Religion lifts Steffes to ECHL dominance

Looking at Gary Steffes’ career stats line from juniors in Cedar Rapids, four years in college and the last six years when he has played in several levels of the pros, his senior season at Miami stands out for all of the wrong reasons: 17 games, no goals, one assist.

Without knowing more about the 29-year-old forward, one might assume he was hurt that year, lost his passion for the game or battled any other of countless issues that sidetrack numerous would-be pro athletes from their ultimate goal.

But while many would hang up their skates and cash in their Miami degrees for lucrative jobs in their respective fields, the struggles of that 2009-10 campaign combined with hard work and a strong religious faith have culminated in his becoming one of the most lethal clutch scorers in the ECHL and Kelly Cup championships each of the past two seasons.

Forward Gary Steffes (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Forward Gary Steffes (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

“I look back at my senior year, and it was probably one of the hardest years, hockey-wise, that I’ve ever had,” Steffes said. “I didn’t score a single goal all season, I had one assist and I played half of the games, and I really went through a lot. There’s no question that my faith in Jesus Christ was impactful for me.”

After netting just 12 goals in 98 games in the USHL, Steffes arrived in Oxford in the fall of 2006, becoming a member of the first freshman class to play at Cady Arena.

“I came in one guy and left another guy, both on and off the ice,” Steffes said. “Being a part of the RedHawks’ organization was an amazing blessing, and I can’t say thanks enough for how the coaching staff invested in me. When I think about my experience about Miami, it’s so much bigger than hockey, but my experience as a hockey player was top-notch. I got to play against some of the best programs in the world, and it was a tremendous honor. It developed me a ton, and I’m grateful.”

Steffes skated in all 42 games his rookie season, and as a sophomore, Steffes doubled his points total from his 5-3-8 freshman season, as he scored six times and set up 10 more while rising on Miami’s forward depth chart.

He also dressed for both games in the NCAA Tournament before Miami fell in the regional final.

Steffes was roomed with classmate and former NHLer Jarod Palmer when he first came to Oxford. The two had never met before but are now close friends.

“He was extremely energetic – a go-getter in every facet,” Palmer said. “I was a lot more laid back as far as life went, but Gary was 110 percent in everything he did, in every category. That really impressed me, honestly, and kind of intimidated me.”

Junior season was Steffes’ collegiate high point. It started with him recording a hat trick in the RedHawks’ home opener vs. Ohio State, and he finished with 11 goals – tied for fourth on the team – and 12 assists.

Miami advanced to the national championship game for the only time in its history, and Steffes netted the RedHawks’ first-ever NCAA title game goal.

“Junior year was probably the best year that I had of all of them,” Steffes said. “We get to go into the Frozen Four, and we beat Bemidji (State) and then we go to the national championship game, and the environment was just crazy. I still remember the line I got to play with and the teammates that I had – it was an exhilarating run and an exhilarating year, and really just to be a part of a team that was atop the nation fighting to win a national championship. It was an amazing experience that I’m blessed to have been a part of.”

There was reason to believe Steffes’ development would take yet another step forward in 2009-10, but his on-ice story in Oxford was pretty much complete.

Forward Jarod Palmer (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Forward Jarod Palmer (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

“In college, (Steffes) had a tough time trying to stay calm,” Palmer said. “He was really nervous before games, and it would show in his play. He’d make panicked decisions out there. He wanted to be successful – he trained harder, he practiced harder than anyone. If you came to our practices you’d have thought he was the best player on the ice, without a doubt. But when it came to game time, performance time, he would get nervous and make strange decisions. As things didn’t go so well, his pressure increased.”

He was a healthy scratch down the stretch, including the NCAA Tournament as the RedHawks again qualified for the Frozen Four.

“Going through my senior season, it really was a very big maturing year, and the Lord, he pulled some things out of me and I had to develop in a lot of ways, mentally and emotionally. I look back at my performance, and I would’ve liked to have seen it a little better, but at the same time there are so many things that I took from that. I grew as a man, I grew as player – it was a tough year overall.”

Meanwhile, Palmer scored a team-high 18 times and picked up 27 assists for a RedHawks-best 45 points in his final season at Miami, but he was unable to help his struggling friend garner that same success.

“Senior year, he tried to find his way in life, and he really changed dramatically,” Palmer said. “He became a close follower of Christ, and I think it was really tough for him to watch other guys play games. He was (a) healthy scratch sometimes, and I saw that it hurt, it was really painful, and I didn’t really know how to help him. I tried to tell him mostly…he needed to relax, he needed to not think hockey is the most important thing in the world. He would put so much pressure on himself that he would kind of choke out there.”

Unless there’s a major injury, it’s almost a given that when a skater’s stat line reads 0-1-1 his final collegiate season, it’s time to find another line of work.

Steffes’ stock had obviously taken a major hit, and after being discussed as a potential AHL candidate prior to 2009-10, he found himself out of college eligibility and wondering if he had logged his last competitive game.

“I remember getting on my knees, saying Lord, if you want me to play, open up a door,” Steffes said. “But honestly, I didn’t have a ton of credibility to get my own contract. I didn’t know if I was going to play again. The Lord opened up a door in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to go play in the Central League and get my pro career started. It was crazy: An agent called me and asked if I wanted to play, and I said absolutely, I’d love to if there’s still an opening, and sure enough I had a contract a couple of weeks later, and I spent the next three years in Tulsa. I’m really grateful that I got to, I can tell you that.”

Tulsa, in the now-defunct CHL, was a step below the ECHL. Already 23 years old entering his first pro season, Steffes spent three full seasons with the Oilers and improved his points-per-game average in each one.

He went from 43 points in 66 games (0.65) as a rookie to 52 points in the same number of contests in his second pro season – a 0.79 clip – finishing third on his team in scoring and goals (22).

Steffes’ third season was a turning point in terms of offensive production. He scored 20 times and set up 14 more goals in just 37 games before vaulting two levels to the AHL, where he played 16 games with Lake Erie.

“I’d heard that the Central League was not the greatest league, and I was totally blown away by how gifted those players were,” Steffes said. “I grew so much as a player there, and my coach, Bruce Ramsay, took me under his wing and taught me how to be more offensive, and how to play in different spots on the power play, and how to be in situations that allow my game to develop and grow. And through that, I got my opportunity to go Lake Erie of the American League.”

Steffes put up a modest three points in his inaugural call-up to the Lock Monsters of North America’s second-best league, and his play in that 2012-13 season earned him a spot on Bakersfield of the ECHL the following fall.

It was Steffes’ first stint in that league, and he posted 18 goals and 17 assists, adding nine more points during the Condors’ conference finals run.

From there it was on to Allen – his current team and member of the ECHL – and Steffes has seemingly found the net at will since joining the Americans in 2014-15.

He led the league in goals with 44 despite a nine-game call-up to AHL Milwaukee. No one in the ECHL has scored more regular season goals since 2011. Steffes ended the season with 73 points and a plus-31 rating.

Steffes also netted four goals with the Admirals during his promotion and said that helped boost his confidence level even more.

“How could it not, right?” Steffes said. “You get to live out your dream, you get to go to the American League and play just on the verge of being in the NHL. There’s not an awe factor like there is some places. Now there’s a confidence like, holy smokes we could be called to be there tomorrow, and that’s just a totally different mentality. Obviously everyone’s games are totally top-notch, so it was extremely encouraging.”

He was sent back to Allen for the playoffs, where he resumed his torrid pace. Allen won the Kelly Cup that season, thanks largely to 13 goals by Steffes, tied for the second most that playoff year.

That gave him 61 goals between the regular season and playoffs.

Steffes called Palmer after he won that first Cup in Allen to thank him for helping him through that difficult period in Oxford.

In that conversion, Steffes told Palmer that he remembered their first game day together at Miami in the fall of 2006. Palmer was relaxed that day and took a nap while Steffes was pumped up in the hours before the puck dropped.

The result: Palmer had a solid night and Steffes did not.

“I said ‘wow, I’m glad I did something to help you out,’” Palmer said. “He said ‘I stayed really relaxed out there and we played great and we won the championship,’ and I said ‘that’s awesome’.

“The best athletes in the world, they’re not nervous before the game because they’re confident in themselves and they’ve practiced so many times and they’ve seen success in what they do so many times that they don’t have a thought in the world that something could go bad. It took Gary a long time to figure that out, and you can see it in pro hockey – he’s done really well for himself. Not just in the ECHL, but he’s gotten some chances to play in the AHL. That’s pretty special compared to where he finished his college career.”

But that was just half of Steffes’ championship story. He returned to Allen last season and earned another brief stint in the AHL, this time a two-game recall with San Jose where he picked up an assist.

Palmer, who had retired because of concussion issues in 2012-13 after six games in the NHL, actually joined shorthanded Allen over the holidays and played three games with his former Miami teammate before hanging up the skates again, this time for good.

“I’m really excited for him, to see his hockey success,” Palmer said. “I know he really battled hard in college and had some rough times, and to see him come out of that and end up becoming a champion in the (ECHL), it’s pretty cool. He was a captain in every way, shape and form. They even had him kind of coaching the penalty kill and teaching the system. It was pretty cool to see what a prominent role he played on the team.”

Steffes dominated in the playoffs again last season, amazingly putting up the same 13-5-18 postseason line en route to another Kelly Cup title this June.

“It’s such a neat feeling,” Steffes said. “You can look your brother in the eyes and say, ‘we did it’. Of all that we went through, in that moment you’re thinking about all of the bus trips, and you’re thinking about the ups and downs of your season, and you’re thinking about the injuries that guys took on, the guys that took big hits to make plays, the sacrifice guys made and the times you’re getting in at four in the morning from a bus trip and you’ve got to be up and ready to play the next day. There’s just this feeling of joy and relief and excitement and gratitude – it’s just a great feeling. And then that’s something you get to celebrate with your guys moving forward, right? We’ll always have that bond as brothers. It’s not just another team that we played for, it’s a team that did something successfully, a team that won the last game that they played in the season. That’s a pretty awesome feeling to have.”

So what has been the difference in Steffes’ game? He scored 22 goals in 136 games in four years with Miami and never recorded more than that in a single season dating back to juniors.

In 2014-15 and 2015-16 he has 96 between the regular and postseasons, including his trips to the AHL, in 192 games.

“I would say there’s been some significant development that’s happened in my career the past couple of years,” Steffes said. “My coach in Allen (Steve Martinson), of course, gave me the chance of a lifetime. He’s put me into opportunities when I can be effective offensively. And then I’ve had people come into my life that have really challenged me to become a critical thinker and to become a guy who is not just a robot and just does what coaches says but actually tries to get into (players’) heads as to how they think. When you watch the NHL and see some of the most prolific offensive players like Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton and (Joe) Pavelski and try to get into their minds, and what are they thinking in different situations? I really put a lot of time into that, I was watching video, I was learning, I was practicing different skills and trying to learn how to be a scorer. And then I got a coach that gave me the opportunity to do it and the Lord totally blessed the road. I walked away with nearly 50 goals in a season and to be a part of two incredible playoff runs, words can’t really express how I feel when I think about the whole journey I’ve been on here.”

Steffes will return to suburban Dallas again this fall where he will attempt to skate the Kelly Cup for a third straight year.

With three trips to the AHL in four years, chances are good he earns another recall.

No one in the hockey world appreciates his opportunities as much as Steffes, yet like all North Americans that lace up the skates, he still has strong NHL aspirations.

“I dream of it, man,” Steffes said. “I’m getting older, and I’m being careful of that line of perseverance and stubbornness. There’s a line where either you have to keep fighting a little longer, or you’re at the point of stubbornness, and you’ve kind of got to let go. But I’m still going for it, and I would love to be able to make the NHL and play one game. Anything’s possible and I’m going to keep working at it until God leads me out of it, leads me away. I’m hopeful – you never know – I got an opportunity last year, and I got an opportunity with Milwaukee the year before. (Need another) opportunity, and you never know what can happen from it.”

Now 29, Steffes has to make that annual decision: To keep playing or to turn pro in another field?

Even now, at the top of his game, it’s something he thinks about each off-season.

“Those are questions that I’ve really got to take some time to start thinking through, especially heading into my seventh year,” Steffes said. “I’ve definitely considered going to Europe, I’ve considered playing until I can’t play any more – you know, when you hang them up, you hang them up. I realize it’s a very big decision and I still love the game. I feel like I’m the prime of my career, and I feel like I’m totally in the best shape of my life at 29, so I’m not in a rush to hang them up, but I don’t know, but as for now I definitely hope to keep playing for a little while here.”

Opportunities, constant learning and staying in peak physical shape are musts for a hockey player’s game to spike.

But then there’s the mental side, the side that began evolving for Steffes during a tumultuous senior season in Oxford. And for Steffes, that growth directly correlates to his faith.

“As my life began to change in so many ways, I had to learn how to be motivated differently,” Steffes said. “I think there was definitely a transition of going from being motivated to prove people wrong and being motivated to prove how good and prove my worth by my performance to playing because I love the game, and I love my teammates and I love the Lord and I want to honor Him the best I can and be a man of excellence and be a man of honor in everything I can do.

“To be completely honest, this twitch in motivation has actually raised my game, because now my end goal isn’t just to be great in people’s eyes, my goal is to be the best I can possibly be in God’s eyes, and that draws me to a place where in my heart, I know if I’m really giving my all or not.”

Prior to that life-altering senior season at Miami, it was expected that Steffes’ final campaign with the RedHawks would pick up where his third year had left off.

Double-digit goals and assists as a top-six forward, even on a loaded MU team.

It didn’t work out that way for Steffes in 2009-10. But what if it had? What if the ECHL came easily to Steffes right out of college? Would he still be the player he is today?

“Where would I be if I had gone on that road, where would I be if that had happened?” Steffes said. “I definitely don’t know that I would be as strong in certain areas of character, in certain areas of the mental game that I am today. I have so much grateful for, but I realize that I don’t want to walk through that again. But looking back on it I can’t help but be grateful for some things that came out of it.”

So many people encounter seemingly-overwhelming obstacles in hockey and in life, and Steffes talked about how to overcome them.

“The encouraging thing is even when you walk through a valley, it doesn’t mean there’s not the opportunity for a mountain to be coming,” Steffes said. “If people are going through valleys, there are three enemies to persevere: The first one is we can buckle under the pressure and we can totally cave under the pressure. The second one is we can bail, when things get hard we just want to escape and want to get out of there, and the third one is we can start blaming. We can blame others and start pointing the finger left and right. Those three things I think about all the time when things get hard: Don’t buckle, don’t bail and don’t blame. Some of those competitive quote-unquote set-backs in life are really set-ups for us to do something greater. For me I look back at that tough (senior) season, and it was hard. It was really hard. But it totally molded me and I learned so many things that year that have really been huge for my in my pro career. I learned so much about strength of character and maturity and perspective and things outside of the rink that have totally catapulted me to be the player I am today. Totally.”

Steffes, whose Bachelor of Science from Miami is in kinesiology and health, is involved in an organization called Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In the off-season, he travels around the country and the world, running hockey camps and teaching Christianity.

He enjoys meeting and helping kids that are struggling with their own challenges in life.

“It’s bigger than hockey, but hockey has become my tool to impact a lot of people for Christ,” Steffes said. “I’ve learned so many things about how to be a confident, consistent, excellent athlete that’s not defined by hockey. I think one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned over the years is that it’s so easy – especially for us as men – to be completely defined by what we do. What we do determines our worth and our value, and (determines) what other people think about us. To find freedom from that and to be able to experience the game the way it was intended to be played – you can compete when every time you’re touching the ice you’re not worried about your worth, your value being on the line. If you totally blow it, you totally fail you’re still the same guy – you’re worthy, you’re valuable. I think that is one of the biggest aspects of my journey is learning and realizing that hockey does not define me any more.”

When Steffes finally has to put the skates away for good, he would like to stay involved in the sport that he loves. He said he may write a book about his life and how to be a victorious Christian athlete.

“He’s very happy,” Palmer said. “He’s enjoying hockey, and he’s enjoying life – success or not – and I think that’s something that’s different about him since I played with him in college to now. When he found Christ he realized that he was loved by the Creator in all facets, regardless of whether he scored goals or not – that’s not something that’s very important in terms of eternity. Something for him was he found out that it wasn’t life or death to perform or not perform. Obviously everyone wants to perform and it’s always nice and feels good too, but I think Gary has gotten to the point where when he has a bad game or a bad shift, it doesn’t affect him like it used to because he knows he’s loved eternally by Jesus Christ. He’s a very loving human being and I think that comes from the Creator and his relationship with Christ.

“When I meet with him he likes to ask me the deep questions in life, like how’s your social life, how’s your relationship with your wife and your kids? And those are things that can be uncomfortable to talk about sometimes, but he’s really, genuinely concerned. Gary’s a very special human being because of how much he cares and loves people.”

Miami’s Next In Line For the NHL

Twenty-seven former Miami players have logged at least one game in the NHL, and several more could be in line to join that list in 2016-17.

BoB takes a look at the RedHawks’ pipeline to the world’s top hockey league, and the players that could be the Next In Line.

Center Pat Cannone (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Center Pat Cannone (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

C Pat Cannone, Minnesota Wild – Cannone was an iron man while at Miami (2007-11), as he recorded 133 points (45-88-133) and 83 PIM in 166 games while not missing a game his entire collegiate career. The captain of the AHL Chicago Wolves tallied a career high in points (55) and goals (20) last season. The 30 year old should anticipate a call-up to the Wild this season considering Minnesota will likely be in need a fourth line center. Cannone signed with Minnesota in the off-season and would play for AHL Iowa if he doesn’t make the big club.

Defenseman Vincent LoVerde (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Defenseman Vincent LoVerde (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

D Vincent LoVerde, Los Angeles Kings – LoVerde lit the lamp 11 times last season as captain of the AHL Ontario Reign, while also dishing out 21 assists for a career best 32 points in just 56 games. LoVerde won the Calder Cup two years ago, while adding AHL All-Star to his list of achievements in last year’s campaign. The Kings have an experienced winner in the minors in LoVerde if they want to add him to their top six. Worst case: he’ll Reign in Ontario again as captain.

Right wing Riley Barber (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Right wing Riley Barber (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

RW Riley Barber, Washington Capitals – The Hersey Bears rode the success of Barber’s first year with the team, finishing runner-up to champion Lake Erie in the Calder Cup. The 22-year-old was fourth in the AHL in goals (26) and was in the top 20 in points. The Pittsburgh native can rack up points by beating goaltenders in creative ways, whether it be full strength, on the power-play, or even shorthanded.

Center Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Center Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

C Austin Czarnik, Boston Bruins – In Czarnik’s four seasons at Miami, he totaled 169 points, fifth most in school history, but he didn’t stop there. In his rookie season in the pros, Czarnik ranked seventh in the AHL in total points (61) with the Providence Bruins, one point behind former Miami star Andy Miele in seven fewer games. The American centerman was plus-17 in his 2015-16 season, but might have to wait to crack the top 12 forwards considering Boston signed free agents C’s David Backes and Riley Nash.

2016-17 season schedule primer

Miami opens its 39th varsity season on Oct. 8 at Providence, and for the first time since Enrico Blasi’s first campaign in 1999-2000, the RedHawks will play a pair of road games to open the season.

NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Miami will play Providence, Ohio State, Maine, Bowling Green, Cornell. The Friars went 1-0-1 at Cady Arena to open last season, and Miami swept the Buckeyes and Falcons in a home-and-home series. MU did not play Cornell or Maine in 2015-16.

LONG HOMESTAND: Miami plays five straight home games Oct. 15-29. The RedHawks host OSU in the first game and weekend series vs. Maine and BGSU.

EXTENDED LAYOFF: Miami has typically taken several weeks off around the holidays, but this season it on has two consecutive weekends off, followed by a road game at OSU on New Year’s Eve.

FOUR STRAIGHT ON THE ROAD TWICE: Miami plays four consecutive road series twice, including Jan. 13-21 when the RedHawks play back-to-back road weekends at North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha. The first time Miami has a weekend off between series, facing Denver on Nov. 18-19 and Cornell on Dec. 2-3.

BRUTAL FINAL EIGHT: Miami faces the top four teams in the conference from 2015-16 to wrap up its regular season schedule, capped off by a home series against defending national champion North Dakota. Following a weekend off, the RedHawks travel to St. Cloud State on Feb. 10-11, host Denver, face Minn.-Duluth on the road before taking on UND at Cady Arena.

TOURNAMENT SITES: The NCHC Frozen Faceoff will be at the Target Center in Minneapolis for the fourth straight season. Cincinnati hosts the NCAA regionals for the third time in four years, but Miami hasn’t made the tournament the first two times it was held at U.S. Bank Area. It’s the 70th Frozen Four but the first to be played in Illinois.

A link to Miami’s 2016-17 schedule can be found here.

Joining the BoB

My name is Paul Lachmann, and I am very excited to join the Blog Of Brotherhood for my first season. I attended Ohio/Illinois Center for Broadcasting to get hands on experience in the field. I intern with Metro Networks, which allowed me to cover MLB games. I also work at Sacred Heart Radio as the Technical Engineer/Sports Director.

I grew up in Cincinnati loving every sports team the city had to offer.

duhOSU Coach: "Learnin' Got in the Way"

I would go to the Cincinnati Gardens and watch one of the American Hockey League’s best teams in the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.

I’ve gradually watch more and more hockey, whether it was on TV or if I was lucky enough, my big brother, @rednblackhawks, would take me to Miami RedHawks, first at ‘The Goggin’ and eventually Cady Arena.

The atmosphere alone at those rink helped get me hooked to the sport I had rarely heard about growing up.

Now writing for the Blog of Brotherhood, I am very excited to spread that one-of-a-kind feeling that is Miami Hockey!

It turns out we didn’t know Jack

So the biggest question surrounding the Miami hockey team this off-season was: Will Jack Roslovic return for 2016-17?

RedHawks players, coaches and fans got their answer just a month before classes started, as the first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets officially signed with his NHL club on Monday, ending his college career.

Here’s how we got to this point.

Miami's Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Roslovic was drafted 25th overall by Winnipeg last June. His talent was undeniable, as he turned heads playing for the U.S. National Development team. He had maintained that school was important to him, which is a key reason he chose Miami over the Ontario Hockey League, in which Flint (Mich.) held his rights.

In Oxford, Roslovic scored eight times in the RedHawks’ first 13 games, and on a team that struggled mightily to find the net early in the season, he was a savior.

Things went south for Miami toward the end of the 2015 calendar year, which the RedHawks finished 0-5-1. They were swept at Colorado College, the NCHC cellar dweller, in early December to wrap up the first half of the season.

Bad things go down when things go badly for sports teams, and the series against CC was nearly a breaking point for Miami. It wasn’t a well-kept secret that Roslovic considered leaving the team at that point, but to his credit remained in Oxford and finished the school year.

Defenses adjusted to Roslovic, who found the net just two more times in 2015-16. His defense also left much to be desired at times and he turned the puck over frequently.

But keep in mind he was 18 entering his freshman campaign, which overall was an immensely successful one, evidenced by the seven assists he picked up the last 12 games playing on a line with two other Columbus-raised forwards.

Fast forward to late last month: The Trade. His OHL rights were swapped from Flint to London, which everyone figured had to happen for a reason. That reason was one part of equation must’ve changed and London now thought it could lure Roslovic north of the border for his fourth juniors-eligible season.

Some Canadian media had his departure as a done deal. London has a history of picking off college and would-be collegiate players and is expected to be loaded after winning the Memorial Cup this spring.

Also on the pro-London side for Roslovic is the presence of Kole Sherwood, younger brother of RedHawks forward Kiefer Sherwood, who stars for the Knights.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

But the NHL draft came and went, as did Winnipeg’s camp earlier this month, and Roslovic still had not packed his hockey bag for Canada.

This story came out in the Winnipeg Sun two weeks ago, in which Roslovic ultimately indicated the plan was for him to return to Oxford this fall.

One comment did leave the door open, however:

“We had a good team, there were just a few mishaps throughout the season that bit us,” said Roslovic. “But it was a great time. It’s a great college town. Going to school is definitely not my forte, but I kept up with my grades and had good marks.

Maybe not the most PC remark, but he’s 19 and people should respect honesty among athletes. And like he said, he received good grades.

By all accounts he had a strong camp with the Jets, but as the days after continued to click by, the odds increased that Roslovic would return to Miami.

Over the weekend, however, word started to get out that he had signed, which killed his NCAA eligibility.

Personal bias here, but BoB thinks he would learn more about improving his defense and other non-scoring aspects of his game if he stayed. Reilly Smith said as much in his final season at Miami, and look what the Oxford experience has done for him.

It probably won’t matter. Roslovic can flat-out play, and all paths likely will lead him to a lucrative NHL career. If he has improved enough, he may stick with Winnipeg (a long shot at this point) or be assigned to its AHL club (a lot more likely) and never see a puck drop with London.

Whatever happens after today, BoB respects the incredibly difficult decision this must’ve been for the teen sensation.

And whichever team he lands on this fall will be lucky to have him lacing up the skates.

BoB would like to wish the ultra-talented forward the best of luck in his professional career and thank him for a fun season.

We just selfishly wish we could’ve seen a couple more years of him.

Part II: 14 freshmen on 2016-17 roster

With Miami’s earliest exit in recent history last season and its biggest influx of freshman talent in a number of years, the 2016-17 season can’t get here soon enough.

BoB has you covered, with its summer withdrawal-killing first look at the RedHawks’ Class of 2020.

We take a look at all of the newcomers expected to don the Red and White this fall in Part II of our roster evaluation.

FORWARDS

Miami has seven new forwards on its 2016-17 roster, a mix of big players, small players, goal scorers and playmakers – a necessary combination for a winning team. As mentioned in Part I, only eight forwards return from last season, so at least four members of this class will be in the lineup each night.

Alex Alger – A stud with Cranbrook in the Michigan high school system, Alger has spent the last three seasons in the NAHL, scoring 43 goals and dishing for 61 assists. He’s a slight skater at 5-11, 154 pounds and will be the first player in team history to wear a number in the 70s. His younger brother, Austin, is also a Miami commit.

Karch Bachman – The only draftee among this class, Bachman was limited to 35 games last season but scored 14 goals and set up eight more for three USHL teams. Bachman was selected in the fifth round by Florida last season and is a product of the prestigious Culver Academy in Indiana. He is also 5-11, weighing 171 pounds, and Miami is hoping he can help light the lamp this season, an area the RedHawks struggled with much of 2015-16.

Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Gordie Green – Green should be one of the more polished freshmen this season, having spent two-plus seasons with Dubuque of the USHL. He is a playmaker, although he’s also not afraid to stand in front of the net and redirect pucks when needed. Green finished with 12 goals and 27 assists last regular season, and he went 0-8-8 in 12 playoff games as the Fighting Saints won the Clark Cup. Maybe not the type of points producer as an Andy Miele or Austin Czarnik, but he should put up over 20 points a season. He’s definitely on the small side at 5-8-168.

Carter Johnson – A late bloomer out of Manitoba, Johnson signed midway through this past season. He will provide the team some much-needed size up front at 6-feet-3, 208 pounds. Johnson came out of Swan Valley of the Canadian second-tier juniors to score 16 goals and dish for 21 assists in his first and only NAHL season with Corpus Christi in 2015-16.

Willie Knierim – Knierim was ranked the 149th-best North American skater heading into the 2016 draft but was not selected. He’s an intriguing player because he has NHL size (6-feet-3, 212 pounds) and a solid skill set, albeit still a little raw. Like many big kids, it may take him longer to become a major contributor, but he hopefully he can contribute right away and continue to get better. Sean Kuraly was drafted highly by San Jose, but the development path in Oxford could be similar. And he’s just 18, a year younger than Kuraly when he put on the Miami sweater. Winning a Clark Cup with Green should help his confidence level.

Carson Meyer – What a first season in the USHL. Meyer – another Columbus product – scored 32 goals and added 19 assists for 51 points for Tri-City, the highest marker and points total of any incoming freshman. He spent four years in the Junior Blue Jackets system, and he went 21-30-51 with the U-18 team his final season. Big-time goal scorers are obviously needed at Miami, and hopefully those outstanding USHL numbers will translate to Division I.

Christian Mohs – Another late signee, Mohs has been a points machine in the NAHL the past two seasons. Mohs racked up 101 of them in 116 regular season games in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with Minot. He turns 21 this month, which is obviously older for a freshman, but his experience could be a benefit on a team loaded with teens. The Minnesota product is 6-0-183, so he has decent size for a points producer.

DEFENSEMEN

As documented in Part I, Miami will have an enormous challenge to replace Matthew Caito, Taylor Richart and Chris Joyaux on the back end. Four blueliners return (Colin Sullivan, Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock, Grant Hutton), and while all are solid, at least two newbies will dress each night.

Jared Brandt – A teammate of Mohs, Brandt put up 27 points in Minot this past season, his third with that team. The St. Louis product is a bit undersized at 5-9-174, but Miami fans know that smaller defensemen from that city can have plenty of success at the collegiate level and beyond (Chris Wideman). He also wore No. 6 with the Minotaurs. Brandt will be 21 this October, and the RedHawks have had a lot of success with older defensemen coming in

Grant Frederic – Already 21, Frederic is another St. Louis-area player described to BoB by a scout familiar with Miami hockey as “(Kevin) Roeder but six inches taller”. Frederic’s younger brother, Trent, was just drafted by the Boston Bruins in the first round last week. He played in the NAHL in 2013-14 but has been a standout for USHL Green Bay the past two seasons, racking up eight goals, 19 assists and 208 penalty minutes. Frederic will likely be a favorite to jump in the lineup immediately.

Bryce Hatten – Hatten suffered a major hip injury in a preseason game with USHL Cedar Rapids and was limited to six regular season games. He is 19 and played a full season with the RoughRiders in 2014-15, when he went 2-5-7 in 51 games. Hatten notched a pair of assists in four playoffs games this spring. He is 6-2-198 and will likely develop into a quality D-man for Miami. Hatten did miss almost an entire developmental season, so it will be interesting to see how he looks this fall, but he likely has a bright future in Oxford even if he isn’t 100 percent heading into 2016-17.

Chaz Switzer – Switzer turns 19 next week but has played in the USHL for three seasons, logging 121 regular season games with Muskegon and Sioux Falls. He is definitely a stay-at-home D-man, having recorded just 11 points in the USHL, but he definitely has no problem mixing it up, as he has 294 penalty minutes. Switzer is a little on the small side for an NCHC defenseman and 6-0-195, but he has plenty of high-level experience for his age and could be a quality asset on the blue line for Miami.

GOALTENDERS

Miami will have four goaltenders with a total of 9:39 of collegiate experience entering 2016-17, but the RedHawks have gone through this before and have always been fine between the pipes. Whether it was ironman David Burleigh, Jeff and Eff, Cody and Connor or Jay and McKay, this team has an excellent track record in net under coach Enrico Blasi.

Ryan Larkin – Larkin is the cousin of the Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin, and while he was limited to four games in 2015-16, he is one of the favorites to log the majority of playing time in net this fall. At 19, Larkin has logged 32 USHL games with Cedar Rapids and recorded a 2.38 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Injured and done for the year by January, Larkin came to Oxford and got a head start on his class load late last season, so having a chance to be an informal member of the team the past six months can only help his transition to Division I.

Andrew Masters – Masters signed very late after a phenomenal season with Georgetown (Ont.) of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He went 28-9 in the regular season with a 2.00 GAA, .934 save percentage and four shutouts, and he was 13-9 in the playoffs as the Raiders lost to Trenton in the finals. He is already 21, and it’s unclear what role he will play this season with Miami, but his resume of winning can only help him as he heads into his first season of collegiate hockey.

Chase Munroe – A Chicago-area product, Munroe posted stellar numbers in his third and final NAHL season with Minnesota. He went 19-14 with a 2.22 GAA and .912 save percentage, notching three shutouts. Munroe also had a solid rookie campaign with Wichita Falls in 2013-14 but played for three teams the following year and was limited to 16 games. At 6-4-216, Munroe takes up a lot of net and the 21-year-old should compete for a large chunk of playing time right away.

A look at Miami commits’ 2015-16 stats in both the regular season and playoffs, which can always be found here https://blogofbrotherhood.com/future-redhawks/:


COMMITS’ 2015-16 FINAL REGULAR SEASON STATS



Skaters

Player YOB Team League Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Carson Meyer* 1997 Tri-City USHL F 56 32 19 51 10 47
Christian Mohs* 1995 Minot NAHL F 60 17 33 50 8 16
Gordie Green* 1997 Dubuque USHL F 60 12 27 39 15 37
Ryan Savage 2000 EC Salzburg RBHRC U18 F 16 22 15 37 41
Carter Johnson* 1995 Corpus Christi NAHL F 59 16 21 37 -4 65
Ben Lown 1998 W. Falls/Omaha NAHL/USHL F 45 9 26 35 15 14
Alex Alger* 1995 Johnstown NAHL F 49 11 21 32 3 62
Willie Knierim* 1998 Dubuque USHL F 53 14 13 27 -2 161
Jared Brandt* 1995 Minot NAHL D 59 5 22 27 17 77
Johnny Gruden 2000 Honeybaked U16 HPHL U16 F 22 16 8 24 48
Austin Alger 1997 Omaha USHL F 56 11 12 23 -12 16
Karch Bachman* 1997 GB/CHI/C.Rapids USHL F 35 14 8 22 1 10
Rourke Russell 1998 Wichita Falls NAHL D 48 4 14 18 11 63
Grant Frederic* 1995 Green Bay USHL D 58 2 12 14 20 96
Phillip Knies 1998 Sioux City USHL F 47 5 8 13 -10 40
Joey Keane 1999 Dubuque USHL D 55 2 9 11 12 51
Chaz Switzer* 1997 Sioux Falls USHL D 48 2 4 6 -12 130
Brian Hawkinson 1998 Tri-City USHL F 55 1 3 4 -8 20
Alec Mahalak 1998 Youngstown USHL D 1 0 3 3 6 0
Bryce Hatten* 1997 Cedar Rapids USHL D 6 0 0 0 -1 0



Goalies

Player YOB Team League GP W L T GAA Sv% SHO
Andrew Masters* 1995 Georgetown OJHL 43 28 9 0 2.00 .934 4
Ryan Larkin* 1997 Cedar Rapids USHL 4 3 0 1 2.13 .917 0
Chase Munroe* 1995 Minnesota NAHL 35 19 8 6 2.22 .912 3


COMMITS’ FINAL 2015-16 PLAYOFF STATS
Final regular season



Skaters

Player YOB Team League Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Carson Meyer* 1997 Tri-City USHL F 11 5 6 11 10 4
Gordie Green* 1997 Dubuque USHL F 12 0 8 8 2 2
Willie Knierim* 1998 Dubuque USHL F 12 3 1 4 -7 8
Ryan Savage 2000 EC Salzburg II RBHS U20 F 4 1 2 3 4
Christian Mohs* 1995 Minot NAHL F 4 2 0 2 0 6
Joey Keane 1999 Dubuque USHL D 12 1 1 2 1 2
Brian Hawkinson 1998 Tri-City USHL F 11 0 2 2 -1 0
Bryce Hatten* 1997 Cedar Rapids USHL D 4 0 2 2 1 0
Alex Alger* 1995 Johnstown NAHL F 6 0 2 2 -3 0
Jared Brandt* 1995 Minot NAHL D 4 1 0 1 -4 8
Grant Frederic* 1995 Green Bay USHL D 4 0 1 1 1 0
Chaz Switzer* 1997 Sioux Falls USHL D 3 0 0 0 -5 0



Goalies

Player YOB Team League GP W L T GAA Sv% SHO
Andrew Masters* 1995 Georgetown OJHL 22 13 9 0 2.41 .928 1
Chase Munroe* 1995 Minnesota NAHL 1 0 1 0 6.58 .810 0

Last updated: 6-4-2016

*-will play for Miami in 2016-17

Part I: 14 freshmen on Miami roster

The letters “FR” are listed in the rows of 14 of the 27 players on Miami’s 2016-17 roster.

Meaning over half of the RedHawks expected to hit the ice this fall will be freshmen.

Of the other 13, seven are sophomores-to-be, three will be juniors and three enter their senior seasons.

Part I of this two-part series will focus on Miami’s position-by-position breakdown for the upcoming season, while the latter installment will introduce everyone to the newest crop of RedHawks.

FORWARDS

OUT: 6 – Kevin Morris (graduated), Sean Kuraly (graduated), Alex Gacek (graduated), Devin Loe (cut), Michael Mooney (graduated), Andrew Schmit (graduated).

RETURNING: 8 – Seniors – Anthony Louis, Justin Greenberg. Junior – Conor Lemirande. Sophomores – Jack Roslovic, Kiefer Sherwood, Josh Melnick, Zach LaValle, Ryan Siroky.

IN: 7 – Gordie Green, Carson Meyer, Christian Mohs, Carter Johnson, Alex Alger, Karch Bachman, Willie Knierim.

ANALYSIS: Yes, Miami took some major hits in this department, but it’s the most stable of the three facets. The RedHawks’ top four scorers all return (Louis and Sherwood, 11 goals; Roslovic, 10 goals; Melnick, nine goals). The toughest thing to replace from this group will be the leadership – Kuraly was team captain and Morris was an alternate – and the penalty killing ability. Morris, Kuraly and Gacek were all studs on the PK. Last season’s freshman class was impressive, especially the second half of the year, and will be relied on heavily in 2016-17. Even if all of the returning skaters dress, that leaves four openings for incoming freshmen, so at least one-third of the forwards will be rookies every night this fall.

DEFENSEMEN

OUT: 4 – Matthew Caito (graduated), Chris Joyaux (graduated), Taylor Richart (graduated), Michael Mooney (graduated).

RETURNING: 4 – Senior – Colin Sullivan. Juniors – Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock. Sophomore – Grant Hutton.

IN: 4 – Bryce Hatten, Grant Frederic, Chaz Switzer. Jared Brandt.

ANALYSIS: Caito has been one of the best blueliners to play for Miami in recent years, and Richart and Joyaux were solid shut-down D-men for four years. The RedHawks were so deep here last season that Sullivan had trouble getting into the lineup despite playing very well just about every time he dressed. Like the forward corps, at least one-third of this group will be freshmen this season with only four blueliners returning. The good news is that this coaching staff has always brought in solid skaters on the back end that are game-ready as soon they come to Oxford. Hutton was the most recent example last season. If Belpedio takes another step forward he could be the top D-man in the conference. He is the lone returning alternate captain from 2015-16 and could wear the ‘C’ this fall.

Defenseman Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Defenseman Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDERS

OUT: 2 – Jay Williams (graduated), Ryan McKay (graduated).

RETURNING: 1 – Sophomore – Evan McCarthy.

IN: 3 – Ryan Larkin, Chase Munroe, Andrew Masters.

ANALYSIS: The Zatkoff effect continues. Jeff Zatkoff left after his junior year, leaving Miami with two freshmen in net for 2008-09, and eight seasons later the cycle repeats. Williams and McKay both had outstanding careers with the RedHawks, and the bar is high for the newcomers. McCarthy played the final minutes of one game last season, as he enters 2016-17 the most game-tested netminder on the team, having logged 9:39 between the pipes. Like with the blueline, Miami’s coaches continue to bring in excellent goalies. Masters was a late addition and gives the team four goaltenders on the roster, which is a bit of a rarity.

BOTTOM LINE: Scoring was a major issue for Miami last season, and while Roslovic was a stud early in the season, the rest of the freshman class caught up after the break, providing optimism in that area for 2016-17. And as for the goaltending, call fans spoiled but the RedHawks haven’t really struggled with talent in that area since Enrico Blasi took over the coaching reins 17 years ago, so there’s little reason to believe that will be an issue this season. The defense is arguably the biggest concern, and it’s no knock whatsoever on the incoming and returning players but a compliment to the graduated seniors from last season. The amazing two-way play of Caito, the passion and toughness of Richart, the physical and shut-down ability of Joyaux – that’s half of the blueline on the nightly lineup sheet – will be difficult to replace. Plus a D-corps can either make that transition to collegiate hockey much smoother or rougher for a team with three freshmen goalies. With all of the youth overall, at the risk of sounding cliché, this team may be much better in March than in October, which is the ultimate goal for a hockey team anyway.

Miami pros won Cups at three levels

It was a memorable spring for several former Miamians, as ex-RedHawks won hockey championships in the top three North American pro leagues this playoff season.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff will have his name etched on hockey’s most coveted trophy, the Stanley Cup, after a the backup’s Pittsburgh Penguins beat San Jose in a six-game title series that wrapped up on Sunday.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

The RedHawks were guaranteed a Stanley Cup champion, as Tommy Wingels skated for the Sharks in all six games of that final.

Forward Trent Vogelhuber also skated a trophy, winning the Calder Cup with the AHL Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ top affiliate.

Gary Steffes was an integral member of the ECHL Allen Americans, who won their second consecutive Kelly Cup.

Zatkoff picked up one of Pittsburgh’s 16 postseason wins, posting a .908 save percentage. He went 4-8 in the regular season with a 2.79 goals-against average and a save percentage of .917.

Zatkoff has 16 career wins in 1,940 regular-season minutes, and he has one shutout. He played three seasons for Miami in 2006-09.

Vogelhuber went 2-5-7 this playoff year after recording 11 goals and 16 assists in 70 games in the regular season. He has played parts of five seasons with Lake Erie, racking up 24 markers and 35 helpers for 59 points.

Steffes scored 13 goals in the playoffs for the second straight season and has 29 career playoff postseason tallies in 65 ECHL games. He went 22-23-45 in the regular season and has scored 84 times in the last three seasons with Allen.

Other season highlights…

NHL – Forward Reilly Smith made quite an impression in his first year with Florida, scoring a career-high 25 goals and notching four more in six postseason games. Smith has 150 career points and has missed just one game the past three seasons.

Defenseman Alec Martinez also set a career high, racking up 31 points including 10 goals for the Los Angeles Kings. Martinez is 39-69-108 in 337 career games.

Defenseman Dan Boyle became the first former RedHawks to reach 600 NHL points, as he went 10-24-34 this season for the New York Rangers. Boyle is Miami’s all-time leader in NHL games played (1,093), assists (442) and points (605), and he second to Brian Savage in goals with 163.

AHL – Forward Andy Miele set several personal milestones this season, eclipsing 100 goals, 200 assists and 300 points for his AHL career. Miele went 18-44-62 this season with Grand Rapids, giving him 106 goals, 205 assists and 311 career points. He has played 355 AHL games in five seasons, averaging 0.88 points per game.

Forward Pat Cannone established career highs in goals (20) and points (52) with Chicago this season. Cannone has scored 80 career goals in the AHL and surpassed the 200-point mark for his career, finishing this regular season with 203.

Forwards Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik may be on different teams now, but they both proved they can roll up the points in the pros. Barber scored 26 goals and added 29 assists for 55 points for Hershey in his first AHL action. Czarnik went 20-41-61, giving him 63 career points in 71 games for Providence including his three-game stint at the end of 2014-15.

Forward Carter Camper was a playoff stud, racking up six goals and 10 assists in 19 games as Barber’s teammate with Hershey. The Bears lost to Lake Erie in the Calder Cup final.

ECHL – In addition to his playoff scoring, Steffes reached 150 points for his ECHL career this regular season. He has 84 goals and 59 assists for 153 points in three seasons with Allen. Steffes has scored 150 goals and dished for 126 assists in six minor league seasons between the CHL, the ECHL and the AHL.

While Steffes led all former Miamians in the ECHL, forward Alex Wideman also had a strong showing, going 15-24-39 in 58 games with Evansville.

Below is a list of 2015-16 stats for Miamians playing in the pros around the world, and RedHawks’ pro stats can always be accessed at this link:

https://blogofbrotherhood.com/redhawks-in-the-pros/

2015-16 STATS – FINAL REGULAR SEASON
Regular season

NHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Reilly Smith Florida Panthers F 82 25 25 50 19 31
Alec Martinez Los Angeles Kings D 78 10 21 31 16 40
Dan Boyle NY Rangers D 74 10 14 24 0 30
Tommy Wingels San Jose Sharks F 68 7 11 18 -10 63
Chris Wideman Ottawa Senators D 64 6 7 13 4 34
Andy Greene New Jersey Devils D 82 4 9 13 7 26
Curtis McKenzie Dallas Stars F 3 0 0 0 -1 0


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Jeff Zatkoff Pittsburgh Penguins 14 728 4 7 2.79 .917 0

AHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Andy Miele Grand Rapids F 75 18 44 62 18 77
Austin Czarnik Providence F 68 20 41 61 17 24
Riley Barber Hershey F 74 26 29 55 4 34
Curtis McKenzie Texas F 61 24 31 55 11 120
Pat Cannone Chicago F 73 20 32 52 5 38
Carter Camper Hershey F 64 9 25 34 3 16
Vincent LoVerde Ontario D 56 11 21 32 19 54
Trent Vogelhuber Lake Erie F 70 11 16 27 13 65
Cameron Schilling Rockford F 73 5 17 22 10 38
Marc Hagel Iowa F 53 4 15 19 -8 43
Justin Vaive Bridgeport F 63 11 6 17 -5 79
Blake Coleman Albany F 14 4 3 7 5 19
Tyler Biggs WB/Scranton F 11 1 1 2 1 11
Gary Steffes San Jose F 2 0 1 1 -1 2
Alden Hirschfeld Grand Rapids F 5 0 1 1 1 2
Chris Joyaux St. John’s D 8 0 1 1 -3 6
Will Weber San Antonio D 2 0 0 0 0 0
Kevin Morris Binghamton F 2 0 0 0 0 0


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Connor Knapp Lehigh Valley 2 113 1 0 5.31 .821 0

ECHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Gary Steffes Allen F 69 22 23 45 -4 56
Alex Wideman Evansville F 58 15 24 39 -11 14
Alden Hirschfeld Toledo F 27 14 12 26 3 13
Will Weber Fort Wayne D 64 3 8 11 10 103
Devin Mantha Norfolk F 26 5 5 10 2 8
Matthew Caito Toledo D 8 2 3 5 6 2
Kevin Morris Manchester F 6 2 0 2 0 0
Tyler Biggs Wheeling F 2 1 0 1 -2 16
Jarod Palmer Evansville F 3 0 0 0 -1 2


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Connor Knapp Reading 22 1,195 10 11 2.96 .899 2
Cody Reichard Evansville 11 511 4 4 3.75 .896 0

SPHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Devin Mantha Mississippi F 26 8 14 22 4 20

Europe
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Justin Mercier Val Gardena (Italy)$ F 39 20 24 44 0 72
Matt Tomassoni Frankfurt (DEL-2)% F 52 11 31 42 13 38
Dan Stewart Fife (EIHL)+ D 59 14 20 34 0 75
Ryan Jones Cologne (DEL)# F 41 15 15 30 3 55
Mitch Ganzak Belfast (EIHL)+ F 63 9 18 27 0 146
Cody Murphy Vasteras (Sweden)@ F 52 9 13 22 11 16
Mike Glumac Zagreb (KHL)& F 58 8 3 11 -4 30

Coaches

Coach Team League GP W L T Pct.
Chris Bergeron Bowling Green WCHA 39 23 11 5 .654
Jeff Blashill Detroit NHL 82 41 41 .500
Brian Kaufman Omaha USHL 60 26 34 .433

2015-16 PLAYOFFS

NHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Reilly Smith Florida Panthers F 6 4 4 8 7 0
Tommy Wingels San Jose Sharks F 18 2 0 2 4 21
Dan Boyle NY Rangers D 4 0 1 1 0 0
Alec Martinez Los Angeles Kings D 1 0 0 0 0 0
Curtis McKenzie Dallas Stars F 1 0 0 0 0 5

AHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Carter Camper Hershey F 19 6 10 16 3 2
Andy Miele Grand Rapids F 9 2 5 7 7 12
Trent Vogelhuber Lake Erie F 15 2 5 7 6 8
Austin Czarnik Providence F 3 2 1 3 -1 2
Riley Barber Hershey F 15 1 2 3 -6 24
Vincent LoVerde Ontario D 13 1 2 3 -3 10
Curtis McKenzie Texas F 4 1 1 2 0 8
Cameron Schilling Rockford F 3 0 1 1 0 0
Tyler Biggs WB/Scranton F 1 0 0 0 -1 4

ECHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Gary Steffes Allen F 22 12 5 17 9 23
Matthew Caito Toledo D 6 1 1 2 1 6
Will Weber Fort Wayne D 16 0 3 3 2 22

SPHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Devin Mantha Mississippi F 4 5 1 6 2 2

Europe
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Justin Mercier Val Gardena (Italy)$ F 5 3 7 10 2
Ryan Jones Cologne (DEL)# F 11 3 2 5 4
Matt Tomassoni Frankfurt (DEL-2)% F 4 0 0 0 -3 18

Coaches

Coach Team League GP W L T Pct.
Jeff Blashill Detroit NHL 5 1 4 .200

Last updated: 6-4-2016
*-no longer with team
$-Val Gardena is in the Italian League Serie A, the top league in Italy.
%-Frankfurt is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga and plays in DEL2, the second highest league in Germany.
#-Cologne is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the top league in Germany.
@-Vasteras is in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second highest league in Sweden.
+-Fife and Belfast are in the Elite Ice Hockey League, the highest league in the United Kingdom.
&-Zagreb is in the Kontinental Hockey League, the top league in Russia, its territories and surrounding countries.

Analysis: Seniors, families will be missed

It turned out the sweep of Colorado College two weeks ago would be the last feel-good moment for the 2015-16 Miami hockey team.

In a season filled with drama, some uplifting, some not so much, the RedHawks fell to Minnesota-Duluth, 3-1 on Saturday, completing a sweep by the Bulldogs in the best-of-3 NCHC Tournament quarterfinal series that ended MU’s season.

This is always the hardest piece to write of the season. Fifty-nine of 60 teams finish each season with losses, and for many players it’s the last high-level competitive hockey game of their careers, so what good does it do to kick a team and its players when they’re down in what could be the last thing written about them?

Last season, I didn’t do an analysis piece following the Providence loss. It just didn’t seem like there was a reason to.

Plus they were serving deep fried calamari with jalapeno peppers across the street from the rink in Providence, and I had to get my fill.

We have seven months to write about areas in which this team needs to improve, and with the team announcing that 13 freshmen will be coming in combined with what this season’s rookies did, it should be an exciting fall in Oxford.

But we’ll simply leave it at this for now: We wondered out loud if this team would have the offensive firepower to qualify for the NCAAs this season with the loss of studs Austin Czarnik, Blake Coleman and Riley Barber.

Turns out the RedHawks didn’t. They’re tied for 43rd out of 60 Division I teams with a 2.39 goals-per-game average, and they found the net nine times in six games vs. Minnesota-Duluth, or 1.5 times per contest.

Now allow me a selfish moment.

This was the 10th season at Cady Arena, and we’ve had season tickets since the rink opened and attended most home games the final few seasons at the Old Goggin.

In that time, I’ve never needed Miami hockey more than in 2015-16.

First, we were fortunate enough to make friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime with some of the unbelievable people that are the parents of some of these players. We consider ourselves especially close with several of this group’s senior parents.

We sit in the next section over from the family section, and with @HockeyChica1 taking outstanding photos each season – many of which families use for the Night of Celebration collages that are created for each player – we mingle with a lot of the players’ immediate families.

And really quick: If you get a chance to meet some of these parents, you should really take advantage of the opportunity. The media have created a stereotype that athlete family members are borderline psychotic lunatics, but for the most part that couldn’t be further from the truth.

One set of parents drove to every home series this season despite living nearly 1,000 miles away, and another flew halfway across the country to see each game at Cady Arena. These are amazing people that make amazing sacrifices for their kids from ages three to 23, and despite the perception, not all of them are executive-level rich.

We will miss them greatly, every one of the departing seniors: Forwards Kevin Morris, Alex Gacek, Sean Kuraly, Andrew Schmit and Michael Mooney, defensemen Matthew Caito, Taylor Richart and Chris Joyaux and goalies Jay Williams and Ryan McKay.

So anyway, last March I was essentially laid off from Scripps-Howard owned WCPO, where I worked for 18 years, dating back to 1997 when I was in college. Starting out, I took any menial job with The Cincinnati Post to be in the business and by the time the paper folded in 2007 I was making a decent living as a writer and editor.

I figured the contacts I had made there would land me a lateral or better job in the media field. It didn’t, but I was given the opportunity through Scripps to build a site that covered high school sports in Northern Kentucky at a significant pay cut.

I took advantage, and while it took several years, we were beating The Enquirer badly in that area with a fraction of the staff despite not being promoted.

Now back to last March. Not only was the plug pulled on the site I had worked on for years to build, WCPO decided it didn’t want to host RedHawkey – which was the medium I used to write about Miami hockey for the previous five seasons – even for free.

I was filled with anger as the executive I met with there implied that my RedHawkey writing didn’t even matter. I immediately thought back to a couple years prior when a father hugged me at the rink after I had written a feature about his son while the family was undergoing major health issues, and I wanted to ask him to tell that family what I did didn’t matter, but I thought better of it.

And this double-whammy was a professional embarrassment, as in an economy that is still struggling as badly as Ohio State’s power play unit, finding a good-paying job the past year has been exceedingly difficult.

Fortunately from a writing perspective BoB accepted this writer-photographer team, which is something I am grateful for.

My wife has been extremely understanding and patient with my ongoing fiscal struggle, because there have been times over the past year when I have not been easy to live with.

But this program allows me the opportunity to get away from all of that, even just for a few hours. The stress and frustration created by this being my worst year by far from a professional standpoint goes away when I come to the rink.

This season I needed that temporary escape more than ever.

Miami finished 15-18-3, and that’s unfortunate. But personally, sometimes being able to get away from it all and just get to the games and surround myself with people I greatly respect and consider friends is a lot more important than wins and losses.

Even though some of the families we have bonded with will likely never return to Cady Arena, with their sons having graduated, in our minds they will always be a part of that beautiful rink and this program that we so cherish.

Miami falls to UMD again, ending season

The shorthanded goal has been a Miami nemesis all season, and on Saturday a pair of them contributed to the end of the RedHawks’ season.

Minnesota-Duluth beat Miami, 3-1 in Game 2 of a best-of-3 NCHC Tournament quarterfinal series, completing a sweep of the RedHawks.

Miami (15-18-3) finished the season with four consecutive losses, all on UMD’s home ice.

It was the first three-game playoff series loss by the RedHawks since 2009 vs. Northern Michigan, and March 12 ties the earliest ending to a Miami season since 2005.

The Bulldogs’ Kyle Osterberg opened the scoring with an unassisted shorty just 96 seconds into the game. He stripped Miami senior defenseman Matthew Caito at the blue line and went in alone, beating senior goalie Jay Williams on the stick side.

Minnesota-Duluth (17-14-5) made it 2-0 with 3:09 left in the first period on a power play goal by Andy Welinski, which he scored on a slap shot off a drop pass from Jared Thomas.

An outlet pass from Karson Kuhlman found Tony Cameranesi, who juked Williams and beat him on the forehand with 7:14 left in the middle stanza.

Miami senior forward Kevin Morris (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami senior forward Kevin Morris (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The RedHawks cut the deficit to two when freshman forward Jack Roslovic corralled a loose puck, skated in and centered one to senior forward Kevin Morris for a tap-in with 2:48 left in regulation, but Miami could pull no closer.

MU actually outscored UMD 5-on-5, netting the only even-strength goal of the game, but allowed all three of its goals on special teams — one on the man advantage and two shorthanded.

Miami ended the season with one SHG for and seven against.

The RedHawks were 7-2 in NCHC Tournament games entering this weekend and 2-0 on the road, having swept St. Cloud State in 2014.

Miami loses seniors forwards Morris, Alex Gacek, Sean Kuraly, Andrew Schmit and Michael Mooney, defensemen Matthew Caito, Taylor Richart and Chris Joyaux and goalies Williams and Ryan McKay.

The team said it expects 13 freshman to come to Oxford this fall.

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