OXFORD, Ohio -Josh Melnick scored two goals in the final 2:20 to hand the Miami hockey team a 3-2 overtime comeback win over No. 20 St. Cloud State on Friday night.
Melnick's first career multi-goal game gave the RedHawks (6-8-5, 2-4-3-1 National Collegiate Hockey) their third-straight victory, all of which have featured third period comebacks. The win also extends Miami's unbeaten streak to four games.
The Huskies (9-9-1, 4-6-1-0 NCHC) created a couple transition rushes with Mikey Eyssimont hitting the post on a wrist shot from the left dot a minute and change in. Miami's first sustained pressure about four minutes in when Kiefer Sherwood fed Gordie Green in close, but Jeff Smith battled to keep it out.
Another transition chance nearly paid off for St. Cloud State as Judd Peterson got a step on the defense and skated in tight on Ryan Larkin, but his attempt rang off the cross bar. Miami went on the game's first power play with 6:51 gone by and SCSU took another penalty 1:13 later to give MU a two-man advantage. The RedHawks sustained pressure and fed Kiefer Sherwood for a pair of one-timers in the high slot, but Smith kicked aside both attempts and the Huskies eventually killed off both penalties. Miami salted away one SCSU power play late in the period, spending the final 30 seconds cycling in the offensive zone. Despite both teams firing 11 shots on goal, the contest remained scoreless at intermission.
Both teams played roughly even for most of the second period with each creating sporadic chances. However, an extended shift in the offensive zone ended up netting St. Cloud State the first goal of the evening as Mikey Eyssimont tapped in the puck atop the crease at the back door after it came out of a scrum in the middle with 6:13 left in the middle frame.
The RedHawks put together some quality chances from in tight, the best of which coming off the stick of Anthony Louis, but Smith made saves on one point blank shot and stopped a redirect later to keep it a one-shot game. Miami got a power play with 14.6 seconds remaining in the frame, but could not even the score up before the period expired.
With 1:46 left on the man advantage at the start of the third, Miami got set up early in the offensive zone, but did not register a shot as St. Cloud State maintained its 1-0 lead. The RedHawks continued to press on the attack and got another power play midway through the period, but again came up empty without even a shot on goal, leaving it trailing with under nine minutes to go.
Extended possession by Miami paid off with 8:14 left. Colin Sullivan's point shot went wide of the cage, but caromed to Carson Meyer below the goal line at the left side. After corralling the puck a second time, Meyer fed Louis for a one-timer in the middle to even the score with his team-high 11th goal of the year, matching last year's team-leading total.
Both teams played it close to the vest down the stretch, but a Miami penalty with 3:37 to play put St. Cloud State's power play to work. The puck worked to Jacob Benson at the left circle, where his shot rung off the post. However, the rebound caromed off the chest of Blake Winiecki and in to put the Huskies back on top 2-1 with just 2:59 to play.
A dangerous collision in the neutral zone caused a major penalty and a game misconduct to be called on SCSU with 2:15 to play. After going through four ineffective power plays, the RedHawks were given a golden opportunity to tie it up. Nothing came out of the first minute and MU pulled Larkin for a sixth skater. The extra body caused havoc at the crease and the puck eventually worked towards the net and popped back door to Melnick to even it up with 56.4 seconds remaining. Kiefer Sherwood and Louie Belpedio both picked up assists on the tally that forced overtime.
The major penalty carried over into overtime and made a difference as Miami once again worked the puck down low. This time it got to Louis below the goal line, where he ultimately found Melnick again in the slot for a shot that got past Smith to seal Miami's third-straight comeback victory. Belpedio drew another assist on Melnick's second overtime winner of the year.
Miami outshot St. Cloud State 16-7 in the third period and overtime to end up with a 34-31 edge in shots overall. The Red and White scored on their last two power plays to finish 2-for-6 while the Huskies went 1-for-3 with the man advantage. Melnick (2g), Belpedio (2a) and Louis (1g, 1a) each finished with multi-point nights. Larkin stopped 29 of 31 shots to pick up his second-straight win while Smith made 31 saves at the other end.
These teams finish up their weekend series on Saturday night. Puck drop at Steve `Coach' Cady Arena is at 7:05 p.m.