Analysis: Surge due to increased scoring
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Friday’s game was an interesting mix of both halves of Miami’s season: The first portion when the RedHawks couldn’t score and the most recent segment when they could.
Miami scored four times in the final 28 minutes to beat Bowling Green, 4-1 at BGSU Ice Arena after failing to hit the net on 16 first-period shots and a handful more in the middle stanza before breaking through.
The RedHawks scored an average of 2.07 goals in calendar year 2015 of this season and are netting 2.92 in 2016. Not coincidentally, Miami was 5-9-2 on New Year’s Day and is 7-4-1 since.
And the RedHawks have found scoring from other sources than Jack Roslovic and Josh Melnick. They’ve had to, as both have two markers in their last 11 games.
Sean Kuraly is back to his 19-goal form of 2014-15. Anthony Louis is doing his Anthony Louis second-half studly thing. Kiefer Sherwood was coming into his own before joining Roslovic’s top line and he’s thriving now.
BoB has said since August that with its core of veteran defensemen and goalies, this team would be fine if it can score enough. Now it is.
Miami has allowed five goals three times in its last 11 outings, all losses. MU is 7-0-1 when allowing three or fewer in that stretch.
Friday’s crowd was a hostile one as well, and seeing the RedHawks play so well in that environment bodes well for them the next couple of weeks, as they will visit Western Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth, sandwiching a home series vs. Colorado College to wrap up the regular season.
Five wins in those final six would be optimal, four would get Miami over .500 but probably not where it needs to be in PairWise. Three or fewer would be a disaster against the fourth, seventh and eighth place teams in the NCHC.
The way the RedHawks are playing right now, there’s an excellent chance they win the majority of their remaining regular season games and earn home ice for the first round of the NCHC Tournament.
– This was a tough game to watch as a Miami fan, because one (OK, I) got the feeling the hot goalie – BGSU’s Nell – might steal one. He made some good saves and the RedHawks missed some great chances. The Louis goal seemed to open the floodgates, and after the Kuraly goal, MU did an outstanding job of fending off the Falcons’ ensuing surge at the end of the second period.
– Speaking of Louis, I have no idea how he scored the equalizer. He had no apparent angle to shoot at and somehow was able to roof one. What a great way to make up for fanning on a high-quality opportunity earlier.
– Really impressed with Kiefer Sherwood since January. Having a future NHL star in Roslovic on your line doesn’t exactly hurt, but it feels like he’s going to put up huge offensive numbers in his four years in Oxford. He was involved in a pushing match in the first period with a chippy BGSU team, and that seemed to elevate his game, the sign of a strong player.
– These were definitely not NCHC officials. There were 11 total power plays – seven for Miami, tying a season high – including a pair of two-man advantages. Don’t have the stats for it, but I can’t remember Miami or an opponent having a 5×3 all season. It’s rare to see a team with four or more power plays in a game with NCHC referees. Definitely inconsistent.
– Great BGSU crowd. The rink was sold out, and the Falcons fans were enthusiastic and into the game, which unfortunately is not always the case in Oxford. Best of luck to Bowling Green the rest of the season in its quest for the NCAAs.
FORWARDS: A-. Really liked the Melnick-Gacek-Louis (AJA – Anthony, Josh, Alex) line. The Crash Cousins line was also strong, barring a bad turnover by Conor Lemirande at his defensive blue line which fortunately didn’t result in a goal. Loving that top line, of course, which accounted for two goals. If we had to nitpick, and that’s what we do, Roslovic is still too committed to carrying the puck through multiple defenders, and as a result he turned it over too often.
DEFENSEMEN: A. Bowling Green was super aggressive, leading to some solid scoring chances, but this corps did a great job of shutting most down. Louie Belpedio broke up a 3-on-1, and Chris Joyaux and Grant Hutton shut down quality opportunities as well. Taylor Richart did his unsexy shut-down thing as well, as did Matthew Caito, who pumped in the clinching empty netter.
GOALTENDING: A. Jay Williams had to deny a clean breakaway 52 seconds into the game, and he shagged it cleanly to set the pace for the rest of the game. He had to make his best stops in the first period, and Bowling Green scored on a point-blank tip that he had little chance on. Williams has appeared in 11 straight games with no end in sight, and hopefully he won’t tire down the stretch run, as it appears he is this team’s only option for the immediate future.
LINEUP CHANGES: Joyaux was back in the lineup, replacing Colin Sullivan on the blue line, and Andrew Schmit was back on the fourth line, replacing Ryan Siroky, who sat for just the second time in 2015-16. Devin Loe centered the Crash Cousins’ line, which played well with the exception of the aforementioned Lemirande turnover. Still no word on goalie Ryan McKay, who is suspended indefinitely. Evan McCarthy remains Miami’s backup in net.