With 3:08 remaining in the first period, the score was 2-2. Then suddenly, it wasn’t.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it should. Poor defense, crippling penalties, and bad passing all contributed to Miami’s third period meltdown against the visiting Omaha Mavericks on Friday. Just 24 hours later, it was more of the same, and the RedHawks hit the showers swallowing a 6-2 defeat.
“If you look at the weekend as a whole, I didn’t think we competed as well as Omaha did,” said coach Enrico Blasi. “Obviously, when you play against good teams, they make you pay for every mistake.”
Peeved by the previous night’s letdown, the RedHawks surged out of the gate, hitting hard and getting early chances on offense. Miami produced four of the game’s first five shots.
A cross-checking penalty on senior defenseman Colin Sullivan suddenly ended that momentum and, at the 6:15 mark, allowed Omaha’s first goal. Temmu Pulkkinen scooped up his own rebound off defenseman Grant Hutton’s block, then passing across the crease to Mason Morelli for a point blank finish.
That was Omaha’s first goal, but it wouldn’t be their last.
Just over five minutes later, a slashing penalty bought Miami their first power play. But a mindless pass from Hutton led to another easy score for the Mavericks, this time via senior forward Austin Ortega. His seven shot attempts on the evening led both teams.
That tallied the score 2-0 in Omaha’s favor. Being on the receiving end of a three goal comeback the night before, The Brotherhood was not discouraged.
Miami’s Kiefer Sherwood answered with two power play goals to end the period. The first, a one-timer tucked in the top left corner, came with 4:58 left by way of a blocked Anthony Louis shot. The second, another one-timer blasted to the same corner, came with 3:08 left by way of back-and-forth action with Josh Melnick. These pulled the RedHawks into a 2-2 tie with the Mavericks, sending Blasi to the locker room encouraged.
“I thought we started the game off well tonight in terms of our energy,” he said. “They got a couple of quick goals and I thought we fought back. In the second period I thought they took it to us.”
Things promptly unraveled for Miami. Luc Snuggerud’s 4-on-4 goal at the 7:20 mark, assisted by Ian Brady and Steven Spinner, crossed Miami goalie Chase Munroe to reclaim the lead. Then, in the early seconds of an Omaha 5-on-3, Munroe leaked in a slapshot delivered from the right dot courtesy of David Pope.
Miami outshot Omaha 10-9 in the second period, but that couldn’t keep the RedHawks from climbing into another two goal deficit.
“They finished [shots]. They executed better than we did. Whenever we had an opportunity they’d block shots or their goalie came up big,” Blasi said. “We weren’t able to do that.”
From there, Omaha capitalized on two breakaway goals in the third period from Tristan Keck (15:12 remaining) and Snuggerud (12:04 remaining), bringing the score to 6-2. The RedHawks lacked the energy to mount a late charge. Even after Omaha handed Miami a five minute power play following a major for interference, the Red and White seemed uninspired and unable to manufacture offense.
“In the third period we just had nothing left,” Blasi said. “We’re going to have to get better in a lot of areas. We’ll come up with a plan and just chip away at it.”
The RedHawks were undone by their eight penalties, which gave way to three Omaha scores. In goal, Munroe couldn’t withstand the pressure of his first career start (granted, that pressure only intensified thanks to some careless passes). Overall, the adjustments from the night before simply didn’t pull through, leaving the RedHawks to regroup ahead of the upcoming series at #2 Denver.
“Obviously there’s a lot of work to do and we have to get back to work,” Blasi said. With the second ranked team in the country on tap, that much is certain.