Monthly Archives: December 2015

Scouting FutureHawks: Joey Keane

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – As a 16 year old, Joey Keane has played in 24 of 25 games in his first USHL season with Dubuque.

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The Dubuque Fighting Saints defenseman, who is committed to play at Miami, put up 11 points in 26 games with the Under-16 Chicago Mission last season and is feeling his way out at the next level, posting two assists in 2015-16.

Another Chicago-area product, Keane is projected to join the RedHawks in the fall of 2017 by Elite Prospects.

At this point we give the obligatory disclaimer that when writing about FutureHawks, opinions are only based on this game, and that typically does not provide a completely accurate representation of the player’s abilities. However, combined with stats at this and previous levels, a decent idea can be had about a player’s strengths and weaknesses at this point.

With that in mind, Blog Of Brotherhood visited the Team USA facility last weekend and took a look at Keane:

JOEY KEANE

Height: 6-0. Weight: 180. DOB: 7/2/1999. From: Homer Glen, Ill.

Games: 24. Goals: 0. Assists: 2. Points: 2. Plus-minus: 1. PIM: 18.

GAME NIGHT: Keane was on the second defense pairing to the right of 19 year old Carson Vance. He entered play with just one assist, but he would pick up his second of the season a night later against Team USA.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The first thought that comes to mind when seeing Keane is: This kid’s really 16? He displays veteran coolness on defense that makes one think the 1999 listed for his birthyear is a typo. By contrast, he is still a bit cautious, which is completely understandable and probably welcomed by the coaching staff considering he has logged all of two dozen games in this league – he rarely takes chances. Keane has a number of means by which to clear the puck out of danger, from pitch-forking it away to poke checking to whacking it up the boards, and all appear to be highly developed for his age. Again, this was just one game, but he appears to be a student of the game with his positioning and well-coached style of play. His passing is also excellent, good enough to vault him onto the top power play unit, where he logged a number of minutes due to ample Team USA minor penalties. There’s a lot to like in Keane.

FIRST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Made a good pass to help get the puck out of the defensive zone…was on the ice for a Team USA goal, which was scored on a weak wrister from the blue line which was not at all a result of his play…on the power play, moved the puck well from the blue line but Dubuque did not generate a shot…made a solid offensive zone pass that resulted in a good shot on goal that was stopped…took a quality bad-angle shot in deep off a loose puck, and later that shift cleared the puck along the boards nicely in his own zone with a forward bearing down.

SECOND PERIOD HIGHIGHTS: Pitch-forked a puck to his partner from behind his own net…shot on goal off a dump in that was saved…excellent hold-in at the blue line with his skate on the power play…fanned on a PP shot in the slot…settled another tough clearing attempt at the blue line, ultimately resulting in a Dubuque goal.

THIRD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Had a wrist shot blocked, and a subsequent lateral pass to his partner was picked off cleanly…blasted a puck all the way down the ice on the penalty kill, ending a scoring threat…logged tons of ice time in the final five minutes in this close game.

FINAL GAME INFO: Keane finished with the one sharp-angle shot and went even, with one goal at even strength scored by both teams while he was on the ice. Dubuque also netted a power play maker with him on the ice.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Right now he’s an impressive defensive defenseman in this league at 16. The sky seems to be the limit for Keane, and based on his ice time on the power play, penalty kill and in the final minutes (he was out there on the final shift in a one-goal game), Dubuque’s coaches agree. He makes quality passes and could be a solid quarterback on the power play, especially since he has scored at previous levels. At 6-feet-0 and 180 pounds, he definitely needs to get stronger, as he can get muscled off the puck, but his skills helped him overcome that a couple of times in this game. He should still grow at least another inch, and that combined with strength conditioning will only make him better. Keane isn’t a sexy player at this point – not a fancy passer, doesn’t blast slap shots or lay out big hits – but if you like the defensive aspect of hockey, he’s a delight to watch and has a ton of upside.

WHERE HE FITS IN AT MIAMI: If the plan for Keane truly is 2017-18, only Scott Dornbrock and Grant Hutton would be back that season from Miami’s current crop of blueliners, so his primary competition would be other incoming D-men in the incoming classes of 2016 and 2017 at that point. He is a high school junior now, so he could come in later, but if he continues to improve the next 18 months he should be ready as a true freshman. With the stronger body and more development, he could be a top shut-down defenseman who can also contribute on offense and possibly run the power play. Yes, please.

GAME PHOTOS BY CATHY LACHMANN:

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Scouting FutureHawks: Gordie Green

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Gordie Green is in his second full season of USHL hockey with Dubuque, and he is expected to make Miami a better offensive team in 2016-17.

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At 5-feet-8, he fits the physical profile of some of the most successful points-producing RedHawks in previous years. He has signed a National Letter of Intent earlier this season, meaning he will most likely move to Oxford this summer.

Green has not produced points en masse since joining Dubuque, but he should still be able to make a significant contribution to next season’s Miami team. In 85 career games with the Fighting Saints, he has 13 goals and 21 assists for 44 points, including 13 points in 25 games in 2015-16.

The Michigan native turns 19 in February and did play a game with the U.S. Under-17 team in 2013-14.

As always when writing about FutureHawks, it’s understood that the below opinions are based on the performance in one game, which typically does not provide a completely accurate representation of the player’s abilities but normally gives a good idea of what a player brings on game night.

With that in mind, Blog Of Brotherhood visited the Team USA facility last weekend to watch Dubuque take on the U.S. National Development Under-18 Team and took a look at Green:

GORDIE GREEN

Height: 5-8. Weight: 179. DOB: 2/24/1997. From: Detroit, Mich.

Games: 23. Goals: 4. Assists: 9. Points: 13. Plus-minus: 3. PIM: 25.

GAME NIGHT: Green was on the second line as a right wing with the Smith brothers – Mitchell and Evan – both Yale commits and significant offensive threats. Team USA’s Griffin Luce, an impressive player at 6-feet-3 and 214 pounds, spent much of the night covering Green and did not make his life easy.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Green has substantial muscle mass for his size, filling out at 179 pounds despite being just 5-8. Like many fitting that size profile, he tries to elude defenders and set up scoring chances. He loves to forecheck and is a pest in the offensive zone as he tries to force opponents into turnovers and uncomfortable passes as they bring the puck up the ice. Green sets up in front of the net and tries to redirect shots and knock home rebounds from the slot, which is somewhat unusual for a small forward.

FIRST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Fired a shot just wide after a Team USA turnover in its defensive zone…tape-to-tape pass in the offensive zone ultimately led to a scoring chance…hammered a player along the boards…on the power play, he won a battle along the end boards and connected on two passes to keep a threat alive…outskated a USA defenseman to avoid icing…stole the puck in the offensive zone but lost it…laid out a hit during a battle in front of the USA net.

SECOND PERIOD HIGHIGHTS: Earned an assist when linemate Mitchell Smith scored a bad-angle goal…great outlet pass from the defensive zone along the boards to get his team out of trouble…cleanly stole the puck in the defensive zone…logged a lot of power play time.

THIRD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS: Excellent pass from behind his own net to spring Dubuque loose…grabbed a loose puck in traffic for a shot but missed the net…buggy-whipped a low shot that was blocked by a defenseman…turned it over in the defensive zone but USA did not generate a scoring chance.

FINAL GAME INFO: Green finished with an assist — his ninth of the season — a plus-1 rating for the Smith goal and four shots on goal.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Green’s passing ability is his most notable attribute, as he rarely misses a teammate’s stick and appears very confident in this aspect of his game, which will translate in the college game. As mentioned above, his forechecking is tenacious. Often defense is one of the last areas to develop for players in Green’s age group, and he is already ahead of the curve. While he held his own against bigger players, he didn’t thrive down low, which is probably a key reason his points total is not higher than 13. While Luce is bigger than most in the USHL, big, tough, physical forwards are what Green will face in the NCHC, so this was a good test for him. He almost seems miscast at right wing – he is more of a playmaker, as well as a solid defender, than a sniper or a net-crasher. But Dubuque is loaded up the middle, which is possibly why he’s playing on the right side. There’s also a lot to like about his compete level, his physicality and his hockey IQ – he is almost never out of position and always gets back on defense.

WHERE HE FITS IN AT MIAMI: Miami needs scoring, and Green certainly has a lot to offer in the offensive area, but the question that’s of immediate concern is: How often will he be able to put the puck in the net? He will be another guy that can move the puck on the power play and is responsible enough that he could be a fourth forward on one of the RedHawks’ units. Green may also play on the PK, although in this game Dubuque was only shorthanded once so the sample size was too small to evaluate. Again, just based on one game as well as his track record in the USHL, Green does not appear to be the next Carter Camper-Andy Miele-Austin Czarnik in terms of points, but he looks like he should generate more points than an Alex Gacek or an Alex Wideman. He is averaging a half point per game in 2015-16, which is a realistic expectation in Oxford and would put him in the 20-25 range. He seems to be an excellent fit for Miami coach Enrico Blasi’s system, which should help his transition in 2016-17. And Blasi expects all of his forwards to play defense, which Green will do, and that could earn him more ice time. He should be a solid addition in what looks to be a quality recruiting class.

GAME PHOTOS BY CATHY LACHMANN:

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RedHawks swept by lowly CC

We’ll have more later, but it’s fairly easy to admit this is one of the worst Miami hockey weekends in recent memory. Consider CC entered the weekend with a 1-13 record having just notched their first win of the season last weekend against Air Force. But, this weekend they were the better club defeating Miami in a pair of one-goal games 2-1 and 3-2 giving the Tigers their first two league conquests of the 2015-16 season.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Miami was the better team tonight.

They outshot the Tigers 36-23 but as I mentioned earlier this evening, they simply do not have enough finish whereas CC buried chances when they got them — especially on rushes. While Ryan McKay was good this weekend, he did not have a great weekend coming up with saves one-on-one. The best goaltenders do, but you can’t blame McKay for what transpired this weekend.

You can make all the excuses you want to support the play of this team, but they did not get much help from the officials tonight who missed some blatant calls, especially one late in the third period in the offensive zone when Melnick was hauled down. That non-call lead directly to the game winner off a 2-on-1 rush with Hunter Fejes ultimately walking in alone to McKay’s left. And, it led to a rather heated exchange between Miami coaches Enrico Blasi, Brent Brekke and the hapless NCHC officiating pair of Brian Aaron and Todd Anderson as the teams left the playing surface.

Overall, this is simply a rebuilding season for the RedHawks. They lack punch and we’re seeing that the Kuraly’s and Louis’ of the world simply aren’t what they were while playing with the Barber’s, Czarnik’s and Coleman’s of years past. To reflect for a moment, it’s really unfortunate those ultra-talented, but dysfunctional at times, Miami teams did not accomplish more in the NCAA tournament while those top-end guys were here. But, it is what it is.

With the freshmen talent that’s getting valuable experience this year, Miami will be fine with the rock solid recruiting class that’s a year away. While I’m not saying, ok I’m saying, this season is lost, if we assume that Roslovic and Louis return for another year plus Melnick, Sherwood and Siroky, and what they’ll be bringing in, Miami should be primed to return to the top of the NCHC in a year or two. But, this team? This is not a good team and they will struggle to stay ahead of CC. Seventh place in the league is looking likely with only Western Michigan playing worse hockey than the RedHawks right now.

 

2-2 after 2 …

Well after seeing just three goals last night and just one in the first period, we get three in the second as CC and Miami are about as close as two teams can be. It’s 2-2 after two. Some quick notes:

  • The CC powerplay goal was just the 3rd PPG Miami has allowed this year. However, it may have come after a missed offside by the linesman. The officials reviewed the play but according to others in the press box, the angle was not conducive to overturning the on-ice call.
  • Miami definitely misses a big time scoring touch this year. Guys are making smart plays and passes but there just isn’t enough finish out of the forwards. We have been used to seeing guys bury Grade A chances, but this year, it’s simply not happening — throughout the lineup. Miami could easily have four or five goals already.
  • Miami has seemed to let up on both nights playing with the 1-0 lead. Gotta continue to play hard for that next goal. Obviously, entering the 3rd period tied means they need to get the next one to have a chance to win.
  • Puck possession is something we are lacking. Typical Rico Blasi teams treat the puck like a prized possession, but this group is far more lax and is content to dump and chase. Again, we have less talent than we are used to, but guys have to be patient and know they have the ability to carry the puck into the zone.
  • Whenever Louis, Melnick and Roslovic are on the ice together, you have to pay attention. Lots of skill and speed. Assuming they’re all back next year, this will be a terrific line.

Time to get one and get home. 2-2 after two in the Springs.

1-0 Miami after 1 in the Springs…

Quick first period thoughts from the press box here at World Arena.

  • Sean Kuraly seems much more involved tonight as he has been skating the puck with confidence and gave a rousing fist pump after his first period goal, just his second of the season, that gave Miami the early 1-0 lead.
  • Grant Hutton is a nice add to this team. The freshman is tied for fourth in the conference in blocked shots with 16 on the season and just looks like he belongs. Size, good head and seems to be in position.
  • Conor Lemirande really looks good this weekend. Using his body and his reach to effectively win puck battles and is actively calling for the puck as he moves without it.
  • Miami has made an adjustment to CC’s transition game on the big ice and is not surrendering the blueline as easily as they did last night when the Tigers skated through the neutral zone at will. At least in the first period, they made it much harder for CC to enter the offensive zone.
  • Colin Sullivan was listed on an offensive line as a spot-filler only. Miami is rolling 7 defensemen tonight in an effort to give coach Enrico Blasi more options. Last night, the defensemen were fairly brutal, especially in the third period. Perhaps he could also be accounting for conditioning of his defensemen here at altitude.
  • Overall, Miami carried the majority of the play with Jack Roslovic and Anthony Louis impressively carrying the puck at times and Sean Kuraly looking more disruptive with his speed.

1-0 Miami after one. Let’s add to the lead unlike last night and get out of here with a W.

Analysis: Miami late losses mounting

In the you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me department, Miami gave up two more late goals to turn a 1-0 lead into a loss to the second-worst team in college hockey – Colorado College.

The RedHawks lost, 2-1 to the Tigers at World Arena on Friday, giving away points for the fourth straight game and burying itself in an even deeper hole both at the NCAA level and in its conference.

Before we enter the sour grapes portion of this article – or are accused of it – the figurative hat needs to be tipped to CC. That team played better than MU, which may not be saying much lately, and deserved the win.

But seriously? Miami had to know what a hole it had dug itself in conference play, having earned eight of a possible 24 points in NCHC play. And this senior-laden team couldn’t possibly have forgotten 2013-14, when it sat home while the regional site it was guaranteed if it merely qualified for the NCAA Tournament was just 35 miles down the road, right?

How do you get outshot, 33-21 by a team that averaged fewer than 26 shots per game? Better question might be: How do you generate just 21 SOG vs. a Tigers team that had surrendered an average of more than 34?

And by the way, how do you score once against a freshman goalie that had given up at least three goals in each outing and entered play with a goals-against average well above 4.00?

How does CC score twice in the last 10 minutes after netting just 1.57 goals PER GAME in its first 14 tilts? And Colorado College had allowed 4.00 goals against per game entering Friday but the RedHawks were able to manage just one tally.

The Tigers were 59th out of 60 teams in NCAA in the all-important PairWise rankings entering Friday. Miami was 18th. Now it’s 27th.

The RedHawks deserve the substantial drop. A win on Saturday still guarantees a bad road trip and a disappointing first half of this season.

There is still time to turn it around, but it will be a difficult task.

Other thoughts:

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– The lack of scoring by non-freshmen continues to be an issue. It was freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood finding the net for Miami in this game, giving RedHawks rookies 16 of their 31 goals. Defensemen have seven more tallies, meaning non-freshmen forwards have accounted for 25.8 percent of MU’s goals.

Think about that: a quarter of this team’s goals have come by non-freshmen forwards. In 2014-15, freshmen forwards scored once in the entire 40-game campaign (Conor Lemirande).

Hey, if there’s any positive coming from that stat, it’s that this team is looking good beyond this season. But how long Jack Roslovic will stay is a huge question mark and it’s way too early to look beyond this season anyway.

– I’ve never heard Pat Micheletti do color, but he was spot on in his analysis with the upstart American Sports Network broadcast on Friday, which was carried by the Altitude Network. He said Miami had trouble getting that put-away goal. He said the freshman scoring for the RedHawks was great, but they need production from veterans to have success.

He also clued in fans that Andrew Schmit suffered an upper-body injury, which is why he was out for this contest.

Even more importantly, he tipped off Miami fans that senior forward Sean Kuraly had some of his captain duties had waned, as Blasi told him to emphasize just playing in an effort to rejuvenate his offensive game.

Micheletti is the brother of Olympics and national telecast announcer Joe Micheletti.

– Axiom of the season: A win Saturday is crucial.

– Insert two quick positives: Kiefer Sherwood gets better every game and is a joy to watch, and goalie Ryan McKay deserved a better fate than a 2-1 loss.

GRADES

FORWARDS: F. Generating 15 shots against this squad is embarrassing. Freshman Jack Roslovic was still able to make defenders look stupid but didn’t generate any major scoring chances, and same with classmate Josh Melnick. Sherwood was definitely the best forward on the team, and he seemed to be near or in possession of the puck every time he was on the ice. The Kuraly turnover really hurt, and the overall ineptness of this corps cost the RedHawks the game.

DEFENSEMEN: C-. Colorado College had at least three wide-open chances in the slot and a couple other good chances as the result of beating flat-footed blueliners. Again, this is a team that was 1-13 before Friday. Senior Matthew Caito crushed one of the Tigers early on but overall this group was not up to its standard.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDING: A. Ahh, something positive to write about other than Sherwood. McKay absolutely deserved a better fate. He was very solid through two periods, making a stop on a 3-on-1, a 4-on-2 and another great look before the final 20 minutes. Patrick Roy couldn’t have stopped the tying goal and the final one was an open look that he had little chance on.

LINEUP CHANGES: As mention above, Micheletti said Schmit was out with an injury, and Mooney took over for him. With freshman Zach LaValle still injured, that leaves just Colin Sullivan as a healthy scratch. Unless he is somehow hurt as well, is there really no way this solid defender can get in the lineup with the team playing this poorly?

Miami winless streak continues vs. CC

A pair of late goals extended Miami’s winless streak to five games and its road losing streak to six.

Colorado College, which had won one game all season, rallied to edge the RedHawks, 2-1 at World Arena on Friday.

Miami, which started 3-1-1, has won just two of its last 10 games and none away from Oxford.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The game was scoreless after the first period, but RedHawks freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood ripped a shot past goalie Jacob Nehama from the high slot off a pass from junior forward Justin Greenberg with 9:11 left in the middle stanza to give Miami the lead.

It was the second marker in as many contests for Sherwood, whose goal was his third of the campaign.

That lead stood up until the Tigers’ Hunter Fejes stole the puck from RedHawks senior center Sean Kuraly and went in for a goal on a 2-on-0 with 9:55 to play in regulation.

Fejes netted the go-ahead and eventual game-winner as well with 2:46 to play, jumping in late to make it a 3-on-2 rush and beating Miami senior goalie Ryan McKay on the glove side to make it 2-1.

The RedHawks (5-8-2) were pinned in their own zone for much of the final two-plus minutes and were unable to pull McKay until 30 seconds remained and even then never generated a solid scoring chance.

Colorado College (2-13) had lost its first 13 games this season and had not won an NCHC game in 11 contests, dating back to last season.

The Tigers entered this game having scored just six goals in six league games and allowed 26, or an average of 4.33.

Miami remains in sixth place in the league with eight points but has played nine NCHC tilts, the most of any team in the league.

The series concludes at 9:05 p.m. on Saturday in the RedHawks’ final game of 2015.

Miami at Colorado College

 

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With Pikes Peak as a backdrop, Miami takes on Colorado College this weekend.

After a week off, Miami travels west this weekend to Colorado Springs, Colo. to face the hapless Tigers of Colorado College.

The bye and trip to the mountains comes at a particularly good time for the RedHawks (5-7-2, 2-5-1-1, 6th NCHC) who play for the first time since tying and dropping an overtime match two weeks ago against 6th ranked Omaha in Oxford. Miami will not play again until after the holiday break when they open the second half of the season at home against RPI on January 2-3.

Needless to say, this is a critically important NCHC series for Miami as they currently sit in 6th place having played at least two more league games than any other conference school. Conceivably, Miami could end the weekend as high as third place in the league with a sweep of CC (1-13, 0-6, 8th NCHC).

Last weekend, the Tigers finally recorded their first W of the season defeating in-town rival Air Force at World Arena — the same venue where Miami swept the Tigers a season ago.

CC’s top point producers Trey Bradley (5-3-8) and defenseman Teemu Kivihalme (2-5-7) are underclassmen and after having seen the Tigers in person a few weeks back in the Gold Pan series against Denver, it’s clear this is not a very talented team. Head coach Mike Haviland has 14 freshmen on the roster and is still trying to fill the skates of defensemen Jaccob Slavin who left with two seasons of eligibility remaining to sign a pro contract in the offseason.

In net, the Tigers have rotated between their two goaltenders frequently with Tyler Marble and Jacob Nehama splitting the first 14 games.

Neither has impressive numbers with Marble sporting a pedestrian 3.65/.891 line and Nehama showing a grotesque 4.12/.885 line but he does have the Tigers lone win on the year.

Last season, Miami swept CC in Colorado Springs by 3-1 and 2-1 scores. I do recall Miami looking tired on Saturday night playing on Olympic sized ice at 6,035 feet or 5,107 feet higher than Steve Cady Arena in Oxford. So, we’ll be watching to see how Miami handles the arid climate, high elevation, big ice and Mountain time zone this weekend.

Overall, this should be an opportunity for Miami to make up some ground in the NCHC as they head into the holiday break. Anything less than six points this weekend would be unacceptable. I’ll be live Tweeting from World Arena this weekend, but you can find the game on the American Sports Network as well as NCHC.tv. Greg Waddell will have the Miami radio call this weekend across the Miami Sports Network.