ST. CLOUD, Minn. –Ryan Larkin stopped 33 shots to keep the Miami hockey team in the game, but St. Cloud State used a late goal to top the RedHawks 3-1 on Saturday night.
Saturday’s result is Miami’s (9-13-6, 5-9-4-2 National Collegiate Hockey) second-straight setback against St. Cloud State (15-14-1, 9-10-1-0 NCHC) as it sweeps the weekend series.
The RedHawks had one promising shift early off a faceoff win in the offensive zone. Karch Bachman hit a post with Ryan Siroky pouncing on a loose puck for a pair of close range shots that Jeff Smith stopped. After another draw win, Smith kicked away another Bachman attempt through traffic.
St. Cloud State went on the evening’s first power play at the 9:22 mark, but perhaps the best chance came for Miami as Kiefer Sherwood fed Anthony Louis on a 2-on-1, but the senior sniper’s shot went just wide of the net. Nevertheless, the Red and White fended off that man advantage and went on one of their own with 8:08 left in the frame after Larkin was run into following a save. That power play also failed to connect as the contest remained scoreless in the late stages of the frame.
Larkin was kept busy against a barrage of Husky chances as they held a 16-8 lead in shots on goal. The freshman remained calm throughout, stopping each attempt to leave the contest where it began at 0-0 at intermission.
Play got a little tighter for Miami early in the second period and the Red and White eventually got on the board thanks to a pinpoint wrist shot by Josh Melnick as the sophomore picked the corner on Jeff Smith stick side from the high slot for his ninth goal of the season with 5:46 gone by. Line mates Carson Meyer and Gordie Green assisted on the goal that put MU on top for the second night in a row.
That lead did not last long as a penalty on the following shift gave the Huskies a power play and Jimmy Schuldt eventually blasted a slap shot home at the 7:09 mark to even the score at 1-1. St. Cloud State ended up going on four power plays in the middle stanza, but Miami was able to kill off the remaining man advantages, including an extended 5-on-3 to leave the score tied at 1-1 after two periods for the second night in a row.
The Miami parade to the penalty box continued with a pair of minor penalties in the first few minutes of the third, but MU killed off both man advantages with a brilliant rebound save by Larkin highlighting one of those kills.
With a chance to skate at even strength, MU began to put together a few looks, the best of which came midway through the frame when Bachman came in on a 2-on-1 and fired a shot from the off wing that Smith shrugged off.
The game remained tied in the late stages of regulation, but one late opportunity came for SCSU as Jake Wahlin found himself open cutting down the slot and redirected a pass into the net with 2:37 left to give the Huskies their first lead of the evening. While the RedHawks got the puck in the offensive zone and pulled Larkin with a minute left, the Huskies were able to clear the zone and put it away on an empty net goal by Jacob Benson.
St. Cloud State ended up outshooting Miami by a 36-20 margin, thanks in part to seven power plays. The RedHawks went 0-for-2 on the man advantage while the Huskies finished 1-for-7 with their power play. Larkin stopped 33 shots while Smith posted 19 stops for St. Cloud State.
The Red and White return home next weekend to begin a series with NCHC leading Denver. Friday’s series opener starts at 7:35 p.m. Take note that Saturday’s series finale is a later than usual start of 8 p.m.