It has now been 84 days since Miami hockey has won a game, and it has been 91 days since the RedHawks have won on home ice.
The ’Hawks’ 3-0 loss to the University of Nebraska Omaha at the Steve ‘Coach’ Cady Arena on Friday night extends their winless streak to 15 games and their losing streak to nine.
The fast game was decided by UNO’s lone, second-period goal, though the Mavericks added an insurance tally 4:21 into the third period and an empty-netter with 27 seconds left.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” head coach Enrico Blasi said. “At the end of the day, it’s still a loss and a couple of miscues, and they capitalize on the chances and we didn’t.”
For the 13th straight game, the RedHawks (9-16-4, 3-12-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) failed to score first, and it was senior goaltender Evan Weninger’s night. UNO’s netminder stopped all 38 shots he faced for the shutout.
“We had a lot of shots, we just couldn’t get those second efforts on that goalie to put it in the back of the net,” sophomore forward Ben Lown said. “We’ve just got to clean up some of our turnovers and some of our mistakes that cost us.”
Nebraska Omaha (9-16-2, 5-11-1 NCHC) entered ‘Coach’ Cady Arena allowing an average of 3.81 goals, ranking it fourth worst in the country, though Miami couldn’t capitalize on the Mavericks’ usually poor defense.
Instead, the Mavericks relied on their power play which boasted a 24.4 percent success rate prior to puck drop and went 1-for-3 on the night.
Miami’s lack of success on its three power plays, its breakdowns and inability to put the puck past Weninger spelled defeat.
“I think the details were pretty good tonight, but the two details where they scored were not good,” Blasi said. “We’ve got to clean up that, especially in our own end.”
Omaha’s deadly power play, ranked eighth in the country, had its first opportunity 7:47 into the first, but Miami’s penalty-kill unit blocked shots to kill the Mavericks’ man-advantage.
The RedHawks had a chance of their own on the power play with 6:23 left in the period, but pucks hopped over the ’Hawks sticks and they came up short.
The man-advantage sparked Miami, and it outskated UNO to finish the period with momentum and an 11-7 shots advantage.
Any leftover momentum from the first period was temporarily squashed with an early penalty kill, as freshman forward Scott Corbett sat for boarding. The RedHawks managed to escape harm and even generated a short-handed rush before the penalty expired.
An icing call on Nebraska Omaha led to extended offensive zone cycle for Miami, though an ensuing battle in front of Miami’s net forced freshman defenseman Rourke Russell into a holding penalty at 4:42 of the second.
After several short-handed chances, the Mavs jumped onto a 2-on-1. Senior forward Ryan Galt fed junior forward Teemu Pulkkinen right to left to beat junior goaltender Ryan Larkin and put UNO up 1-0. Freshman forward Tyler Weiss picked up the secondary assist.
Miami had a chance to counter with 6:54 left in the period, but another power play ticked by with nothing to show for it.
The second period horn sent the teams to their respective locker rooms with the Mavericks leading 1-0, though outshot 26-15 by the RedHawks.
“I actually thought we did a really good job killing the penalties,” Blasi said, “but we gave them a backdoor goal and that should never happen.”
Nebraska Omaha managed to seal the deal only 4:21 into the third. A defensive zone breakdown led to Galt’s fourth goal of the season from freshman defenseman John Schuldt and sophomore forward Kevin Conley.
A hooking penalty on UNO’s freshman forward Chayse Primeau with just under 12 minutes left to play gave Miami a lifeline, but another unsuccessful RedHawk power play killed any hope for a comeback.
Senior defenseman Grant Hutton and junior forward Karch Bachman both hit the post and the sound of “almost” rang through the Goggin Ice Center.
“It’s tough, but we had a lot of shots,” Lown said. “We just need to be there to put it in the back of the net.”
Blasi pulled Larkin with 2:40 left to play, but the RedHawks couldn’t maintain the offensive zone. Senior forward Mason Morelli nailed the empty net with 27 seconds left to play to ensure a 3-0 UNO victory.
The RedHawks outshot the Mavericks 38-21, and Miami’s junior forward Karch Bachman led both teams with seven shots on net.
The ’Hawks won the faceoff battle, going 39-for-68 in the circle.
Starting and finishing a Friday-night game for the first time since Jan. 11, Larkin finished with 18 saves on 20 shots.
“Obviously, we want a different outcome, but we want to play the game the same way,” Blasi said. “We want to make sure we’re a little bit more determined in front of their net, and we’ve got to clean up the defensive details.”
The RedHawks are back in action tonight at 7:05 p.m. The game can be watched on NCHC.tv.