ST. CLOUD – A remarkable thing about hockey (or any sport, really) is that a better effort doesn’t always guarantee a victory.
The Huskies improved their play from Friday night, but Miami wasn’t quite ready to pack their bags for the offseason.
The resilient RedHawks staved off elimination for one more day as defenseman Grant Hutton’s second goal of the game lifted them past top-ranked St. Cloud State 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Hutton’s second goal, a wrister from the slot at 7:10 of the extra session, guaranteed at least one more game this season for Miami.
Meanwhile, SCSU lost at home for just the third time this season (15-3-2). Despite stepping up their game from Friday, they’ll have to hold off a pesky RedHawks team one more time if they want to move on to the Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul.
“I think we played better than we did yesterday. Obviously the outcome doesn’t say that,” said Huskies forward Blake Winiecki, who had the game-tying goal early in the third period. “Sucks to be on the raw end of it, but we gotta come back ready to go.”
Head coach Bob Motzko didn’t have too many complaints either.
“We played good tonight; they played good. It was a good hockey game,” he said. “I have no problems with the way we played tonight. We were tighter; [Miami] had very few chances.”
With their season hanging in the balance, the RedHawks wasted no time, getting on the board just 1:54 into the game as forward Josh Melnick tipped home a shot from the right point by defenseman Alec Mahalak. The Huskies woke up after that and started pressuring in the Miami end after riding the momentum of a power play, but just as it seemed they would pull even, MU got a late goal from Hutton to go up 2-0 after one period. Miami had a total of four shots in the frame with half of them getting in the net behind SCSU goaltender David Hrenak.
“You find yourself down and they get momentum and they play off of it and it took us the whole game to get back in,” Motzko said. “But that’s a classic playoff hockey game.”
Momentum started to swing in favor of St. Cloud State in the second period, beginning with forward Nick Poehling drawing a checking-from-behind major penalty and game misconduct by Miami defenseman Chaz Switzer. Nick’s brother Ryan then buried a centering feed from Mikey Eyssimont into an open net to cut the lead in half.
“We knew if we scored a goal, we’d get the energy going. That came at a big time for us,” Motzko said.
“We got a little jump in our step,” Winiecki added.
The Huskies tied it early in the third period with another power play goal as Winiecki camped out in front of Miami goaltender Ryan Larkin and tipped in a Jack Ahcan shot from the high slot. SCSU continued their offensive dominance from there, exhausting the RedHawks skaters with long shifts in front of Larkin and not allowing many chances on the other end of the ice.
Still, overtime awaited and Hutton made the most of it, connecting from the slot to set up a third game in the series.
Larkin made 30 saves for Miami and Hrenak made 17 for St. Cloud State.
Sunday night’s winner-take-all tilt is scheduled for a 7:07 PM puck drop.
MU goal at 1:54: Josh Melnick (10). Assisted by Alec Mahalak (6) and Kiefer Sherwood (19).
MU goal at 17:33: Grant Hutton (11). Assisted by Sherwood (20) and Mahalak (7).
SCSU power-play goal at 7:20: Ryan Poehling (13). Assisted by Mikey Eyssimont (21) and Robby Jackson (26).
SCSU power-play goal at 2:43: Blake Winiecki (8). Assisted by Jack Ahcan (17) and Blake Lizotte (18).
MU goal at 7:10: Hutton (12). Assisted by Louie Belpedio (21) and Phil Knies (9).
Power plays: MU 0-2, SCSU 2-4.
Shots on goal: MU 20, SCSU 32.