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For the second night in a row, Miami (11-13-3, 6-10-2-2) came out of the gates with a fast and furious brand of brand of hockey, only to be daggered by a St. Cloud State (23-6-1, 13-4-1-1) goal in the final minutes of the first period. Unlike Friday, Miami maintained that offensive pressure and, spurred on by a three-goal second period, took Saturday’s contest by a score of 3-2.
“That’s a tough team over there,” RedHawks captain Sean Kuraly said of his National Collegiate Hockey Conference opponent. “For us to come back and play a tough game, that’s what our focus was … there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but it’s a good step for us.”
The first period was practically a carbon copy of the night before, with the RedHawks outshooting the No. 3 Huskies 11-5 in the first period, but, like Friday, the visitors played the role of spoilers when Jimmy Schuldt beat Jay Williams on a glove-side shot at 18:15 and the Huskies took the lead into the break.
Miami responded emphatically, however, with three goals in five minutes from the sticks of Josh Melnick, Kuraly, and Kiefer Sherwood to take the 3-1 lead. Kuraly’s fifth of the year was especially important, as it stood as the game-winner and an emotional turning point for the home team.
“For the most part, I thought we stayed composed and played our game,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “We were opportunistic on our chances in the second [period], and that was probably the difference of the game from last night to tonight.”
Patrick Russell netted his 13th of the year in a third period comeback bid, as the Huskies actually outshot and outplayed the RedHawks for the final 20 minutes of the contest. The red and white weathered the storm, and with a few timely saves from Williams, the RedHawks ended a two-game skid and split the weekend series with the second-ranked squad in the PairWise rankings.
“Miami pushed very hard and stuck to their game plan all night,” said St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko. “But we didn’t for two periods. We pushed back there in the third, but we just didn’t have enough of our lineup playing with intensity … it was like a wasted night.”
Forward Jimmy Murray agreed with his coach’s assessment and added that it was a good learning experience.
“You have to bring it every single night,” Murray said. “You can’t fall asleep even for one period in this league. I think we’ll take from this what we can. We’re a veteran group, and I think we can translate that to the young guys as we try to make a push here late in the season.”
Williams finished the evening with 21 saves en route to his sixth win of the season, while Charlie Lindgren brought his own brand of quality goaltending to the table but fell in a 26-save decision. The RedHawks finished with a 29-23 advantage in shots on goal.
Every goal on the night was an even-strength marker, continuing the trend from Friday. Ethan Prow and Patrick Newell assisted Schuldt’s tally for the Huskies, while Mikey Eyssimont and Kalle Kossila collected their 18th and 26th assists, respectively, on the Russell goal. Sean Kuraly finished with a goal and an assist, and Melnick, Sherwood, Grant Hutton, Louie Belpedio, Justin Greenberg, and Jack Roslovic all finished with one point apiece.
The Huskies enter a bye week, but return to action at the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Feb. 19. The RedHawks travel to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons Friday, Feb. 12.