Miami drops contest to Omaha in an offensive explosion

Miami hockey drops contest to Omaha in an offensive explosion (WKRC)

OMAHA, Neb. (WKRC) - Despite some valiant comeback bids, the No. 20 Miami hockey team never overcame a slow start in a high scoring 11-7 loss to No. 17 Omaha on Friday night.

MU (9-10-2, 4-6-1-0 National Collegiate Hockey) allowed four first period goals in dropping below .500 for the first time since November.

The Mavericks (11-9-1, 4-7 NCHC) got the evening’s first power play just 1:32 into the contest, but the RedHawks managed to keep them off the board during that man advantage. Omaha did take a 5-1 shot lead over the first six and a half minutes, but strong play by Ryan Larkin left the game scoreless in the early run of play.

Miami went to work on a power play of its own nearly eight minutes into the contest. MU got one good look early as Josh Melnick got fed in the slot for an attempt that Evan Wenninger turned away to help UNO eventually kill it off. The Mavericks went back on the attack shortly after and got a bounce to get on the board as a Grant Gallo angled shot went off a RedHawk stick and in at the 10:16 mark to put them up 1-0.

Another Miami power play came and went with no shots midway through the frame and Omaha eventually made it a 2-0 contest with 5:30 remaining in the first as Jake Randolph took advantage of a lively carom off the boards and scored in an open net.

Another Omaha penalty with 2:52 left in the first gave Miami some life and Kiefer Sherwood took advantage of it by wristing a shot through traffic with 1:38 left in the opening frame. Grant Hutton and Alec Mahalak each drew helpers on the power play tally for Sherwood’s fifth goal of the season.

That momentum was short lived as Omaha added two goals before the horn as Tristan Keck made it 3-1 20 seconds after Sherwood’s tally and Joel Messner scored a power play goal with 38 seconds left to put Miami down 4-1 after 20 minutes with shots 14-3 Omaha.

A penalty by Omaha at the end of the first allowed Miami to begin the second period on the power play, but nothing came of that attempt. However, UNO took another penalty shortly after the successful kill and was not as fortunate the next time as Louie Belpedio blasted a point shot into the net to cut the deficit to 4-2 with just 3:07 gone by in the middle frame. Casey Gilling and Josh Melnick drew assists on the tally.

While a 4-on-3 power play chance came and went for Miami to draw closer, it managed to withstand an Omaha penalty shot after Steven Spinner lost the puck on a penalty shot. It appeared MU would get new life with 8:43 left in the period as Ben Lown got the puck in the middle and wristed a shot off Phil Knies and into the net to cut the deficit to just 4-3.

Omaha managed to quash that rally less than two minutes later when Zach Jordan was left alone near the crease to make it a 5-3 game with 6:49 left in the second and a Tyler Vesel goal with 3:02 left ended Ryan Larkin’s night and upped the lead to 6-3.

Knies netted his second goal of the night to get one back as he brought the puck in front and roofed a backhand shot to make it a 6-4 contest. Sherwood picked up the lone helper on the goal with 1:42 left in the period.

That would not end the scoring, however, as a slew of penalties left Miami on the short end of a 4-on-3. That left Pope to score from the right circle on a one-timer at the 19:25 mark to keep Omaha’s lead at three goals (7-4) after two periods.

Gordie Green got one back just 3:12 into the third period to keep comeback hopes alive as he finished a centering feed from Karch Bachman.

A Miami penalty ended up cancelling out the comeback bid as Omaha got goals from Teemu Pulkkinen and Luke Nogard seven seconds apart to grab a 9-5 lead, putting the game away six minutes into the third. However, MU did get one back as Ben Lown scored shorthanded with 10:26 remaining in regulation.

That tally had MU looking to push the envelope as it pulled Chase Munroe for an extra skater with 9:17 to go. Miami pressed on the attack, but came up empty and an offensive zone penalty put Omaha back on the power play, where Randolph scored to make it 10-6. A Casey Gilling power play goal with an extra attacker cut it to 10-7 and MU continued playing with an extra attacker, but a missed pass at the blue line bounced into the empty net with the goal being credited to goaltender Evan Wenninger to cap the scoring.

Omaha finished with a 33-26 shot advantage and went 4-for-6 on the power play while Miami also netted four power play goals on nine tries. Seven RedHawks finished with multiple points with Knies (2g, 1a), Lown (1g, 2a) and Hutton (3a) posting three apiece.

These teams wrap up their weekend series on Saturday with puck drop scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET.

Information provided by Miami University Athletics

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