By John Lachmann
Miami entered the third period of its series opener with a three-goal lead against a team that had scored 10 goals in the final stanza all season.
But Bemidji State erased that deficit with three unanswered markers to salvage a 4-4 vs. the RedHawks at the Sanford Center on Friday.
Miami (7-6-2) outshot the Beavers, 17-5 in the first period, jumping out to an early two-goal lead.
Sophomore forward Alex Gacek got the No. 13 RedHawks on the board 11 minutes into the game, recording his first tally of the season.
Junior forward Blake Coleman extended the lead with a tip-in goal with 1:41 left in the first frame.
Gacek made it 3-0 just 1:50 into the middle period, giving him his first career multi-goal game as a RedHawk. Both goals came off rebounds.
Bemidji State (5-7-3) cut the lead to two a couple of minutes later, but Coleman reestablished Miami’s three-goal lead when he netted his second goal of the night off a feed from senior forward Max Cook.
The Beavers scored twice in the first nine minutes of the third period and tied it on a re-direction on a 6-on-5 with 43 seconds remaining. They outshot the RedHawks, 16-6 in the final stanza.
It was the fifth career multi-goal game for Coleman and the second multi-point contests for Cook and sophomore forward Sean Kuraly.
Miami’s winless streak is now at four games (0-3-1). The RedHawks and Bemidji State play the series finale at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.
ANALYSIS: The RedHawks’ recent inability to close out games is becoming a major concern.
Here’s a stat: Miami outscored its opponents, 14-7 in the third period the first 11 games of the season. During its four-game winless streak: The RedHawks have been outscored 7-0 in the final stanza.
The smaller-faster-wear-teams-down concept seems to be backfiring at this point, as again Miami was the team chasing its opponent down the stretch.
A 3-1 record on this road stand was the expectation. Instead, if the RedHawks win on Saturday it’ll get them to 1-2-1 with Denver coming to town next weekend.
Another alarming stat is Miami has allowed 14 goals in its last three games, and not exactly against the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins.
LINEUP CHANGES: Freshman Johnny Wingels was on defense for the first time since Nov. 1, having sat the last seven games, and sophomore Michael Mooney also dressed for the second straight game on the blue line.
Out on defense were sophomore Chris Joyaux and Taylor Richart. Joyaux may be having problems with the knee he hurt in the second Wisconsin game, but it’s unclear why Richart is out. Especially for his size, he’s played pretty well as a No. 3 or No. 4 blueliner this season.
Sophomore forward John Doherty was a scratch as junior Jimmy Mullin returned after sitting both games in Omaha. Again it’s unclear why he was out.