OXFORD, Ohio — Miami will be the happiest team in Division I to see the calendar flip.
The RedHawks finished their January slate by suffering their most lopsided home loss in 27 years, falling 8-0 to North Dakota at Cady Arena on Saturday.
MU ended the month 0-6, being outscored, 32-2. The last time the RedHawks lost by eight goals at home was against Michigan on Nov. 11, 1995.
Miami (7-17-2) heads to St. Cloud State next weekend, where it lost, 8-0 and 11-1 last season. But the RedHawks beat the Huskies, 5-0 in their last meeting in Oxford.
RECAP: North Dakota’s Riese Gaber picked the top left corner on the power play after Miami goalie Logan Neaton had lost his stick 9:40 into the first period.
Judd Caulfield made it 2-0 on a shorthanded goal four minutes into the second period as the Fighting Hawks capitalized on a Miami offensive-zone turnover.
Gaber, Jackson Blake and Owen McLaughlin all added tallies in the final 10 minutes of the middle frame to give North Dakota (12-11-4) a five-goal lead, with the latter two coming on the man-advantage.
Ben Strinden and Dylan James both scored early in the final period, and Gaber capped off his hat trick — the seventh against Miami this season — with 49 seconds remaining, again on the power play.
STATS: Can’t come up with any positive ones after this one.
— This game tied that 1995 Michigan game for Miami’s worst-ever loss-by-shutout-at-home margin, and this was the most lopsided RedHawks defeat in Cady Arena’s 17-year history.
— Miami definitely put the ‘special’ in special teams, going 0-for-3 on the power play and allowing a shorthanded goal. The RedHawks were 4 of 8 on the penalty kill, as they were called for six consecutive minors to end the game.
— Gaber’s hat trick was the seventh allowed by Miami this season.
— MU was shut out for the sixth time in 2022-23. It was also its fourth blanking in six games, another program first, and two goals scored in that span is also an all-time worst.
The most times Miami has been shut out in a season:
Now the January carnage:
Miami finished January with one power play goal (5.9 percent) and 66.7 percent on the penalty kill.
Its team save percentage was .841 and the RedHawks were outscored, 28-1 in the second and third periods.
THOUGHTS: There’s no way to sugarcoat this weekend: Miami’s performance was pathetic, and the players and coaching staff should all be embarrassed.
In this game especially, due to injuries and a suspension, North Dakota was so shorthanded it dressed 17 skaters instead of the maximum of 19, including just five defensemen.
(The Fighting Hawks, the Duke or Alabama of college hockey for those who don’t follow closely, entered this weekend in seventh place in the eight-team NCHC, almost in reach for Miami.)
Two skirmishes broke out at the end of Friday’s game, so the RedHawks were expected to come out with energy. And for a good portion of the first period, they did. Unfortunately, they resorted to old habits and put a lethal North Dakota team on the power play twice, and the Fighting Hawks took the lead.
The second period started and Miami didn’t. The RedHawks managed six shots in that frame despite four minutes of power play time and most were innocuous.
Meanwhile, North Dakota stripped the puck from John Waldron and went in for a shorthanded goal that made it 2-0 and seemed to open the proverbial floodgates.
So Miami is down five heading into the third period and rather than try to take some positives out of this heading into a brutal weekend series at No. 1 St. Cloud State, the RedHawks show little life and take three more dumb penalties, with one more resulting in a Fighting Hawks goal.
Would Miami at least break the shutout late in the third period? Nope, it decided taking penalties was more important and was shorthanded for the closing minutes, only returning to even strength for the final 13 seconds.
North Dakota tacked on that final eighth goal on the power play in the final minute.
Miami was a goal away from earning votes for the top 20 before its late loss to Niagara on New Year’s Eve, and in the four weeks since the team has looked like it’s ready to drop down to Division III.
— I really don’t understand why coach Chris Bergeron didn’t turn to Carter McPhail at some point in the third period, if not all of it. Neaton let five goals in, then Ludvig Persson came in for the third and gave up two more, and yet he’s left in to allow the eighth one of the final North Dakota power play.
If that’s not a situation in which a third goalie should be used, I’m not sure there’s one on the roster. McPhail has proven himself capable, having played the past four seasons with Ferris State.
Persson is clearly struggling — his body language after the final horn was one of a beaten man — and he could’ve taken the entire game to regroup. Instead he gives up three more goals on 12 shots heading into a weekend in which he’s clearly going to log the majority of minutes.
— Bergeron tinkered with the struggling power play, playing Swedish defensemen Hampus Rydqvist and Axel Kumlin together on the top pairing and blueliners Dylan Moulton and Jack Clement — who has played very few minutes on the man-advantage in four years — keyed the second unit.
After the game, Bergeron said that was in response to a lack of effort by some forwards.
But Kumlin has struggled as the top power play QB in recent weeks. Unfortunately, Miami doesn’t have an abundance of puck-moving offensive-oriented defensemen. Kumlin is a freshman with a great track record though and should run the man-advantage for next three years.
— Clement, the team captain, took three undisciplined penalties. The team took six in a row. Three ended up being North Dakota goals. Way to show them.
— Can’t blame officiating, as Miami received five power plays to North Dakota’s two (one of which was the final 18 seconds of regulation), so obviously that wasn’t going to happen again. Under tough circumstances I think the referees did a pretty good job, although I didn’t see the hit on Gavin Hain on Friday.
— In his postgame interview, Bergeron expressed his sympathy for the solid crowds that came out both nights, which was wise on his part. The official attendances were listed as just under 3,000 both nights, but the Saturday in-person numbers were definitely lower.
That’s one of the worst things about this weekend. Miami had a great crowd on Friday and laid an egg. Then this happens in the finale.
Having watched this entire game from the concourse level, I can tell you with certainty that a number of long-time season-ticket holders bolted before the second period even ended, most of which typically stay until after the final horn.
Then there’s another secondary side-effect: Youth hockey teams come to games all the time, and some of those players end up at Miami (trust me, so many I’ve interviewed over the years have said their introduction to Miami hockey was coming to Oxford with a youth team). What sane teenager that watched this is going to consider MU in the future?
— Tons of credit to UND: The program has struggled the first half of this season, and the Fighting Hawks were the better team most of the weekend. Even when Miami matched intensity, North Dakota was able to convert its chances while the RedHawks were not.
— It’s never to watch huge numbers of opposing fans celebrate at the end of a game on home ice, but as always, North Dakota fans showed up in the hundreds both nights and were nearly the majority by the end of the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, John Sladic and Thomas Daskas dressed in place of Jack Olmstead and suspended Max Dukovac.
On defense, Nick Donato replaced Robby Drazner.
Neaton was in net, as Miami rotated goalies for the fourth straight game, although Neaton played the final 20 minutes.
GRADES: Gonna pass on this one for this game, but it’s mind blowing that a team with a decent amount of talent can have 12 forwards generate 28 shots on goal for an entire weekend and no goals. In net, one of Miami’s goalies is going to have to step up, or it could be a long final six weeks of the season. Defensemen overall were decent.
SUMMARY: Long-time followers of the program have gotten used to seeing tough times the past eight years, but this weekend took awful-ness to another level. An 8-0 home loss? Getting outscored 32-2 in a month?
And remember: Miami was 7-8-2 heading into New Year’s Eve, which is admittedly not tournament worthy, but it was a great start after a 7-25-2 season prior.
What happened? And why does this collapse seem to happen to this program regularly over the past handful of years? And why is the free fall especially bad this season?
If this is how Miami performs on its home ice against the second last-place team in the league that is shorthanded several key players, it’s scary to see what happens next weekend, when the RedHawks visit top-ranked Division I St. Cloud State, which outscored MU, 19-1 in a two-game set in its home rink last season.