ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Riley Barber capped a wild playoff opener when he scored 10:10 into overtime to lift Miami to a 5-4 win at No. 4/4 St. Cloud State on Friday night.
The RedHawks (13-19-3) never trailed to take game one in the best-of-three National Collegiate Hockey Conference postseason series over the Huskies (21-9-5).
Miami scored on its first shot of the game when Kevin Morris snapped in a centering feed from Alex Wideman 2:40 into the game. The room for Wideman was created by crossing past John Doherty behind the goal. Doherty also added an assist on the scoring tally for his second point of the year.
An interference penalty at the 6:05 mark put SCSU on its first power play of the evening, but Ryan McKay was up to the task by stopping two Husky shots, including a strong stick save on Nic Dowd from the slot area. A transition rush shortly after the penalty expired led to an opening for Tim Daly to pinch in from the right point. The defenseman beat McKay to even the score at 1-1 with 11:31 left in the first.
Scoring chances were a bit harder to come by the rest of the period. The RedHawks did garner a power play with 5:43 left in the first, but Ryan Faragher turned away all three of their shots to keep the score even at one apiece. That score held into the first intermission with Miami outshooting St. Cloud State 10-7.
A transition rush 3:16 into the second period gave the Huskies their second power play opportunity of the night. However, it was the RedHawks who took advantage of the situation. Sean Kuraly broke up a Husky rush and swung the puck to Riley Barber cutting the other way down the left wall. After entering the zone, Barber fed Kuraly at the right circle and he in turn found Chris Joyaux. The sophomore wired a shot that deflected in off Faragher for his first collegiate goal, a shorthanded tally that put the Red and White ahead 2-1 just 4:07 into the second period.
Miami eventually killed the St. Cloud power play, though a scramble in front of the MU net led to another SCSU power play at the 7:39 mark. The Red and White penalty kill once again stood tall, only allowing one Husky shot to maintain their 2-1 lead midway through the second.
The Red and White smothered the Huskies defensively for a good chunk of the period. SCSU, the nation’s second-highest scoring team, was held to only 10 total shots with 35 minutes gone by in the game. The Huskies did put together a transition rush with Kevin Gravel getting a look in the middle, but McKay steered the chance aside along with three more SCSU shots in the waning minutes of the second to keep the RedHawks up 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Kevin Gravel tied the score just 31 seconds into the third period when his point shot went through traffic after one-timing a pass from Daly. The Huskies took three of the first four shots of the period, but the Redhawks drew their second power play 5:49 into the third as Cody Murphy was held going through the neutral zone. Murphy’s hard skating was rewarded with 13:11 to play when his heavy wrist shot from the right wing went through traffic and into the net for his fifth goal this season. Austin Czarnik and Justin Greenberg garnered assists on the power play marker, putting the Red and White on top 3-2.
The Huskies nearly evened it up on the next shift as Dowd got a good look in the middle which McKay stopped and a rebound was fired wide of the net. Dowd got free in the slot with 9:21 to play and one-timed a centering feed from Jimmy Murray. Miami didn’t hang its head and regained the lead when Sean Kuraly poked his own rebound into the net 27 seconds later to make it 4-3.
St. Cloud kept on coming and Garrett Milan got a close range chance that McKay kicked away with his right pad. The Huskies started coming on in waves from there, outshooting the RedHawks 9-4 after Kuraly’s goal. Miami was whistled for a penalty with 9.1 seconds left, but appeared to be walking out with the win after Matthew Caito blocked Ethan Prow’s shot. Gravel gathered the puck and managed to shoot the rebound in with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. After a video review, the goal was upheld and the game was sent to overtime.
St. Cloud pressured Miami at the outset of the overtime frame. The RedHawks first shot, which came over five minutes in, was a quality look. Blake Coleman carried the puck up the left side and fired a shot off Charlie Lindgren’s pad. The rebound kicked back to Coleman’s stick with an open net, but the shot went off the side of the frame to keep the contest going.
After withstanding the Huskies’ best chances, the RedHawks countered at the other end midway through the overtime. Matt Joyaux hit Kuraly on an outlet feed down the left side. The sophomore forward shoveled a puck to Lindgren, who kicked the rebound back in front where Barber tapped it through him and in to clinch the win for the Red and White with 9:50 left in overtime.
The Redhawks ended up outshooting the Huskies 35-33 overall and went 1-for-2 on the power play. SCSU went 1-for-4 with the man advantage. McKay stopped 29 of 33 Husky shots in 70:10 between the pipes. Faragher was lifted after allowing four goals on 27 shots in 51:06 while Lindgren stopped seven of eight shots over the final 18:20. Barber and Kuraly both posted three-point nights with one goal and two assists apiece for the RedHawks.
With one more win, Miami can advance to next week’s NCHC Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis. The RedHawks and Huskies play once again on Saturday at 8:07 p.m. ET.