Oxford, OH – This was not the kind of way you want to lose a hockey game. Up 2-1 with 2:15 left in regulation, the Huskies Jacob Benson was whistled for a five-minute major for contact to the head. Clearly a judgment call by the officials, it steered the outcome of a game that appeared to be well in hand by SCSU to the RedHawks. Subsequently, Miami’s Josh Melnick scored with 56 seconds remaining in regulation and then 1:23 into overtime to give Miami an improbable win over the Huskies at the Goggin Ice Center in Oxford, OH.
For a game that finished with a lot of excitement it started as a rather uninspiring game between two teams trying to start off the second half of the season on solid footing. In a period with a slight advantage to the RedHawks, it turned into a goaltender duel between SCSU’s Jeff Smith starting his third consecutive game and Miami’s first-year goaltender, Ryan Larkin. The Huskies did have one bonafide opportunity with Dennis Cholowski being stopped at the doorstep by Larkin on the Huskies only power play of the period. Shots on goal were 11-11 apiece with the Huskies nullifying two Miami power play opportunities and the RedHawks killing the Huskies lone man-advantage. With the Huskies finishing an extended road trip which began on December 29th in Arizona it certainly wasn’t unreasonable to expect a slow start to this weekend series.
SCSU came out with much more vigor and energy in period two and was on the board first on a goal by Mikey Eyssimont ( Newell | Winieck ) at 13:47 with his 10th of the season. Newell placed the puck on net in traffic and the rebound came to Eyssimont who toe-dragged the rebound past Miami’s Larkin for a 1-0 SCSU lead. The Huskies certainly had other grade A opportunities in the period including a three on one with Jackson and Benson failing to connect to beat Larkin. With the Huskies controlling much of the real estate in the period, SCSU starter Jeff Smith was still called upon to make several quality saves including a goal-mouth tap-in effort by Miami’s Anthony Louis. SCSU outshot Miami 13-7 in the period.
After killing off a penalty to Mikey Eyssimont to start the third period, the Huskies again were behind the eight-ball after a tripping penalty to Ben Storm at 9:04. But once again, they continued their streak to 26 opponent opportunities without a power play goal. Finally, at 11:46, Miami’s leading scorer, Anthony Louis knotted the game with a one-timer propelled from one knee from the slot for a 1-1 contest. But, after a cross-checking call to Colin Sullivan, Blake Winiecki (Benson | Eyssimont) scored his 9th goal of the year at 17:01 in traffic inside the goalmouth for a 2-1 SCSU lead. Eyssimont took a shot that deflected off the post into the crease area and Winiecki slapped it past Larkin.
With the Huskies in control of the game, the dramatics started with 2:15 left in the game. A collision in the neutral zone between Jacob Benson and Miami’s Carson Meyer had Meyer curled up on the ice with a penalty subsequently called for contact to the head. Within moments, Meyer did pop back up to his feet and was available for the ensuing five-minute power play. A controversial call for sure but this was the break the RedHawks needed as Josh Melnick nailed down the tying goal with 56 seconds remaining in regulation while on the man-advantage and the Miami goaltender pulled.
With the penalty carrying over to the overtime session, Melnick once again was the hero tapping the puck past Smith 1:23 into overtime with the game-winner for the RedHawks. An unfortunate turn of events for the Huskies who could nearly taste victory prior to the penalty to Benson.
Miami outshot SCSU 34-31 and were 2 of 6 on the man-advantage while the Huskies were 1 for 3 on the power play. Jeff Smith was riding a rather solid game in goal prior to the two power play goals shutting out Miami for the first two periods of play. Smith ended up stopping 31 of 34 shots on goal and allowing two power play goals. Miami starter Ryan Larkin turned aside 29 of 31 SOG in a winning effort.
The loss dropped SCSU’s conference record to 4-6-1 and tied with North Dakota for fourth place in the NCHC.
The teams return to finish the weekend series on Saturday with the puck drop at 6:05 PM CT.
Stars of the Game: Josh Melnick (Miami), Anthony Louis (Miami), Mikey Eyssimont (SCSU)