Photos: Minn.-Duluth at Miami

Images of the series between Minnesota-Duluth and Miami at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, played on Nov. 15-16, 2019. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG.

Miami nipped by Duluth in finale

OXFORD, Ohio – For the second straight night, Miami was outshot by a 2-to-1 ratio.

But unlike in the series opener, the RedHawks were unable to scavenge a win, falling 3-2 to Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Four of the game’s five goals were scored on the power play – two each – and neither team found the net over the final 24 minutes.

RECAP: Just 3:42 into the first period, Nick Swaney tipped home a waist-high wrister from Nick Wolff in the slot to give Minnesota-Duluth the early lead, the lone even-strength goal of the game.

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

Miami tied it in the final second of the opening frame on a tic-tac-toe passing play as Chase Pletzke finished off the one-time feed from Gordie Green through the slot after Derek Daschke slid a pass through traffic to Green.

The Bulldogs took the lead for good 5:38 into the second period when Tanner Laderoute slammed home a rebound into a largely-vacated net off the initial shot by Cole Koepke on a 5-on-4.

Just 97 seconds later on another power play, Noah Cates battled for a loose puck with RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin then gained control of it, wrapped around the back of the net and stuffed it in the short side to make it 3-1.

Miami’s Rourke Russell wound up from the point and slung a wrist shot past UMD goalie Hunter Shepard with 4:26 left in the middle stanza to cut the deficit to one.

The RedHawks were limited to five shots in the third period and none of their lone man advantage of that frame.

STATS: It was nice to see Miami generate both goals from sources other than Green or Karch Bachman.

Miami’s Rourke Russell (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Pletzke netted his second of the season and Russell picked up his first, with his last goal coming on March 2 vs. – of all teams – Minnesota-Duluth.

— Green and Daschke earned assists to extend their points streaks to three games.

— Bray Crowder and John Sladic picked up the other helpers. Crowder has four on the season, and Sladic notched his third assist and fifth point.

— Larkin stopped 32 shots and was named second star of the game.

— The Bulldogs finished with six power plays, including 1:24 on a two-man advantage, while Miami went on the man advantage three times. UMD outshot the RedHawks, 18-3 with the extra skater.

STANDINGS: Four games into the NCHC season, Miami is 1-3, tied with Omaha and Denver for fifth place in the conference, although Omaha has played just two league games.

St. Cloud State is in last, but the Huskies have also logged just one conference series.

Miami dropped just one spot in the PairWise Rankings, from No. 38 to No. 39.

THOUGHTS: It’s easy to blame the officiating, which did seem to lean in UMD’s favor with a 6-3 power play advantage including the extensive 5-on-3, but both teams scored twice on the man advantage, making that a wash.

Ultimately, the better team won. The Bulldogs are two-time defending national champions and ranked No. 6 in Division I for a reason.

UMD’s defenders did a phenomenal job of shutting down Miami in the third period, allowing just five shots on goals despite an MU power play. Actually they defended well all weekend.

Minnesota-Duluth was superior in a number of areas.

But the RedHawks came away with the split and outscored the Bulldogs for the weekend, and while it’s never fun to lose, a 1-1 series against this team, at this point is a success.

Especially the way it happened, with Miami playing the game the right way.

— The team defense once again allowed a high number of shots and a decent number of quality shots, but in previous weekends the RedHawks practically had runway lights down their own slot and marshalls directing opposing skaters toward the Miami net.

— The first RedHawks goal was one of the prettiest of the season. The passing combination of Pletzke to Daschke to Green to Pletzke was even more remarkable considering time was winding down in the period. But none panicked, and the puck crossed the line with 0.7 seconds left.

LINEUP CHANGES: Just one and it was on defense. Alec Capstick dressed for the ninth time this season, and Grant Frederic was scratched.

Ben Lown missed both games this weekend with a lower body injury and is not expected to return in the next couple of weeks.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C-. Same problem as Friday: Not enough shots by this corps with the exception of Bachman. Bachman finished with five SOG while the rest of the forwards combined for seven. For the weekend it was Bachman 12, Rest Of The Forwards 14. Pletzke picked up the only goal among this group and looked right at home on that top power play unit. Monte Graham went 9-3 on faceoffs and was 20-9 on draws for the weekend. Noah Jordan blocked four shots.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. Minnesota-Duluth fired a lot of shots, but as mentioned above, fewer than in previous weekends were of the A-plus variety and 18 of 35 were on the power play. Russell scored the second Miami goal and blocked three shots, and Crowder played one of his better games, also rejecting three shots and picking up an assist, but he took another minor penalty.

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

GOALTENDING: B+. Watching live from close range, it looked like the first goal Larkin allowed was one he wanted to have back, but it was actually an excellent tip in the slot that sent it into the twine. The second was on a big rebound, but from live action and replay it was hard to tell who the puck hit before caroming to Laderoute. The third was a wraparound. Larkin made a number of quality saves, including one in the third period that it looked like hit his skate as he stacked the pads. Very good game overall.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Miami program took a major step forward this weekend.

To this point, the RedHawks’ defensive play – from both defensemen and forwards – can best be described as haphazard.

Too often, players watched the play instead of participating, skated to the puck rather than hold their position or were so out of position they never got into the right spot to defend.

But at least for one weekend this group figured out that aspect of playing in the NCHC.

Out-manned or not, if Miami continues to play as hard, as disciplined and as structured as it did this weekend, many more wins will follow.

And they will come sooner than later.

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.