RedHawks Drop Series Opener to Fighting Hawks

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Nov. 11, 2017

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- After a strong opening 20 minutes, the Miami hockey team fell behind in the middle frame and dropped a 4-1 decision at No. 2/4 North Dakota on Friday night.

The RedHawks (4-5, 1-2 National Collegiate Hockey) at one point had a 16-9 advantage in shots, but the Fighting Hawks (7-2-2, 2-1 NCHC) scored three second period goals to claim the series opener.

Miami got the first couple of shots with Phil Knies getting a couple looks that Peter Thome paddled away with his blocker. The early pressure gave MU the evening's first power play 2:49 in and while it was able to generate a good amount of looks, a penalty late in the man advantage put it on the defensive less than five minutes in.

That penalty allowed the Fighting Hawks to go to work on their first power play and a penalty with 17 seconds left on that man advantage allowed them to play 5-on-3. Off the ensuing faceoff, Shane Gersich was fed at the backdoor, but Ryan Larkin got a pad on the shot and kept it out. Officials took another look, but determined the puck never crossed the line.

Larkin's big stop energized the Red and White to a pair of successful kills and left the contest scoreless midway through the first. The RedHawks resumed putting rubber onto the net with shots on goal at one point 9-4 in their favor.

The RedHawks drew a penalty with 3:14 left in the frame to go on their second power play. However, the Fighting Hawks special teams held the Red and White at bay as the period ended with a scoreless tie intact.

North Dakota's pinned Miami in its defensive zone on the first few shifts of the second period, but it was able to escape unscathed and eventually drew a penalty 1:56 into the frame. The RedHawks got a few more looks offensively, but again were held off the scoresheet as the game remained tied.

Fresh out of the penalty box, Nick Jones got sprung on a breakaway, where he put the Fighting Hawks on the board to make it 1-0 with 4:03 gone by in the middle stanza.

Ben Lown nearly tied it up eight minutes into the period on a transition rush, but while his wrist shot got by Peter Thome, it rang off the post to leave MU down a goal. The Fighting Hawks went on the power play 8:59 into the period, but one strong save by Larkin on Gersich along with solid play in front of him kept them from adding to their lead.

Shots at one point were 16-9 in favor of the Red and White in the second, but the Fighting Hawks had a late push to end the frame. Another power play for UND paid off as Rhett Gardner put in a centering feed atop the crease with 3:43 left in the period. Jones then crashed the net and poked a loose puck in the slot home with 1:53 left as UND took six of the final seven shots on goal and built a 3-0 lead at the end of the second.

North Dakota opened the third peppering Larkin with shots, but the score held at 3-0. With 7:26 gone by in the frame, Karch Bachman found a loose puck in the low slot and banged it home for his second goal of the season to cut the deficit to 3-1. Grant Frederic and Alec Mahalak both picked up assists on the tally, their first points of the season and in Mahalak's case the first of his career.

The Fighting Hawks answered four minutes later as they crashed the net and the puck squirted into the goal before the officials blew the play dead. Grant Mismash got credited with the tally that put UND back up by three goals and capped the scoring.

Miami finished with a 28-26 edge in shots on goal on the night, but went 0-for-5 on the power play while North Dakota went 1-for-5 with the man advantage. Larkin stopped 22 shots for the Red and White while Thome made 27 saves for the Fighting Hawks.

MU and UND wrap up this weekend's series on Saturday night with puck drop slated for 8:07 p.m. ET.