By John Lachmann
St. Cloud State sent Friday’s game to overtime by scoring with 0.1 seconds remaining. On Saturday, Miami netted the series-clincher with 2.6 seconds to play in regulation.
Freshman forward Justin Greenberg’s second career goal lifted the eighth-seeded RedHawks over the No. 4-ranked Huskies, 4-3 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, completing a sweep in the best-of-3 series.
Miami (14-19-3), which had not won a game in which it trailed after two periods since Oct. 27, 2012 at Michigan, was behind by two goals entering the third period before rallying for four goals in the last 20 minutes.
It was yet another bizarre twist to this season for the RedHawks, who were given up for dead by many after going 3-12-1 in their final 16 regular season games.
“I thought our guys played well – so did they – it was a good weekend of hockey for sure,” Blasi said in the postgame press conference.
After a scoreless first period, SCSU’s Kevin Gravel scored on a wrister from the blue line as Miami sophomore goalie Ryan McKay was bumped by sophomore defenseman Matthew Caito with 9:30 left in the middle stanza.
With 2:38 left in second frame, the Huskies’ Jimmy Murray ripped a shot from the slot off a pass from behind the net by David Morley to make it 2-0.
Four minutes into the third period, RedHawks sophomore forward Riley Barber ripped a shot off the crossbar from the slot. The rebound bounced to a wide-open sophomore forward and teammate Sean Kuraly for a tap-in to cut the lead in half.
Less than four minutes later, a slap shot by Miami junior center Austin Czarnik hit a St. Cloud State defenseman and deflected over the goalie’s shoulder, tying the score just after a power play had expired.
The Huskies (21-10-5) regained the lead just 98 seconds later on a 5-on-3 rip from the slot by Nic Dowd.
But the RedHawks answered again, this time on a backhander on the power play by freshman forward Anthony Louis from the side of the net after short set-up passes by Kuraly and Barber in front of the net.
As time was winding down in regulation, a shot by St. Cloud State hit a body in front of the net and was controlled by Miami freshman defenseman Matt Joyaux. With eight seconds left, Joyaux carried the puck out of the defensive zone and fired a cross-ice pass to Louis, who carried it to the blue line.
Louis slid a lateral pass from the top of the faceoff circles to Greenberg, who whipped the game winner into the side of the net.
Miami, which has won three straight games for the first time since October, advances to the first-ever NCHC championship weekend in Minneapolis, which has been coined the Frozen Faceoff.
Kuraly finished with a goal and an assist each, and Barber tallied two helpers. Kuraly and Barber both notched five points for the weekend.
The RedHawks will face either North Dakota or Western Michigan, depending on if the former Fighting Sioux can knock off Colorado College in the rubber game of their series on Sunday.
For game analysis click here .