Resilient RedHawks Battle Back to Tie Bulldogs

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Feb. 24, 2017

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DULUTH, Minn. - On his 20th birthday, Gordie Green scored with 3:25 left in regulation to force overtime before giving the Miami hockey team two league points with a 3-on-3 overtime goal in Friday night's 3-3 tie at No. 2/2 Minnesota Duluth.

The RedHawks (9-16-7, 5-12-5-3 National Collegiate Hockey) wrap up their short week series with the Bulldogs (20-5-7, 14-4-4-3 NCHC) in their final regular season road games.

Josh Melnick had a good look in the early going by getting the puck on his stick in the middle twice on a shift. One centering pass found him, but the shot went wide. He later moved his way toward the UMD net, but his close range backhand was stopped by Hunter Miska. Like on Thursday, the RedHawks found themselves behind in the first as Dominic Toninato found a seam down the left wing in transition and roofed a shot past Ryan Larkin to put the Bulldogs up 1-0 at the 9:08 mark.

A power play opportunity came MU's way just past the midway point of the frame, but that man advantage amounted to little sustained pressure as UMD fired the lone shot on goal of the ensuing two minutes. The Bulldogs ended up with a 10-5 shot advantage in the opening frame, but the Toninato goal was the only one to find the net as they held a 1-0 lead at intermission.

An early UMD penalty in the second gave MU another crack with a power play, but it struggled to control the puck as its man advantage came and went with little fanfare. Larkin was tested shortly after the power play as Toninato found himself alone streaking down the right wing, but the freshman goaltender kicked that chance aside to keep it a one shot game.

For the third time in four games, Jared Brandt got into the scoring as he ripped a shot past Miska after Anthony Louis dropped him a pass just inside the blue line. Josh Melnick also assisted on the tally that evened the score at 1-1 at the 8:51 mark. Louis' assist tied him with five former Miami players, including former teammate Riley Barber and head coach Enrico Blasi, for 24th in school history with 123 career points.

Shortly after tying it, UMD went on a power play, but MU was able to kill off the opportunity to leave the contest tied up. The Red and White had their most threatening power play with 6:23 left in the middle stanza. Louis was fed at the doorstep, but Miska made a save sliding across the crease to keep the contest tied up.

Tied is where the contest appeared to be remaining at the end of the second, but a Grant Hutton howitzer from the middle point had eyes for his ninth goal of the year with 1:02 remaining, giving Miami its first lead of the weekend on the sophomore defenseman's ninth goal of the year. That tally ties Hutton with Alec Martinez (2006-07 and 2007-08) and Andy Greene (2005-06) for the seventh most goals by a Miami blue liner in a single season. More importantly, it put MU on top 2-1 after 40 minutes of play. Green and Scott Dornbrock drew assists on the tally.

The Bulldogs used a power play 5:03 into the third period to even the score up as Adam Johnson fired a one-timer from atop the right circle to make it a 2-2 game with under 15 minutes left in regulation. Another RedHawk penalty put the Bulldogs back on the offensive, but they managed to kill that one off with a good chance created for Justin Greenberg on a 2-on-1 rush, but Miska stopped the shot to keep it tied. On the ensuing rush, the puck worked in front to Parker Mackay, who redirected the puck in to put the UMD back on top 3-2 with just 8:12 gone by in the final frame.

Things appeared bleak for the Red & White as they mustered only five shots on goal in the final 20 minutes of regulation. However, a seeing-eye Green shot from the point got through traffic and in with 3:25 remaining to even the score at 3-3. Zach LaValle set a good screen in front and picked up an assist while Dornbrock also earned a helper on Green's sixth goal of the season, which left the score all tied up after three periods.

The RedHawks recorded three of the four shots on goal in the five minute overtime period, with one drive by Anthony Louis towards the net being fended off by Miska. With the game officially ruled a 3-3 tie, the teams played on in the 3-on-3 overtime to determine the extra NCHC point. It was there that Dornbrock circled the net and fed Green in the slot for a shot that Miska stopped. However, the rebound went right back to Green and he buried it the second time around to give MU a second league point.

Minnesota Duluth ended up with a 32-23 shot advantage while going 1-for-3 on the power play. Miami came up empty on its three power play opportunities, but got multi-point performances from Brandt (1g, 1a) and Green (1g, 1a) and 29 saves from Larkin to pick up some points in the NCHC standings. Miska made 20 saves of his own at the other end.

While as of the end of Friday's series finale, Miami could technically still finish tied for fourth in the final NCHC standings next weekend, tiebreakers would not go MU's way in any possible scenario to earn home ice advantage for the NCHC Playoffs in two weeks. Meaning next weekend's final regular season series against North Dakota will serve as Miami's final home games. Puck drop for the series opener is on Friday night, March 3, at 7:35 p.m.