Monthly Archives: October 2015

Analysis: Expect more low-scoring games

After opening night, Miami’s last four games have been low scoring and close.

A suggestion for fans: Get used to it.

The RedHawks won its third straight game, 1-0 at St. Lawrence on Friday, thanks to 26 saves from goalie Ryan McKay and the fourth goal in five games for freshman forward Jack Roslovic.

Miami is averaging 2.40 goals per game, tied for 33rd out of 59 teams in the NCAA. While the RedHawks will develop better chemistry, and its offense should evolve, a brutal NCHC schedule – starting next week – will counter much of that progress.

Nothing against Miami at all. The freshmen forwards have been outstanding, and Sean Kuraly and Anthony Louis will hit their strides, hopefully sooner than later. But this team lost a ton of incredibly talented players up front, and its calling card this season will be its experienced defensemen and goaltenders.

Despite giving up seven goals in its opener, Miami is tied for 22nd in college hockey with 2.40 goals against per game. The forwards are playing solid defense. The defenseman, at least the last few games, are playing very well in their own end. McKay is in the zone and has the ability to steal games on his own.

This is a good team right now, and it could be a great team. RedHawks fans should be excited for the upcoming conference schedule.

But this team isn’t going to put up a lot of six-, seven- and eight-goal games. Not to worry: 3-1 wins count just as much as 5-3 victories.

Other thoughts:

– Holy cow was Friday a tightly-called game. The St. Lawrence PxP guy was complaining about calls against both teams. Seven power plays for both teams in a not-more-physical-than-usual game is a ton. Miami made the most of it: The RedHawks went 1-for-7 and SLU went 0-for-7, and the final was 1-0.

– Hard to tell from a computer screen, but the ice looked awful from 700 miles away. It looked like the puck was hopping all over the place. It bounced over sticks and it wouldn’t stay flat, squelching scoring chances for both teams. That would explain one total goal in the game.

– Miami did a great job of shutting down shooting lanes on the penalty kill. NCHC teams do this to the RedHawks all the time. There were a lot of reasons MU was perfect on the PK, and that was a big one. Penalty killing forwards Josh Melnick, Alex Gacek and Kevin Morris have been absolutely pests, and Justin Greenberg was put in that role as well in his first game of the season last night, so hopefully he can replicate the others’ success.

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

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

– Roslovic has been a stud since Game 1, but it’s really amazing how much better he’s gotten in just a couple of weeks. He looks more comfortable now and does so much more than just score goals. He was clearly the best skater for either team last night, and not just because he notched the lone marker.

Miami defenseman Taylor Richart (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami defenseman Taylor Richart (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– This game was called so tightly that defenseman Taylor Richart was actually whistled for a minor. The stay-at-home defense role is often overlooked in hockey, so some context on the senior: That is just his fifth minor since the beginning of his sophomore year, spanning 64 games. For someone who is in the trenches every night, that’s nearly unheard of.

– McKay has won three straight games for the first time since Miami’s NCHC Tournament run in 2013-14. It was his first shutout since the Frozen Faceoff semifinal vs. North Dakota on March 21, 2014. His save percentage is now .954. He deserves a lot of credit for stopping 14 shots in the third period, including some excellent scoring chances after seeing just two shots in the second frame.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– In the strange stats department: How about consistency in Miami’s shots allowed? In their five games, the RedHawks have allowed 26, 26, 27, 28 and 26 SOG.

LINEUP CHANGES: Greenberg, who was banged up the first two weeks, played in his first game of the season on Friday. Scratched up front were sophomore Conor Lemirande for the first time this season and senior Michael Mooney for the second time. The odd man out on defense was junior Colin Sullivan, who has now not dressed twice this campaign. It was the fourth straight start for McKay in net.

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Miami, McKay shut out St. Lawrence

In its first four games, Miami’s goals against totals were seven, two, two and one. The natural progression was a shutout.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Senior Ryan McKay stopped 26 shots, including 14 in the third period as the RedHawks blanked St. Lawrence, 1-0 at Appleton Arena on Friday.

It was the third straight win for No. 15 Miami, and it extends the team’s unbeaten streak to four games.

After a scoreless first period, RedHawks freshman forward Jack Roslovic whipped a backhand pass from senior forward Sean Kuraly into the net 4:52 into the middle frame for the game’s only goal on the power play.

Miami (3-1-1) held the Saints (3-2) to just two shots in that stanza.

The RedHawks had to kill five penalties in the third period, including over a minute of 5-on-3 time.

The shutout for McKay was the ninth of his career, as he ranks fourth all-time at Miami for his career. He has allowed just five goals in four starts this season.

Roslovic has four goals in five games to open his tenure in Oxford, and he has all three of the RedHawks’ game winners. The assist for Kuraly was his first point of 2015-16.

Miami improves to 2-0 on the road this season, with both wins coming by a goal.

Both teams had seven power plays. The RedHawks were 1-for-7, giving them three goals on the man advantage in two games. St. Lawrence was 0-for-7, as Miami has gone three consecutive games without allowing a PPG.

The RedHawks have killed all 14 man-advantage chances during their winning streak and are 22 of 23 for the season.

The teams finish their two-game series at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

#15 Miami at #17 St. Lawrence

This weekend, Miami travels to someplace called Canton, N.Y. to face St. Lawrence (Google)

This weekend, Miami travels to someplace called Canton, N.Y. to face St. Lawrence (Google)

This weekend, Miami (2-1-1) heads out for a long road trip (they bussed this weekend so Waddell’s rear end will be sore) to Canton, New York to take on the Saints, of course, of St. Lawrence University (3-1-0). These two teams are no strangers as Miami returns the favor from last season when the Saints visited Oxford. The two teams split a pair of one-goal games last year with the Saints winning 5-4 on Friday before Miami earned a hard fought 2-1 win in OT on Saturday night.

Last weekend, Miami swept duhOSU while the Saints split a pair of road games defeating New Hampshire 3-2 on Friday before falling to Merrimack 3-1 Saturday.

The Saints

Last year the Saints snuck up on the teams in the ECAC. Predicted to finish 11th in the preseason poll, St. Lawrence defied expectations earning a 2nd place finish in the regular season standings. Sophomore goaltender Kyle Hayton was a big reason

Kyle Hayton and St. Lawrence will pose a stern test for Miami this weekend (USCHO)

for that as he single handedly carried the Saints, especially early in the season. Hayton set program records for in GAA (1.97), save percentage (.937) and shutouts (5) so obviously SLU is counting on him to maintain that form in 2015-16.

At ECAC media day, SLU head coach Greg Carvel noted how important his goaltender was last season, especially early.

“Expectations this year will be much different than last year,” Saints coach Greg Carvel said. “I think we were able to sneak up on some teams. That won’t be the case this year.”

Carvel added that he felt Hayton’s play helped cover up some of the mistakes made by SLU’s young team but he felt that changed as the season went along.

“I think if we play as a team the way we are capable of, scoring chances should be way down,” he said.

Top returning offensive threats for the Saints include MIke Marnell (11-6-17), Tommy Thompson (9-14-23) and Brian Ward (9-17-26) along with freshman Jacob Pritchard. So, it’s not exactly an offensive juggernaut but they will play tight defense and have some nice returning defensemen to assist in front of Hayton.

The RedHawks

Miami continues to be paced by freshmen with Jack Roslovic earning NCHC Rookie of the Week honors, fantastic play from Josh Melnick and Zach LaValle, who earned his first career goal in the weekend sweep of OSU. Ryan McKay notched two

Miami is hoping to see a lot of this from its prized freshman, Jack Roslovic (Cathy Lachmann)

Miami is hoping to see a lot of this from its prized freshman, Jack Roslovic (Cathy Lachmann)

victories in net last weekend as he is making an early play to seize control of the Miami net as Jay Williams was unimpressive in his only start of the year, a 7-3 drubbing at the hands of Providence on opening night.

The Prediction

This is a LONG road trip for Miami, about 12 hours on the bus, and the first real roadie of the year. Miami will need to get production from its veterans this weekend to help the freshmen understand life on the road. I don’t feel great about the weekend, but I’ll pick a split in two tight 2-1 or 3-2 type games.

Photos: Miami vs. Ohio St.

All photos by Cathy Lachmann

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Analysis: MU succeeding without vet scoring

OXFORD, Ohio – A 2-1-1 record to start the season with one point from Anthony Louis and Sean Kuraly you say?

As Miami fans, yeah, we’ll take it.

The RedHawks’ two top returning scorers are off to slow starts offensively, but the RedHawks (2-1-1) swept Ohio State this weekend, 3-2 in Columbus and 3-1 in Oxford the following night with five of its goals coming by freshmen.

Rookies have potted seven of 11 Miami goals for the season. Four of the five freshmen forwards have found the net in the team’s first four games.

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

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

Beyond Jack Roslovic, it was unclear entering the season how much newbies would contribute offensively to a forward corps that had lost Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber and Blake Coleman among others. But at least for two weekends, the answer is significantly.

Overall, Miami hasn’t set the world on fire from a scoring perspective, averaging 2.75 goals per game. But the RedHawks missed several Grade A scoring chances in the first period alone on Friday and had multiple chances on Saturday it should’ve cashed in.

MU finished the finale with 41 shots on goal and missed the net a number of times.

There is cause for optimism regarding this team’s offensive potential. The RedHawks are holding their own during what most knew would be a transition process with numerous new faces taking over the jobs of established studs.

If they have been able to hold their own during their growing pains without contributions from Kuraly or Louis, just wait until those two hit their strides.

And they will hit their strides, hopefully very soon.

Other thoughts on Saturday:

– This was the best all-around game Roslovic has played. He engaged in battles along the boards and was generally more of a presence on the ice than in the previous games. Roslovic also showed more of ability to make defenders look silly as he can seemingly skate around them at will, a feat made even more amazing considering he is still just 18. That won’t fly at higher levels, or even against better college opponents, but he is certainly showing everyone why he was a first-round pick this summer.

– Sherwood seems to get better every game. He blew up in the USHL last season, scoring 29 goals after netting 13 the previous season, so hopefully that will translate at this level – it certainly did on Friday when he picked the top corner on his first college goal. And it looks like he could do more, as he engages physically and appears capable of playing both ways. Josh Melnick and Roslovic have been the obvious standouts early, but Sherwood looks like he may develop into a very good player for Miami as well.

– The power play was 1,000 percent better on Saturday than Friday. Yes, Miami went 2-for-5, but beyond that, the puck movement was outstanding and the communication appeared much improved. The first unit could be devastating to opponents this season with Roslovic-Melnick-Louis-Kuraly-Belpedio, and its makeshift second unit scored the final goal on Saturday, with Zach LaValle finding the net.

– Miami’s four-game road stand will be difficult but should provide a bonding opportunity and could make the team better overall. At least the RedHawks get their feet wet on a real road trip – not like Ohio State, which was an up-and-back drive with more Miami fans than OSU fans in attendance – before opening conference play in two weeks.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B+. At this point of the season, improvement is more vital than results, and the improvement is there. The freshmen are getting better. Louis played well but only had a point, and many more will follow. Kuraly has struggled at times early but appears ready to break out. If either Kevin Morris or Alex Gacek ever find the net they may be unstoppable – both have done everything right except finish in the first four games. Overall, this unit fired a ton of shots and missed the net a bunch more. They played pretty well defensively as well, but the competition will get a lot stiffer very soon.

DEFENSEMEN: A. This unit made mistakes the first three games, and many were costly. That really didn’t happen on Saturday. We mentioned Louis and Kuraly and how they will get going eventually, and Louie Belpedio belongs on that list as well. His best hockey is yet to come. Senior Matthew Caito was outstanding, as he shut down seemingly every OSU threat on his watch, and classmate Chris Joyaux is playing some of the best defense of his career right now. Like with the forwards, the process is in place, which is very encouraging, and the opponents will get better from this point forward.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDING: A. Senior Ryan McKay hasn’t played a lot of back-to-back nights, but he shined in this one. He appeared to be screened on the only goal against, and he had to shut down a couple of high-percentage chances, including a breakaway. McKay finished 27 of 28 (.964) on the night and 52-for-55 (.945) on the weekend. This team’s prospects are a lot higher if McKay can continue to play at this level.

LINEUP CHANGES: Senior Michael Mooney was back in at forward on Saturday, replacing junior Devin Loe, who did not have a point in his first three games. On defense, sophomore Scott Dornbrock was scratched for the second time this season, as junior Colin Sullivan returned to the lineup sheet. McKay started for the third straight game.

Frosh help Miami complete Ohio St. sweep

OXFORD, Ohio — Miami’s youth continued to shine offensively on Saturday.

Freshmen scored all three of the RedHawks’ goals in a 3-1 win over Ohio State at Cady Arena in the series finale, a night after edging the Buckeyes in Columbus.

Forwards Josh Melnick, Jack Roslovic and Zach LaValle all found the net in the win, Miami’s sixth straight in its all-time series vs. OSU (0-4).

Roslovic set up Melnick’s goal to open the scoring when he whipped a cross-ice pass for a one-timer on the power play with 7:49 left in the first period.

Like Friday, after the RedHawks (2-1-1) took the initial lead, Ohio State tied it. A wrist shot from just inside the blue line by Mason Jobst eluded Miami senior goalie Ryan McKay 5:11 into the second period to make it 1-1.

Roslovic put the RedHawks ahead for good when he beat two defenders and roofed a shot with 6:04 left in the middle stanza. Melnick picked up the lone assist on that goal after a steal in the neutral zone.

Miami's Zach LaValle scores his first career goal to ice Saturday's game (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Zach LaValle scores his first career goal to ice Saturday’s game (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

LaValle jammed a rebound home off a shot by Kiefer Sherwood – another rookie – with 17:55 to play in regulation, sealing it. That goal also came on the man advantage, on which Miami finished 2-for-5.

Melnick and Roslovic finished with a goal and an assist each, as they are tied for the team lead with five points apiece.

Of the eight individual points earned by Miami in this game, six were by freshmen – two each by Melnick and Roslovic and one apiece by LaValle and Sherwood. Junior forward Anthony Louis and senior defenseman Matthew Caito also picked up assists.

Louis finished with nine of the RedHawks’ 41 shots.

McKay stopped 27 to earn the win for the second straight night.

The RedHawks’ first significant road trip of the season is this weekend, as they travel to St. Lawrence for a two-game set. Both games will be at 7 p.m.

Following those games, Miami travels to St. Cloud State to open NCHC play on Oct. 30-31.

Analysis: Win over OSU a morale booster

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Granted it wasn’t against a top-10 team, but getting into the win column has to be a huge moral victory for Miami, especially on a late game winner.

The RedHawks won their road opener at Ohio State, 3-2 at Value City Arena on Friday on a rebound goal by Columbus native Jack Roslovic with 1:33 left.

Miami has a plethora of new forwards this season, and many are in the starting lineup because of their abilities, and also with three extra skaters on the roster including one blueliner, it was obvious most or all of them were going to get the opportunity to play.

Seeing four of them into the points column in this game (Roslovic, Josh Melnick, Kiefer Sherwood, Ryan Siroky) had to be a mental boost for all of them, and getting that first win does everyone good.

The offense was a concern heading into this season, with so many ultra-talented players from 2014-15 departing. But this team has scored eight goals in three games, which is neither bad nor good, and better things are ahead for this team.

One can see the passes that just miss, the chemistry that is still developing, the shots that aren’t quite perfect enough to hit the net. And let’s face it, the Ohio State ice does not exactly rival Edmonton.

We’ll say it again: The defense will be fine. Heck, Colin Sullivan was scratched in this game and he scored a beautiful goal last Friday and made very few mistakes last weekend.

The goaltending? Two fourth-year starters there. Can’t get more experienced there in college.

With the 2015-16 team, the question is always been about scoring enough goals. Three games into the season, Miami is already scoring at an OK clip, and the offense should only improve.

Other thoughts:

– Can’t say enough about how much better senior Alex Gacek has been this season. He kills penalties, he passes, he hits people – which almost defies physics at his size – he defends, he’s doing pretty much everything. Gacek finished strong in 2014-15 and it was hoped that would carry over to this season, but he has exceeded those expectations.

– Also impressed with the step up taken by senior Kevin Morris. He’s been seemingly everywhere so far this season.

– On defense, senior Chris Joyaux seems to have taken a big step forward as well. He was scratched for the season opener last week but has really earned a spot in the lineup with his play since.

– Senior Taylor Richart has been shooting and generally getting involved in the offense a lot more, which is a good thing. He had a shot redirected into the net last week, and he was firing from the blue line again on Saturday and pinched into the play several times. He’s such a smart player that he can be trusted to pick his spots while jumping in without getting caught.

– How about that Crash Cousins line? Andrew Schmit scored the first goal, and the whole line of him, Conor Lemirande and Ryan Siroky played well together. On a team that really only has two scoring lines at present, it was great to see this trio step up.

– Let the controversy begin: Josh Melnick is the best overall forward on the team right now. He’s an absolute pest on the PK (and how much confidence does Coach Enrico Blasi have in him to put a freshman right into the mix on the top PK unit?), he passes incredibly well, he goes into corners and win battles, he scores, he defends very well and steals pucks. Three games in, this kid is the biggest story on the team, especially since everyone knew Roslovic was going to be unreal. Roslovic hasn’t disappointed, Melnick has just been that good. And oh yeah, that winning goal? Melnick made that happen with a picture-perfect centering feed to Morris from along the boards.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– The penalty killing has been excellent. Miami allowed just two shots on three man advantages and is now 12 of 13 (92.3 percent) early in the season. Again, defense, goaltending, not a surprise this is a strength for the RedHawks. Add in a rejuvenated Gacek and Morris, plus Melnick up top and this team could stay above 90 percent this season. The power play on the other hand…but that will get better. Let’s hope.

– Kudos to Miami fans and event organizers who helped get Red and White fans in the seats for this game. RedHawks fans easily outnumbered Ohio State fans in the Buckeyes’ own rink and made a lot of noise. It’s possible there were more Miami fans at this game than at either for opening weekend at Cady.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. Miami missed some shots it should’ve buried early but got the big one from Roslovic when it needed it. In addition to the others mentioned above, Anthony Louis was more involved all around although he didn’t get on the scoresheet. Sherwood was OK in the opener, scratched for Game 2 and much more of a factor in this game. Overall there was a lot to like from this group, but the RedHawks’ opponent was nowhere near Providence level.

DEFENSEMEN: C. Belpedio fell into the boards with the puck, which directly resulted in the first goal against. On the second one, it looked like freshman Grant Hutton lost Anthony Greco as he skated to the net, resulting in the one-timer. Sophomore Scott Dornbrock, Joyaux and Belpedio all took penalties, and for the latter, that’s four minors in three games. Dornbrock struggled early but got better.

GOALTENDING: A-. McKay stopped 25 of 27 shots (.926) but after Belpedio slipped on the first goal, McKay was left out of position (he understandably couldn’t have anticipated Belpedio losing the puck there), and the second one was a point-blank one-time run he had no chance on. McKay didn’t face many other tough chances until the six minute of the third period, when Miami took a shift off and McKay had to make three great saves. He’s been very solid so far this season.

LINEUP CHANGES: Sherwood was dressed in place of senior Michael Mooney, and Dornbrock played in place of Sullivan. One could envision Blasi going with the same 12 forwards tonight, and which defenseman will sit is anyone’s guess, but Sullivan certainly should not be scratched every night. McKay started for the second straight game, which was interesting because Jay Williams was in net for the opener, so it’s unclear what Blasi will do for the finale. Knowing Blasi he won’t let Williams rot on the bench over one game, especially since numerous goals scored in that tilt weren’t his fault.

Roslovic’s late goal sinks OSU

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In its one trip to the state’s capitol this season, it was a freshman from the area that scored the game winner for Miami in its first road game of the season.

Forward Jack Roslovic banged home a rebound with 1:33 left in regulation to lift the RedHawks to a 3-2 win over Ohio State at Value City Arena on Friday.

Miami's Jack Roslovic buries the game winner with 1:33 left (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic buries the game winner with 1:33 left (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The Buckeyes (0-3) had tied the score 72 seconds earlier.

Miami senior forward Andrew Schmit hit the top corner of the net to open the scoring 9:56 into the first period, the third goal of his career and his first of 2015-16.

RedHawks defenseman Louie Belpedio lost the puck when he fell to the ice, leaving OSU’s Anthony Greco alone with goalie Ryan McKay, and Greco flipped a backhand over the sprawling McKay to tie the score shorthanded 6:54 into the middle stanza.

Like Schmit, Miami freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood also went top shelf on the glove side to beat Buckeyes goalie Matt Tomkins, giving the RedHawks a 2-1 lead 3:14 into the third period. It was Sherwood’s first career goal, and he is also from Columbus.

Greco tied it again with 2:45 remaining in regulation when he buried a one-time centering feed from behind the net by David Gust.

Melnick set up the game-winner with a perfect feed from the side boards to senior forward Kevin Morris, who whipped a shot on net that Tomkins saved, but the rebound trickled to the side of the net for a waiting Roslovic, who buried it.

Morris was the only Miami skater with multiple points, finishing with two assists. McKay stopped 25 shots to earn the win, the 30th of his career.

Four MU freshmen picked up points. Ryan Siroky earned an assist for his first career point.

The RedHawks (1-1-1) extended their unbeaten streak at Ohio State to five games (4-0-1), and overall Miami has won five games in a row vs. the Buckeyes.

The series finale will be at 8 p.m. at Cady Arena in Oxford.

#18 Miami v. Ohio State

#18 Miami should expect a ruckus crowd of dozens of duhOSU fans and several hundred Miami faithful Friday in Columbus. (OSU/Schottenstein Center)

Quick preview this weekend as #18 Miami (0-1-1) travels to take on duhOSU (0-2-0) tonight at Cheap Furniture Arena in Cowtown and hosts the Buckeyes tomorrow at beautiful Steve Cady Arena in Oxford. Game times are 7 PM EST tonight and 7:05 PM EST Saturday night.

Last time out for Miami, it was an opening weekend against a familiar and formidable opponent as the defending national champion Providence Friars came to Oxford. Little was known about Miami’s youngsters but highly touted Jack Roslovic did not disappoint with a 1-1-2 line on the weekend while classmate Josh Melnick really impressed with his speed and all-around game also notching 1-1-2 including Miami’s first 3×3 OT goal in Saturday’s 2-2 tie. Senior Alex Gacek contributed four assists on the weekend as he and senior captain Sean Kuraly will be counted upon to lead the RedHawks offensively this season.

For duhOSU, well they started by being swept by #10 Bowling Green including a shutout defeat on Saturday night. Really, there’s not much to say about Ohio State. They aren’t very good, and they play in a weak conference. But perhaps that could be a testament to how good BG is though they were routed 4-1 on Tuesday night in Kalamazoo by Western Michigan, a team that’s expected to compete for the basement of the uber competitive NCHC.

This weekend, MIami should get right and should sweep the Buckeyes in the now annual home-and-home series between the two former CCHA rivals. Expect the Miami fans to nearly outnumber duhOSU “fans” tonight. We expect to hear the sieve chant loud and proud!

Per MURedHawks.com, coverage of the weekend can be found at:

TV/Stream: Buckeye Vision (Friday), NCHC.tv (Saturday)

Radio: 1450 WMOH-AM (Saturday) (Greg Waddell/pxp, Drew Davis/color)

Photos: Providence at Miami

All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

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