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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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
|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|
|Johnny Gruden||2000||Honeybaked U16||HPHL U16||F||22||16||8||24||48|
|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|
|Chaz Switzer*||1997||Sioux Falls||USHL||D||48||2||4||6||-12||130|
|Bryce Hatten*||1997||Cedar Rapids||USHL||D||6||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Ryan Larkin*||1997||Cedar Rapids||USHL||4||3||0||1||2.13||.917||0|
COMMITS’ FINAL 2015-16 PLAYOFF STATS
Final regular season
|Ryan Savage||2000||EC Salzburg II||RBHS U20||F||4||1||2||3||4|
|Bryce Hatten*||1997||Cedar Rapids||USHL||D||4||0||2||2||1||0|
|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|
Last updated: 6-4-2016
*-will play for Miami in 2016-17
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
2015-16 STATS – FINAL REGULAR SEASON
|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|
|Jeff Zatkoff||Pittsburgh Penguins||14||728||4||7||2.79||.917||0|
|Andy Miele||Grand Rapids||F||75||18||44||62||18||77|
|Trent Vogelhuber||Lake Erie||F||70||11||16||27||13||65|
|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|
|Connor Knapp||Lehigh Valley||2||113||1||0||5.31||.821||0|
|Will Weber||Fort Wayne||D||64||3||8||11||10||103|
|Justin Mercier||Val Gardena (Italy)$||F||39||20||24||44||0||72|
|Matt Tomassoni||Frankfurt (DEL-2)%||F||52||11||31||42||13||38|
|Dan Stewart||Fife (EIHL)+||D||59||14||20||34||0||75|
|Ryan Jones||Cologne (DEL)#||F||41||15||15||30||3||55|
|Mitch Ganzak||Belfast (EIHL)+||F||63||9||18||27||0||146|
|Cody Murphy||Vasteras (Sweden)@||F||52||9||13||22||11||16|
|Mike Glumac||Zagreb (KHL)&||F||58||8||3||11||-4||30|
|Chris Bergeron||Bowling Green||WCHA||39||23||11||5||.654|
|Reilly Smith||Florida Panthers||F||6||4||4||8||7||0|
|Tommy Wingels||San Jose Sharks||F||18||2||0||2||4||21|
|Dan Boyle||NY Rangers||D||4||0||1||1||0||0|
|Alec Martinez||Los Angeles Kings||D||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Curtis McKenzie||Dallas Stars||F||1||0||0||0||0||5|
|Andy Miele||Grand Rapids||F||9||2||5||7||7||12|
|Trent Vogelhuber||Lake Erie||F||15||2||5||7||6||8|
|Will Weber||Fort Wayne||D||16||0||3||3||2||22|
|Justin Mercier||Val Gardena (Italy)$||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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coming back from a game down in a best-of-3 series is arduous, exponentially so on the road.
But add in that Miami led twice in Game 1 – including by a pair of goals, 4-2 – before allowing three third-period tallies, and that task becomes herculean.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, that’s the position they are in after Friday’s 5-4 loss at Minnesota-Duluth in the opening game of their best-of-3 NCHC Tournament quarterfinal round road series.
It’s the type of demoralizing loss that is tough to come back from at any level, in any sport. It almost would’ve been better if Miami (15-17-3) had lost this game 6-0.
Now the Bulldogs (16-14-5) smell blood and want to close this thing out, because playing a third game in three days is a hindrance on many levels, especially with a clear-cut No. 1 goalie in Kasimir Kaskisuo.
The RedHawks have exceled when faced with elimination in past years, but they are now 0-4-1 vs. UMD this season and need to win back-to-back games on the Bulldogs’ home ice just to advance to Minneapolis.
And what are the odds that Kaskisuo, one of the top goalies in Division I, much less the conference, stops .818 of his shots faced again in a best-of-3?
It’s looking grim for Miami, but the team did finally break through for four goals after being held to four in four previous games vs. UMD, so hopefully that offensive confidence carries over to the final two games of this set.
– Noticing this more recently, but the defense was soft on a couple of these goals in terms of challenging opponents. Cal Decowski was left alone at the blue line for the first goal, which granted was on an outstanding tip-in, but still, this was an even-strength tally. Three others were on 2-on-2s. Louie Belpedio was aggressive on one skater at the blue line but was ultimately rendered off-balance and Miami was scored on.
– Seems like UMD is targeting Miami senior goalie Jay Williams’ glove side. One goal he definitely would’ve wanted back (the tying marker that made it 2-2), and he was beaten that way multiple other times, albeit on point-blank chances.
– Great to see senior defenseman Matthew Caito back, as Miami had clearly struggled in his absence, although it’s unclear if he’s 100 percent after missing two weeks. Still, less than 100 percent of Caito is better than most Division I blueliners.
– Freshmen Zach LaValle and Ryan Siroky both scored, which they haven’t done much of this season, and hopefully doing so on this stage will set the tone for them heading into next season in a class that has already been a successful one with the initiation of Josh Melnick, Jack Roslovic, Kiefer Sherwood and Grant Hutton.
– Minnesota-Duluth is giving credibility to the theory that the No. 5 seed is worse than the lowest three because the Bulldogs are still fighting for an NCAA berth. This is an impressive team that underachieved during the regular season but appears to be peaking at the most opportune time. That’s not good for Miami.
Miami is almost certainly one loss away from having its season end.
The RedHawks saw a two-goal lead vanish, as they surrendered three unanswered third-period goals in a 5-4 loss at Minnesota-Duluth on Friday in the first game of a best-of-3 series.
It was Miami’s third straight game in Duluth, and its third straight loss. The RedHawks finished the regular season with a road series vs. the Bulldogs and were swept.
UMD (16-14-5) opened the scoring when Austyn Young tipped home a blueline wrister by Cal Decowski just 4:34 into the game.
Miami (15-17-3) tied it on a goal by freshman forward Zach LaValle, who fired in a bad-angle shot with 7:43 left in the first period.
The RedHawks went ahead, 2-1 when a Bulldogs defensive zone pass hit the skate of sophomore forward Conor Lemirande and slid to freshman forward Ryan Siroky, who whipped in the off-balance shot 4:11 into the middle stanza.
UMD tied it again on a blueline shot by Adam Welinski on the power play with 10:01 to play in that frame.
But Miami regained the lead just 18 seconds later, as senior forward Alex Gacek and junior forward Anthony Louis played give and go, with Gacek centering a pass to Louis, who skated in and backhanded one past Bulldogs goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo.
The RedHawks went ahead two just three minutes later, as a blast by sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio found twine to make it 4-2 after two periods.
Unfortunately for Miami, there were still 20 minutes left.
Adam Johnson cut the lead to one when he drove the net 2-on-2 and beat senior goalie Jay Williams 4:54 into that stanza.
With 8:48 left in regulation, Neal Pionk tied it on a power play rip from the blue line.
The game winner came from Carson Soucy, just his second marker of the season, as he was the trailer on a 2-on-2 and shot the puck in from the slot.
Ten of the RedHawks’ skaters recorded a point, with Louis recording a goal and an assist for a team-best two points.
At this point, the only way Miami could earn an NCAA Tournament berth without winning the NCHC Tournament would be if it advanced to the title game and lost, thus giving the RedHawks a requisite .500 record, and everything went right for them in the PairWise rankings, which would be an extreme longshot.
The RedHawks are currently tied for 23rd and would need to improve to 14th or better to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid.
Game 2 of this series is at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday, and Game 3 – if necessary – would be at 8:07 p.m. on Sunday.
Well folks, that was fast.
Another regular season has come and gone. Frankly, I’m glad to see this one go because it goes without saying that in this rebuilding year, Miami (15-16-3) was about as mediocre as it gets.
Now, that’s not to say this season wasn’t exciting. As we wrote a few weeks back, a movie could have most definitely be made about the season.
Consider the drama…a senior goaltender being summarily dispatched after an on-ice incident. A horrible first half of the season made mediocre with a solid second half. A senior captain, burdened by the ‘C’ struggling to regain his form. A Miami team that faces a formidable foe this weekend struggling to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes afloat.
A lot of drama.
This weekend, Miami has to find a way to win two of three games against a squad they have not beaten this season. Though Miami is 1-0 all-time (in Minnesota even) against Minnesota-Duluth (15-14-5) in the postseason, the RedHawks went 0-3-1 against them this season including dropping two in suffering an awful sweep last weekend when they were playing to host this series in Oxford. The RedHawks were outscored 8-1 and were never really in either game. Jay Williams was pulled on Friday and the team didn’t play well in front of him either night. On the bright side, freshman netminder Evan McCarthy saw his first collegiate action in the Miami net – so there’s that.
If Miami cannot rally this weekend, and frankly next (in all likelihood, they’re going to have defend their NCHC Frozen Faceoff title in order to qualify for the NCAA Tournament), it will mean that Miami will have missed the Tournament in two of the past three years. What’s worse is that like in the 2013-14 season, they were supposed to host one of the regional brackets in, yep, Cincinnati. At some point, you begin to wonder if this program has plateaued? Have we seen all that it has to give?
But that’s something we’ll consider in greater depth if the team fails to advance this weekend or next.
Duluth is built from the net out led by sophomore netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo who merely led the conference with a 1.69 GAA in conference play while ranking second with a .932 save percentage. The Bulldogs are also blessed with four solid defenders including Willie Raskob, Neal Pionk, Carson Soucy and Andy Welinski who make it hard on opposing forwards in front of Kaskisuo. Up front, UMD has a stable of solid forwards including Kyle Osterberg, Dominic Toninato, Alex Iafallo and Karson Kuhlman. It’s a deep roster that maybe won’t wow you with statistics, but one that has a threat on every line. It will be a challenge for Miami to contain UMD, something they obviously did not do last weekend.
But, I told our friend and UMD PXP man Bruce Ciskie before last weekend that I felt whichever squad won last weekend’s series, and as such home ice, would lose the following weekend when it really counts – at least for Miami.
And, as we wrote after last weekend’s sweep, Miami has over the past few seasons, found a way to make a run through the NCHC Tournament reaching the championship game in the league’s first two seasons of existence. Two years ago they went on the road after finishing dead last in the regular season and upset Penrose Cup champ St. Cloud in Minnesota and defeated North Dakota in Minneapolis before falling by a goal to Denver in the title game. That Miami squad also needed to capture the Frozen Faceoff title to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Miami finished second in the regular season and then breezed to a Frozen Faceoff championship. In doing so, the RedHawks lost their top two goal scorers, Riley Barber and Blake Coleman to injury and suspension, respectively, in the title match against St. Cloud. One thing is certain, St. Cloud wants no part of Miami in this tournament.
So, Miami can do this and they’re going to have to again. And, despite the record against UMD this year, I have a strange feeling they will find their way to Minneapolis again. And, the gang at USCHO sees this series as incredibly tough to pick as well.
Love and Honor,
WHO: Miami RedHawks (15-16-3) at Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (15-14-5).
WHAT: NCHC best-of-3 quarterfinal series.
WHERE: Amsoil Arena, Duluth, Minn.
WHEN: Friday–8:07 p.m.; Saturday–8:07 p.m.; Sunday–8:07 p.m. (if necessary)
MIAMI RADIO: All three nights–WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
MINNESOTA-DULUTH RADIO: All three nights–WWAX-FM (92.1), Duluth, Minn.; KQDS-FM (95.5), Grand Rapids, Minn.; WJJY-FM (106.7), Brainerd, Minn.; WXCX-FM (105.7), Pine City, Minn.
NOTES: Miami was swept in Duluth last weekend, and the RedHawks return to UMD with their season on the line.
Miami is 0-3-1 vs. Minnesota-Duluth and has scored just four goals against Kasimir Kaskisuo and the Bulldogs this season.
And that has been the MO for UMD – it has allowed just 68 goals in 34 goals for a 2.00 average, with Kaskisuo posting a 1.86 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
Only two Bulldogs have reached the 20-point mark, with just Tony Camenaresi over 30 (9-22-31). Austin Farley has 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points, including eight of UMD’s 20 power play tallies.
Tied for 22nd in the PairWise rankings and a game under .500, the axiom of the year is that Miami needs to win this series to have a shot at an NCAA Tournament berth, and the RedHawks probably need to win the NCHC Tournament to earn a spot among the national field.
Miami has yet to win against Minnesota-Duluth this season, finishing the regular season 0-3-1 vs. the Bulldogs, and the RedHawks were swept in Duluth last weekend, getting outscored, 8-1.
It doesn’t look good for MU, but consider that the RedHawks are 7-2 all-time in the NCHC Tournament and 4-1 in this round including 2-0 on the road.
Miami has won this round both seasons of the NCHC’s existence to advance to the Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis.
The RedHawks also have not lost a best-of-3 series since 2009 when Northern Michigan rallied to win Games 2 and 3 at Cady Arena after losing the series opener.