Analysis: Win Saturday is a must

OXFORD, Ohio – Surely Miami’s winless streak has to end on Saturday, right?

If the RedHawks can’t at least earn one win on its home ice against Colorado College, MU will have to beat a top-20 team to snap its skid, since every one of its remaining opponents is ranked.

The RedHawks skated to their 10th straight non-win on Friday, tying the Tigers, 1-1 at Cady Arena. It was Miami’s third consecutive NCHC deadlock, and the team has yet to win in conference play (0-4-3).

After its series finale vs. CC on Saturday, MU is off the next two weeks, then it’s off to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 10 in the USCHO poll.

Here’s the remaining schedule with team rankings.

at No. 10 Ohio State
No. 17 ST. CLOUD (2)
at No. 8 North Dakota (2)
at No. 20 UNO (2)
No. 18 W. MICHIGAN (2)
at No. 17 St. Cloud (2)

(then it really gets fun)

No. 2 DENVER
at No. 1 Minn.-Duluth
No. 8 NORTH DAKOTA

Now back to this series.

The Tigers entered this weekend having lost seven straight and had allowed 31 goals in that span. Only one of their first 14 opponents had been held to one goal, yet Miami was unable to get out of the binary range.

Considering both teams’ woes, it’s sort of fitting that neither team would come away from Friday with a win.

But this can’t happen for Miami on Saturday if it wants to salvage this season.

The RedHawks’ finale against CC is their 17th game of the season. A win would put them at 4-8-5, and they would probably need to go at least 12-5 for get into PairWise-at large consideration.

A tall order, certainly, but a loss in this one would force a 13-4 finish or better. Reference the above remaining schedule to see Miami’s chances, or any NCAA team’s odds of winning 13 of 17 against those opponents.

Twelve wins in 17 would give Miami 43 points with a win vs. Colorado College and 40 with a loss. That could be the difference between an all-important fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC’s or a fifth seed and a road trip in a hostile rink to extend its season like in 2015-16.

The RedHawks have a ton of work to do if they hope to get back into NCAA consideration but that workload increases substantially if they can’t pick the only low-hanging fruit remaining on their schedule.

Other thoughts…

Miami's Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– This game was actually pretty boring, which can be expected when two teams that aren’t playing well show why their records are where they are. But just based on Friday’s 65-minute sample, it doesn’t look like Colorado College has the talent to compete in this league, while Miami is underachieving among other issues. Heading into the second half of the year, the RedHawks are in the better position to turn things around.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Coach Enrico Blasi has been playing with the lines, and one interesting combination was Gordie Green, Josh Melnick and Karch Bachman. Green was a solid point producer in the USHL but he has just four this season and two since opening night. Bachman has blazing speed and a great shot but he hasn’t been cast into a role in which he can thrive. Green set up Bachman with a couple of great passes and Bachman nearly found the net. It’s a small line with a ton of speed and has a lot of potential.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– Speaking of Melnick, he was double-shifted nearly the entire second period, joining the fourth line as well as his own. Colin Sullivan was listed as a forward but played a significant amount of defense and Melnick absorbed much of his ice time up front.

– Can’t take credit for this line – heard it used by Mike Babcock but not sure if he was the originator either – but if Miami’s power play gets much worse the RedHawks want to consider declining penalties. In six minutes on the man advantage Miami generated one shot. MU has not scored a PPG in five games.

– The attendance for this one was a season-low 1,992 despite class still being in session. That’s the worst gate total at Cady since Jan. 9 during the J-term. If this team doesn’t get better expect a half-empty arena the second half of the year.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D+. Colorado College isn’t an impressive lot yet Miami scored just one goal. The RedHawks had some dominant stretches but that should be a given against a team that is 3-11 and ranked in the bottom 20 percent of college hockey. Louis did have eight shots. Justin Greenberg continues to get better on faceoffs and may be the team’s best forward on draws at this point.

DEFENSEMEN: B. This corps kept the mistakes to a minimum, which has not always been the case this season. Grant Frederic quietly seems to get better every game. The strange thing with Miami’s defensemen is that three seasons ago only Matthew Caito appeared to have the green light to join the rush, and the other blueliners would act like they had bungie cords tied to them when they reached the blue line. Now all six/seven jump in all the time, sometimes even going behind opponents’ nets. Can there be a happy medium?

GOALTENDING: B+. Ryan Larkin was solid as usual but didn’t see a ton of high-percentage shots. He continues to do a fantastic job with positioning and controlling rebounds. Not sure what happened on the goal – it was a weird angle and seemed to surprise Larkin. It didn’t look like he saw it very well. What a goalie allows one goal his team should win most nights.

LINEUP CHANGES: Can this team ever get completely healthy? Jared Brandt missed his second straight game with an upper body injury but shouldn’t be out much longer. He has been a solid stay-at-home defenseman on a Miami team that has really needed a solid stay-at-home defenseman. The RedHawks played their other seven defensemen, with Sullivan listed at forward to start the game. At forward, Willie Knierim was a rare scratch and Alex Alger sat for the third straight game.

Miami ties Colorado College

OXFORD, Ohio – At least Miami won the shootout.

Although the RedHawks officially tied Colorado College, 1-1 at Cady Arena on Friday, MU picked up the extra league point by topping the Tigers in sudden-death penalty shots.

Despite earning two of a possible three points, Miami (3-8-5) saw its winless streak extended to 10 games and has yet to win an NCHC game, as its league record is now 0-4-3.

The RedHawks’ last three conference games have ended in ties.

Miami's Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami (3-8-5) took the lead early, as Anthony Louis netted his team-leading 10th goal. Kiefer Sherwood slid a short pass to Carson Meyer before being hit the blue line, and Meyer eluded a defender before connecting with a streaking Louis, and Louis buried the one-timer 3:16 into the first period.

Colorado College (3-11-1) evened the score with 3:36 left in the second period as Luc Gerdes stole a puck deep in the offensive zone and threw the puck in from a bad angle along the goal line.

The RedHawks outshot the Tigers, 28-18 over the final two periods and overtime but could not regain the lead, going scoreless over the final 61:44.

Miami is now 0-7-3 during its skid, the team’s longest winless stretch since 1991.

Despite leading the RedHawks in goals, Louis’ was his first in six games. He has picked up points in 12 of his last 14 contests.

Sherwood earned his first point in four games, and Meyer has now tallied a point in all three games since returning from an illness, going 2-2-4.

RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin stopped 25 shots.

Miami moved into a tie for seventh with the Tigers in the NCHC by winning the shootout, however the RedHawks fell further in the PairWise, slipping to a tie for 43rd.

The teams wrap up their series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Miami skid reaches 25-year low

For the second straight night, Miami fell a goal short, and for the ninth straight game, the RedHawks came away without a win.

Miami dropped a 2-1 decision at Cornell on Saturday and is now mired in its longest winning drought in a quarter century, as the RedHawks are 0-7-2 since their last victory, which came on Oct. 28.

The last time Miami (3-8-4) suffered through a skid this long was in 1990-1991, when the RedHawks played 17 consecutive winless games.

The Big Red took the lead 10:53 into the first period when Dan Wedman whipped a shot from just inside the blue line over the shoulder of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin.

Cornell (7-3-1) made it 2-0 just 98 seconds into the middle period when a shot from along the wall was tipped by Jake Weidner, popped over Larkin and into the net.

The RedHawks’ lone goal came exactly three minutes into the third period. Josh Melnick won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Grant Frederic, who threw the puck off the end boards, and the carom was backhanded in by Carson Meyer.

Meyer has scored in both games since returning from an illness.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Frederic earned his third assist of the season and Melnick picked up his third helper of the weekend.

Miami outshot Cornell, 12-3 in the third period – and 26-20 overall, leading the Big Red in that department for the second straight night – but was unable to pull even.

The RedHawks were swept in a weekend series for the third time this season. Entering this weekend, MU had lost just one one-goal game, but in addition the slim losing margin in this game, it suffered a 4-3 defeat on Friday.

The RedHawks return home and will face Colorado College next Friday and Saturday at 7:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., respectively. Those will be Miami’s last home games of the calendar year.

Analysis: MU still reeling in 3rd period

A week off and the return of two key players were not enough to lift Miami out of the doldrums.

Despite a promising start that saw the RedHawks jump out to a two-goal lead, Cornell rallied to a 4-2 win over MU on Friday.

That makes eight straight games without a win for Miami (3-7-4), its longest winless span in two decades. And in the third period, the RedHawks have allowed 14 goals during their slump. They’ve scored twice.

Closing out games has been a residual theme for Miami over the past decade – since That Game That Will Not Be Mentioned, really – but right now this team is really in a third-period funk.

The parity in college hockey is too great to give games away, and this is the second time during this skid that Miami has done just that. Flip those losses to wins – not a stretch considering MU led by two late in the second period of both games in question – and the RedHawks are 5-5-4.

In the NCHC, one or two games over .500 is good enough for NCAA consideration, and Miami would be right there.

Youth becomes less of an excuse every time this team takes the ice. Yes, the RedHawks still have 14 freshmen on their roster, but they’ve been playing competitive games for two months now and most of these guys come in at 19, 20 or 21 now.

We’ll say it again: Having a young team means so much less in hockey than it does in the Big Two. There’s the older player factor (only Willie Knierim is a true freshman) and these guys play 70-game seasons in juniors prior to college.

Of the previous eight seasons, Miami has advanced in the NCAA Tournament three times. Twice it has been during the freshman-heavy recruiting campaign. The other was 2009-10, a team with eight sophomores and only four seniors, went to the Frozen Four.

That’s not to say this team won’t get better as the season progresses. But there’s no excuse for any team to squander multiple multiple-goal leads late.

The RedHawks play 34 regular season games. This was Game 14, with Game 15 set for Saturday night. Miami returns home to host Colorado College for a pair, which will take the team to the midway point of its schedule.

Granted, four ties essentially equals two wins, but the RedHawks need to string together some W’s quickly or they could be looking at another short postseason and long off-season.

Other thoughts…

Miami's Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– First a couple of positives. Carson Meyer returned after missing four straight games, and he scored Miami’s first goal. In 10 games he has three markers and eight assists for a freshman-best 11 points.

– Captain Louie Belpedio also was back in the RedHawks’ lineup, having sat the last six with a lower body injury. Miami was outshot in every game he was out – 220-151 in those contests – and the RedHawks actually led, 31-25 in SOG on Friday. On the flip side, he took three penalties down the stretch and Cornell scored Goal No. 4 on the second minor.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Goals: Other than Meyer, Grant Hutton scored his fourth of the season after posting no goals and five assists in 2015-16. Also, freshman Karch Bachman recorded the first of his college career. This pair led the team in shots: Bachman finished with six and Hutton – a defensive defenseman – ended the night with five.

– Miami was only on the power play twice on Friday while Cornell (6-3-1) had six chances on the man-advantage. That differential of minus-4 opportunities was a season low for the RedHawks. MU was outscored, 1-0 on the man-advantage and obviously lost by one goal overall.

– Talk about a slick highlights reel: Check out the one the Big Red put together for Friday’s game. Or, considering the outcome, maybe just watch the first half.

Cornell sinks Miami with late goals

Another late breakdown by Miami helped extend the team’s winless streak reach its highest total in over two decades.

The RedHawks led by two late in the second period but gave up four straight tallies, including three over a five-minute span, as they fell, 4-3 at Cornell on Friday.

That makes eight straight games without a win for MU, which last went that long without a victory Oct. 20-Nov. 24, 1995. The last time the RedHawks went winless for a longer stretch was near the end of the 1990-91 season.

Miami (3-7-4) went ahead by two goals before its collapse.

Josh Melnick centered a pass through traffic to Carson Meyer, who buried a wrister from the slot to open the scoring 5:57 into the first period.

Miami's Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

With five minutes left in the second period, Ryan Siroky led a 3-on-2 and slid a pass to Grant Hutton, who buried a shot stick side from the high slot to make it 2-0.

But with 1:55 left in the middle stanza, Cornell’s Noah Bauld toe-dragged around Miami defenseman Grant Frederic and beat goalie Ryan Larkin to cut the RedHawks’ lead in half.

The Big Red tied it when Eric Freschi backhanded a pass to a streaking Beau Starrett, who slammed it home with 9:50 left in regulation.

Cornell (6-3-1) took the lead on another slam-dunk goal 73 seconds later, as uncontested Anthony Angello slammed home a centering feed from Mitch Vanderlaan at the top of the crease.

Trevor Yates tapped in a loose puck following a scramble in front of the crease to make it 4-2 with 5:02 to play.

Miami did trim the Big Red lead to one with 3:04 left as Karch Bachman chipped a backhand home off a feed by Hutton for his first collegiate goal.

The RedHawks’ last win was on Oct. 28 and their lone road victory was opening weekend in Providence, as they are 1-4-2 away from Cady Arena.

They have been outscored, 14-2 in the third period during their skid and have surrendered multiple goals in the final frame four times and three or more in three of those contests.

Hutton finished with a goal and an assist for his second career multi-point game and his first of 2016-17. He has points in three straight games.

Anthony Louis picked up an assist as he earned a point for the fifth consecutive contest.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: Series big for MU confidence

Just when it seemed like Miami had pulled off a surprise by tying No. 1 Denver once on its home ice at elevation, the RedHawks did it again a night later.

MU and the Pioneers skated to a 2-2 tie in a series that Miami entered as a huge underdog, having lost its previous five.

Like Friday, the RedHawks were severely outshot, 51-26 including 22-3 in the first period (that’s a 37-6 first-period shot advantage for DU on the weekend).

As we’re constantly reminded, especially with a young team, the season is a process, and hanging with the top team in NCAA for six period in a hostile rink a mile above sea level will do wonders for Miami’s confidence.

And let’s face it, that confidence couldn’t have been in a great place after a pair of demoralizing losses at home to UNO last weekend.

At the same time, confidence builder or not, the RedHawks (3-6-4) are still winless in league play with two of a possible 18 points a quarter of a way through their NCHC schedule. They have three wins in 13 games and haven’t picked up a victory in November, with their last coming on Oct. 28.

Youth breeds inconsistency, something we’ve been reminded of often the first two months of this season, and while it can be incredibly frustrating, weekends like this show that at least Miami appears headed in the right direction overall.

Other thoughts…

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– You know what is consistent for Miami? Ryan Larkin. He posted a .963 save percentage this weekend, making 87 saves on 90 shots. The RedHawks have certainly had rough patches this season, but imagine if Larkin wasn’t between the pipes.

– Willie Knierim hasn’t looked completely confident at times this season, but hopefully his rebound goal will springboard his overall game. After the puck hit goalie Tanner Jaillet, it popped into the air and Knierim banged it home before it hit the ice. It was a goal-scorer’s goal and from in close, and area the wide-body could have a lot of collegiate success as he adapts to this level.

– With injuries and such plaguing a Miami team that was never terribly deep, Colin Sullivan played forward on Friday and shifted back to defense on Saturday. Coach Enrico Blasi loves guys he can play anywhere, and Sullivan can do just that, plus the fifth-year senior provides experience on a team lacking in that department. Defenseman Bryce Hatten sat out on Saturday after playing Friday, and forward Alex Alger returned to the lineup sheet.

– The upcoming off weekend is bittersweet, as Miami would probably like to capitalize on the momentum it built this weekend, but at the same time it can certainly use another week to heal. Louie Belpedio should be ready and will fortify the blueline substantially, and Carson Meyer may be ready to go as well.

Miami's Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Justin Greenberg has really stepped up not only on the PK but in the faceoff circle. He was 11-5 on draws Saturday and 20-10 for the weekend.

Miami, Denver tie again in finale

Miami had tied just four times in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons combined.

On Saturday, the RedHawks equaled that mark in the 13th game of this campaign, skating to their second straight draw, 2-2 at No. 1 Denver on Friday.

And for the second straight night, the Pioneers (7-2-3) secured the extra league point by winning the sudden-death shootout after the teams remained even after 70 minutes.

After Miami’s Conor Lemirande was assessed an interference major in the first minite, Dylan Gambrell took a cross-ice pass from Troy Terry that hit the skate of the RedHawks’ Gordie Green, skated to the center of the faceoff circle and whipped a wrister over the glove of goalie Ryan Larkin 3:02 into the game.

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Miami pulled even at the 3:28 mark of the second period when Grant Hutton’s shot from the blue line was stopped by Tanner Jaillet, but the goaltender allowed a huge rebound that Willie Knierim batted in for his first collegiate goal.

With 5:57 left in that frame, Terry emerged from the corner with the puck, skated laterally into the slot, turned and fired one just under the crossbar to give Denver a 2-1 lead.

But the RedHawks (3-6-4) again pulled even with 4:09 left in regulation on another rebound, as Kiefer Sherwood backhanded one that Jaillet knocked aside, but Ryan Siroky was skating by and deposited it into the net.

Miami's Ryan Siroky (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Ryan Siroky (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

It was Siroky’s first goal of the season as well.

Louis picked up an assist for the fourth straight game, giving him 103 career points.

Larkin turned 38 shots aside on Friday to set a career high but blew that away in this game, turning 49 aside. He finished the weekend 87 of 90 and made 14 more stops in the unofficial double overtimes both nights.

Miami – now winless in its last seven – picked up its second points of the season in NCHC play but remains in last place in the league, one point behind Colorado College.

The RedHawks are off this week and head to Cornell for a two-game set on Dec. 2-3.

Analysis: Tie is pleasant surprise

Blog of Brotherhood doesn’t make predictions on games, and Friday was Exhibit A as to why that’s the case.

After losing five straight games – three of which were at home – Miami skated to a 1-1 tie against No. 1 Denver at Magness Arena, which is at an altitude of over 5,000 feet.

When we last left the RedHawks, they were drubbed in their own building by Nebraska-Omaha, 6-2 a night after blowing a 4-1 lead in what was ultimately a 6-4 loss.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

In addition to proving that hockey is impossible to predict, we are reminded of another of the sport’s axioms, which is that goaltending is king and a dominant goalie can steal games. Miami was outshot, 39-21 including 15-3 in a first period that saw the RedHawks emerge with a 1-0 lead.

Granted Ryan Larkin didn’t pick up the win, but Miami had little chance if he didn’t stop 45 shots, 38 of which were official because they happened in regular and the legitimate overtime (the other seven were in five minutes of 3-on-3, which in itself is mind-blowing).

The RedHawks were still without captain Louie Belpedio on Friday and showed they are still capable of hanging with the best team in college hockey for 65 minutes.

That has to help this team’s confidence.

There was nowhere to go but up after the giant egg Miami laid last Saturday, and the RedHawks deserve a lot of credit for their significant ascension from six days earlier.

Other thoughts…

Miami's Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– It was hoped Belpedio would be back this week, but the lower-body injury that he is battling through cost him a fifth straight game. Miami is 0-4-1 without him. His return – whenever that is – will bolster the D-corps substantially and give coach Enrico Blasi more flexibility on his lineup card.

– Carson Meyer missed his third straight game. Hopefully with the off week for Thanksgiving next weekend, Miami will have both Meyer and Belpedio back when it resumes action at Cornell on Dec. 2. Meyer was starting to make a major impact, going 2-8-10 to lead all freshmen.

– There were three total power plays in this game – two for the RedHawks and one for Denver – and six combined penalty minutes assessed. No, really. Miami had averaged seven power plays and six penalty kills through its first 11 games. Neither team scored during the man-advantage, snapping a four-game stretch in which the RedHawks had allowed at least two PPGs. So that’s a positive.

– It was great to see Grant Hutton get a goal after an uncharacteristically poor showing last weekend. He did not register a goal his freshman year but has three in 12 games in 2016-17 and is arguably the top shut-down blueliner on the team.

Miami's Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– In the that-wouldn’t-have-happened-last-year department, how about Anthony Louis stripping a player to set up the Hutton goal? He’s always been a very good player but never was a major factor on D and along with Kiefer Sherwood has to be one of the top picks for most improved player.

– Believe it or not, this was just the third time this season Miami has blanked an opponent in the third period. Teams have outscored the RedHawks, 11-0 in the previous six third periods and Miami snapped a six-game streak in which it had been scored on in the final frame.

Miami ties top-ranked Denver

It’s a pretty safe bet to say that Miami was happy to have Ryan Larkin back.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Larkin was pulled from last Friday’s game with an injury and missed Saturday’s contest as a result, but returned to stop a career-high 38 shots as the RedHawks salvaged a 1-1 tie at No. 1 Denver on Friday.

Miami extended its winless streak to six games but it had lost its last five and was 0-4 against its first two NCHC opponents, neither of which were ranked.

The RedHawks (3-6-3), who received one point after DU won the sudden-death shootout, were outshot, 39-21.

Miami’s only goal came just 1:59 into the game when Anthony Louis stole the puck in the defensive zone, slid a pass to a streaking Grant Hutton, and the sophomore defenseman ripped one by goalie Tanner Jaillet on the stick side.

Denver (7-2-2) trailed by a goal after the first period despite leading on the shot counter, 15-3.

But the Pioneers tied it in the middle stanza. With 16:02 left in that frame, Troy Terry stole a Bryce Hatten defensive zone pass, went in alone and beat Larkin stick side to tie it.

The RedHawks generated 11 of their 21 shots in the second period.

After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game was officially ruled a tie. In the second OT for a conference point, Denver outshot Miami, 7-2 in the 3-on-3.

Henrik Borgstrom converted his sudden-death penalty shot but Kiefer Sherwood was denied.

Miami's Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Hutton’s goal was his third of the season after he did not record a marker in his first season with Miami.

Louis picked up the lone RedHawks assist, giving him helpers in three straight and points in nine of his last 10 games. He now has 102 career points, moving him into sole possession of 49th place on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

The RedHawks remain in last place in the NCHC, as they picked up their first league point of the season.

These teams wrap up their two-game weekend series at 9:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Photos: UNO at Miami

Images from the series between Nebraska-Omaha and Miami played at Cady Arena on Nov. 11-12, 2016. All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

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