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 pulls off win at BGSU

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio Gordie Green needed two points to become the 53rd player in Miami history to reach 100 points.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

On Monday, Green recorded three, including the game-winning goal and an assist on the clinching tally in the RedHawks’ 4-2 win over No. 11 Bowling Green at the Slater Family Arena.

The win snapped a four-game skid for Miami (5-10-3), which wrapped up the non-conference portion of its schedule.

The RedHawks avenged a 7-4 loss to the Falcons in Oxford on opening night.

RECAP: Miami opened the scoring at 16:23 on the power play when Karch Bachman skated in from the faceoff circle and fed one through the top of the crease to Ryan Savage, who backhanded it in.

Miami’s Christian Mohs (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

The RedHawks extended their lead just 99 seconds later when Derek Daschke stole the puck and threw it toward the net, and after the initial save was made, Christian Mohs crashed the net and scored on the backhand.

Miami made it 3-0 at the 2:46 mark of the second period when Casey Gilling threw a puck toward the net from the point with time winding down on a major power play, and Green controlled it and slid it inside the near post.

BGSU’s Sam Craggs scored on a one-time feed from Max Johnson with 7:09 left in the middle stanza to cut the deficit to two.

The Falcons (12-7-1) made it a 3-2 game when Brandon Kruse jammed a loose puck over the outstretched pad of MU goalie Ryan Larkin at the side of the net four minutes into the third period.

But with 1:28 left and an extra attacker on, Daschke cleared the zone, springing Green and Bachman for a 2-on-0, and Green slid a pass to Bachman for the one-timer into the empty net, giving both their third points of the night and sealing the RedHawks win.

STATS: With a goal and two assists, Green moved into a three-way tie with Pat Leahy and Mitch Ganzak for No. 51 all-time on Miami’s all-time points leaderboard.

He leads the team in goals (8), assists (14) and points (22).

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

— Bachman also finished with a goal and two helpers for his first career three-point game. He extended his points streak to seven games, the longest such run for a RedHawk since Josh Melnick last season.

— Daschke ended the game with two assists for his fourth multi-point game of 2019-20.

— Mohs has scored in consecutive games after notching just one career goal previously.

— Gilling tallied an assist, giving him points in three straight, and Chase Pletzke also added a helper, as he has points in five of his last six contests.

— Larkin stopped 35 shots, earning his first win since Nov. 15.

— The teams combined for 53 penalty minutes.

THOUGHTS: Especially considering the way Miami limped into the break, this effort far exceeded expectations.

The RedHawks went into a packed road venue and jumped all over Bowling Green, scoring twice in the first period and coming back after intermission and pumping in another goal.

The Falcons are a quality team and pulled to within one, but Miami bent without breaking and fended off BGSU’s late surge.

For the most part, the RedHawks avoided catastrophic defensive mistakes – an area that has been an issue for most of this season – and made the Falcons create their own scoring chances.

— Miami started out with tons of energy, as Green nearly scored in the first minute, then Bowling Green took control as the teams played for over six minutes without a stoppage.

The RedHawks did little on their first power play, then a rare Daschke turnover resulted in a breakaway, which Larkin snagged cleanly.

Miami finished the opening stanza with two goals in the final four minutes and Bachman was absolutely robbed on a breakaway and an ensuing rebound seconds after he set up Savage’s goal.

Then the RedHawks made it 3-0 early in the second, which saw little 5-on-5 action for the balance.

It was survival mode in the third period, as Bowling Green fired 14 shots, but Larkin was excellent and Miami finally sealed it with the ENG.

— Special teams were just that for Miami, which scored twice on the power play and killed off all five Falcons chances, including a two-man advantage for 1:15.

The RedHawks held BGSU to three power-play shots in 8:45 of man-advantage time, which included the extended 5-on-3.

Savage and Green both scored their goals on the power play.

— The second-period parade to the penalty box actually started with a major penalty with 1:09 left in the first. Miami’s Phil Knies was hammered into the boards, drawing the 5-and-10 to Will Cullen.

Then Pletzke was whistled for tripping. Then Daschke went for holding, and Bachman was whistled for tripping 45 seconds into the Daschke penalty, setting up the 5-on-3.

After Daschke returned, MU’s Scott Corbett and BG’s Alex Barber were called for coincidentals. Bachman and Corbett both chirped with Barber the entire time the three were in their penalty boxes, which did not have glass dividers.

Within a minute of Bachman’s release, he and Green went off for roughing along with two Falcons. Barber and Corbett were still in the box at that point.

Slater Family Arena should be commended for having a pair of penalty boxes that can comfortably seat six.

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

— Knies skated off under his own power but he clearly took the brunt of a major hit to the side of his head. It’s unclear if he will miss additional time.

— Speaking of injuries, Alec Mahalak was a late scratch after being listed on the lineup sheet, so Miami had to play with five defensemen since the RedHawks dressed 13 forwards.

Ironically, Miami had used its extra lineup spot for a seventh defensemen most games this season prior to Monday.

With Knies missing the final two periods, Noah Jordan – the extra skater – played substantially more and was very solid.

Green went down to block a shot with his lower body in the third period and scared not only the bejesus but the entire A-through-Z-jesus spectrum out of the Miami hockey world as he practically swam to the bench, but after being evaluated there he returned and later capped off the game with an assist on the empty netter.

— Lost in the madness of this game was the debut of Matt Barry. He played on the third line and was solid defensively, and his best shift was early in the third period when he made a great feed that nearly resulted in a goal then ripped a one-timer that was cleanly saved seconds later.

Miami will definitely be better all around with him in the lineup.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. When Miami has struggled this season, its forwards have often had trouble completing passes, and that definitely wasn’t the case in this game, as its puck movement was good overall. Bachman and Green were the standouts among this corps.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. It’s rare a team plays all 60 minutes with only five defensemen, and that meant putting some guys in critical roles who wouldn’t normally be placed in those positions. That said, the PK was outstanding and the D-men did not make many critical unforced errors. Daschke had the lone two points from this corps on a pair of assists.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

GOALTENDING: A-. Larkin stopped 35 shots including a breakaway and turned aside a number of other quality shots. His rebound control was exceptional.

LINEUP CHANGES: Barry’s presence means there’s one less forward spot in the lineup. Brian Hawkinson missed his first game of the season to make room.

Defenseman Andrew Sinard sat for the first time in 2019-20, as Miami went with Jordan as the extra forward.

It was just the second start for Larkin in the RedHawks’ last seven games.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was the signature win to this point of the season for Miami, surpassing the victory at UNO.

Slater is a hostile venue anyway, but throw in the fact that Bowling Green was facing the coach that was hired away by Miami and that made it an even tougher place for the RedHawks to play.

More than just winning, this was an exciting game that had something for everyone. It featured sweet goals, some excellent goaltending, physical play and some post-whistle scrums and the outcome wasn’t ultimately decided until the closing minutes.

BGSU’s fans were taken out of the game early but were extremely vocal when the score tightened, and Miami brought its share from the Cincinnati and Oxford areas as well as some semi-local Toledo MU grads and friends and family of players.

They were treated to a gem of a hockey game.

In a half-season that has seen a lot of ups and down, this was the highest high to this point for Miami in 2019-20, and hopefully the RedHawks carry that momentum to Colorado College next week.

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.

Preview: Miami at UConn

Connecticut and Miami meet for just the second time in the teams’ history, with the RedHawks sweeping the Huskies in Oxford two years ago.

These games will be played at the XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, formerly the home of the Hartford Whalers.

It will be the first time Miami has played on an NHL team’s (or in this case former NHL team’s) ice surface since its final CCHA Tournament in March of 2013.

A look at this weekend’s series:

WHO: Miami RedHawks (4-6-3) at Connecticut Huskies (3-6-3).

WHEN: Friday and Saturday – 4:05 p.m.

WHERE: XL Center (8,089), Hartford, Conn.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 2-0.

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

CONNECTICUT RADIO: Both games – WUCS-FM (97.9), Hartford, Conn.; WILI-AM (1400) and WILI-FM (95.3), Willimantic, Conn.

TV: None.

STREAM: CBS Sports All-Access.

NOTES: Despite boasting a plethora of NHL draft picks on its teams the past couple of seasons, Connecticut has struggled mightily on the ice.

The Huskies dropped from 15 wins in 2017-18 to 12 last season, and they are off to a 3-6-3 start this campaign with just one win in their last seven contests.

Scoring has been an issue for UConn thus far in 2019-20, as the team is averaging just 2.33 goals per game and has only netted four or more once.

Through 12 games, no one on the Huskies has more than seven points.

Among forwards Jachym Kondelik, a Nashville selection, leads the team in goals with four and is tied for the team lead in points. Alexander Payusov also has seven points, including five assists.

Five forwards – Carter Turnbull, Kale Howarth, Ruslan Iskhakov, Benjamin Freeman and Vladimir Firstov all have six points, with the former two going 3-3-6 and the latter three having matching lines of two goals and four assists.

Freshman Yan Kuznetsov leads all defenders with seven points on a goal and a team-best six helpers.

Another rookie blueliner, Harrison Rees, has notched one goal and three assists.

Of the seven defensemen Connecticut has used this season, four are freshmen.

In net, Tomas Vomacka has played all but nine minutes for the Huskies. He has a 3.33 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.

Connecticut is very young with a European flare. The Huskies have seven freshmen and nine sophomores, and three of their players are Russian, three more are from the Czech Republic and another was born in England.

UConn has struggled on special teams, as its power play is clicking at just a 10.5 percent clip. Its penalty kill rate is 73.2 percent, ranking near the bottom of Hockey East.

Miami is 2-2-2 on the road after earning five points last weekend in Omaha.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Regular starting goalie Ryan Larkin was banged-up and missed that series, but back-ups Grant Valentine and Ben Kraws were both outstanding in his absence and are making the case for more time between the pipes.

Offensively, Gordie Green and Ryan Savage have been the hottest RedHawks with six points apiece in their last five games. Green has points in each of his last five games, including a two-goal performance last Saturday.

Kraws keys Miami win at UNO

With goalie Ryan Larkin out for the weekend, Miami had to rely on its other two netminders this weekend.

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

The RedHawks earned a tie on Friday behind Grant Valentine, and in the series finale, freshman Ben Kraws turned aside 32 shots to earn his first career win in a 4-1 victory vs. No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha at Baxter Arena on Saturday.

It was the first time Miami (4-6-3) had earned at least five points in an NCHC road series in almost four years.

The RedHawks ran off the first three goals and never looked back as they improved to .500 on the road on the season at 2-2-2.

RECAP: Miami opened the scoring on the power play, as Ryan Savage slid a pass through the slot to Gordie Green, who buried a one-timer from the side of the net at the 6:32 mark of the first period.

The RedHawks extended their lead to two 6:39 into the second frame when John Sladic fired a shot from the slot that goalie Austin Roden couldn’t handle cleanly, and Green jammed it home from the same spot as his first goal.

Miami went up three on a crazy sequence with 6:02 left in the middle stanza. Karch Bachman stole the puck in his defensive zone, starting a 3-on-0, took two point-blank shots which were both denied before carrying the puck behind the net, centering one to Jack Clement in the slot, and Clement wristed it home.

Taylor Ward scored UNO’s lone goal with 2:50 left in that period when he carried the puck from behind the net to the faceoff dot and wired one into the far top corner to make it 3-1.

But 26 seconds later, the RedHawks answered as Noah Jordan’s pass along the boards through the neutral zone found Chase Pletzke, who eluded a defender, skated to center and stuffed it through Roden from the top of the crease.

The Mavericks fired 17 shots in the third period, but all were denied by Kraws.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

STATS: It was the sixth two-goal game of Green’s career and his second this season.

He is currently the team leader in goals (6), assists (9) and points (15) and owns a five-game point streak which equals the longest of his career.

Green is just six points shy of becoming the 53rd RedHawk to tally 100 points.

— Kraws made his third start and his 32 saves were a season high and the third most by a Miami netminder in 2019-20.

— Clement tied a career high with two points (1-1-2) and Pletzke notched his third goal of the season.

— Savage picked up an assist, giving him six points in five games.

— After scoring just three power play goals the first eight games, the RedHawks have netted at least one in five consecutive contests, going 6-for-18 in that span (33.3 percent).

They were also perfect on the penalty kill in this game (4 of 4) and the weekend (6-for-6).

THOUGHTS: Earning five of a possible six points in this road series against the No. 18 team in Division I at this point is well beyond expectations, especially without Larkin.

Miami just seems to get better every night to the point where UNO’s announcers were gushing over how well the RedHawks were playing.

It’s hard to believe it was less than two months ago this team was skating around with no structure, allowing point-blank chances seemingly every shift.

On Saturday, the RedHawks had sticks in front of UNO (6-4-2) shots constantly and put on a clinic in shot blocking (25 overall). Although the Mavericks did finish with 33 shots on goal, most were relatively innocuous.

— Defense has been the biggest area of improvement for Miami by far since Game 1. Derek Daschke blocked six shots and Clement rejected four.

The goaltending, which is obviously a key component of the D, has been markedly better as well as of late. In Miami’s last four games, it has used all three netminders, and they have combined for a .939 save percentage.

— Kraws was fantastic, and thanks to his teammates, many of those 32 saves were on low-percentage chances. Early he appeared to overcommit while sliding to cover the net, but his positioning was textbook after that, which is partly why he didn’t have to make a ton of difficult saves.

His rebound control was excellent all night.

Miami’s Jack Clement (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— If you want to feel good about the future of Miami hockey, look no further than the effort of the freshman class. As documented above, Kraws was 32 of 33 in net and four rookie skaters combined to go 2-3-5.

Clement picked up a goal and an assist, Pletzke also scored and Savage and Sladic earned assists.

LINEUP CHANGES: Other than Kraws, only one other change was made to Friday’s lineup.

Defensemen Alec Capstick and Grant Frederic continued their rotation, as Capstick dressed and Frederic sat. This was the fifth straight game that duo has alternated.

STANDINGS: Miami vaulted into fourth place in the NCHC with the win with eight points.

The RedHawks also jumped two spots in the PairWise to No. 36. They were 40th entering the weekend.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It appears Miami’s days as NCHC doormat are over.

This team has made amazing strides in practically every aspect of its game since season’s beginning, and this five-point road weekend has to do wonders for its confidence.

With struggling Connecticut and St. Cloud State left on their first-half schedule, the RedHawks have a chance to improve to .500 or better before the New Year.

It seems surreal to be writing the above sentence considering how this team played in its first few games.