TOLEDO, Ohio – The second-seeded Miami University hockey team fell to fourth-seeded St. Cloud State, 4-1, in the Midwest Regional Final (second round) of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the Huntington Center in Toledo.
The RedHawks finish their season with a 25-12-5 overall record, while the Huskies improved to 25-15-1 and advanced to their first Frozen Four in school history. Miami’s trip back to the Round of Eight was its first since 2010, when it advanced to the Frozen Four after beating Michigan, 3-2, in double-overtime.
Senior defenseman and captain Steven Spinell and sophomore forward Blake Coleman, who totaled three points in the regional, were both named to the NCAA All-Midwest Regional Team.
St. Cloud State opened the scoring with 14:32 left in the first period. Corey Thorson passed from the top of the left circle back to Joey Benik, who was trailing high in the slot. Benik ripped a hard wrist shot past freshman goaltender Ryan McKay, who finished with 18 saves.
Miami responded well after the goal, as it hit two posts midway through the opening period. Freshman defenseman Matthew Caito hit the bottom of the far post with 11 minutes to go and just less than 30 seconds later freshman forward Sean Kuraly hit the crossbar. The ‘Hawks, however, couldn’t get anything past goalie Ryan Faragher despite outshooting the Huskies, 9-6, in the first period.
SCSU took a two-goal lead at the 14:24 mark of the second after Benik notched his second goal of the game on a rebound in front of the net. Brooks Bertsch, who took the initial shot after beating a Miami defender up the right side, tallied an assist on the play.
The RedHawks battled back and closed the gap on the power play less than three minutes later after Coleman took advantage of a calculated bounce. Spinell’s shot from the blue line, which sailed right of the goal post, bounced straight back to Coleman, who beat Faragher back-hand glove side. The goal was the Plano, Texas native’s ninth of the season. Sophomore forward Alex Wideman earned the second assist.
Miami finished 1-for-4 with the man-advantage, while St. Cloud State was 0-for-4 as the RedHawks remained tough on the penalty kill. Both teams had four penalties for eight minutes.
The Huskies, which outshot the RedHawks 11-5 in the second period, regained their two-goal lead, as Thorson scored the first of his two goals on a quick shot from the middle of the left circle with 9:48 left in the second stanza. Bertsch picked up his second helper of the day on the score.
At the end of a hard-fought third period, the RedHawks pulled McKay down two but couldn’t beat Faragher, who finished with 20 saves. Thorson then rounded out the scoring, as he picked up his second goal of the night on Miami’s open net with .2 seconds remaining. Miami outshot St. Cloud State, 7-5, in the final frame but the Huskies finished with a slight, 22-21 edge in shots.
The RedHawks, who carried 18 freshmen and sophomores on their team this season, made their eighth straight NCAA Tournament and also captured the final CCHA regular-season title during the season. In addition to Spinell, seniors Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason and Curtis McKenzie close their careers with 101 victories at Miami, ranking fourth all-time among senior classes, while redshirt senior Marc Hagel also played a huge role with the RedHawks in his lone season donning the Red and White.
Miami moves to the newly founded National Collegiate Hockey Conference next season.