Monthly Archives: January 2016

Photos: Bowling Green at Miami

Images from the game between Bowling Green and Miami played at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, on Jan. 16, 2016. All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

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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.

Other thoughts…

– 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.

GRADES

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.

Louis lifts Miami over BG

OXFORD, Ohio – Thanks to Anthony Louis, there was no free hockey at Cady Arena on Saturday.

The junior forward ripped a one-timer into the bottom corner of the net with two seconds left in regulation to lift Miami to a 2-1 win over Bowling Green.

Teammates congratulate Anthony Louis (second from left) after his game-winning goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Teammates congratulate Anthony Louis (second from left) after his game-winning goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Senior Jay Williams stopped 28 shots to earn the win, which was just the second for the RedHawks in 11 games.

Kevin Dufour opened the scoring for the Falcons, as his shot from the top of the faceoff circle snuck under Williams’ arm 5:55 into the first period.

Off a steal by Louis, Miami senior Alex Gacek tied it with 4:15 left in the middle stanza, stuffing a loose puck home from the side of the net.

It remained 1-1 until the closing seconds of the third period, when Gacek fed Louis from the side of the net back to Louis, who ripped it just inside the post on the glove side for the decisive score.

That meant no overtime for MU, which had seen five of its first 20 games go to an extra session.

Louis and Gacek both finished with a goal and an assist.

Louis has now recorded five points in his last five games, and Gacek scored his second goal in four contests.

Jay Williams stopped 28 shots to earn the win (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams stopped 28 shots to earn the win (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Williams picked up his second victory, improving to 2-2-1 and 3-0 in his career vs. Bowling Green.

The RedHawks resume league play next weekend, as they travel to Nebraska-Omaha. They play at 8:37 p.m. on Friday and 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Miami hosts Bowling Green

WHO: Bowling Green Falcons (13-6-5) at Miami RedHawks (6-11-3).

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

WHEN: Saturday–7:05 p.m.

TV: None.

BOWLING GREEN RADIO: WBGU-FM (88.1).

MIAMI RADIO: WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

NOTES: Like Miami, Bowling Green has done a better job of shutting down opponents than it has scoring goals. The Falcons have scored just 58 goals in 24 games, but the Falcons have allowed just 44 markers.

The offensively-strapped BGSU team is led by Matt Pohlkamp, who has five goals and a team-best 11 assists for 16 points.

Sniper Mark Cooper has scored nine times and has set up four more markers, and Kevin Dufour and Tyler Spezia have lit the lamp five times each to pace the Falcons.

But goalie Chris Nell has been the key to BGSU’s success. He is 9-3-5 with a 1.37 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.

The Falcons have lost two of their last three games and three of five, splitting at Lake Superior State last weekend.

It should be Jay Williams in net for Miami.

Photos: Minn.-Duluth at Miami

Images from the series between Minn.-Duluth at Miami on Jan. 9-10, 2016 at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio. All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

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Analysis: Loss follows Miami MO

OXFORD, Ohio – Just a microcosm of the season.

Miami was every bit as good as Minnesota-Duluth in the first period but found itself down two, then four in the middle frame as the Bulldogs eventually went on to win, 5-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

An unlucky bounce for Miami – or a lucky one for UMD, depending on your perspective – resulted in the Bulldogs’ first goal.

Poor coverage in the slot ended up in Nos. 2 and 3, and as has been the case so often this season, those were two of the only breakdowns in front of the net for Miami (6-11-3), and the puck ended up in the back of the cage.

A bad play by senior goalie Ryan McKay made it 4-0, and that was essentially the night.

With past teams, a four-goal deficit would be a huge uphill climb but not insurmountable, but this RedHawks team has scored four goals in a game once, and the final tally in that contest was into an empty net.

This loss was crucial because Miami had a chance to pull within two points of UMD (8-7-4), which is in third place in the NCHC. Now the RedHawks are eight behind the Bulldogs.

Miami is now at the halfway point of its league schedule and has just 10 points in conference play, and earning two of six points this weekend made any ascent of the NCHC standings significantly more difficult.

With three points awarded for each game, 1½ points per game should put a team in the 4-5 seed range. That’s 36 points.

Miami needs to win nine of its final 12 league contests to reach that mark, and the RedHawks would likely need more than that to catch the fourth-seeded team.

All that comes back to the same axiomatic point: Miami needs to win more.

Other thoughts…

– McKay was pulled after the fourth goal, and he was visibly angry while departing. He launched his goalie stick down the tunnel, and it hit the edge of the stands and almost made its way into the seats. He also yelled something while leaving the bench. McKay did not come out with the team for the third period, and he also was not on the ice for practice Monday. That almost certainly means Jay Williams will be in net this Saturday. Freshman Evan McCarthy is the team’s third goalie, so we’ll see on Saturday if he is elevated to backup status on the interim.

– Miami ended its six-game power play drought as sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio scored in the final second of a man advantage in the second period. The RedHawks were 0-for-16 in their previous six games with two shorthanded goals allowed.

– Let’s try to invoke some positives: For all of the problems Miami’s offense has had, senior forward Alex Gacek has one of the team’s best forwards in previous weeks. He is skating as well as he has his entire career and has been great in all three zones, although his points total doesn’t reflect that (it’s tough to pile up points when Miami scores three goals in a weekend).

– And classmate and captain Sean Kuraly looks like he is close to breaking out. Even with his struggles on offense, he has been solid on defense and in the faceoff circle, and he has been more active in the offensive zone in recent games as well.

GRADES

Miami freshman Ryan Siroky scored his first career goal on Saturday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami freshman Ryan Siroky scored his first career goal on Saturday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

FORWARDS: D. This corps managed just 10 shots on goal, and Miami had only six the final 40 minutes. Freshman Ryan Siroky, who is steadily improving, scored his first career goal on a laser from the outside of the faceoff circle, but that was one of the lone highlights for this group. Minnesota-Duluth did an excellent job of taking the Anthony Louis-Josh Melnick-Jack Roslovic line out of the game.

DEFENSEMEN: C. UMD was held to just 22 shots, more than a dozen fewer than on Friday, and Belpedio found the net. Players were left alone in front of the net on the Bulldogs’ second and third goals, but it’s unclear without replay ability whether that blame lies here or on the forwards.

GOALTENDING: C. McKay’s only real mistake was on the ENG after his bad clear on the fourth goal, and Williams was 6-for-6 in relief. With this team’s lack of offense, if the goalies’ grade isn’t a ‘B’ or better, Miami has little chance of winning.

LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, freshman Kiefer Sherwood was scratched in favor of senior Michael Mooney. It’s unclear why Sherwood sat, since he seemed pretty solid on Friday. On defense, freshman Grant Hutton did not dress for the first time this season, and junior Colin Sullivan returned to the ice. Hutton is having a solid rookie campaign but did struggled on Friday, and Sullivan continued to play well in limited action. He has to be one of the top seventh defensemen in all of college hockey.

UMD scores early, often to beat Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami has played in plenty of one-goal games in previous months, but there was little doubt about Saturday’s outcome after the first period.

Minnesota-Duluth scored four unanswered goals en route to beating the RedHawks, 5-2 in the series finale at Cady Arena as Miami ended the weekend with just two of a possible six critical points.

Miami has now won only one of its last 10 games (1-7-2), remaining in seventh place in the NCHC. But the team in now just one point ahead of last-place Colorado College.

With 6:08 left in the first period, Neal Pionk put the Bulldogs ahead on a shot from the high slot that pinballed off several bodies before ricocheting into the net.

Less than three minutes later, RedHawks senior goalie Ryan McKay made a highlight-reel save on a point-blank shot by Austin Farley, but the rebound came to Tony Cameranesi, who fired the puck over a sprawled-out McKay from the slot, making it 2-0.

UMD (8-7-4) extended its lead the three when Dominic Toninato whipped a shot into the side of the cage off a drop pass from Blake Young seven minutes into the middle stanza.

Just 2:04 after that goal, McKay attempted a stretch pass from the side boards, but it was intercepted by Parker MacKay, who fired it into the empty net, ending McKay’s night.

Miami (6-11-3) did attempt a comeback, started by sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio ripped a low shot that beat Bulldogs goalie Kasimir Koskisuo to make it 4-1 with 3:24 left in the second period.

RedHawks freshman Ryan Siroky spun and fired one top shelf for his first career goal to cut the deficit to two with 9:39 left in regulation.

Ryan Siroky (24) and Louie Belpedio (58) both scored on Saturday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Ryan Siroky (24) and Louie Belpedio (58) both scored on Saturday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Although Miami senior goalie Jay Williams did not allow a goal in relief, an empty netter from the neutral zone sealed the win for the Bulldogs with 2:50 to play.

The RedHawks managed just six total shots in the final 40 minutes, with two of them finding net.

Miami plays a single non-conference game against Bowling Green next weekend, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Cady Arena.

Analysis: Still hope for home ice

OXFORD, Ohio – Last Sunday, hopes were that Miami’s win over RPI was a momentum builder, as it scored three times in the third period for a boost heading into the heart of league play.

But it was business as usual for the RedHawks, Version 2015-16 on Friday, as once again they failed to hold a late lead and ended up tying Minnesota-Duluth, 1-1 at Cady Arena.

This time it was an equalizer by Tony Camenaresi with 5:38 left on a laser from the right faceoff circle.

It was the sixth straight NCHC game that Miami has given away valuable league point/points in the third period.

That bears repeating: In its last six conference games, the RedHawks have squandered at least one league point in the third period, many of which were lost late in the final stanza.

Let’s assume for a second that Miami had six more points. The team has given away two and three points in some of these contests (Friday it was just one, as the RedHawks won the 3-on-3), but add six points to its total.

That would give it a total of 16, good enough for third place in the NCHC. Plus instead of 6-10-3 – the RedHawks’ current record – it would be closer to 8-8-3, which would put Miami on the PairWise bubble with its brutal strength of schedule.

Instead the RedHawks have 10 and are mired in seventh place.

And yet, with all of the bad things that have happened to Miami this season, the team is just five points out of that No. 3 seed.

The team that holds that spot? UMD. So a win on Saturday would pull the RedHawks within two of the Bulldogs.

The top two seeds are off the board, as North Dakota and St. Cloud State are both 12 points ahead of the field. But home ice? Even at 2-7-2 in league play, Miami has every chance to get back into the race and earn home-ice advantage in the NCHC Tournament.

And unless the team’s record improves dramatically and quickly, home ice will be critical as the RedHawks hope to make the NCAA Tournament.

But none of these good things will happen for Miami if it can’t figure out how to maintain third-period leads.

Other thoughts…

– The RedHawks’ power play continues to have zero to do with power. Miami is 0-for-16 in its last six games and has allowed two shorthanded goals in that span for a net of minus-2 goals on the man advantage. That’s a special kind of bad. Not coincidentally, MU has scored two goals or fewer in five of those six games.

– Actually, the power play was so bad that Minn.-Duluth gained momentum on Miami’s first chance. The RedHawks were dominating early in the second period, but after doing zip on that opportunity, the Bulldogs controlled the pace the rest of that stanza and were the better team the rest of the way. Play was pretty even in the first period.

– Some perspective: UMD has a good team with excellent goaltending and talented forwards. It’s head-scratching that the team is 7-7-4, especially with so many key players back from last season. This team is poised for a second-half run, making Saturday’s game even more important for both squads.

– The attendance for this game was 1,743. When does this J-term end again?

– Was that actual rock music we heard in the second period? No kidding: An assortment of mostly standard rock selections was played in that frame before the powers-that-be returned to the same miserable crap fans have become accustomed to hearing. Hey, at least there was no Village Idiots or Neil Diamond in this game that normally makes hockey traditionalists want to jam ice picks through their ear drums.

– Per the NCHC, it looks like Miami will don its red jerseys for home games the rest of the season. Not sure what the point of changing that up is.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D. This corps combined for one point (assist by senior Andrew Schmit) and managed a whopping 20 shots in 65 minutes. Freshman Jack Roslovic looked either disinterested or tired late, and with few offensive weapons this team needs him to be focused at all times. The Crash Cousins line, with Ryan Siroky, played well together, with sophomore Conor Lemirande also playing a role in Miami’s lone goal. The Zach LaValle-Kiefer Sherwood duo appears to be building chemistry, and the pair of freshmen will hopefully evolve together for the next three-plus years.

DEFENSEMEN: C-. Too many odd-man rushes, too many unnecessary icings. Not a typical shut-down effort from this group, although Coach Enrico Blasi did shake up the pairings as Louie Belpedio returned, which may have affected chemistry. Senior Matthew Caito took a 4-on-4 shot from the faceoff circle that whistled wide, and that’s how UMD scored its lone goal. That shot has to be on net, and he’d probably be the first to admit that, although he was his typical solid self otherwise. Grant Hutton has been a defensive staple in his freshman year but struggled in this game. He looks like a natural right D-man and was a little awkward on the left side. Chris Joyaux did score the team’s lone goal, which elevates this group out into the ‘D’ range.

Jay Williams stopped 36 shots for Miami on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams stopped 36 shots for Miami on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDING: A. There’s the hockey cliché of stealing a win, but can a goalie steal a tie? Jay Williams stopped 36 shots, and it was practically a shooting gallery his way the final 25 of regulation. There wasn’t one signature save on the night, but he was strong the whole game and was excellent at controlling his rebounds. His best effort of the season by far. The one goal was an absolute rip ticketed for the corner of the net. Without Williams, this game goes in the loss column for Miami.

LINEUP CHANGES: Up front it was Devin Loe out and Conor Lemirande in on Friday, perhaps because of the ultra-physical nature of UMD. With Belpedio returning from the World Juniors, he was back on the blue line after playing in Finland this week. His presence relegated fellow defenseman Colin Sullivan to the scratch column despite his strong play last weekend. Williams was in net for the second straight game, and he certainly has earned at least a split of playing time with Ryan McKay, who will probably start on Saturday.

Miami ties UMD; earns 2 points

OXFORD, Ohio – Once again, Miami couldn’t close out a win.

The RedHawks managed two points in a 1-1 tie vs. Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena on Friday, allowing a tying third-period goal and earning the extra point in 3-on-3 play.

Josh Melnick (right) and Louis Belpedio (left) celebrate Belpedio's OT goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Josh Melnick (right) and Louis Belpedio (left) celebrate Belpedio’s OT goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami has now held the lead after two periods seven times this season and has won just three of those games.

Senior goalie Jay Williams stopped 36 shots for the RedHawks, the highest save total for a Miami netminder this season.

After a scoreless first period, the RedHawks took the lead when senior defenseman Chris Joyaux backhanded one through Bulldogs goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo’s pads 2:16 into the middle frame.

Miami held the lead until the 14:22 mark of the final frame, when Tony Cameranesi blasted a shot by Williams on a 4-on-4 to tie the score.

The puck went in and out of the net so quickly that it was initially ruled no goal before replay confirmed the puck hit the inside of the cage.

The game was officially recorded as a tie, and Louis Belpedio knocked the puck home in the second extra session to give the RedHawks the extra point in the conference standings.

Joyaux had scored one career goal entering this season but has found the net in consecutive games and has four markers this season.

Senior forward Andrew Schmit earned the lone assist, his third of the campaign.

With the two points, Miami now has 10 in 11 games and remains in seventh place in the NCHC at 2-7-2.

At 3-2-2 when leading after two periods, the RedHawks’ winning percentage in those scenarios is just .571.

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

Preview: Minn.-Duluth at Miami

WHO: Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (7-7-3) at Miami RedHawks (6-10-2).

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

WHEN: Friday–7:35 p.m.; Saturday–7:05 p.m.

TV: Friday–Time Warner Sportsnet (DirecTV Ch. 691).

MINN.-DULUTH RADIO: WWAX-FM (92.1), Duluth, Minn.

MIAMI RADIO: WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

NOTES: Minnesota-Duluth has not played a game since Dec. 12, so Miami has a chance to catch the Bulldogs rusty, at least early in the weekend series.

UMD was shut out in each of its last two games, 3-0 losses at home vs. North Dakota.

The Bulldogs went through a rough patch defensively earlier this season but have allowed just nine goals in their last seven games, including three straight blankings.

Austin Farley leads UMD in goals (10) and points (19), and Tony Cameranesi is tops in assists with 12 and second in points with 17 despite missing two games.

Kasimir Kaskisuo has been in net for all of the Bulldogs’ games this season, posting a 1.91 goals-against average and a save percentage of .923.

These teams never met until 2008 in the NCAA West Regional. They split their four-game set last season, and UMD holds a 4-3 edge in the all-time series.