Once again No. 20 Miami felt short by the slimmest of margins.
The RedHawks lost by one for the second straight night, 3-2 at No. 14 Western Michigan on Saturday after dropping a one-goal decision the night before.
Miami (9-9-4) fell to the .500 mark for the first time since the start of the season and are winless in their last eight, going 0-4-4.
Matthias Samuelsson fired in the game winner from the high slot early in the third period after Western Michigan had taken two previous one-goal leads, only to have Miami answer both times.
The RedHawks were without standout Josh Melnick for the second straight night, and regular starting goalie Ryan Larkin also did not play.
RECAP: Western Michigan (13-6-1) won an offensive zone faceoff and Cole Gallant dropped a pass to Josh Passolt, who whipped it past Miami goalie Jordan Uhelski 2:12 into the game.
The RedHawks tied it with 5:43 left in the opening frame when Ben Lown skated in on the right wing and centered a pass that hit a skate and caromed to Derek Daschke, who was wide open in the slot and slammed it home.
With 6:51 left in the middle stanza, Colt Conrad fed Passolt on a 2-on-1 for a one-timer that put Western Michigan back on top, 2-1.
Miami again pulled even when a 2-on-1 became a 2-on-0 as the Broncos’ lone defender, Cam Lee, blew a tire in his defensive zone. Jonathan Gruden took a pass from Brian Hawkinson and after his initial shot was denied, he poked it past goalie Trevor Gorsuch with 1:26 remaining in the second period.
But Western Michigan regained the lead for good as a well-placed wrister by Samuelsson from between the faceoff circles beat Uhelski with 14:35 left in regulation.
STATS: Passolt scored twice and finished the weekend 3-1-4 as he is almost certainly on his way to a weekly league award.
— Lown ended the night with a team-best two points, both on assists for his first multi-helper game of the season and the second of his career.
— Daschke scored for the fourth time this season, tying him with Grant Hutton for the team lead among defensemen, and Gruden’s goal was his second of the season, as he has four points in his last six games.
— Opponents have scored against the RedHawks in 13 straight periods.
— Both teams had three power plays but only 2:11 of time on the man-advantage. That’s because twice after Miami took penalties, WMU was whistled for a minor of its own within seconds.
So it’s a rough 0-for-3 for both teams.
THOUGHTS: Miami didn’t play badly at all, especially considering it was in a hostile arena against the hottest team in Division I, but once again the win didn’t come.
WMU deserves a lot of credit for the weekend sweep, as the Broncos are flat-out impressive in every aspect, and it’s easy to see why they’re second in the NCHC.
Western Michigan was ranked No. 14 coming into this weekend and was unbeaten in its previous eight. Make that 10 now and watch that ranking go up on Monday.
— Daschke’s line was impressive enough – one goal, six shots, three blocks, only Miami skater with a plus-rating – but he was a defensive menace to WMU all game, poking loose pucks away and getting his stick in the way of passes. Plays well beyond his 22 collegiate games.
— Speaking of defensemen, River Rymsha was a standout in this game by laying out a couple of huge hits and playing great shut-down defense.
Rymsha’s father, Andy Rymsha, was interviewed on CBS College Sports during Friday’s game. Andy Rymsha played for Western Michigan and logged six NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques.
— Hutton has stepped his level up the past few games at both ends of the ice. He has four assists in his last four games and has played better in his own end as well.
— Uhelski in net was a major surprise. Was this a message to the team that it was too reliant on Larkin to make big saves, or are they pacing Larkin, who has already logged roughly 5,000 minutes as a RedHawk and been banged up several times during his Miami career?
Uhelski made a phenomenal save on a breakaway and was solid overall.
— Melnick remained out with a lower body injury. Hopefully it will not linger into the upcoming four-game homestand.
— Win No. 10 has been a major hurdle for this program the past few seasons. Miami is 1-17-6 in its last 24 games chasing its 10th win.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just Uhelski for Larkin. Uhelski stopped 30 of 33 shots.
Coach Enrico Blasi likes to have his lineups pretty well set around this point of the season, and with the exception of Melnick and Larkin, this looks like the 20 he will head into the stretch run with.
STANDINGS: Miami dropped to sixth in the conference at 3-5-2, leading just Omaha and Colorado College.
The RedHawks slipped to No. 26 in the PairWise, which determines which teams earn at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. Miami would need to climb to 14th or better to warrant consideration.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Despite a lot of the positives surrounding the program, the winless streak is becoming unwieldy.
The RedHawks are at .500 for the first time since opening night, which isn’t going to get them into the NCAA Tournament, regardless of how difficult their league schedule is.
The effort is there, the passion is there, the process is there, and while those are all great things, the wins still need to be there at the end of the season or else this team will once again be done playing by St. Patrick’s Day.
Miami’s special teams were not very special on Friday.
No. 14 Western Michigan scored twice on the power play. No. 20 Miami had zero goals on the man-advantage despite a five-minute 5-on-4 at the beginning of the third period.
Those tallies were the difference as the Broncos edged the RedHawks, 4-3 at Lawson Arena in a weekend series opener.
Miami extended its winless streak to seven games (0-3-4) while WMU is now unbeaten in its last nine.
Josh Melnick missed just the second game of his RedHawks career. He was out with an apparent lower body injury.
RECAP: The Broncos’ Colt Conrad penetrated from the point and wristed one from the slot into the far corner of the net on the power play to open the scoring 10:27 into the first period.
Miami (9-8-4) tied it 91 seconds later when Gordie Green and Karch Bachman played give-and-go entering the offensive zone, and Bachman threaded a pass to Green at the side of the net for a tap-in.
WMU (12-6-1) jumped ahead again when Ethen Frank fielded a pass through the slot on his backhand, pivoted and threw it in at 1:36 of the second period.
Frank set up Hugh McGing off a break with 4:12 remaining in the middle stanza.
Miami deficit to one when Bachman slid a pass from along the end boards to Green, who shoveled it home, making it 3-2 with 12:15 left in regulation.
Passolt put WMU back up by two with his second goal of the night on a 4-on-3 with 8:17 remaining.
Just 82 seconds later, the RedHawks’ Scott Corbett stole the puck in the corner and centered to Brian Hawkinson, who capped off the scoring.
STATS: Green scored twice and has three goals in two games. He went through a nine-game stretch without finding the net prior to that, so his rejuvenated scoring is welcome for Miami.
Bachman also finished with two points, both on assists. It was his first career multi-assist game.
— Grant Hutton had gone eight consecutive games without a point but he picked up a helper and has at least one in three straight, going 0-4-4.
— Miami was on the power play for 7:39 but generated just three shots.
— MU won just 21 of 69 faceoffs (30.4 percent).
— The RedHawks have allowed 12 power play goals in their last eight games and are just 63.6 percent on the penalty kill in that span.
— Opponents have scored against MU in 10 straight periods.
— Melnick missed his only other game on Oct. 29, 2016.
THOUGHTS: It’s always a learning experience when Miami plays on national TV and Dave Starman does color.
The CBS College Sports analyst said that Miami defenseman Alec Mahalak will win conference player of the year one day.
Mahalak did play one of his better games of the season on Friday.
— Starman was very complementary of a number of RedHawks players, including Bray Crowder, Carter Johnson and Derek Daschke.
— Starman also spoke highly of these programs’ futures, saying “the best days were ahead” for both Miami and Western Michigan.
— Bachman’s speed once again resulted in a goal, as he won the race to his self-pass along the boards and eventually spooned one to Green for the marker.
— What a play by Corbett to set up Hawkinson’s goal. He stole the puck in seemingly in one motion thrust the puck to the edge of the crease where Hawkinson buried it.
— Yes, Melnick is one of Miami’s better faceoff men, but 21-48 in the circle? Really? Overall the RedHawks have been much better on draws than in recent seasons.
— The penalty kill has been brutal. On Thanksgiving, MU was 84.5 percent on the PK for the season. That number has plummeted to 76.5 since. Miami has allowed 10 power play goals in six games while scoring just four PPGs in that stretch.
LINEUP CHANGES: Melnick was the only player not in the lineup from Saturday’s game against Providence, and Johnson dressed in his place after sitting the last two.
He played on the line with Bachman and Green.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Another one that falls into the “near miss” category, Miami hurt itself with three offensive zone penalties (good catch, Starman) and finished 4-for-6 overall shorthanded.
It’s really tough to win on the road when you give a team six power plays including a 4-on-3.
Taking the second period off didn’t help. The RedHawks were outshot, 16-4 in that frame and allowed a pair of unanswered goals that put WMU ahead for good.
And yes, Melnick’s unexpected absence hurt Miami in multiple areas, but the Broncos were without one of their best as well in Wade Allison.
As has often been the case recently, the RedHawks were right there all night and didn’t give up.
But they didn’t quite do enough to win.
The two hottest teams in college hockey are Providence and Western Michigan.
Miami played PC last week, and this weekend the RedHawks face the Broncos.
WMU, riding an eight-game unbeaten streak that includes a 3-0-1 record vs. North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth, has vaulted into second place in the NCHC. However, the Broncos are only two points ahead of Miami, which is tied for fourth.
These teams meet again in Oxford to wrap up the regular season on March 8-9, so WMU will have a major hand in determining where the RedHawks finish in the conference standings.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: No. 20 Miami RedHawks (9-7-4) at No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos (11-6-1).
WHERE: Lawson Arena (3,667), Kalamazoo, Mich.
WHEN: Friday – 7:05 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
WESTERN MICHIGAN RADIO: WZOX-FM (96.5), Kalamazoo, Mich.
TV: Friday – CBS College Sports.
NOTES: Over the past three seasons, Western Michigan has taken major strides offensively, an area in which the Broncos had previously struggled since the formation of the NCHC.
WMU has scored 67 times in 18 games for a 3.72-goal clip, the sixth-best rate in Division I.
Josh Passolt has been a breakout sophomore season for the Broncos, leading the team in goals (11) and plus-minus (plus-15) and is tied for the WMU points lead with 19. Four of his markers have been game winners.
Colton Conrad is tied with Passolt atop the team points leaderboard, as Conrad is pacing Western Michigan in assists with 13. He is also exceptional in the faceoff circle, having won 57.0 percent of his draws this season.
Like Passolt, Hugh McGing has also enjoying a statistical blow-up with 10 goals, including five on the power play. He has 18 points and 35 penalty minutes.
Ethen Frank has already eclipsed his rookie season goal mark, posting eight this season after notching seven freshman year, and Austin Rueschoff is another significant offensive threat with six goals and eight helpers.
Philadelphia Flyers second-round pick Wade Allison, one of the NCAA’s scoring leaders last season before he tore his ACL, is back on the ice for Western Michigan and could bolster its offense even more.
Allison has played eight games and is 2-2-4 after posting a 15-15-30 line in just 22 games in 2017-18.
Other regulars up front for WMU are Dawson DiPietro, Cole Gallant, Drew Worrad, Paul Washe, Jaden McMullen and Lawton Courtnall – son of former NHLer Russ Courtnall.
Cam Lee leads Broncos blueliners in goals (5), assists (10) and points (15) while notching a plus-10 rating.
Defenseman Corey Schueneman has recorded eight assists and nine points, and Buffalo Sabres second-rounder and Team USA product Matthias Samuelsson, who just returned from winning silver in the World Juniors, has scored three times and picked up five helpers.
Luke Bafia, Kale Bennett and Jared Kucharek are the other key cogs of WMU’s back end, and Michael Joyaux – younger brother of former RedHawks Chris and Matt Joyaux – has dressed for 10 games.
During their current eight-game unbeaten streak, the Broncos have allowed just 12 goals, and they have held their last three opponents to one goal apiece.
Goaltender Trevor Gorsuch is having a stellar senior season, going 9-2-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. He had six career wins and was sub-.900 entering this year.
Ben Blacker, who was dominant his freshman season, took a step back in 2017-18 and has made just two starts this year, posting just an .870 save percentage. He’s actually third on the team in goaltender minutes played behind Austin Cain.
Miami has started games slowly at times this season, and if that happens this weekend Western Michigan will make the RedHawks pay. The Broncos are tops in the NCHC in first-period goals with 27 – that’s 1.50 per game.
WMU has been best at even strength, as just 14 of its goals have come on the power play and another pair shorthanded.
The RedHawks are winless in their last six – they actually haven’t won since Nov. 17 – but they have four ties in that span, including one at now-No. 7 Providence and two at home against No. 1 St. Cloud State.
Miami’s Josh Melnick is riding a seven-game point streak, with three goals and five assists in that span, and Ryan Siroky has four points in his last three contests.
The RedHawks are 16th in college hockey in defense, giving up 2.30 goals per game. Goalie Ryan Larkin is seventh in D-I save percentage at .931 and is tied for sixth in shutouts with three.
With 142 meetings, Miami has played Western Michigan more than any other foe except Ohio State and is 68-63-11 vs. the Broncos, but WMU holds a 35-25-7 edge in Kalamazoo.
The RedHawks have played OSU 151 times, and with that series currently dormant, Western Michigan will soon move into first place on MU’s most-played opponents list.
The Broncos have always played well at home and are 6-2-1 at Lawson Arena this season.
Of course Josh Melnick’s 100th career point was going to come on a crucial goal.
Melnick’s feed to Gordie Green for a one-timer resulted in the tying goal with 42 seconds left in regulation in a 3-3 tie at Providence on Saturday.
The assist was the senior’s 65th of his career and his 12th this season, moving him into the team lead. He leads the RedHawks in points (19) and is tied with Green and Karch Bachman atop Miami’s goal leaderboard with seven.
In his four years at Miami, the RedHawks have won seven games in overtime. Melnick has three of those OT winners and six career GWG overall.
His points total has increased each season in Oxford. Melnick finished his freshman season with 25, jumped to 27 as a sophomore and ended 2017-18 with 29.
Melnick is the 52nd member of Miami’s 100-point club, and the first to reach that threshold since Anthony Louis in 2017.
Miami’s 100-point club
In hockey, ties tend to be regarded negatively, but considering Miami’s situation with six minutes left in regulation, the RedHawks had to be thrilled to end up in the ‘T’ column.
No. 16 Miami scored twice late in the third period to salvage a 3-3 tie at No. 10 Providence’s Schneider Arena on Saturday.
And the tying goal, a snipe from the slot by Gordie Green, came 6-on-5 with just 42 seconds left in regulation. Green received the one-time feed from Josh Melnick, who earned his 100th career point with the assist.
Christian Mohs started the comeback by netting his first career goal with 5:21 left in regulation.
RECAP: Scott Conway gave Providence (12-4-4) the lead 5:35 into the first period when he batted a blue line pass from Spenser Young into the net on the power play.
The Friars extended their lead to two with another man-advantage goal, as a wrister by Ben Mirageas from just inside the blue line deflected off a Miami stick and in with 6:23 remaining in the middle stanza.
The RedHawks (9-7-4) trimmed the deficit to one when Jonathan Gruden threaded a pass through a pair of defenders across the slot to a wide-open Ryan Siroky at the side of the net, and he slammed it home with 14:02 to play in regulation.
That was also a power play goal, the sixth of the weekend for these teams.
Providence answered just 13 seconds later as Miami’s Bray Crowder tried to knock the puck away from Brandon Duhaime, but it ended up on the stick of Bryan Lemos in the slot for an easy score to make it 3-1, and it appeared that would wrap up a weekend sweep for the Friars.
But Mohs shot one from the top of the faceoff circle that hit a Providence sweater and found net with 5:21 left for his first career goal, and the RedHawks were again within one, 3-2.
With the extra attacker on, Melnick slid a pass from the wall through traffic to a wide-open Green in the slot, and his blast sent the game to overtime.
STATS: Lots to work with…
— Melnick. He’s the 52nd player in Miami history to reach 100 points, with the last being Anthony Louis in 2017.
He also extended his points streak to seven games, notching three goals and five assists in that span. That’s the longest stretch of consecutive games with at least one point by a Miamian this season.
— Siroky. He finished with a goal and an assist, setting three personal milestones. 1) It was the senior’s first career multi-point game, 2) it was the first time he had ever scored goals in consecutive contests, and 3) he is riding his first-ever three-game points streak, during which he is 2-2-4.
— Grant Hutton. Hutton picked up two assists, giving him three points for the weekend. He had not notched a point in his previous eight games.
— Mohs. It was his first career goal, although he did create a nice build-up by scoring in the exhibition vs. Guelph last Sunday.
— Green. He had not scored in 10 games but is still tied with Melnick and Karch Bachman for the team lead with seven markers.
— Miami is actually winless in its last six games with an 0-4-2 record, but the RedHawks skated to draws vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State twice and adds this quality tie – if there is such a thing – to its 2018-19 resume.
Miami did not have any stalemates in its first 14 games but has tied four of its last six contests.
— Special teams. The good: Miami is 4-for-13 its last three games, or 30.8 percent. The bad: The RedHawks were 3 of 6 on the PK this weekend and are now just 57.1 percent dating back to the New Hampshire series.
THOUGHTS: This is yet another major step for this program in the ‘reenergize’ movement, as Coach Enrico Blasi called it before the season.
Though it wasn’t a win, this moved the needed significantly in the RedHawks’ desired direction.
Turning a two-goal deficit at a top-10 team into a tie with six minutes remaining is a rarity and speaks to how far Miami has come this season.
Flipping a team from a sub-.400 three-year winning percentage to a national contender in college sports is a long process that requires patience from coaches, student-athletes and fans.
Countless hours of work by the former two and others immediately surrounding the program are starting to pay tangible dividends, with this tie coming on the back of a pair of draws vs. the top-ranked program in Division I that saw Miami trail six times on the weekend and battle back to even the score on each occasion.
This is no last-place NCHC team, this is not a team deserving of zero votes in national polls. Now in the meat of their schedule, the RedHawks are proving the college hockey world wrong every night.
— Miami certainly can’t blame officiating for its 0-1-1 weekend. Power plays for the weekend were 11-7 in favor of the RedHawks, with PC assessed 40 penalty minutes compared to 20 for Miami.
— Despite having little room to operate against the super-tight Providence defense, wings Knies and Ben Lown seemed to pass across the width of the ice to each other at will.
A healthy Knies will hopefully result in more offensive production from that line.
— The cost to watch this series via the internet was $10, but it was a quality telecast.
The picture was actually a little better for the internet-only feed on Friday than on Saturday, which was broadcast on NBC Sports Boston.
Mike Logan is a veteran play-by-play man, extremely fair and gives excellent play descriptions.
He was solo on Friday and was joined by Sonny Watrous on Saturday, a PC women’s hockey standout last decade.
She is very knowledgeable about the game and the tandem work well together in the booth.
Both were very complimentary of the Miami program and agreed with the officials’ calls on almost every occasion, despite the penalty disparity.
— Didn’t know this, but Logan said on Friday that this is the last time these teams are scheduled to play each other for the foreseeable future.
Since 2011-12, Miami and Providence have faced each other every season, typically early in the season.
The only time during that span they didn’t meet in the regular season was 2014-15 when Miami was sent to the Providence bracket of the NCAA Tournament and lost, 7-5 in the first round just minutes from the PC campus.
Despite the travel and the Friars’ 8-1-3 record vs. the RedHawks in the last 12 meetings, this has been a great series over the years, as Providence is always a well-coached team with tons of skill.
Hopefully Miami and PC renew the all-time series at some point.
LINEUP CHANGES: None. Blasi went the same 20 both nights and seems to like defenseman Andrew Sinard in that extra skater flex role.
UP NEXT: Sixteen games in nine weeks, all against NCHC foes.
Miami heads to Western Michigan next weekend, facing the Broncos for the first time this season.
WMU is second in the conference with 14 points and is ranked No. 17 in the USCHO poll, one spot below Miami.
Friday’s game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.
Then the RedHawks play four at Cady Arena – two vs. Minnesota-Duluth and a pair against Colorado College.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami Version 2018-19 further cemented its play-to-the-final-horn reputation, as the RedHawks have scored a tying goal in the third period in all of its recent QTs (quality ties).
Remember the comeback win against UMass-Lowell and the two clutch third-period goals against North Dakota that broke a tie.
One could see the RedHawks’ emotions as they gathered on the ice after the five-minute overtime, as this was certainly a bonding experience for the players.
That’s the type of experience that can only help Miami as it shifts back to conference play for the balance of the regular season.
Miami didn’t show any ill effects from its five-week holiday layoff in its first period of regular season hockey since Dec. 1.
The final 40 minutes, however, saw No. 10 Providence dominate the No. 16 RedHawks, as the Friars scored three unanswered goals in a 4-2 win over MU at Schneider Arena on Friday.
Providence (12-4-3) erased a one-goal deficit to record its fifth straight win while the RedHawks extended their winless streak to five.
Josh Melnick did record his 99th career point in the Miami loss on a late first period goal.
RECAP: Providence took the lead 4:22 into the first when Tyce Thompson wired home a one-time pass from the faceoff dot short side over the shoulder of RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin off a feed from Brandon Duhaime.
But Miami (9-7-3) took advantage of its early power play chances, scoring twice in the first-period opportunities.
Ryan Siroky was left alone in the slot and rammed home a one-timer from Phil Knies 100 seconds later, tying the score.
Melnick scored on the man-advantage with 2:50 left in the opening frame, whipping a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle through Friars goalie Hayden Hawkey to give the RedHawks a 2-1 lead.
Scott Conway tied it at the 6:33 mark of the second period, knocking home a backdoor feed from Kasper Bjorkqvist on the power play.
The score remained 2-2 until Matt Koopman redirected a Josh Wilkins wrist shot midway through the final frame.
With 4:04 left, Greg Printz fed Vimal Sukumaran from along the boards to the top of the crease, and Sukumaran was able to bat one by Larkin to seal it.
STATS: Shots aren’t always an accurate gauge of team performance, but it’s pretty telling that Providence finished with a 42-15 edge in that category, including 30-7 the final two periods.
— Derek Daschke led RedHawks skaters with two points on a pair of assists.
— Melnick is one point away from becoming the 52nd Miamian to record 100 career points. He also extended his points streak to six games with three goals and four assists in that stretch.
— Grant Hutton picked up the primary assist on that goal, his first point in nine games.
— Knies also earned a helper in his return from an upper-body injury that held him out of the RedHawks’ last six contests.
— Siroky’s marker was his fourth of the season, giving him a career high.
— Miami’s shot differential of minus-27 was its worst in 364 days. On Jan. 5, 2018, Denver outshot the RedHawks by 28 but MU won that game, 4-3.
THOUGHTS: The thought was that if Miami survived the first period it would be OK, but the last 40 minutes ended being its demise.
To be fair, Providence is one of the best defensive teams in Division I – the Friars blanked the RedHawks in Erie earlier this season – as PC allows fewer than 23 shots per game.
Miami finished with 15: Eight in the first period, three in the second and four in the third. That’s despite having four power plays vs. two for Providence.
And beyond just shots, the Friars seemed to control play almost the entire final 40 minutes. The RedHawks hung in, holding the lead until the 14th minute of the middle stanza and remained tied until midway through the third.
Obviously, this road matchup was going to be a difficult one for Miami, and while it certainly wasn’t a disaster, the RedHawks’ inability to do anything the last two-thirds of the game was disappointing.
— Not to pile on, but Hawkey, the Friars’ all-world goalie, probably should’ve stopped one or both of Miami’s goals.
Hawkey was in position to deny the Siroky shot but it slid under him, and Melnick’s wrister found a hole up high.
LINEUP CHANGES: Larkin and Knies returned from injuries, meaning Jordan Uhelski – who led Miami to a pair of ties vs. St. Cloud State – was relegated to backup while Knies supplanted Carter Johnson, who had dressed in Miami’s previous four games.
Christian Mohs was in the lineup for the third straight contest, as he seems to be slightly ahead of Zach LaValle on the depth chart at this point. LaValle sat for the fourth straight game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Basically, a good team lost to a very good team in the very good team’s rink.
Both of Miami’s goals were on the power play, so the RedHawks still have not scored at even strength this season against the Friars.
The good to take from this is that Miami came out ready to play in a hostile rink after a long layoff (Providence played on Dec. 7 and twice last weekend) and hopefully moving forward this game will have served as a proverbial character-building opportunity.
Because these teams met at the Ice Breaker, Miami and Providence will face each other a total of three times this regular season.
The Friars blanked the RedHawks, 4-0 the second week of the season in Erie and have dominated Miami in recent history, going 7-1-2 in the last 10 matchups.
These will be the first regular season contests for the RedHawks in 34 days, and MU has not recorded a win since Nov. 17.
WHO: No. 16 Miami RedHawks (9-6-3) at No. 10 Providence Friars (11-4-3).
WHERE: Schneider Arena (3,030), Providence, R.I.
WHEN: Friday – 7:05 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
PROVIDENCE RADIO: WHJJ-FM (104.7), Providence, R.I.
PROVIDENCE VIDEO STREAM: https://friars.com/watch/?Live=69&type=Live
NOTES: Providence is No. 10 in the NCAA in scoring and fourth in defense.
The Friars have won four straight games and are unbeaten in their last six.
And they’ve already dominated Miami once on neutral ice.
So the RedHawks face the difficult task of opening the second half on the home ice of a team that has lost just one of its last 10 meetings with Miami.
Providence averages 3.61 goals per game and has six forwards and a pair of defensemen with at least 10 points.
Up front, Josh Wilkins has six goals and leads the team with 15 assists and 21 points, and he is 4-10-14 during his current eight-game points streak.
Six-feet, two-inch freshman Jay Dugan is second in scoring with 19 points, including seven goals. Las Vegas drafted him in the fifth round in 2018.
Pittsburgh Penguins second-rounder Kasper Bjorkqvist leads the team in goals with nine, including four on the power play, and he has 18 points overall.
Brandon Duhaime and Scott Conway have been major contributors among the forward corps as well, posting 16 points and seven goals, respectively.
Jacob Bryson leads Providence blueliners in points with 14, including three goals, and Spenser Young has six goals – with a team-best five on the man advantage – from the back end.
Young picked up two of those tallies vs. the RedHawks in October.
Defensemen Vincent Desharnais, Ben Mirageas and Michael Callahan all have identical 1-5-6 lines, and along with Davis Bunz, Friars blueliners have helped hold opponents to just 22.7 shots per game.
Montreal draftee Hayden Hawkey has been in net for 17 of Providence’s first 18 games, logging 1,022 minutes and racking up 11 wins. He has a goals-against average of 1.88 and owns a .916 save percentage.
The Friars have outscored opponents, 65-34 this season and have allowed just five goals in their last five games.
Both Phil Knies and Ryan Larkin played in Miami’s exhibition on Sunday and looked 100 percent, so they should be in the lineup this weekend, giving the team a major boost.
Knies had missed six games with an upper-body injury and Larkin was knocked out of the RedHawks’ opener vs. St. Cloud State on Nov. 30 and did not play the following night.
Josh Melnick enters this series riding a five-game points streak, during which he has a pair of markers and four assists. Melnick is two points away from being the 52nd Miamian to record 100 career points.
Casey Gilling has been MU’s best goal threat since mid-November, scoring four times in his last seven contests.
Despite its recent struggles vs. Providence, Miami did win its last game at Schneider Arena, 3-1 on Oct. 8, 2016.
And MU was excellent in the first 10 minutes of its initial meeting with the PC three months ago, but a couple of soft goals for the Friars swung the momentum hard in their favor.
The RedHawks are 2-3-1 all-time on the Friars’ home ice.
OXFORD, Ohio – After more than 50 minutes of scoreless hockey, Miami struck for a pair of goals in 18 seconds.
That surge, capped off by an empty netter in the closing seconds, paced the No. 16 RedHawks’ 3-1 win over the University of Guelph in an exhibition game at Cady Arena on Sunday.
Ryan Siroky and Christian Mohs broke through midway through the third period to give Miami the lead, and after a late marker by Guelph, Derek Daschke was awarded a goal as he was hooked on a breakaway while the Gryphons had an extra attacker on the ice.
It was the first contest in 29 days for Miami, which opens the second half of its regular season schedule at Providence this weekend.
RECAP: In real time, there was no scoring in this game for about two and a half hours.
A pane of glass broke behind the Zamboni end goal midway through the first period, and the rink crew was unable to replace it, so the remainder of the period was played with some type of wood plugging the hole.
To give ample time to replace the glass, the first intermission was 30 minutes.
Not surprisingly, there was little flow to this game early.
Siroky finally snapped the tie at 10:22 of the third period when he crashed the net and banged home a rebound off a shot by Karch Bachman that handcuffed Gryphons goalie Andrew Masters.
Eighteen seconds later, Ben Lown fed Mohs with a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone, and Mohs zig-zagged to the net and backhanded one home to make it 2-0.
A rip from the high slot by Guelph’s Mark Raycroft snuck inside the near post with 3:21 left in regulation, but Daschke was badly hooked on a breakaway in the neutral zone and was awarded a goal with one second to play.
STATS: Ryan Larkin played the first 32 minutes in net for Miami and stopped all eight shots he faced. Reliever Jordan Uhelski was 8-for-9.
No RedHawk had multiple points.
Bachman led the team with five shots and Scott Corbett ended the night with four.
Miami outshot the Gryphons, 15-6 in the third period after leading in that department by a slim margin – 18-13 – the first 40 minutes.
THOUGHTS: It was a strange night at the rink.
Can’t ever say I’ve seen not-glass replace glass along the boards. Definitely have never seen a double intermission.
And the Guelph goalie storyline was unusual: Masters was a RedHawk for one season but did not see game action, so this was actually his first start at Cady Arena.
He was arguably the best player on the ice for either team, stopping 30 of 32 shots in a game he’ll likely never forget.
— Miami was flat in the first period, had a strong stretch early in the second period and really took it to Guelph in the third.
Overall, the RedHawks looked like a team that had not played in 29 days dealing with major play interruptions. Because they were.
So what to take from this one?
— Phil Knies returned after missing six games with an upper body injury, and he was solid.
Knies has 12 goals in a season and a half and can kill penalties, so his presence in the lineup gives Miami a major upgrade up front.
— Larkin also missed most of the St. Cloud State weekend after absorbing hard contact in his own crease, but he was sharp in a period and a half.
— Miami dressed 22 of its 24 skaters, and the only two off the lineup sheet were Bray Crowder and Jonathan Gruden. It doesn’t sound like there is cause for concern over either being scratched.
— We documented the RedHawks’ slow start in this one – and having four extra skaters splitting up ice time, new line combinations, etc., also played a role – Miami has not exactly torn it up in the first period recently.
A higher-skilled opponent would’ve buried a couple of its chances in the first period of this one and put the RedHawks in a hole.
LINEUP CHANGES: Chaz Switzer, Grant Frederic and Noah Jordan have seen the least ice time this season among Miami skaters and all dressed.
Neither Crowder nor Gruden have missed a regular season game this season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not much to see here other than some weird stuff with the ice and Knies and Larkin back on the ice and looking good.
Miami’s welcome to the second half of the season is a road series at No. 10 Providence, a team that will punish the RedHawks if they haven’t fully shaken off the holiday rust.
Miami plays its first game in 29 days on Sunday, an exhibition against Guelph of the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport), which is Canada’s equivalent of the NCAA.
This contest comes at a good time for the RedHawks, who can shake off any holiday rust before heading to top-10 Providence followed by eight straight series vs. NCHC foes.
The Gryphons have won three of their last four and have added some mid-season talent, including a skater who was with the Cincinnati Cyclones early this campaign.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming game between these teams:
WHO: University of Guelph (Ont.) (6-10) at Miami RedHawks (9-6-3).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Sunday – 4 p.m.
NOTES: The Gryphons are 0-3 vs. NCAA competition this season, losing to Colgate, Cornell and Clarkson.
Cody Thompson leads Guelph in scoring with seven goals and six assists. Fifth-year Gryphon Scott Simmonds and fellow small forward Todd Winder have 12 points each.
Marc Stevens is also a significant offensive contributor for Guelph, going 5-5-10.
The Gryphons have been without one of their top scorers, Connor Bramwell, since Oct. 26. He has nine points in six games.
Guelph does not get much production from its defense, as Zach McFadden and Jesse Saban are tied for the team lead in blueliner points with five apiece.
Evan Cormier, who began this season with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, is the Gryphons’ primary goalie, logging 740 minutes and posting a .926 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average.
Guelph’s backup is Andrew Masters, who was on Miami’s roster during the 2016-17 season but did not see game action.
The Gryphons did add three players during the holiday break, including former Cincinnati Cyclone Justin Lemcke. The captain of OHL Hamilton last season, the 6-feet-2 defenseman went 0-1-1 in three games with the ECHL team earlier this season.
Along with Lemcke, ex-OHL veteran Ryan Valentini is expected to make his Guelph debut on Sunday. He spent the past two-plus seasons with Sudbury, where he racked up 74 points.