Miami falls to St. Cloud State 4-1 in regional final

Miami was unable to get much of anything going in the third period, and an empty-net goal with less than one second left for the Huskies put the final score at 4-1. It's a disappointing end for Miami, who had their season ended by a non-Hockey East team for the first time in forever.

St. Cloud rode the momentum from yesterday's 5-1 beatdown of Notre Dame and, while they didn't control play as much today, they were very opportunistic and made their chances count. Miami was unable to do the same, and while the teams finished with 21 shots each, you kept feeling like a barrage was coming for Miami, but it never did. Miami's chances throughout the game seemed sporadic, and the times when Miami did have sustained pressure in the St. Cloud zone, shooting lanes were limited, and Ryan Faragher seemed to see everything clearly in net for the Huskies. On Miami's goal, there wasn't really anything Faragher could have done, and he was perfect for the rest of the game.

It's not all bad news for the RedHawks, as they were a team that probably overachieved this season. They had 11 freshmen, many who played huge roles for the team, including the goaltending tandem of Ryan McKay and Jay Williams and CCHA Rookie of the Year Riley Barber. If sophomore and CCHA Player of the Year Austin Czarnik doesn't bolt for the pros, the team will return many of their key cogs. They also have a strong recruiting class coming in next year, highlighted by Johnny Wingels, brother of former RedHawk and current San Jose Shark Tommy Wingels.

These two tournament games will provide some great experience for this young team, but making a return trip to the tournament might be tougher next year. Miami will be joining the NCHC, a new eight-team conference featuring traditional powers North Dakota, Denver, and these same Huskies. With no more "soft" weekends against teams like Lake Superior State and (heh) Michigan State, every weekend will be a dogfight for the RedHawks. Miami's loss also marks the end of the CCHA, which is disbanding as all of its teams are moving elsewhere. (See you guys, college hockey has conference realignment issues, too!)

So while Miami will obviously be frustrated with tonight's loss, the future is bright, and the road to Philadelphia 2014 starts now.

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