OXFORD, Ohio — Miami led by two goals entering the final quadrant of the second period and was headed to the power play.
But MU allowed a shorthanded goal on that man-advantage, then the RedHawks gave up the tying goal late in regulation.
Finally, to complete its latest late-game implosion, Miami surrendered the game-winner 18 seconds in overtime.
That 3-2 Omaha win over Miami at Cady Arena on Saturday capped the Mavericks’ four-game season sweep of the RedHawks, who extended their winless streak to 11 games, tied for the longest such drought under coach Chris Bergeron.
The RedHawks head to Duluth next weekend for their final regular-season road series.
RECAP: Miami (7-19-4) took the lead with 4:06 left in the first period when Hampus Rydqvist whipped a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle that deflected off the glove of UNO goalie Jake Kucharski and trickled into the net.
The RedHawks made it 2-0 when Kucharski allowed a huge rebound off an Alex Murray shot that Robby Drazner fired through traffic and through the Mavericks goalie’s five hole from the high slot 89 seconds into the second period.
But No. 15 Omaha (17-10-3) cut the lead in half with 3:15 left in that frame when Cameron Berg intercepted a pass in his defensive zone on the penalty kill, skated up the ice for a 3-on-2 and teed up Jake Pivonka for a one-timer at the top of the right faceoff circle that beat Miami goalie Ludvig Persson.
Berg threw a pass toward the net from the right point that hit a stick and ended up finding teammate Nolan Sullivan at the side of the cage, and Sullivan carried the puck around the back of the net and stuffed a backhander in to tie the score with 4:01 left in regulation.
Eighteen seconds into overtime, the Mavericks’ Ty Mueller skated the puck through the Miami zone and had it knocked off his stick as he approached the net, but it came to rest at the edge of the crease, and Jack Randl was able to knock it in before Persson could secure it.
STATS: In a hockey rarity, all four points for Miami — both goals and both assists — went to defensemen.
Rydqvist’s goal was his third of the season and his second in six games. Drazner scored for the first time in 53 games, dating back to his second-last game as a freshman. Both blueliners are juniors.
Moulton, also a junior, picked up his first helper and his first point since Nov. 12 vs. Colorado College. All of his last 10 points dating back to early 2021-22 have come at home.
Murray, a sophomore playing in his first game since Miami was in Omaha last month, notched his second point of the season and his career, with his other coming at North Dakota on Nov. 19.
— Persson made 49 saves, tied for the third-highest total of his career. He has a .952 save percentage in his last two starts.
— After getting dominated in the faceoff circle on Friday, Miami was 36-31 (.537) on draws in this game.
Now the bad…
— Miami is mired in one of its worst winless streaks in team history at 11 games. Only seven times have the RedHawks not earned a victory in a longer stretch.
Under Bergeron, MU also went 0-9-2 in late 2019-20.
The team he inherited had dropped seven straight to end 2018-19, and he won his fourth game against Ferris State to halt that skid at 10 games.
Here are the longest winless streaks in Miami history:
|17||Dec. 15, 1990-Feb. 2, 1991||0-16-1|
|15||Nov. 23, 2018-Feb. 8, 2019||0-11-4|
|14||Nov. 2, 1985-Dec. 20, 1985||0-13-1|
|13||Oct. 27, 1990-Dec. 8, 1990||0-11-2|
|12||Feb. 10, 2017-Oct. 7, 2017||0-11-1|
|12||Oct. 24, 1986-Nov. 29, 1986||0-12|
|12||Oct. 15, 1983-Nov. 26, 1983||0-12|
|11||Dec. 31, 2022-present||0-9-2|
|11||Jan. 11, 2020-Feb. 22, 2020||0-9-2|
|11||Jan. 3, 1987-Feb. 7, 1987||0-11|
|10||Feb. 23, 2019-Oct. 12, 2019||0-9-1|
|10||Oct. 29, 2016-Dec. 9, 2016||0-7-3|
— Miami scored more than one goal for just the second time in 10 games this calendar year. The RedHawks are averaging 0.90 goals in 2023.
THOUGHTS: Back in junior high and high school P.E. (look up what ‘P.E.’ stands for if you’re under 35) when there was a one-mile run, there was that kid that would run 100-yard dash speed for the first portion and ultimately fall toward the back end of the pack after expending all of his or her energy in the first quarter of the race.
That’s how this game felt. The first period was one of Miami’s best of the season, especially on home ice.
The RedHawks were absolutely buzzing for 20 minutes. Then they buzzed a little less in the second period. Still a good effort but less energy.
By the third period — especially the final 10 minutes — Miami was down to a barely-audible hum.
And no member of the quality crowd of 2,500-plus at the rink could hear that murmur because everyone’s ears were bleeding from the insufferable in-house music that inexpliciably blared at 500 decibels for the entire pregame and all three-plus periods.
The RedHawks were barely able to clear the puck out of their zone the final 10 minutes, and the equalizing goal seemed inevitable.
Then overtime. Hey, can fans purchase opiates at the concession stands?
Miami appeared to struggle with stamina late in a winnable game on Friday as well.
Bergeron does not overplay skaters — quite the opposite, he seems to believe in balance — and overall, the RedHawks’ team depth both up front and on defense appears better than in previous seasons.
And Miami was off last week.
So is conditioning an issue? Omaha hosted Colorado College last week and won in overtime both nights then traveled to Oxford and seemed to have plenty of gas left down the stretch both nights.
Meanwhile, Miami was off last weekend yet it limped to the final horn in the third period both nights, and on Saturday the RedHawks lasted a whopping 18 seconds before taking yet another ‘L’.
— So this game obviously fits into Miami Hockey Write-Up Template No. 1: Excruciating Loss. (Template No. 2 is Historically Bad Blowout Loss, which we most recently used three weeks ago against North Dakota and in both Denver games to open 2023).
A 2-0 lead turning into a 3-2 overtime loss because of a shorthanded goal, a goal late in the third period and the winner in overtime is, unfortunately, so Miami post-2015.
— Unfortunately, one of the biggest storylines from this game is that freshman defenseman Zane Demsey was the latest Miami injury casualty, and Bergeron said in the postgame interview that his upper-body injury may be long-term.
He came off the ice 90 seconds into the first period holding his left arm and did not return.
Demsey isn’t sexy but he has been a key shut-down defenseman and a huge physical presence this season. It’s not a coincidence that Omaha finished with night with 52 shots, the most SOG Miami has allowed since late February of 2022.
He is also one of the team’s physical leaders.
Not only is it a huge loss if he misses time, the RedHawks are now extremely thin on the back end, with Alec Capstick seemingly lost for the season, Nick Donato still out and Michael Feenstra suffering an injury on Friday.
If none of those four can return, that leaves Miami with six healthy blueliners heading into next weekend, and Bergeron has preferred to dress seven D-men.
— That said, Murray was excellent, assisting on a goal, laying out a big hit and shutting down a 2-on-1 rush. He may see a major uptick in his playing time down the stretch, and he has been at his best when he has played a more conservative, shut-down game as opposed to joining the rush regularly.
LINEUP CHANGES: Persson was the biggest one, recovering from illness and facing an onslaught of shots.
On defense, Murray replaced Feenstra, and up front, John Sladic dressed in place of Frankie Carogioiello.
FORWARDS: D-. No points and not particularly strong defensively. None of the four lines impressed, and some of this team’s top talent up front was AWOL. Two top rookies, Max Dukovac and John Waldron, were limited to a total of three shots on goal. Matthew Barbolini took two penalties — including one undisciplined retaliation minor — at the end of the second period and went minus-1. P.J. Fletcher had one SOG.
DEFENSEMEN: C+?. That seems absurd when this corps accounted for all four points, but Omaha ended up with 52 shots on goal, the most for an opponent in 51 weeks, and it seemed like overall the D-men were too soft and were beaten in way too many 1-on-1 battles. Rydqvist found the net, but he was badly beaten at center ice in the shorthanded goal and wasn’t able to stop the Omaha surge in the overtime goal. Axel Kumlin was solid overall but struggled running the power play with the aggressive Mavericks pursuing him in his defensive zone. Drazner not only scored but played one of his best games of the season defensively.
GOALTENDING: A-. Not that Persson visits this site, and if he did it probably wouldn’t make him feel better, but he definitely wasn’t the reason Miami lost. Somehow, since the RedHawks’ 8-0 loss against North Dakota in which he was brought in for the final three tallies and looked completely demoralized after the final horn, we’ve seen a rejuvenated Persson. He made an outstanding sprawling save on a 3-on-2 and denied a breakaway late in the first period.
STANDINGS: Despite earning its 10th league point, Miami clinched last place in the NCHC, as seventh-place Colorado College leads the RedHawks by 13 points. Both teams have four games remaining carrying 12 potential points.
Miami is ranked No. 47 out of 62 teams in the PairWise, which is the system used to determine at-large NCAA Tournament bids.
Denver leads the NCHC by five points and travels to second-place Western Michigan next weekend. If the Pioneers earn four points, they will clinch the Penrose Cup and the top seed in the conference tournament.
DU is obviously the favorite to repeat as regular season champs at this point. Miami finished last in 2021-22 as well and was swept by the Pioneers in the first round of last year’s NCHC Tournament.
SUMMARY: Segueing from that, normally in a college hockey season process is more important than results early on, but those wins and points carry more meaning the closer the calendar gets to March.
And unfortunately, in Miami’s case, for each of the past eight seasons, its path to the NCAA Tournament has narrowed significantly this time of year: Win a best-of-3 road series on the campus of one of college hockey’s elite teams, then beat two more top Division I programs in the Twin Cities.
Which means we’re back to process mattering more again, since record is completely irrelevant.
At this point an 0-30 team has the same chance of qualifying for the national tournament.
For Miami — once again — all that ultimately matters is the NCHC Tournament. The next two weeks are basically Spring Training.
So there are some positives to take away from this series. Good penalty killing, better goaltending, continued high compete level after the St. Cloud series, a big one-night turnaround on faceoffs.
But more is needed if Miami is to have a chance to dethrone defending Penrose winner Denver on its home ice.
Last season the RedHawks were crushed by the Pioneers in the same 1-vs.-8 scenario to open the NCHC Tournament.
Denver hammered Miami by identical 7-0 scores in both ends of a weekend series when the RedHawks visited Magness Arena to open the 2023 portion of their schedule.
One thought on “Miami squanders 2-goal lead, falls in OT”
Person was slashed on his wrist. No call. Seemed to affect his late game play.
Dempsey’s shoulder was wrapped., he might not be back soon.