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.

Miami salvages tie vs. No. 1 UND

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami was held to a season-low 16 shots on goal, including seven in the final 40 minutes of regulation.

Miami’s John Sladic (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

But John Sladic backhanded a puck in with 2:34 left in regulation as the RedHawks salvaged a 4-4 tie vs. No. 1 North Dakota at Cady Arena on Friday.

Miami (6-11-4) lost the sudden-death shootout in the second round, as the Fighting Hawks (17-2-3) earned the extra league point.

It was a career night for both Karch Bachman and Casey Gilling, who finished with four points apiece.

RECAP: The RedHawks stunned top-ranked North Dakota, scoring twice in the first 89 seconds.

Bachman centered a pass from behind the net to Gilling, who slammed it home at the 1:03 mark to open the scoring.

Twenty-six seconds later, Bachman skated into the zone on the left wing and threw one on net. UND goalie Adam Scheel made the save, but Gordie Green crashed the net and banged the rebound in to make it 2-0.

With 4:13 left in the first period, UND’s Westin Michaud tipped a blue line shot by Jordan Kawaguchi just under the crossbar on the power play to cut the deficit in half.

Miami answered 83 seconds later, as Gilling wired one from the left wing into the near top corner of the net on a 2-on-1 to make it 3-1.

The Fighting Hawks’ Grant Mismash streaked into the slot and took a pass Kawaguchi, which he was able to kick to himself before batting it past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin just 17 seconds later.

Scheel was pulled after the first period.

North Dakota tied it at three when Kawaguchi ripped a one-timer from the side of the net on feed from Matt Kiersted on a two-man advantage with 12:37 left in the middle stanza.

It remained a 3-3 game until the Fighting Hawks took their only lead with 4:08 left in regulation when Gavin Hain centered a pass to Cole Smith, who got behind the Miami defense and slid one past Larkin.

But North Dakota led for just 94 seconds, when Gilling had a slot blocked and it caromed to a wide-open Sladic, who backhanded it through traffic and into the side of the net on the power play.

The Fighting Hawks appeared to have taken the lead in the final seconds on a blue line shot that was deflected in the slot, but it was ruled that the puck was touched with a high stick and after review the call stood.

Miami went on the power play late in the 5-on-5 overtime but could not convert, as the game was officially ruled a tie.

North Dakota had a man-advantage in the 3-on-3 session but also could not end it.

Mismash netted the decisive goal in the second round of the shootout, as the other three shooters for both teams failed to score.

STATS: Gilling and Bachman both set career highs with four points each.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Gilling ended the night with two goals and two assists, and Bachman racked up four helpers.

Gilling reached the 20-point mark, breaking his previous career high of 19 set last season, and Bachman is now the team leader in assists with 16.

— Sladic scored in his second straight game and is now tied for fourth on the team with six markers.

— Green’s goal gives him a team-best 10 for the season, and he recorded his 104th career point. That ties him with Justin Mercier and Andrew Miller for 49th on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

THOUGHTS: It was the best start possible for Miami, scoring twice early and forcing UND to call time out in the second minute.

Predictably, the top-ranked team in Division I battled back and eventually took the lead, but the RedHawks didn’t give up, coming right back and knotting it at four just over a minute later.

In its last four games, Miami has earned wins at the No. 10 team (Bowling Green) and a blowout victory at altitude (Colorado College) and now a tie vs. a Fighting Hawks team topping the Division I poll.

Consistency has been an issue for the RedHawks, but overall they are 2-1-1 in their last four games in four difficult settings.

Even though this game goes down as a tie, and Miami earned just one of a possible three points, considering where the RedHawks were at this point last January – and the first couple of games this season – the progress the same pool of players has made is nothing short of remarkable.

— National television didn’t seem to bother Miami, which scored twice before much of the crowd had found its seats.

Ben Holden, Dave Starman and Shareen Saski did a great job as usual, and Starman was very complimentary of Miami.

Starman was especially impressed with the speed of Bachman and the netminding of Larkin.

— The first period was played at a furious pace, and the balance of the contest was much more controlled and choppy.

Miami generated a whopping two shots over about a 27-minute span from early in the second period to midway through the third.

The RedHawks tried to get a little too fancy with passes, and too often they resulted in turnovers. They also passed up too many shot opportunities as they tried to make the perfect play rather than put the puck on net.

— Faceoffs, an area of vast improvement for Miami this season, worked against the RedHawks in this one, as they won just 26 of 63 draws (41.3 percent).

— So the waved-off goal in the final minute was and still is quite a controversy among the North Dakota faithful. The ruling was that it was played with a high stick, then hit the body before trickling in.

Looking at replays, it’s really hard to tell if the puck hit the stick, although it did appear to change direction twice.

It touched the stick of Miami’s Bray Crowder before going in, but he did not possess the puck so that did not negate the high stick.

The original call was no goal, which was key, because if it was ruled a good goal initially, that call would’ve likely stood.

— Weird penalty sequence: Miami was whistled for four straight minors, then North Dakota was called for the final five.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B+. It’s hard to ding this corps for a lack of shots and faceoffs wins when it scored four goals against one of the best defensive teams in the NCAA. Gilling was named first star, and it was a well-deserved honor, as he was best player on the ice. North Dakota – a super-quick team itself – had no answer for Bachman’s speed. Green scored and also took the penalty that resulted in UND’s 5-on-3 and the tying goal.

DEFENSEMEN: C. Grading on a curve considering the caliber of opponent, but the blueliners did get caught out of position on a couple of Fighting Hawks goals. Jack Clement, who is having an outstanding freshman season, let Michaud get around him for the tip-in first goal and later was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone as the puck went the other way and ended up in the Miami net. Crowder had one of his better games of the season.

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

GOALTENDING: B. Larkin made a couple of exceptional saves and his rebound control was outstanding, as it usually is when he’s playing well. He had no chance on the first and third goals, the second was an A-plus and the fourth was also a high-percentage chance. Larkin kept Miami in the game.

LINEUP CHANGES: Injuries continue to haunt Miami, as defenseman Alec Capstick is the latest RedHawk to go down. He joins Ryan Savage and Scott Corbett in MU’s triage unit.

Fortunately for the RedHawks, Mahalak came back and appeared close to 100 percent in limited action. He replaced Capstick, who had dressed for 16 of the first 20 games.

The only other change for Miami was Noah Jordan replacing Carter Johnson up front. Jordan has played in 15 games in 2019-20 after being in the lineup just six times last season.

STANDINGS: Earning their 12th conference point of the season, Miami is tied with St. Cloud State for fifth place in the NCHC. All eight teams have played 11 league games.

Miami is currently No. 41 in the PairWise.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s a tie vs. the No. 1 team, and while Miami did not play a perfect game, this is quite an accomplishment.

Progress is paramount this season, and the RedHawks – overall – seem to be making plenty despite battling key injuries.

This is an incredibly difficult four-game homestand, with No. 4 coming in next weekend, but Miami has started it well.

Recapping Miami's turbulent first half

There were encouraging times and frustrating times, but ultimately Miami finished the first half of its first season of the millennium without Enrico Blasi at the helm with a record of 4-10-3.

Considering the turmoil surrounding this team the past couple of campaigns, that’s about on par with the expectation level for the first three months of the Chris Bergeron era.

The RedHawks opened 2019-20 with five straight home games and were pretty much awful. They went 1-3-1 during that stretch and allowed 23 goals, and no one seemed interested in playing defense.

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

The bar was set low at that point heading into a four-game road slate at Colgate and North Dakota, but Miami improved dramatically in its first away series of the series, going 1-0-1 in upstate New York including a 2-0 win in the finale, with Ryan Larkin stopping 29 shots.

Then UND slaughtered the RedHawks in Grand Forks, 7-1 in a Friday contest before a much more evenly-played, 5-4 Fighting Hawks win in the finale.

Seemingly gaining momentum from the latter game vs. NoDak, Miami played a quality home series against two-time defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, splitting the set and outscoring the Bulldogs, 5-4 on the weekend.

The RedHawks then traveled to Nebraska-Omaha, where they turned in their best performance of the 2019 calendar year. The teams skated to a 3-3 tie in the opener, but Miami dominated the Saturday game, winning 4-1.

That set up a final stretch of four games at Connecticut and at home vs. St. Cloud State. Both teams were ranked in the bottom quarter of the PairWise at the time.

Just two games under .500 at the time, it appeared the RedHawks had a legitimate shot at reaching that mark heading into 2020.

But MU went 0-4 against those teams both named the Huskies and seemingly reverted to its October version.

The biggest difference between the good times and the bad for Miami the first half of 2019-20 was its defensive play.

The RedHawks seemed utterly lost trying to defend their net the first three weeks. They chased the puck in their own zone far too often while frequently allowing defenders unabated, high-quality chances.

Miami really tightened up for its four-game stretch vs. Duluth and UNO, and while the RedHawks still allowed 33 shots per contest during that span, far fewer of those opportunities were of the Grade-A variety.

But MU seemed to revert for its most recent four games. A Connecticut team that entered play averaging 2½ goals managed 48 shots in the opener, with six finding net, and the Huskies tallied 35 more SOG and four markers in the finale.

Miami played well at times vs. St. Cloud State, but once again came up short, with defensive lapses again undermining decent efforts.

So this pregnant pause in the season may have come at a good time for the RedHawks, who open the second half of their season in Bowling Green, the program Bergeron headed the past nine seasons.

And while the end of the first half was less than encouraging, there are plenty of positives as Miami heads into the 2020 portion of its slate.

1. The debut of Matt Barry. Described as a top-six forward by Bergeron, Barry transferred from Holy Cross midway through 2018-19 and is eligible to dress at BGSU. Barry led his team in points upon his departure and will add much-needed offense to a Miami team that has been extremely top-heavy in its scoring the past few seasons.

2. Health. The injury bug made a tough situation tougher for the RedHawks the first three months, and a few weeks off could only help in their recuperation. Alec Mahalak, Ben Lown and Chaz Switzer all missed significant time with injuries.

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

3. Goaltending depth. This was a big question mark for Miami heading into this season, with Larkin heading into his senior season with no proven depth behind him. But freshman Ben Kraws has been solid in limited action, and Grant Valentine has taken a huge step forward, giving MU three quality options in net for the stretch run.

4. Freshmen improvement. All of the members of the Class of 2023 have contributed and are continuing to get better. Up front, John Sladic and Chase Pletzke have scored four goals each, and Sladic and Ryan Savage have notched eight points apiece. Jack Clement is second in defensman scoring only to Derek Daschke with seven points, including three goals. And in five games, Kraws is tops on the RedHawks with an .893 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average.

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

5. Surges by returning players. It’s no surprise that senior captain Gordie Green is leading the team in goals, assists and points (7-12-19), but several other Miami veterans have elevated their games this season and will hopefully carry their improved play into the new year. Daschke seems to get better at both ends of the ice every night, and his 4-8-12 line in easily tops among the D-corps. With six goals and nine assists, Karch Bachman has tied his career high in helpers and is one off his Miami best in points. The early candidate for comeback player of the year goes to Casey Gilling, who has already surpassed his goals, assists and points totals from 2018-19 at 5-9-14. He played all 38 games last season. Monte Graham, Noah Jordan, Rourke Russell, Bray Crowder and Andrew Sinard are also better versions of themselves this campaign.

Miami swept by SCSU

OXFORD, Ohio – A St. Cloud State 5-on-3 late in the second period ruined what was otherwise one of Miami’s best periods of the season.

With the score tied and MU controlling play, the Huskies scored on the two-man advantage to take the lead and netted the next two goals to pull away in a 5-3 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Trailing by three midway through the third period, Miami battled back, scoring twice in the final six minutes but could not dig itself completely out of its hole.

That completed a weekend sweep for SCSU, which won 2-1 on Friday. The RedHawks (4-10-3) head into their Christmas break on a four-game losing streak, their longest of the season.

RECAP: St. Cloud State’s Nick Poehling wristed one from the high slot that slipped through traffic and inside the far post to open the scoring 10:50 into the first period.

Miami tied it just 62 seconds later. Grant Frederic picked off a long pass down the middle, tipping it ahead to Rourke Russell who found Scott Corbett on the left wing, and Corbett skated toward the net, backhanding a pass to Chase Pletzke, who shoveled it in from the right side of the cage.

The Huskies (4-6-4) took the lead for good on their two-man advantage goal, which came at the 13:11 mark of the middle frame. Jack Ahcan teed up a one-timer for Spencer Meier, whose rip from the top of the left faceoff circle beat RedHawks goalie Grant Valentine on the glove side.

SCSU extended its lead to two three minutes into the third period on a 2-on-1, with Poehling feeding brother Jack Poehling for a slam-dunk at the top of the crease.

Kevin Fitzgerald made it 4-1 in favor of the Huskies when he coralled a stretch pass along the boards, skated toward the net, deked Russell and slammed the puck home with 9:58 left in regulation.

The RedHawks trimmed their deficit to two with 5:55 remaining when Christian Mohs eluded a defender with a toe drag and fired a wrister that beat goalie David Hrenak on the glove side.

St. Cloud State squelched any hope Miami had of a comeback with 4:35 to play when Ondrej Trejbal threw one toward the net that hit the end boards and caromed to a wide-open Sam Hentges for a bad-angle slap shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle, making it 5-2.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

With 2:36 left, Miami capped the scoring as Karch Bachman fed a blind backhand pass through traffic to Casey Gilling for a tap-in from the top of the crease.

STATS: Nine different players picked up a point for Miami.

Gordie Green recorded No. 98 for his career, as he is now two away from becoming the 53rd member of the RedHawks’ 100-point club. He leads the team with 19 and has notched at least one in eight of nine games.

— Gilling scored for the second straight night and has six points in his last six games.

— Pletzke netted his fourth goal and his third in his last seven contests. Mohs’ marker was his first this season and the second of his career.

Miami’s Andrew Sinard (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Andrew Sinard dished for his second assist of the season and third career point – all on helpers. Corbett tallied his third assist on the campaign.

— Bachman leads the team with a six-game point streak, going 1-6-7 in that span. He has already tied his career high in assists (9) and is one point away from his career best in points, with 15 already in 2019-20.

— Miami was outshot for the 11th straight game.

— The RedHawks have allowed nine third-period goals in their last four games and 11 in this last six.

THOUGHTS: Really hate to bring up officiating, but it played a major role in the outcome.

Not saying in any way that Miami would’ve won – St. Cloud was the better team all weekend – just that it was a huge factor in how the game played out.

The power plays were 4-1 in favor of St. Cloud State, including an extended 5-on-3. The lone man-advantage for Miami was in the third period on an obvious infraction (holding was called although it was more interference-ish) after the Huskies had taken a 3-1 lead.

How SCSU got the 5-on-3 was pretty frustrating. Russell was assessed a holding penalty, then 48 seconds later Phil Knies was crashing the net shorthanded and was whistled for goaltender interference. He had a defender draped on him and had nowhere to go.

Miami coach Chris Bergeron showed about as much emotion as he has this season after that call and had a few choice words for the officials.

The RedHawks nearly killed the two-man advantage, then Corbett was kicked out of the faceoff circle – which was rarity in this game, and honestly, it’s hard to recall a single time that happened to SCSU – leaving nine-foot defenseman Sinard to make his Miami faceoff debut.

He didn’t win it and the Huskies scored seconds later.

To that point, the second period was one of the best Miami had played this season and the score was tied at one.

That PPG made it 2-1 in favor of St. Cloud, and the rest is history.

Gilling was kicked out of the faceoff circle in the closing minutes, and as he has in the past, got vocal with the linesman.

There were multiple opportunities for the refs to whistle SCSU for penalties and each time their arms stayed down.

There were certainly other reasons why Miami did not earn any points in this game, but the officiating certainly didn’t do the RedHawks any favors on their home ice.

— The first period was pretty even, with MU leading 9-6 in shots, but SCSU took control late in that frame and the RedHawks went into survival mode to hold the score in place at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

Miami was outstanding in the second period and didn’t deserve to head into the locker room down one after 40.

But in the third period a pair of miscues led to SCSU goals three and four, and the fifth was slammed in after a lively kick off the end boards to a wide-open Huskie.

Miami’s John Sladic (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— The newly formed Knies-Ben Lown-John Sladic line was Miami’s best of the night, as the threesome was able to cycle the puck numerous times and create good looks while playing solid defense.

Juniors Knies and Lown were linemates most of their first two seasons and they seemed to generate excellent chemistry with Sladic.

— The Poehlings can stop producing hockey-playing sons any time. Even with Ryan Poehling flourishing in the Montréal system, Nick and Jack combined for two goals and two assists, including the third SCSU goal which was a 2-on-1 with Nick feeding Jack.

— Valentine back in net for the second straight night was a bit of a surprise, but he played very well on Friday. He wasn’t as sharp on Saturday, but he made his share of difficult saves and certainly wasn’t the reason Miami took the ‘L’.

— That third Miami goal, with Bachman threading a backhand pass to Gilling, was absolutely beautiful to watch, including Green’s role in it as he kept the play alive along the boards. Plays like that make it easy to be a hockey fan, even during a four-game losing streak.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. Definitely a better game for this corps than Friday. More puck possession, more offensive zone time, and that’s despite having just two minutes of power play time vs. seven for SCSU. Freshman Pletzke continues to put the puck in the net – that’s four this year – and Gilling is a completely different player than in 2018-19. Mohs had a sweet toe drag before his wrister found twine.

DEFENSEMEN: C-. Alec Capstick shot a puck into a pair of skates that went the other way, and he lost his balance and was unable to get back into the play, resulting in a St. Cloud State 2-on-1 and its third goal. Russell got beat 1-on-1 on the Huskies’ fourth goal. But overall this group did a decent job of getting sticks in front of Huskies’ shots. They contributed little offensively save Sinard’s assist, although Frederic did make a nice transitional play on MU’s first goal.

Miami’s Grant Valentine (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

GOALTENDING: C. Valentine probably would’ve liked that first goal back, but the rest were all legit, and he stopped a penalty shot in the third period. He also made several other stops on Grade-A chances and was a stud on the 5-on-3 until the final seconds, when the Huskies finally broke through on a blast from the slot. The third and fourth goals were on odd-man chances, and an unfortunate bounce and quality bad-angle shot resulted in No. 5. It’s easy to blame the goalie when an opponent scores five, and although the numbers don’t show it, Valentine played a decent game.

LINEUP CHANGES: One each on defense and offense.

Frederic replaced Bray Crowder on the blueline, and Mohs dressed in place of Noah Jordan up front and netted his first goal in 11 months.

STANDINGS: Despite being swept, Miami remains in fourth place in the NCHC, although the RedHawks have played eight conference games and all four teams below them have two games in hand.

MU dropped seven places in the PairWise in one night, from tied for 40th to a tie with Niagara for No. 47.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This isn’t exactly the way Miami wanted to head into Christmas break, but at the same time, maybe this is a good time for a few weeks off.

Even with the recent losses, looking at the last four scores of 2018-19 (5-1, 6-1, 5-2, 6-3), this team is markedly better than it was even nine months ago.

But it’s still frustrating to see the RedHawks go 0-4 against a pair of teams that were 3-6-3 and 2-6-4 entering their series.

This game is a microcosm of the first half of MU’s season: The team played hard but defensive lapses were killers.

Hopefully we continue to see the former and less of the latter in 2020.

UConn beats Miami in opener

After giving up an early goal, Miami scored three straight markers and held a two-goal lead after 20 minutes.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, they were outscored, 5-1 in the final two frames and fell, 6-4 to Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford on Friday.

Miami allowed 48 shots, its highest total of the season as the RedHawks fell for the second time in it last five games.

STATS: Gordie Green extended his points streak to six games, picking up a goal and an assist. He has three goals and five assists in that span and is just four points short of 100 for his career.

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

Derek Daschke and Casey Gilling also went 1-1-2, giving Daschke 11 points on the season and Gilling 12, tying him for his 2018-19 total.

Freshman Chase Pletzke also finished with two assists, the first multi-point game of his career.

The most shots Miami had previously allowed in a game was 42 in the season opener vs. Bowling Green.

THOUGHTS: And the above sentence says it all.

UConn, ranked No. 48 in the PairWise entering the weekend, managed 48 shots, six more than any opponent has fired against Miami this season.

Full disclosure: I was driving the entire time this game was playing but had CBS All-Access on throughout, so I was able to listen, occasionally glance at the action and check out the highlights.

But I saw enough – and the stats back me up – that Miami took it to the Huskies after Connecticut’s first-period goal, and then the UConn dominated the final two periods.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Ryan Larkin was back in net after missing last week and stopped 42 of 48 shots, facing at least 14 shots in each period.

— Connecticut scored on an extended 5-on-3 less than three minutes into the game, but Miami was awarded a two-man advantage of its own midway through that frame, and Karch Bachman capitalized after one skater had returned.

— Both teams had three power play opportunities in the first frame but the teams combined for just three chances the balance of the game.

LINEUP CHANGES: Larkin was back in net, replacing Ben Kraws, who earned the win last Saturday.

Grant Frederic returned to the lineup, replacing Alec Capstick. The two have alternated at the seventh defense spot for several weeks.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Again, just listened to the game and saw bits and pieces.

But the Huskies dominated the final two periods and deserved to win this game.

Miami can’t expect to win many games allowing 48 shots.

Coming off such a successful road trip in Omaha, it’s a disappointing loss to a team previous ranked No. 48 in the PairWise.