Analysis: Crucial win for RedHawks
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami was due to have a close one go its way in dramatic fashion.
In a season that has seen the RedHawks fall twice in overtime and several other times on third-period goals, they beat Bowling Green, 2-1 at Cady Arena on Saturday when senior forward Anthony Louis buried a shot with two seconds remaining in regulation.
For at least one night, a lot of good things happened for this program, but at four games below .500, much work must be done just to get to respectability.
Taking this one game, though, a win like this can do much to turn any negative attitudes around. Rejuvenate players who – especially at such a young age – may have subconsciously begun to give up on the season.
Students are coming back from their J-term as well, which means crowds should pick up, and the buzz from this contest can do nothing but help gate receipts the rest of this campaign.
This wasn’t the best game Miami has played this season, but the RedHawks were good enough to win.
With their lack of offensive firepower, they would need to win a lot games with scores like 2-1. We’ll find out in the coming weeks if they can make winning a habit or if they are a habitual tease.
Either way, it was fun to be at the rink for this one.
– And yes, while the finale made it all worth it, Saturday’s game was flat-out boring for the most part until Louis’ heroics. Choppy play, good defensive play, bad offensive play, linemen who thought they were paid by the hour that should’ve carried penalty flags with the number of false starts and illegal motions they delayed puck drops for. It happens. Not every game can be like, well, every one at the end of last regular season, especially when both teams average a little over two goals per game.
– After not returning to the bench for the third period last Saturday and not practicing on Monday, senior goalie Ryan McKay was scratched for this tilt. That means freshman third goalie Evan McCarthy was technically the backup. Following McKay’s fourth goal against vs. Minnesota-Duluth last week on a poor clear, McKay threw his stick down the hall after coming off the ice, and he yelled something to the team and/or coaches, which is presumably why he was not dressed. It’s unclear how long McKay will be scratched, but with Miami’s grueling upcoming stretch run, it needs both of its quality goaltenders.
– While Miami’s power play has been dreadful in recent weeks – 1-for-20 in its last eight games with two shorthanded goals allowed – the penalty kill is tops in the NCAA at 94.1 percent, leading Division I by over three points. RedHawks opponents have not scored on the man advantage in five straight games.
– Louis has been a second-half player his first two seasons, and with the offensive losses Miami has suffered – and its resulting 2.10 goals-per-game average – the RedHawks NEED him to have a strong second half. This game was a great start.
FORWARDS: C. Not a ton to see here. Outside of Alex Gacek’s slam-dunk goal and his set up of Louis’ game winner, this unit didn’t generate nearly enough offensive pressure. Much of this is due to Bowling Green’s defense, but Miami has created more chances against better teams this year. The line jumbling – which is justifiable in large part – didn’t help, as chemistry seemed to be off.
DEFENSEMEN: B-. Even though the Falcons only scored once, this corps made a few more mistakes than usual, especially early. Most memorably, Mark Cooper missed a completely open net after a breakdown deep in the defensive zone. It wasn’t one of senior Chris Joyaux’s best nights, although overall this season has been his best.
GOALTENDING: B+. Early on, it appeared Miami was in huge trouble, as senior Jay Williams struggled in net, and classmate Ryan McKay was not dressed, giving the team no safety valve. Williams allowed the first goal on a shot from beyond the top of the faceoff circle under his left arm and seemed to have trouble picking up the pick in the opening period. However, he was huge the final 40 minutes, making at least one huge save on a point-blank chance. His rebound control was outstanding, and he has now cut his 5.35 goals-against average from a couple of weeks ago – the result of being left in for seven goals opening night vs. Providence – nearly in half, ending the night at 2.83 for the season.
LINEUP CHANGES: Senior forward Michael Mooney was out up front after playing last Saturday, and junior Devin Loe sat for the second straight game. On defense, junior Colin Sullivan was a scratch after playing four of the past five games. Freshman Grant Hutton was out for the first time this season last Saturday but was back on the ice in this one. It’s unclear how long Williams will have the starting goalie joy uncontested, but McKay is smart and it’s likely he will right any wrongs within the team sooner than later.