OMAHA, Neb. – Three-unanswered goals by Omaha erased No. 8 Miami’s early lead and sent the RedHawks to a 3-1 loss at CenturyLink Center on Saturday night.
MU drops to 7-6-1 and 2-4 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference after its third-straight setback. UNO is now 8-6 and 5-1 in NCHC play.
Just like Friday night’s contest, the RedHawks drew first blood thanks to their power play. A Kevin Morris slapshot was stopped by Ryan Massa, but the rebound came to Matthew Caito, who was crashing the goal. The sophomore defenseman cashed in on the loose puck and slipped it in with 9:18 left in the first. That tally was his first of the season and Morris picked up the lone assist, his second point of the weekend, which put Miami up 1-0.
MU’s lead didn’t last long as UNO took advantage of a power play of its own when Ryan Walters blocked a clearing attempt at the blue line and fired a shot through traffic to tie it at one apiece with 7:38 showing on the clock. That goal capped the first period scoring with UNO outshooting MU 15-8 through 20 minutes, including 9-1 after Caito’s goal.
Miami played the first 54 seconds of the period with a carryover power play, but was unable to break the tie. After killing off a UNO power play minutes later, the RedHawks got another try with a man advantage. Unfortunately, after winning the faceoff, the puck bounced to Tanner Lane, who got behind the RedHawks for a breakaway goal with 16:05 remaining in the period. That short-handed goal was the first allowed this season by MU, which found itself trailing 2-1.
MU was unable to score on that power play and had two more opportunities with the man advantage during the second period. On their final power play of the period, the RedHawks worked the puck to Austin Czarnik in the slot for a slapshot, but his chance was stopped by Massa to keep UNO on top. Lane’s short-handed goal was the only one in the second period of play as the Mavericks outshot the RedHawks 14-10 in the second 20-minute frame.
Sean Kuraly created a nice chance early in the third with a 2-on-1 rush, but the sophomore’s chance was stopped by Massa and the rebound was blocked by the UNO defense to keep the score at 2-1.
With 15:21 left, UNO got an opportunity for an insurance goal after MU was called for a penalty. The Mavericks created several grade-A scoring chances that Ryan McKay stopped. The best chance came early when the puck was worked to Dominic Zombo right at the top of the crease. McKay made a stretching save, one of three he made during the power play that kept the RedHawks within one goal.
The Red and White were penalized once more with 11:11 remaining in the game after a turnover forced a hooking penalty. Omaha capitalized for an insurance goal this time with Dominic Zombo firing in a rebound after McKay made an initial save through traffic. Zombo’s seventh goal of the year made it 3-1 with 9:49 remaining, finishing the scoring.
The Mavericks outshot the RedHawks 43-26 overall. Every goal was the product of special teams play with UNO going 2-for-5 on the power play and adding a short-handed goal. MU finished 1-for-5 on the power play, firing 12 of its 26 shots with the man advantage. Barber tied for the game high with six shots on goal.
McKay turned in a strong performance for the Red and White, stopping a season-high 40 shots of the 43 that came his way. Massa made 25 saves on 26 shots for Omaha.
Miami's current three-game losing streak is a rare occurrence. It's the first losing streak longer than two games since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when the RedHawks dropped five-straight from Oct. 15-28, 2011.
The RedHawks are back on the road next weekend when they travel to Bemidji State for a non-conference series. Game one on Friday night starts at 8:37 p.m. ET.