RedHawks Drop Game One to Huskies

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March 9, 2018

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. – The Miami hockey team rallied from an early deficit and was within a goal of top-ranked St. Cloud State in the third period, but fell by a 5-2 score in the first game of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Playoffs on Friday.

Friday’s setback has MU (11-19-5) trailing the best-of-three series 1-0.

The RedHawks recorded three of the first four shots on goal of the evening, but the best opportunity came off a Huskie stick when Kevin Fitzgerald found a loose puck in front and forced a strong stop out of Ryan Larkin.

A turnover in the offensive zone led to a St. Cloud State (23-6-6) transition goal as Jack Ahcan fired one in from above the left circle to give SCSU a 1-0 lead with 6:02 gone by. It appeared that Easton Brodzinski made it 2-0 with 9:34 left in the opening stanza after an extended shift in the MU end. However, officials determined that there was contact with Larkin in the crease and it remained a 1-0 contest.

Miami got a power play late in the period, but struggled getting established in the offensive zone for most of the man advantage. The RedHawks did start to possess towards the end of the minor penalty and though the Huskies killed off the power play, MU continued moving the puck and Grant Hutton eventually threaded the puck to a streaking Kiefer Sherwood, who buried a shot from the right circle to tie it up at 1-1 with 4:32 left in the period. Louie Belpedio also picked up an assist on the tally that had the teams all knotted up at intermission.

After some back and forth play for the first few minutes of the second period, the Huskies got a power play with 5:55 expired from the clock. It took just 16 seconds for them to convert as Jimmy Schuldt one-timed a shot from the right point in to give them a 2-1 lead.

SCSU went on another power play with 8:43 left in the middle stanza, but MU was able to kill it off and even generated a good transition scoring opportunity for Josh Melnick that David Hrenak stopped. The Huskies added to their lead when Blake Lizotte picked up a turnover and scored from in tight to up their lead to 3-1 after two periods.

The Red & White killed off a carryover penalty to start the third and then went to work on chipping into their deficit. Miami got a couple good looks with slap shots in the slot that were off target. Eventually an end-to-end rush saw Sherwood gain the zone with a head of steam and space as he found Gordie Green atop the crease where he worked around Hrenak and buried his 15th goal of the season to pull Miami within a goal with 15:34 left in regulation. Hutton also drew an assist on the tally.

Alec Mahalak had a golden opportunity later on to tie it up as Sherwood fed him moving in from the right point nearby the crease, but Hrenak stood his ground and kept the puck out. A goal by Brodzinski allowed SCSU to regain its two-goal lead with 8:21 remaining.

With time winding down, Miami pulled Larkin for an extra attacker and generated some offensive zone time. Belpedio got a look with two minutes and change left, but hit the post and eventually Mikey Eyssimont sealed it with an empty netter.

The Huskies outshot the RedHawks by a 29-26 margin and went 1-for-3 on the power play while killing off both of their penalties. Hrenak stopped 24 shots while Larkin also finished with 24 stops. Sherwood (1g, 1a) and Hutton (2a) contributed to both Miami goals.

Miami looks to keep its season alive on Saturday when it takes on St. Cloud State at 8:07 p.m.