at the left side of the cage.
But SCSU made it 4-1 when Veeti Miettinen snuck through the RedHawks’ defensemen and beat Miami goalie Ludvig Persson 3:13 later.
Barbolini won the race to a loose puck behind the St. Cloud State net, skated toward the net and backhanded a pass through the top of the crease to a wide-open Waldron, who buried it to again cut the Huskies’ lead to two with 12:39 left in the middle frame.
Waldron trimmed that margin to one when a loose puck found his stick in the slot, and he whipped in into the bottom corner of the net with 13 seconds left in the second stanza.
But SCSU’s Kyler Kupka netted a power play goal just 99 seconds into the final frame to make it 5-3, and Krannila and Zach Okabe added insurance goals later in the period to seal it.
STATS: Waldron’s hat trick was the first by a Miamian since Jan. 23, 2016 when Conor Lemirande scored three times at Omaha.
The last home hat trick by a RedHawk was recorded by Austin Czarnik on March 7, 2015 in a crucial league game against North Dakota.
— Barbolini saw his five-game points streak snapped in the shutout against Michigan State two weeks ago, but he started another one with a pair of assists in this game, giving him eight points in seven games.
His 16 points this season are seven more than any other Miami skater.
— Savage picked up his first helper since Oct. 22 at Canisius and five-game points drought.
— Freshman defenseman Zane Demsey also earned an assist, the second of his career.
— Miami was 1-for-4 on the penalty kill, allowing three PPGs in 136 seconds of penalty-kill time. That’s a really bad stat. The only successful kill the RedHawks had was on a 31-second PK on the back end of a 4-on-4.
MU has killed off just 4 of 9 power play chances its last two games.
— The RedHawks scored all three goals in the second period, their first three-goal period since Oct. 22 at Canisius.
LINEUP CHANGES: Logan Neaton started Miami’s last game on Nov. 26 — his first full game of the season — but Persson was back between the pipes in this game.
Up front, William Hallen and Artur Turansky returned after one-game absences, with Chase Pletzke and Frankie Carogioiello sitting. On defense, Dylan Moulton returned from injury, dressing in place of Alex Murray.
Nick Donato, who has been a defensive staple, missed his fourth straight game due to injury.
THOUGHTS: Coach Chris Bergeron wasn’t challenged in the postgame interview over the team’s start, but clearly that was story of the night. 1-0 at 49 seconds. 2-0 before the three-minute mark. 3-0 before the second media time out.
Miami fought back to within one and played a quality second period, but showing up late against top-10 opponents is pretty much an automatic ‘L’, and the RedHawks learned that again on Friday.
This is becoming a pattern for MU, which held opponents to two goals in the first eight games of the season but has given up 13 in the opening frame in the nine contests since.
The RedHawks have allowed seven goals in their last three games in the first 20 minutes.
No coincidence Miami has won one time during that six-week stretch.
— Hate to harp on this, but again, the RedHawks were unable to slow the bleeding, and the coaching staff is the on the hook for that. Use your timeout. Switch goalies. Moves other than changing lines are at your disposal.
Same issue with lines: Quality first line, good energy from the fourth. Not much from the second line and the third is a work in progress with a lot of raw talent.
— This is more of a stat than opinion, but Persson has been on the ice for all 26 goals against Miami’s last three games vs. St. Cloud. He has played all 180 minutes and saw his goals-against in that stretch drop from 9.50 to 8.67 and his save percentage rise from .747 to .750.
— I get that there are fewer fans due to the semester ending and the natural reaction is to jack the volume, but can we please not try to compensate by turning the in-house audio to atomic bomb status? I’m typing this at home well after the final horn and my ear drums are still bleeding.
— What is the deal with leaving Persson out to dry in St. Cloud blowouts?
As we mentioned in an earlier gamer, coaches sometimes pull struggling goalies after two early scores. Three in eight minutes? Maybe half the time.
Miami has two experienced backups, and it’s baffling that at this level, a coach would stick with a struggling goalie after seven goals against.
STANDINGS: All eight NCHC teams have now played nine games, and Miami is last with four points. North Dakota is in seventh with nine.
The RedHawks are just 1-7-1 in league play and enter Saturday’s game ranked No. 39 out of 62 in PairWise.
FORWARDS: C+. Waldron was obviously exceptional, and lost in his performance is the beautiful pass he threaded to Savage through the slot that resulted in a one-timer off the post. While three goals is sometimes enough to win, the top line actually finished minus-3. Miami generated just five shots from the middle six and the fourth line provided good energy but was scored on.
DEFENSEMEN: C. St. Cloud State was limited to 29 shots on goal and this corps was obviously the biggest reason. Liked all three Dubuque rookies Demsey, Axel Kumlin and Michael Feenstra. Kumlin has been clicking for a while and Demsey and Feenstra appear to be gaining confidence in their shut-down roles. Hampus Rydqvist was on the ice for five of Miami’s first six goals against and took the penalty that lead to No. 7. He finished minus-4.
GOALTENDING: F. We love Ludvig, but it was an off night. It was obvious from the 30-second mark, when he didn’t react properly and the left side of the net was vacated for a moment. St. Cloud State didn’t score on that play but found the net seconds later on a weak one-timer from the high slot. Persson has been exceptional on rebound control all season but he allowed several huge ones, most notably on the game that made it 5-3 after Waldron had cut the deficit to one. The breakaway in the second period was very stoppable and a goalie on top of his game turns aside at least one of the other high-percentage chances he faces. And he didn’t really make any saves on Grade-A opportunities. He should have never been left in until the final horn to potentially allow an eighth goal.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The positive to take away here is the freshmen are largely making headlines this season.
Up front, Waldron is already a first-liner with seemingly unlimited upside. Max Dukovac, Blake Mesenburg, Artur Turansky, William Hallen and Blake Mesenburg all show tremendous promise and are overshadowing some of the veterans.
Defensively, Kumlin is already the first power play unit quarterback, and Demsey and Feenstra seem to get better every night despite the top-10 competition.
The negative to take away is this team continues to struggle with consistent effort, and it’s unclear if that’s fixable with this group. It’s been a problem for quite a while.
From the fan side, this team has a higher level of talent than in years past, and seeing the same results after seven sub-.500 seasons is beyond frustrating.