By John Lachmann
OXFORD, Ohio – A three-goal deficit was too much for No. 1 Miami to overcome.
The RedHawks fell to No. 6 North Dakota, 4-2 at Cady Arena on Friday in the first-ever NCHC game.
After giving up a pair of goals in the first period and another 14 seconds into the middle stanza, Miami (2-1) rallied for a pair of markers late in the second period but could not get the equalizer.
North Dakota (2-0-1) took the lead when Michael Parks took a shot in the slot that hit Miami sophomore defenseman Michael Mooney and slid into the corner of the net with 12:05 left in the first period.
UND made it 2-0 with 1:57 left in the frame when a high shot hit the glass and caromed to the side of the net where Brendan O’Donnell tapped it in.
Miami goalie Jay Williams fanned while trying to play the puck behind his net and O’Donnell ripped a shot into the vacated cage to open the second period.
Miami answered, as sophomore forward Sean Kuraly crashed the net and stuffed home a rebound off a wrister by sophomore defenseman Taylor Richart with 11:35 remaining in the middle period.
The RedHawks made it a one-goal game when freshman forward Anthony Louis slid a seemingly innocuous shot through the legs of North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg with 1:42 remaining in that frame.
But UND regained its two-goal lead on the power play when a shot by Nick Mattson hit Miami junior forward Austin Czarnik’s stick and went in with 7:15 remaining.
O’Donnell finished with two goals and an assist and Parks had one tally and two helpers. Gothberg stopped 35 of 37 shots.
Five different Miami players had one point, and Williams finished 21-for-25.
The RedHawks remain winless all-time against North Dakota, with their record standing at 0-3-1.
The teams wrap up the weekend series at 8:05 p.m. on Saturday.
ANALYSIS: You know the cliché about being lucky vs. being good?
North Dakota was both on Friday.
In the spirit of a series between teams that ultimately caved to political correctness run amok regarding their mascots, has RedHawkey caught the PC bug as well and is afraid of offending someone?
Not really – actually the No-Names did outplay Miami and deserved to win. They’re fast, their transition game is excellent, they played good defense and their goaltending, except for Louis’ goal, was exceptional.
The first period was a clinic in how to deal with a hostile home crowd. The RedHawks were dominant in the first seven minutes, but a turnover, a 3-on-2 and a fortunate bounce later, North Dakota had the lead and quieted the masses.
UND crashed the net again for the second goal, and again, strange bounce but credit is deserved for being in the right position (plus taking advantage of another turnover).
Williams’ turnover in the second period was admittedly costly, but Kuraly scored shortly after and Miami had its energy back.
And that’s the best news of the night: We learned that North Dakota is very good (not surprising), and that the RedHawks were able to hang with them for most of the game.
The crowd was fantastic – one of the loudest ever at Cady Arena – and one of the biggest.
Oh yeah, and the major on junior forward Blake Coleman was horrible. He was whistled for checking from behind when the player was sideways to Coleman. Both CBS announcers said it was a bad call, although UND didn’t score on the five-minute power play.
FORWARDS: B. They deserved a better fate. They combined for 31 shots on goal and Gothberg – though he allowed a weak shot by Louis to get by – made a couple remarkable saves, most notably one with his tie on a Kuraly one-timer.
Louis did commit the turnover in the offensive zone that led to the first goal, but he also scored Miami’s second goal. He earned some time on the top line with Czarnik and Riley Barber.
Alex Wideman was the unsung hero on Kuraly’s goal. He battled for the puck along the boards, won two battles and forced a turnover, which he dropped to Richart for the shot that Kuraly stuffed home.
The fourth line was Miami’s best for the first two periods, with sophomores Kevin Morris and Alex Gacek and freshman Justin Greenberg. They saw little ice time in the third period with the team trailing.
DEFENSEMEN: C+. On the plus side, they held UND to 25 shots, junior Ben Paulides looked more comfortable, and so did freshman Trevor Hamilton, who struggled last weekend.
Richart’s shot also led to Kuraly’s goal.
Among the negatives, sophomore Chris Joyaux committed a bad turnover that led to North Dakota’s second goal, and Mooney took a tripping penalty that led to UND’s last marker.
GOALTENDING: C. Williams was a little shaky early, giving up rebounds he normally doesn’t, and the turnover that led to the third goal was on him.
But – and granted I had the benefit after this game of being able to watch the recording of this game at home – the first and fourth goals were just bad luck and there wasn’t a ton he could do on the second one.
He tried to slide deeper in his crease but Joyaux had sprawled out to try to block a shot, and Williams bumped into him.
LINEUP CHANGES: Coach Enrico Blasi stuck with his starting 12 at forward, but Mooney dressed instead of freshman Matt Joyaux.
Having more size against a big, physical team is probably a good call.
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