Miami didn’t pick up a win this weekend, but considering its recent history in St. Cloud — and its recent history overall — the RedHawks will take a pair of ties.

John Waldron (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

MU’s John Waldron scored the equalizer in the closing seconds of regulation as the RedHawks and Huskies played to a 1-1 tie at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Saturday.

St. Cloud State (18-8-2) won the shootout to pick up the extra league point. The Huskies also earned two points Friday, winning in the 10th round of penalty shots after the teams remained tied through 3-on-3 overtime.

Miami, which is now winless in nine straight (0-7-2), is off next week and hosts Omaha on Feb. 17-18.

RECAP: St. Cloud State took the lead with 10:33 left in the first period when Jami Krannila snuck a shot from the left faceoff dot inside the near crossbar.

With the extra attacker on, Miami’s Matthew Barbolini slid a pass through the crease to Waldron, who slammed it into the back of the net with 35 seconds remaining.

Miami (7-17-4) generated seven shots on goal in overtime — which included two minutes of power play time — while allowing just two.

SCSU’s Micah Miller and Krannila both scored on their penalty shots, while Ryan Savage and Axel Kumlin missed.

STATS: Waldron snapped an eight-game goal drought, while Barbolini notched his first point in seven contests.

Max Dukovac also was credited with a helper, his fourth point in five games. His 11 assists are second on the team only to Barbolini, who has 12.

— Miami did not allow a goal in either of the final two periods, ending a string of 11 straight periods surrendering at least one marker.

— The last time the RedHawks tied back-to-back games was Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2018 in a home series against…St. Cloud State.

— The Huskies had played 35 consecutive games without tying prior to this weekend.

THOUGHTS: This was largely another very good road game for Miami.

The RedHawks, for the second straight night, hung with one of the top teams in Division I in one of the most hostile rinks in college hockey and eked out a tie.

And again — ahem — coming off their worst home loss in Cady Arena history.

The coaching staff and players all should be commended for putting last weekend’s dumpster fire out of their minds and earning a pair of ties against a very talented team that showed off that talent with some incredible goals. Seriously.

MU went into this building knowing the Huskies smelled blood and matched them goal for goal all weekend. Fans should be proud of this team.

The underlying question that we may never get an answer to is: What in Ryan Jones‘ name happened in the month of January?

Miami went from potentially tallying poll votes to essentially clinching last place in the conference in four weeks. Why?

Fortunately for the RedHawks, it appears whatever massive drought they struggled through last month appears to be behind them.

Ludvig Persson (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— It seems like as Ludvig Persson goes, Miami goes.

Goalie in hockey is one of the most important positions in all of sport, as great goalies can singlehandedly make average teams well above average (see: The Buffalo Sabres during the Dominik Hasek era) and weak goalies can drag talented teams out of playoff contention.

Most teams at this level and above have games in which a goalie will ‘steal a win’ — the old hockey cliche — for a team that doesn’t play its best, or his team can dominate but loses because he gives up a couple of wish-I-had-that-one-back goals.

But this Miami team seems to piggyback on Persson’s play every night. When he struggles (his save percentage was .811 in January and we saw how that went), the RedHawks struggle, and when he excels (60 of 64 this weekend = .938), so does MU.

— On that note, Persson was outstanding. He sprinkled in a couple of spectacular saves among his 30, which included two in 3-on-3 overtime and a handful during the Huskies’ five power plays.

He looked like he needed a hug at the end of last Saturday’s game, but he has proven he can bounce back from a tough stretch and appears to be on top of his game again.

P.J. Fletcher (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— Can’t say enough about P.J. Fletcher’s performance. He stole to puck then made a great pass that led to a Miami goal on Friday and was a force offensively and defensively in this game as well.

He was denied on a breakaway and created multiple other scoring chances, tying for the team lead with three shots on goal.

It seems like he had lost confidence during his recent slump and tried to do too much, attempting to carry the puck through multiple defenders with little success, but he was the team’s best forward overall in this game.

— Speaking of stepping up, Barbolini (whose named was butchered about 26 different ways during the St. Cloud State broadcast) made an unbelievable pass through the top of the crease for Waldron’s goal.

Like Fletcher, he hadn’t been a major offensive factor the past couple of weeks after a great start to the season, but Barbolini was all over the ice in this game.

— On defense, Jack Clement and Zane Demsey had very good weekends. Both earned an assist on Friday, and more importantly shut down many St. Cloud State offensive threats. Robby Drazner was the seventh blueliner but also played solid defense in limited action.


STANDINGS: Miami picked up its ninth league point but is still 11 points behind seventh-place Colorado College as it attempts to climb out of the NCHC cellar.

The teams don’t meet the final four weeks of the regular season.

With the tie, the RedHawks moved up two spots in the PairWise rankings, from No. 46 to No. 44.

SUMMARY: Miami coach Chris Bergeron said after the game that process was more important than standings at this point, which is true.

But unfortunately, RedHawks fans have recently grown accustomed to their team being out of any meaningful race at this point of the season.

This will almost certainly be the seventh straight season the RedHawks finish either seventh or eighth in the eight-team league following an amazing run of 10 NCAA Tournament berths in 12 years that included a pair of Frozen Four appearances.

Which means Miami’s only possibility of advancing to the NCAAs is by winning the league tournament. So essentially, just beat a top-10 opponent in its own building two games out of three then win the semifinal and championship game against equal-caliber foes.

Believe it or not, Miami came within a late goal of pulling that off in 2014 as an eight seed, sweeping its first-round series, which was in St. Cloud State (thank you Justin Greenberg), then blanking North Dakota in the semifinal before falling, 4-3 to Denver.

So this season will once again boil down to that longshot scenario. But at least the RedHawks showed this weekend they can hang with the best on hostile ice, and they have already established a precedent for pulling off major upsets in the NCHC Tournament.


One thought on “Miami, St. Cloud tie again

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