By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – For the second straight night, Miami scored first.
But that didn’t work in the RedHawks’ favor on Friday, and the result was even worse on Saturday as Nebraska-Omaha ran off five straight goals in a 5-1 win at Cady Arena.
Miami (9-10-3) tied the Mavericks on Friday and earned a second point in the standings in the shootout.
It was the first win for UNO (9-11-2) since Nov. 23.
Freshman forward Devin Loe opened the scoring, banging home a loose puck in the crease 1:24 into the second period.
But RedHawks goalie Jay Williams mishandled the puck 11 minutes later and Josh Archibald tapped the puck to tie the score.
The Mavericks’ Johnnie Searfoss tipped home a blue-line wrister to give UNO the lead just over four minutes later.
Nebraska-Omaha broke the game open after Miami junior forward Jimmy Mullin was assessed a major penalty and tossed for boarding.
The Mavericks netted three goals in a 4:15 span – with two more coming from Archibald – to put the game out of reach.
Miami is now winless in its last four games (0-3-1), 2-7-2 in its last 11 and under .500 for the first time since Nov. 12, 2011.
The RedHawks travel to Colorado College for a two-game series on Jan. 24-25.
ANALYSIS: There was a TV promo on MTV sometime in the Beavis and Butt-Head era in the early 1990s that ended with “More Miserable Crap”.
This was back when MTV still sort of pretended the “M” stood for music, unlike today when it stands for “mindnumbing”.
Anyway, until this drought or slump or whatever it is ends, we’re renaming the Analysis portion of game write-ups.
It’s 3 a.m., we finished driving up and back from 60 miles away in a snowstorm for the second time in as many nights, so let me at least lighten this up a little to make it tolerable, OK?
MORE MISERABLE CRAP: So with 12 games left in the regular season, Miami is now under .500 at 9-10-3.
Here’s what’s even more frustrating: A lot of the teams on the bubble in PairWise are only four or five games over .500.
But at this point it would take a 9-3 record for the RedHawks to finish 18-13-3 and then they’d have to win a (likely) road best-of-3 in the NCHC Tournament to hold that mark.
Going 9-3 would require splitting Miami’s four games at North Dakota and Denver and taking seven of the remaining eight. Anyone watching this team the past three months is probably chuckling at that concept.
I will say that as bad as this team has looked recently – and it’s been really bad, especially considering Miami’s talent level – Enrico Blasi teams often like to do things the hard way but somehow when they get their backs up against the wall they surprise even the most optimistic fans.
Remember the D.C. season? The RedHawks almost didn’t make the playoffs. They were 20-12-5 and squeaked in as a four seed after dropping their CCHA first-round series vs. Northern Michigan.
Two seasons prior they were swept by Lake Superior State at Cady Arena in the first round of the CCHA Tournament. They went on to beat top-seeded New Hampshire before losing to Boston College.
Will that happen again? Right now it’s tough to envision that, and it would take a 180 degree course reversal from the More Miserable Crap we saw this weekend.
And that reversal would have to start next weekend, because this team has left itself almost no wiggle room if it hopes to extend its eight-season streak of making the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore forward Riley Barber was held scoreless on the weekend, the first time this season he has gone consecutive games without a point.
This was not a shining moment for Barber, who – as fantastic as he has been in 1½ years in Oxford – made way too many bad passes this weekend. He could be two months from trading in the ‘M’ on his chest for a Hershey Bears logo.
He typified a team that couldn’t put together consecutive completed passes. There was a point in the third period when the RedHawks were on the power play when Miami had the puck in their half of the neutral zone and failed to complete a short pass cleanly several times in a row.
There weren’t even any UNO players contesting them – all four penalty killers were at the blue line or in the defensive zone. It was so comical fans were chuckling at the absurdity of it.
Which brings up to the subject of the power play. Miami was 0-for-7, generating four shots. All of the man-advantage opportunities were full-length minors.
So the RedHawks had 14 minutes of power play time and put four shots on net. On the weekend, they finished 0-for-13 in 22 minutes with eight shots.
Unfortunately, the major penalty by Mullin was a killer. I honestly didn’t get a great look at the violation. It looked like the UNO player may have turned at the last second, so from my angle it didn’t look like a penalty at all, much less a major, but I just couldn’t tell for sure with only one glance bad-angle look and no replay.
Regardless, Miami gave up after the goals started going in during that man advantage. It was honestly hard to watch.
You know who didn’t give up and played his tail off until the final horn? Devin Loe.
Yes, he scored the goal so it’s easy to highlight him (three in six games played by the way – subliminal message to coaching staff: play him more) but he was still battling for loose pucks harder than anyone on the team in the final minutes.
Loe and senior forward Bryon Paulazzo combined for two of the three goals Miami scored this weekend.
Obviously, Blasi has doubled down on smaller and faster this season but the RedHawks have too many of the same type of player and except junior Austin Czarnik most aren’t lighting the lamp with regularity right now.
Greenberg—2 goals in the exhibition, zero in 17 regular season games.
Gacek—2 goals in 21 games, both in the same game.
Louis—4 goals in 20 games, none in his lass 11 (that said he had several great chances on Saturday).
Wideman—One assist in his last four games, three goals and three assists in his last 14 games.
FORWARDS: D-. They did combine for 23 shots – 10 more than Friday – and Loe, Mullin and Kuraly all earned their point on the goal.
The power play, as mentioned, was and has been anemic. That’s 3-for-44 their last eight games for those scoring at home (6.8 percent) with three shorties allowed in that span.
DEFENSEMEN: D. They were OK at shutting UNO down the first two periods, but errant passing by this corps is rampant.
That seemed to be a contagious trait this weekend but all seven that played in these two games.
On the major penalty they had some breakdowns leading to tip-in goals with players wide open in front of the net. Killing a major is tough, granted – well, unless a team is facing Miami’s power play – but too many UNO players got open too easily and the Mavericks cashed in three PPGs.
GOALTENDING: D+. The first goal, which I didn’t get a great look at live, was the result of a misplayed loose puck by Williams (that’s what a jumbled replay appeared to show and a couple others I talked to confirmed).
The second goal was a fantastic redirection, and all three of the power play goals were by players who made themselves at home at the top of the crease.
Williams did deny a breakaway in the first period, but the first goal could’ve been avoided and it would’ve been nice if he could’ve made a great save on one of the three power play goals.
For the second straight night, a goalie misplaying the puck was costly. The game could’ve turned out differently if that hadn’t gone in.
That said, Williams deserved a better fate than 23-for-28.
LINEUP CHANGES: Mullin returned to the lineup, replacing junior Alex Wideman, who was scratched for the first time this season, and Loe was in for sophomore John Doherty.
On defense, freshman Johnny Wingels returned to the lineup as sophomore Taylor Richart was scratched.
It was the sixth straight game the goalies rotated. McKay should be back in net for the opener on Friday.
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