Preview: Denver at Miami

Denver started the season on fire, cooled off a bit and now is playing at top form again, as the Pioneers come to Oxford riding a nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3).

DU has not lost since Dec. 6 and is tied for second in the NCHC in goals per game (3.25).

The Pioneers are coming off a weekend that saw them tie Omaha twice, as both teams scored just three times in the series.

A look at this weekend’s games:

WHO: No. 5 Denver Pioneers (15-4-5) at Miami RedHawks (6-12-4).

WHEN: Both nights – 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 15-12-3.

DENVER RADIO: Both nights – KEPN-AM (1600), Denver, Colo.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-FM (100.9), Richmond, Ind.

TV: None.

STREAM: Both nights – NCHC.tv.

NOTES: Most impressive about Denver is its scoring depth.

The Pioneers have 11 forwards with at least nine points, and four of its top six are sophomores with another being a freshman.

Seven DU players are NHL draftees, including its five best points producers.

Emilio Pettersen, a Calgary selection, leads the team in points with 22, having scored six goals and assisted on 16 others.

Bobby Brink – a freshman and Phildelphia draftee, has nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, and Brett Stapley (Montréal) also has 19 points, with 15 coming on helpers.

Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay) leads the team in goals with 10, and he and Liam Finlay both have 16 points. Finlay is the only senior in the top nine in points for the Pioneers.

Other key contributors up from for Denver are Hank Crone (4-9-13), Tyler Ward (6-6-12), Kohen Olischefski (5-7-12), Jaakko Heikkinen (5-5-10), Tyson McLellan (5-5-10) and Ryan Barrow (4-5-9).

Aside from Ian Mitchell, a Chicago draft pick with four goals and 15 assists, Pioneers defensemen have not contributed much offensively.

Slava Demin (Vegas) is 2-7-9, and no other blueliner has more than six points. Griffin Mendel, Michael Davies, Justin Lee and Erich Fear have comprised the balance of the Denver defense this season.

The Pioneers have plenty of depth in net. Magnus Chrona has exceled in his freshman season, going 12-4-3 with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage with four shutouts.

Chrona has played in 19 games, and Devin Cooley has logged four, posting even better numbers with a line of 2-0-2, 1.21 GAA and .940 save percentage.

Michael Corson, the third goalie, stopped 16 shots en route to a shutout in his only appearance this season.

Denver is the sixth-best penalty killing team in Division I, having allowed just 10 power play goals in 90 chances for an 88.9 percent efficiency rate.

The Pioneers have scored 78 goals this season, but just 13 have come in the first period, as they have netted 34 in the second and 31 in the third.

By contrast, Miami’s best period has been the opening stanza, as the RedHawks have scored 28 goals in the opening 20 minutes.

The RedHawks jumped all over North Dakota last weekend, taking 2-0 leads early in both games.

Miami has also been exceptional on the power play recently, scoring on the man-advantage in five straight games and going 8-for-20 (40.0 percent) during that stretch.

So getting off to a quick start and thriving on the power play against a team that has been tough to score on with the man advantage are two keys to this series.

Despite the RedHawks’ recent struggles, they have fared well against Denver in recent years. Miami is 6-7-3 vs. the Pioneers since the start of 2015 despite DU being a top-10 team much of the past half decade.

N. Dakota tops Miami on late goal

OXFORD, Ohio – Scoringwise, Saturday’s game bore a striking resemblance to Friday.

Miami took an early 2-0 lead, was ahead by one after the first period, No. 1 North Dakota eventually tied it and scored the go-ahead goal in the closing moments of the final frame.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, unlike Friday when the teams ultimately skated to a tie as the Fighting Hawks’ last-minute tally was waved off, UND’s marker with 1:04 remaining in regulation of the series finale stood as the RedHawks fell, 5-3 at Cady Arena.

North Dakota (18-2-3) added an empty netter to clinch the win and take five of a possible six points from Miami (6-12-4) on the weekend.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

RECAP: The RedHawks jumped out early on a power play goal by Derek Daschke, which he scored on the power play on a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle off a feed from Casey Gilling.

Miami capitalized on another man-advantage exactly two minutes later, as Gilling’s initial shot from the right faceoff dot was denied, and after his follow-up shot was also stopped, Phil Knies swept home the loose puck to make it 2-0.

Just 43 seconds later, the Fighting Hawks got on the board, as Harrison Blaisdell saw his 3-on-2 shot turned aside by RedHawks goalie Ben Kraws but Judd Caulfield eventually jammed it in during a scramble at the top of the crease.

Twenty seconds into the second period, UND’s Shane Pinto – left all alone in the slot – ripped a one-timer past Kraws on the stick side off a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi to tie it at two.

Miami regained the lead on its third power play goal of night on a tic-tac-toe pasasing play, with Daschke at the point feeding Gordie Green down low and Green sending one through the crease to Karch Bachman for the one-timer to make it 3-2 with 50 seconds left in the middle stanza.

But the Fighting Hawks would run off the final three tallies.

They tied it at the 4:24 mark of the third period when Kawaguchi skated into the offensive zone along the boards, cut across to the slot uncontested and found twine with a wrister.

Cole Smith put North Dakota ahead on a backdoor cut with 64 seconds to play when Matt Kiersted sent a pass through traffic to Smith at the side of net, and Smith shoveled it in to make it 4-3.

Westin Michaud tacked on the empty netted with 27 seconds left.

STATS: Daschke, Green and Gilling all finished with two points, with Daschke going 1-1-2 and the latter two picking up a pair of assists.

Gilling ended the weekend with six points, and Daschke scored for the third time in four games, and it was his fifth multi-point game of the season.

Green extended his points streak to seven games and has points in 13 of his last 14 games.

He now has 106 points for his career, moving him into a tie with Randy Robitaille and Greg Dornbach for 47th on the Miami all-time leaderboard.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— Knies snapped a 13-game goal drought and picked up his third point in four games, Bachman found the net for the eighth time and has points in 10 of 11 contests.

— Miami scored three power play goals in a home game for the first time since Oct. 28, 2017 vs. Connecticut.

— Opponents have preferred the third period, as they have scored 27 times in that stanza in 2019-20, including 17 goals in the MU’s last 11 games.

— The RedHawks scored five first-period goals this weekend and have 10 in their last five games. The opening stanza has been their best in terms of scoring, as they have 28 tallies in that frame vs. 19 in the second and 20 in the third.

THOUGHTS: Miami, which almost lost on a late goal on Friday and did lose that way on Saturday, was out of gas by the end of this one.

Green and Gilling practically needed oxygen masks on the bench as they logged time on each penalty kill, and – of course – all of the power plays.

And there was a lot of special teams play this weekend.

The decisive goal was all too predictable, as Miami was on fumes the final few minutes of regulation, and Kraws was a key reason the score remained tied as long as it did.

North Dakota, like buzzards circling a carcass, swarmed the offensive zone the final couple of minutes, with an exhausted RedHawks corps unable to generate any offense of their own or even clear the zone, before the inevitable happened.

The hockey gods were fair in this one. The better team, the one with more skill, earned the win, but the team with less talent never gave up and salvaged a tie while making the better team earn every one of its five points.

— The power play has made a definite improvement, not just because the usual suspects have converted recently.

It’s not exactly newsworthy that Green-Bachman-Gilling-Daschke are man-advantage studs, but others are starting to chip in as well.

John Sladic scored the tying goal on Friday, Knies picked up a marker in this one, Chase Pletzke has been factor on 5-on-4s as well.

Defensemen Rourke Russell (0-2-2 on the weekend) and Bray Crowder are also thriving on power play time.

And defying any kind of statistical logic is Matt Barry, who was on the ice for all three Miami PPGs but somehow did not pick up a point.

— Speaking of statistical anomalies, Kraws’ last start was Nov. 30 vs. Connecticut, when he stopped 31 of 35 shots. Saturday? Sam exact line: Thirty-one saves, four goals against.

But Kraws was solid in this one. He juggled some pucks early, which is understandable since he had not seen live action in nearly two months, but settled down and made some huge saves on high-percentage shots.

— The RedHawks seemed to get away from their quest for the perfect pass and shot, and they were better for it, as they turned the puck over too much and ended up with a season-low 16 shots on Friday.

— Miami went 30-34 on faceoffs, which was better than Friday but still not great, as North Dakota seemed to win a higher percentage in its offensive zone, leading to sustained, high-pressure possessions.

— Miami led for 44:38 on this series and trailed for 2:38 (credit UND writer Brad Schlossman for this stat, which VFTG confirmed) but finished the weekend 0-1-1.

— Would’ve liked to have seen Miami’s penalty kill tighten up on the left wing after Pinto scored from the inside of the faceoff circle, but UND still had multiple Grade-A chances on subsequent power plays after skaters were left wide open in that area.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C+. The Gilling-Bachman-Green trio accounted for five points, but Knies was the only other forward to pick up a point. Carter Johnson, a healthy scratch on Friday, played with a ton of energy and generated three shots, the second-most of any forward. Bachman of course led the team with five. Monte Graham, normally a faceoff stud, won 2 of 11 draws and was kicked out of the circle numerous times this weekend.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. This corps was OK defensively, and Daschke and Russell accounted for three points. Alec Mahalak, recovering from an upper body injury, played arguably his best game of the season, and his deke and drive to the net drew a penalty that eventually led to a Miami goal. Grant Frederic was very solid in his own end and had one of his better nights of 2019-20.

Miami’s Ben Kraws (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

GOALTENDING: B. Kraws faced a ton of A-plus chances and stopped a few of those, showing off his ability to go post-to-post to shut down 2-on-1 chances. We mentioned above he appeared a little nervous early but settled down to play a very good game.

LINEUP CHANGES: Besides Kraws occupying the net for the first time in nearly two months – replacing Ryan Larkin – Johnson was the only other player to skate on Saturday who was not in the lineup for the opener.

Johnson replaced Noah Jordan.

STANDINGS: With St. Cloud State’s win over Duluth, giving the Huskies 15 points, Miami dropped into a tie for sixth place with Omaha, as both have 12 points.

Colorado College is in eighth with 10 points. Western Michigan holds the No. 4 position with 19 points.

Miami fell one spot to No. 42 in the PairWise.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Considering Miami had opportunities to win both nights, one point on the weekend is not optimal.

But with a first-year coach heading a totally inherited roster, this season is about improving, and the RedHawks led the No. 1 team in Division one for a good portion of the weekend and rarely trailed.

This team continues to battle against more talented opponents and have success.

Miami may have earned only one of a possible six points vs. North Dakota, but to hang with the top team in Division I all weekend shows that after just a half season under Bergeron, the RedHawks are already making progress.

Preview: North Dakota at Miami

It didn’t go well when Miami traveled to Grand Forks in early November, as North Dakota obliterated the RedHawks in the opener and closed out a series sweep by scoring four times in the first period and holding on for a one-goal win.

The Fighting Hawks are ranked No. 1 in college hockey, with a 15-1-1 record in their last 17, including a 5-0-1 mark in their most recent six road games.

A look at this weekend’s games:

WHO: No. 1 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (17-2-2) at Miami RedHawks (6-11-3).

WHEN: Friday – 6:30 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 16-7-3.

NORTH DAKOTA RADIO: Both nights – KFJM-FM (96.1), Grand Forks, N.D.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.

TV: Friday – CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 221).

STREAM: Saturday – NCHC.tv.

NOTES: North Dakota has dominated the top spot of the polls for over a month.

The Fighting Hawks have outscored their opponents, 88-38 and are outshooting foes on average, 31-21.

Jordan Kawaguchi is tied for third in the NCAA in points with 30, having scored 10 goals and assisted on 20 more.

New York Islanders draft pick Collin Adams has seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points, and a pair of other drafted players – Shane Pinto (Ottawa – 10-6-16) and Grant Mismash (Nashville – 6-9-15), have keyed the Fighting Hawks’ offense.

Colorado College transfer Westin Michaud has been another major contributor to the UND offense with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points.

Also up front, Cole Smith and Jasper Weatherby (San Jose) also have seven goals.

On defense, Jacob Bernard-Docker (Ottawa selection) and Matt Kiersted lead the corps with 14 points apiece.

Colton Poolman has two goals and nine assists, and another Senators pick – Jonny Tychonick – is 3-6-9 in 15 games.

Three other North Dakota skaters are NHL draftees: Harrison Blaisdell (Winnipeg), Gavin Hain (Philadelphia) and Judd Caulfield (Pittsburgh).

Adam Scheel has logged all but 27 minutes in net this season. He is 17-2-2 with a 1.73 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.

Columbus draftee Peter Thome played 25 minutes and stopped all three shots he faced.

North Dakota has been outstanding at killing penalties, doing so at a 91.4 percent clip.

The Fighting Hawks have also won three games in the 5-on-5 overtime.

CC wins, splits with Miami

For the first two periods, it looked like the two teams that played the previous night had switched sweaters.

Miami controlled Friday’s game for 60 minutes but was dominated in a similar manner for the first 40 in the series finale, a 4-2 loss to Colorado College at World Arena on Saturday.

The RedHawks blew the Tigers out in the opener, 6-1.

In the finale, Miami fell behind, 3-0 in the first period and the shots were 28-11 in favor of CC heading into the second intermission. The RedHawks pulled to within one late but were unable to generate the equalizer before the Tigers put it away with a clinching goal late.

RECAP: Just 2:22 into the first period, Colorado College’s Christiano Versich skated behind the Miami net and fired a wraparound shot that was initially saved by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin, but the puck sat loose at the side of the crease and Troy Conzo poked it home.

With 10:04 left in the opening frame, the Tigers’ Chris Wilkie wristed one from the blue line that hit a Miami skate and caromed in on the power play to make it 2-0.

On a 3-on-2, Colorado College’s Patrick Cozzi dropped a pass to Conzo, who buried a shot from the center of the faceoff circle with 5:04 to play in period one.

Miami finally got on the board at the 16:36 mark of the second stanza as Chase Pletzke deked a defender, carried the puck into the slot and had a shot partially deflected to the side of the net, where John Sladic slammed it home.

Derek Daschke ripped a one-timer from the high slot that found the net on the short side with 14:44 left in regulation to cut the RedHawks’ deficit to one, 3-2.

But CC sealed it with 6:40 to play on a 2-on-1, with Alex Berardinelli feeding Josiah Slavin for the tap-in.

Miami’s Chase Pletzke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

STATS: Pletkze recorded two more points on assists, giving him four points for the series.

The freshman was credited with one point in the first 10 games but has 11 in the last 10, including 10 in Miami’s most recent eight contests.

— Daschke scored in both ends of the weekend series, giving him six markers on the season. He has four points in his last three games.

— Sladic netted his fifth goal, with this being his first career one-goal game. His other four tallies came in a pair of two-goal games.

— Gordie Green earned a helper, giving him 103 career points, ranking him No. 51 on the team’s all-time leaderboard.

Karch Bachman saw his eight-game points streak snapped, and Casey Gilling’s four-game run was also halted.

— Miami scored on its only power play of the game and has four goals on the man advantage in its last three games (3-of-10).

Miami’s Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Monte Graham was 11-0 on faceoffs! The RedHawks were 40-26 overall on draws.

THOUGHTS: Maybe the RedHawks thought that like Friday this game started at 9:37 Eastern and were caught unprepared?

Would love to hear a more logical reason to explain MU’s atrocious start. I mean, if we’re going to blame the Rocky Mountain altitude of Colorado Springs, wouldn’t the RedHawks have struggled late rather than play dead early?

Colorado College’s first-period surge is something that anyone who has watched hockey for a decent amount of time could’ve predicted, but Miami’s complete ineptitude the first two periods after such a decisive win is difficult to accept.

Credit the Tigers, who are a decent team, for responding well after taking a beating on home ice a day earlier.

But there’s a difference between Miami being on its heels while enduring a surge and skating like it had never played competitive hockey before.

The RedHawks were back to their at-Bowling-Green-and-at-CC-Game-I form for the third period, outshooting the Tigers, 20-8, but the damage had been done.

Overall, this weekend goes in the books as a split, and a road split in an NCHC series during a rebuild season is a good thing, but the way this game went down is puzzling after Miami played so well in every facet in the series opener.

— Not saying it would’ve flipped the outcome, but the refs gave Colorado College four power plays and Miami none. A bench minor for too many men on the ice was the only penalty assessed to the Tigers, and the linesmen caught that.

— Colorado College’s Wilkie finished with 13 shots on goal, including his 15th tally. The rest of the team had 23.

Miami’s Ryan Savage (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

LINEUP CHANGES: Brian Savage suffered a lower body injury on Friday, and Carter Johnson replaced him. Bad timing, as Savage had points in back-to-back games and 10 on the season.

That was the only change from Friday, as regulars Alec Mahalak and Scott Corbett were also scratched. Both are suffering from short-term injuries.

STANDINGS: Miami is in fifth place in the NCHC with 11 points, as the RedHawks, CC and Omaha all have 3-6-1 records but MU has the extra league point.

St. Cloud State is last at 3-7 with nine points. Western Michigan is fourth with 13.

Miami is No. 43 in the PairWise rankings.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Through 20 games, one thing we’ve established is that this is arguably the most unpredictable Miami team ever.

The RedHawks showed completely different faces in Games 1 and 2 this weekend.

The MU team that was so good against Duluth and also a week later in Omaha came home and laid giant eggs in four games at Connecticut and vs. St. Cloud State in Oxford, then was positively studly in Bowling Green on Dec. 30 prior to this series.

Admittedly, unpredictable is better than consistently dreadful, which is what Miami was the final three months of 2018-19. So that’s improvement.

But No. 1 North Dakota is coming to Oxford next weekend, and if the RedHawks give anything short of their best effort in that upcoming series, those games will be painful to watch.

Preview: St. Cloud State at Miami

It’s been quite the plummet for St. Cloud State, which entered the 2019 NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed but was shocked once again in the first round.

This season the Huskies have won just two games and only one of their last eight as they are mired in a four-game losing streak.

The SCSU squad that finished 19-2-3 in league play last season is 0-4 in the NCHC, having been swept by Colorado College in St. Cloud and North Dakota in Grand Forks.

A look at this weekend’s series:

WHO: St. Cloud State Huskies (2-6-4) at Miami RedHawks (3-6-3).

WHEN: Friday and Saturday – 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: St. Cloud State leads, 20-17-4.

MIAMI RADIO: Both games – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-FM (100.9), Richmond, Ind.

ST. CLOUD STATE RADIO: Both games – KZRV-FM (96.7), St. Cloud, Minn.

TV: None.

STREAM: NCHC.tv.

NOTES: St. Cloud State is allowing too many goals, surrendering at least four in eight of its 12 contests and 3.58 per game overall.

Junior goaltender and Los Angeles Kings selection David Hrenak has struggled to an .881 save percentage this season and has a 3.22 goals-against average. He has played all but 30 minutes this season, with freshman Joey Lamoreaux stopping 14 of 15 in his debut.

Undrafted senior captain Jack Ahcan leads the Huskies defense with a team-high 123 career games played, and he has posted 17 goals and 71 assists in three-plus seasons.

Sophomore Nick Perbix, a Tampa Bay draftee, is 2-3-5 this season. Both he and Ahcan are minus-8.

Rounding out the regulars on defense are Spencer Meier (2-2-4), Clark Custer (1-1-2), Luke Jaycox (1-1-2) and Brendan Bushy (0-0-0).

Up front, sophomore Sam Hentges is tied for 12th in the NCAA in scoring with 18 points on six goals and 12 assists, just two points shy of his freshman output.

Easton Brodzinski has five goals and seven assists and has already scored 35 career goals for the Huskies.

But no other forward has more than six points.

Brothers and assistant captains Jack and Nick Poehling have combined for 11, and three others – Chase Brand, Jake Wahlin and Jami Krannila – have four each.

Miami was swept at Connecticut last weekend after going 1-0-1 at then-No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha.

These are the first home conference games of the season for the RedHawks, who do not play again until after Christmas.

Miami drops UMD on late goals

OXFORD, Ohio Chris Bergeron certainly made his NCHC home coaching debut memorable.

Miami had one victory in its previous 17 meetings with No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth heading into this weekend, but on Friday the RedHawks scored twice in the final four minutes to edge the Bulldogs, 3-1 at Cady Arena.

MU snapped a nine-game losing streak vs. NCHC opponents and a six-game skid against UMD, with its last win vs. the Bulldogs coming almost exactly two years ago on Nov. 18, 2017.

Miami’s Karch Bachman (Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

RECAP: The RedHawks led, 1-0 heading into the third period but Minnesota-Duluth tied it early in that final stanza, leading to Miami’s decisive late goals.

Neither team found the net until the 13:28 mark of the second period, when Miami’s Gordie Green carried the puck up the ice shorthanded and fed it ahead to Karch Bachman, who skated laterally through the slot and whipped it across his body and into the bottom corner of the net.

It was the first shorty for Miami this season.

But UMD (4-4-1) evened the score 43 seconds into the third period when Scott Perunovich whipped a shot wide from the blue line that Tanner Laderoute tipped home from the inside edge of the faceoff circle as a power play expired.

Miami (3-5-2) regained the lead for good on a bizarre goal with 3:58 to play. Phil Knies centered a pass from behind the Bulldogs’ net, and Monte Graham fired a one-timer that was blocked. Nearly everyone on the ice lost site of the ricocheting puck, which came to rest on the faceoff circle, but Derek Daschke skated over and coolly backhanded it through traffic and in to make it 2-1.

Graham capped off the scoring on an empty netter with 29 seconds remaining.

Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

STATS: It was the second career game-winning goal for Daschke, and he has found the net in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.

Graham had never recorded a multi-point game heading into last weekend, but after going 1-1-2 in this game, he has two points in consecutive contests.

Green and Knies, who both picked up a helper, also have points in two straight games.

Bachman’s goal was his fifth of the season, giving him the outright team lead.

Andrew Sinard notched his second career assist and his first point of the season.

STANDINGS: With its first win of the season in conference play, Miami has three points in the NCHC, tied for fifth in the league with Denver.

The RedHawks jumped to No. 38 in the PairWise rankings.

THOUGHTS: This was obviously a fantastic win for Miami on multiple levels.

Despite being outshot by over a 2-to-1 ratio, the RedHawks were able to hang with the sixth-ranked team in Division I that had been Miami kryptonite over the past few years and ultimately win.

This game was fast-moving and had excellent flow, making it fun to watch. Miami moved and possessed the puck well, and while UMD clearly has more talent, the shot margin didn’t do justice to how well the RedHawks played.

Ryan Larkin was flat-out outstanding after allowing 10 goals at North Dakota last weekend. He stopped 35 shots, tying a season high, and without his effort Miami does not earn the win.

— Minnesota-Duluth went on the power play with 2:37 left, but with his maximum-effort work ethic, Scott Corbett powered through the neutral zone shorthanded and was able to cancel that man-advantage by drawing a crucial interference call with 1:05 to play.

— Sinard helped set up the Graham empty netter by wiring the puck from behind his own net to Graham at center ice, resulting in the clinching ENG.

Miami’s Alec Mahalak (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— Lost in all of this was the return of defenseman Alec Mahalak. Mahalak had missed the first nine games of the season with a lower-body injury, and while he clearly was less than 100 percent, the defense overall seemed to feed off his presence in the lineup and played one of its best defensive games of the season.

— Poor Mahalak, dressing for the first time in 2019-20, had his name spelled incorrectly on his sweater. The third “A” was left off, as it read “Mahalk”.

— Graham and Daschke both were able to avenge third-period miscues. Graham took the late penalty that gave UMD the power play but sealed the game with an empty netter, and Daschke picked up the game winner after committing a rare turnover as he tried to clear the zone, resulting in the Bulldogs’ lone goal that tied it.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C+. Shots on goal are certainly not the be-all, end-all of hockey stats, but this corps finished with just 14, with seven coming from Bachman. That means the other 11 forwards generated just seven. The Knies-Graham-Corbett (with Phil, Monte and Scott – we’ll need a better nickname than the PMS line, although they did make UMD irritable?) was arguably the team’s best in this game. Freshmen John Sladic and Chase Pletzke continue to get better every game, as does Graham, who is becoming one of the best two-way forwards on the team. This corps was solid overall in its own end as well.

DEFENSEMEN: B. Yeah, the Bulldogs finished with 36 shots, but there weren’t the slam-dunk opportunities for UMD that Miami has allowed other foes this season. The positioning by this corps was better, as the blueliners didn’t lose their opponents or get caught watching the play nearly as often. Daschke also recorded the game-winning goal, and Sinard earned an assist on the clinching ENG. Sinard was one of the top defensemen in this game, and Rourke Russell played one of his best games this season. “Mahalk” was not 100 percent but should return to top form in the coming weeks.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

GOALTENDING: A. Larkin had no chance on the lone UMD goal and was outstanding otherwise. He faced a lot of good chances but wasn’t hung out to dry like he had been in previous weeks. He gave up a couple of rebounds early before settling in, and he was especially stellar during a second period that saw him stop 19 shots.

LINEUP CHANGES: On defense, “Mahalk” and Grant Frederic were back in the lineup, and Chaz Switzer and Alec Capstick sat out.

Frederic was scratched for the first time this season last Saturday at North Dakota.

This was just the second time this season Capstick has not played.

There were no changes up front, and Larkin started his fourth straight game.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It can’t be overstated what a win like this can do for a team’s confidence after years of getting beat up by the NCHC’s top echelon.

Also, with D-1 players-to-be committing on a daily basis this time of year, the timing of this win couldn’t have been better as the coaching staff tries to nail down recruits to build a winning team for years to come.

It would be shocking if Minnesota-Duluth didn’t come out flying on Saturday, and it will be imperative that Miami fend off that early surge.