Derek Stamberger | The Miami Student
Miami hockey is all too familiar with "you win some, you lose some."
Against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks (2-2), the RedHawks (4-2) lost their Friday game 3-0 and lost almost all the one-on-one battles that came with it. But the 'Hawks won their Saturday game 2-1 by way of a finally-successful power play.
This is the second weekend in a row Miami has been shut out on Night One of play, only to go on and win on Night Two.
"Our team showed a lot of character, being able to bounce back," freshman defenseman Derek Daschke said on Saturday. "We went five periods without scoring on [Tyler Wall] and I thought it showed great leadership, great coaching and, just overall, a great overall team effort to be able to come back."
The RedHawks continue to show their adaptability after UMass-Lowell's junior goaltender Tyler Wall stopped all of Miami's 36 shots on Friday night and 18 shots through the first and second periods on Saturday night.
Miami continued to pepper Wall with shots on Saturday but had more bodies in front of the net and better positioning that eventually broke through Wall.
Sophomore forward Ben Lown ended Wall's five-period shutout and backhanded a rebound to give the RedHawks their first goal of the weekend 1:05 into the third period. Daschke's game-winning goal seven and a half minutes later came with traffic in front of the net.
Both goals highlighted the versatility of Miami's lineup, as the line-juggling during the RedHawks' offensive slump on Saturday paid off.
Daschke's goal also broke a power play drought that had stretched to 17 scoreless man-advantages. The RedHawks ended the weekend 1-for-9 on the power play and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
To cap the Ws from the weekend, the freshman defenseman's second goal of the season came off assists from junior forward Gordie Green and senior defenseman Grant Hutton - the balance of rookie and veteran talent propelled the RedHawks past the River Hawks and will be essential in the future.
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But Saturday's win couldn't come without the Friday night loss, as the RedHawks collapsed structurally on Friday and lost one-on-one battles along the boards.
"You've got to win one-on-one battles," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "At the end of the day, it comes down to one-on-one battles and, if you're not winning them, it's hard to gain possession and it's hard to gain any kind of momentum."
Passes weren't tape-to-tape and miscommunication plagued the 'Hawks, and the River Hawks took advantage on the power play, during five-on-five play and even when they were short-handed. With each goal scored, Miami fell out of their structure and had a harder time establishing any offensive rhythm in UMass-Lowell's end.
"I think we have to keep playing the game the right way," senior forward Josh Melnick said on Friday. "So many times, when we get away from that, we put ourselves in trouble. If it's not working out, we may try to make a fancy play when it's not there and it's not what we need."
The RedHawks do need to find a way to win Game One and shutdown teams instead of being shut out. The 'Hawks are currently last in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with 2.33 goals per game, and conference play looms in the near future.
Nevertheless, the weekend is another building-block for a still-young team.
"When you go through a game like we did tonight, you go through adversity," Blasi said on Saturday. "You go through doubt, frustration at times. All those things are really important in the big picture of learning and experiencing game-like situations for the real deal. You can't mimic those situations in practice."
The RedHawks continue their homestand this weekend against the Colgate University Raiders (2-1). Puck drop is 7:05 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday.