At least Jason Polin didn’t record a hat trick.
Polin, the leading goal scorer in Division I who netted three goals in both games for No. 8 Western Michigan when it faced Miami in Kalamazoo, was limited to one marker on Friday.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, the Broncos’ Max Sasson did notch a hat trick, and a natural one at that, as WMU pounded Miami, 5-0 at Cady Arena on Friday.
The RedHawks (8-21-4) were shut out for the seventh time this season and were held to 17 shots, their second-lowest SOG total in 2022-23.
The teams complete the season series at 5:05 p.m. on Saturday.
RECAP: Western Michigan (22-12-1) took the lead nine minutes into the first period when Hugh Larkin had a shot blocked from the left faceoff circle, corralled the rebound and fed a wide-open Dylan Wendt at the top of the crease for a tap-in.
On a Broncos 3-on-2 just 92 seconds later, Ryan McAllister fed Polin in the slot, and he buried a shot that beat Miami goalie Ludvig Persson on the stick side.
Sasson made it 3-0 at the 7:28 mark of the middle frame when he intercepted a clearing attempt in the high slot and whipped it past Persson glove side.
With 2:48 left in that stanza, Sasson roofed a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle to extend WMU’s lead to four.
He capped off his hat trick with 10:21 left in regulation by intercepting a pass at the blue line, skating in alone and grabbing the rebound off his initial shot and tucking it into the far corner of the net.
STATS: Can’t find many good ones in a 5-0 loss.
Miami was shut out for the seventh time, tying its all-time single-season record. A look at the most times the RedHawks have been blanked in a season.
— In its last 13 games, Miami is just 4-for-50 on the power play (8.0 percent).
— The RedHawks haven’t given home fans much to cheer about in 2023. This calendar year they are 0-5 and have been outscored, 23-4 at Cady Arena and are 3-12-2 on home ice this season overall.
— Miami’s 17 shots were its second-fewest of the season and its worst SOG total in a loss in 2022-23. The RedHawks generated just 16 on Nov. 19 at North Dakota but won that game, 4-3.
— Sasson’s hat trick was the fourth natural one allowed this season by the RedHawks. Denver’s Carter Mazur accomplished that feat on Oct. 28, and Karsen Dorwart (Michigan State) netted three straight goals on Nov. 26.
The Pioneers’ Tristan Broz scored the final three in a Jan. 14 DU win and finished with four goals overall in that game.
THOUGHTS: Miami was completely dominated from the opening faceoff, getting outshot, 10-0 in the first 11 minutes before finally registering a shot, to the final horn, which followed a horrific power play in which — other than a Matthew Barbolini breakaway that was denied — the team looked like it had never before played organized hockey.
Unfortunately, we’ve said this too many times this season: It’s incredibly frustrating to see a team that has a good amount of talent lay another absolute steamer, and most have come on home ice.
Western Michigan is excellent, no doubt, and the Broncos were on top of their game all 60 minutes.
The RedHawks, meanwhile, on home ice in the opening game of series in which it is honoring its nine seniors, couldn’t generate a shot for 11 minutes. The Broncos had two goals before Miami had one SOG.
Miami showed a little life early in the second period and actually had a couple of good looks on a power play for the first time in an eternity, but then, of course, for the 819th time this season, an offensive-zone penalty ended the man-advantage.
The third period was hard to watch. Despite four minutes of power play time, the RedHawks managed just four shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.
It’s understood that these games don’t really mean anything in terms of standings. Miami is headed to Denver next weekend whether it wins 20-0 both nights or loses by that margin.
But seriously, even in front of a dwindling crowd of fewer than 2,000, it doesn’t seem that much to ask that the players at least take these games seriously.
— Miami had no answer for top line of McAllister, Sasson and Polin. They finished with four goals, five assists and a plus-9 rating.
Too often it seems like the RedHawks have allowed the best players on their opponents’ rosters to dominate.
LINEUP CHANGES: Max Dukovac and William Hallen returned after missing last weekend due to illness. John Sladic and Jack Olmstead did not dress.
On defense, Nick Donato returned to the lineup and Michael Feenstra sat.
Two key cogs remained out with UBIs: F John Waldron and D Zane Demsey.
FORWARDS: D-. Eleven shots between 12 forwards, and four minors between top-liners P.J. Fletcher and Matthew Barbolini, two of which were undisciplined. That line also were caught behind the play on a 3-on-2 that resulted in the Broncos’ second goal. The Chase Pletzke-Joey Cassetti-Ryan Savage line stood out the most, with all three being seniors. Like the energy by Frankie Carogioiello and Thomas Daskas on the fourth line. A bad turnover by Artur Turansky resulted in the final WMU goal. Waldron is definitely missed.
DEFENSEMEN: C. This corps didn’t play badly overall but got caught watching the first goal by the Broncos. Dylan Moulton played one of his best games of the season at both ends and finished with four shots.
GOALTENDING: D. Western Michigan beat Persson with four good shots, and a goalie on top of his game stops at least one or two of them. Then the fifth one was on a 1-on-1 in which he allowed a rebound and wasn’t able to stop a weak off-angle attempt. He made a couple of high-quality saves but overall this wasn’t one of his better games.
STANDINGS: Miami is now 43rd in the PairWise rankings and still has just 13 points in NCHC play this season. The RedHawks are 12 points clear of the field for last place in the league standings.
Only Colorado College in 2014-15 finished with fewer than 13 points in league play since the NCHC’s inception. That team won just two conference games and tallied 10 points.
SUMMARY: This will be the eighth straight season Miami is slated to open the NCHC Tournament on the road, and it hasn’t ended well in any of the last seven campaigns.
So it would’ve been nice to see a few signs of life in this game to give the RedHawks’ suffering fans a little hope heading into their best-of-3 date at Denver.
They got none of that on Friday.