Miami hockey’s inability to play a full game led to the RedHawks falling prey to the No. 2/4 University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks 4-1 on Friday, but then battling for a 3-3 tie on Saturday.
“We battled hard tonight,” head coach Enrico Blasi said on Saturday to Miami Athletics. “The team played well to earn a 2-0 lead and we valued our process throughout the night. We took a push back from North Dakota, but stayed together after we fell behind to get the tying goal.”
North Dakota (7-2-3, 2-1-1-1 NCHC) took five of the six conference points this weekend and with the point from the tie, Miami now (4-5-1, 1-2-1-0 NCHC) sits sixth in the nine-team National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings.
On Friday, Miami began the two-game series with jump and would outshoot UND 9-4 in the first period. Freshman forward Phil Knies tested freshman goaltender Peter Thome with two shots in the opening minutes, establishing offensive energy needed to combat North Dakota’s quick play.
The two teams traded man-advantages early in the opening frame, as Miami was first on the power play at 2:49. The RedHawks’ offensive momentum was then squashed with a UND power play at 4:42 and the ’Hawks’ defensive energy was tested when the Fighting Hawks went on the 5-on-3 for 17 seconds.
Sophomore goaltender Ryan Larkin padded down a junior forward Shane Gersich shot and the RedHawks thanked their goaltender by spending most of the rest of the first in the Fighting Hawks’ zone. A Miami power play marked the end of the period, but UND fended off the ’Hawks to go to intermission scoreless.
North Dakota’s offensive production in the second would go unmatched by Miami. The Fighting Hawks started the second fighting to get on the board. The RedHawks withstood the push and earned a power play 1:56 into the period.
The game remained tied after the ’Hawks’ man-advantage, but freed from the penalty box junior forward Nick Jones beat Larkin on the breakaway and put UND up 1-0 4:03 into the second. Four minutes later, freshman forward Ben Lown almost had the equalizer but his shot hit the post after passing Thome.
A save from Larkin and blocked shots from Miami’s PK unit kept UND from adding to their lead during another Fighting Hawks’ power play. Miami then pestered Thome with shots to bring the shot count to 16-9, but North Dakota ended the period strong.
North Dakota connected during their fourth try on the power play, as junior forward Rhett Gardner scored with 3:43 left in the period. Jones then found a loose puck in the slot for his second of the night and UND’s third with 1:53 left.
After the second, Miami’s first period shot advantage was erased and UND led the shot tally 11-8 in the middle frame.
The third opened and the two teams traded shots, before sophomore forward Karch Bachman found a puck in the slot for his second goal of the season. The ’Hawks’ attempt to erase the 3-1 deficit was short lived and four minutes later the Fighting Hawks went back up three with a freshman forward Grant Mismash goal. The goal at 11:26 ended the scoring.
Miami finished with a 28-26 shot advantage but were 0-for-5 on the power play as special teams’ consistency continues to plague the RedHawks. North Dakota finished 1-for-5 on the power play and the Fighting Hawks won 59 percent of faceoffs.
Saturday was a slightly different story, as Miami would be outshot 32-23 but would finish with a point from the 3-3 tie.
The Fighting Hawks rode the momentum from Friday night’s win and dominated the first half of the first period, taking the first five shots on goal. A Miami man-advantage couldn’t even generate a shot, but then the RedHawks killed a UND power play and began gaining momentum.
Relentlessness in UND’s end led to a Gordie Green goal at 16:07 of the first. The sophomore forward put Miami up 1-0 with a slapshot off a feed from junior forward Josh Melnick. Miami weathered UND’s offense to go to the locker room leading 8-6 in shots and 1-0 where it counts.
A Miami penalty in the last second of the first bled into the second period, though the RedHawks only allowed one shot on goal during their man-disadvantage. Six minutes passed before junior forward Ryan Siroky backhanded his first goal of the season past Thome to put Miami up 2-0 7:46 in the second. Sophomore defenseman Grant Frederic added an assist.
A faceoff win by UND allowed for sophomore defenseman Colton Poolman to begin the UND comeback 37 seconds after Miami’s goal. His one-timer made its way through traffic to put the Fighting Hawks on the board. The Fighting Hawks peppered Larkin with shots, but the RedHawks ended the period with some semblance of momentum on a power play that generated four shots.
Thirty-three seconds into the third, UND found the 2-2 equalizer. For the majority of the time remaining in the third, the teams battled back-and-forth for the go-ahead goal. Gersich found it with 3:38 left in the game, marking North Dakota’s third unanswered goal.
The RedHawks were resilient, however, and when Larkin was pulled for the extra attacker senior defenseman Louie Belpedio found Melnick for a backhander that would send the game to overtime.
The Fighting Hawks came close to winning all three of the game’s points, as they jammed in front of Larkin during the extra hockey. North Dakota forced a video review, but the officials stood with their no-goal call. The remainder of the 5-on-5 five minutes ticked by, signaling an official tie.
Even with all the open ice during the 3-on-3 extra frame, neither team found the back of the net during the back-and-forth play.
In the shootout, Larkin and Thome stopped all three of the initial shooters but junior defenseman Christian Wolanin beat Larkin in the fourth round and Thome stopped sophomore forward Carson Meyer. UND won the game and snagged an extra point in the NCHC standings.
Miami’s special teams were more effective on night two, shutting down North Dakota’s two power play chances though were still unable to capitalize on their two man-advantages. Larkin stopped 29 of the 32 shots he saw on Saturday.
Notably, sophomore Willie Knierim — a consistent scratch in recent home stands — was a +1 on the stats sheet. Junior defenseman Grant Hutton ended as a +2 on Saturday night and freshman forward Casey Gilling won 12 of the 21 faceoffs he took, leading to an improved 46.5 percent faceoff stat for the RedHawks.
The ’Hawks return home this weekend, facing No. 14/15 Minnesota Duluth on Friday and Saturday in another conference matchup.