Coach Blasi Postgame
ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Justin Greenberg’s second-collegiate goal capped the Miami hockey team’s second-straight dramatic win, a 4-3 thriller at No. 4/4 St. Cloud State on Saturday night.
The RedHawks (14-19-3) completed a two-game sweep of their best-of-three series against the Huskies (21-10-5) with the victory.
After dropping the series opener in its own building on Friday, St. Cloud tried to establish itself playing below the Miami goal line early on. The RedHawks stayed disciplined in their zone, not allowing a shot until roughly four minutes expired.
The Huskies’ Joey Benik had their best chance with over 10 minutes gone by in the first when the puck came to him right in front of Ryan McKay off a faceoff. The sophomore goaltender calmly stopped the attempt and prevented a rebound.
While SCSU came out firing over the first half of the opening period, MU was able to weather the storm nicely. The Huskies outshot the RedHawks 8-1 over the first 11 minutes, but the game was still scoreless. Miami started pressuring the St. Cloud net a little more as the period wore on, taking five more shots. A penalty with 57.4 seconds left in the period put SCSU on its first power play, but MU’s coverage was strong over the final minute of the period, sending both teams off the ice with the score unchanged at 0-0. Final shots in the first period were 12-6 in favor of St. Cloud State, but a much more even 5-4 in favor of Miami over the last nine minutes of the stanza.
The Red and White killed off the last minute and change of the power play to start the second and began grinding the Huskies down in the offensive zone. Miami took the first six shots on goal as wave after wave of MU lines hemmed SCSU in its own end. Riley Barber had a good look from the high slot that Faragher stopped about five minutes in. Shortly thereafter, Barber got the puck all alone in the middle, but his backhand shot was again turned away by Faragher.
St. Cloud grabbed its first lead of the series 10:30 into the period when Kevin Gravel’s wrist shot got through traffic and in. Miami went to its first power play of the night with 6:27 left in the frame, but St. Cloud held the Red and White to just one shot on goal to maintain the lead. With time winding down in the period, Jimmy Murray’s one-timer from between the circles found the net to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead after two periods of play despite a 14-11 advantage in shots for the RedHawks.
Sean Kuraly cut MU’s deficit in half when Barber’s shot from the middle rang off the cross bar right to him. Kuraly fired the rebound into an open net with 16:01 left in the period to cut SCSU’s lead to 2-1. Chris Joyaux also picked up his second point of the series with an assist.
Miami went to its second power play of the night with 14:20 remaining in regulation, but it did not create many opportunities. Cody Murphy had the best chance when the puck worked free to him on the right side, but Faragher made a sprawling save to keep the puck out.
Austin Czarnik’s blast right at the end of the power play deflected off a St. Cloud defenseman and into the net to even the score at 2-2 at the 7:43 mark of the third. Blake Coleman and Murphy earned assists on the play.
The elation did not last long as the RedHawks were whistled for two penalties in the next 49 seconds to give the Huskies a 5-on-3 power play. Nic Dowd scored by one-timing a centering feed during the two-man advantage to put SCSU back on top by a 3-2 margin with 10:40 remaining.
The Red and White killed off the second minor penalty and the Huskies took a penalty in the offensive zone to open the door once again for a comeback. Anthony Louis made good on the opportunity when he fired in a loose puck at the right side with 7:52 left to even the score at 3-3. Barber and Kuraly garnered assists on the tying tally.
The game went back and forth with quality chances at both ends of the rink towards the end of regulation. MU fired three shots at Faragher over the next few minutes, but he turned each aside. SCSU got its legs back and had a couple quality looks as the period wore on. Jonny Brodzinski skated in front of the net for a shot, but McKay got his pads down to stop the attempt. With two minutes left, Dowd got a centering feed just in front of the crease, but his shot went off the post to keep the score tied up.
With time winding down, MU broke out of its own zone with Matt Joyaux finding Louis cutting up the ice. Louis got the puck to Greenberg, who was trailing the play in the middle. The freshman fired a wrist shot past Faragher for his second goal of the year with 2.6 seconds left to send the Red and White to the semifinals.
The RedHawks outshot the Huskies 30-28 and both teams went 1-for-3 on the power play. McKay stopped 25 of 28 SCSU shots while Faragher made 26 saves for the Huskies. Louis (one goal, one assist), Kuraly (one goal, one assist) and Barber (two assists) each posted multi-point games for the RedHawks with Barber and Kuraly finishing with five points in the two-game series.
Miami advances to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Inaugural Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis next weekend, with the semifinal round being played on March 21 against either North Dakota or Western Michigan.