Analysis: Miami thrived on special teams

OXFORD, Ohio – Somehow Miami managed to score twice on special teams despite having just 1:33 of power play time vs. 13:49 for Colorado College.

Miami's Jay Williams (right) and Taylor Richart (left) both starred in Friday's win (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jay Williams (right) and Taylor Richart (left) both starred in Friday’s win (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Those goals propelled the RedHawks to a 3-0 win over the Tigers on Friday, their second shutout of the season and the first of 2015-16 for senior Jay Williams.

A defining moment for Miami (14-14-3) came midway through the third period, when junior forward Anthony Louis was assessed an interference major and game misconduct.

Teemu Kivihalme was also given a minor on the ensuing skirmish, setting up a 4-on-4. But senior defenseman Chris Joyaux went to the box for slashing 49 seconds later, setting up a 4-on-3 for 1:11 followed by a 5-on-3 for 49 seconds.

Nine of Colorado College’s shots came during this sequence, and Williams stopped them all. MU was 7-for-7 on the PK and is second in Division I at 92.9 percent.

It was the second interference major of the game for Miami, as sophomore defenseman Scott Dornbrock was also sent off for that infraction in the second period.

RedHawks senior defenseman Scott Richart buried a shorthanded goal during that extended penalty kill.

By the way, Miami had taken one major penalty all season entering this game.

Not a fan of criticizing officiating, but it was brutal in this game.

For the power plays to be 7-2 favoring a less-skilled team including a pair of majors is lunacy for a Miami team that does not have a reputation for dirty play.

The RedHawks came into this weekend averaging 8.0 penalty minutes a game, in the bottom 10 in all of Division I.

They should’ve just called the Dornbrock penalty what it really was: A Hitting Too Hard Major.

Maybe it was interference. Maybe. As in: A minor penalty. But as someone who thinks interference should be called more in hockey, it’s something I watch for, and there were several better examples of that infraction both ways that could’ve been called prior to Dornbrock’s major.

Didn’t see Louis’ hit – it was along the boards. But when a player stays down for a minute and none of his teammates come to his rescue and the trainer watches him lay motionless it’s pretty safe to say he’s pandering for a call. Which he got.

Physicality isn’t a big part of Louis’ game, and the player he hit was twice his size.

For the record the interference major was introduced prior to 2014-15 as an option for officials if someone gets laid out away from the play, so from a rules standpoint it’s a valid call.

These specific examples didn’t rise to that definition though. We’re talking borderline minors, and the first one didn’t really even look like that.

In the third period it looked like the refs were going to swallow their whistles, as they led several would-be penalties against both teams go.

Then Conor Leminande, interference, 8:46? Yeah, OK.

Right after that expired the Louis debacle which could’ve been a game changer, and in a way it was, just not in favor of the team with the man advantage(s).

Miami goalie Jay Williams (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Jay Williams (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

And that’s the bottom line: Miami turned a negative – miserable officiating – and made it a positive. Taylor Richart shorthanded goal, Jay Williams about 90 saves in the third period.

Miami did what a good team should do: Win even when things out of its control go against it.

Other thoughts…

– All of the above said, the RedHawks really didn’t play that well. Colorado College (6-24-1) only has one decent scorer – Hunter Fejes – and Miami did a good job of containing him. The Columbus line was very good but none of the others could get much going. The Tigers are allowing 35 shots per game and Miami finished with 26. Granted it doesn’t help when you’re shorthanded for a quarter of the game.

Miami defenseman Matthew Caito (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami defenseman Matthew Caito (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– Senior Matthew Caito was out of the lineup for the second time in his college career. He suffered an upper body injury last Saturday but looked fine when he was walking around before the game. Caito has played in 159 games and is nine away from cracking the top 10 on Miami’s career leaderboard. The RedHawks absolutely need him in the lineup for the NCHC Tournament.

– Coach Enrico Blasi almost took a tumble during the Louis skirmish, as he was leaning forward when the action came over the bench, knocking him back. Fortunately he caught himself before taking a potentially nasty spill.

– The UNO loss was nice on Friday but Minnesota-Duluth really needs to lose to St. Cloud State on Saturday. If UMD wins Miami would have to sweep in Duluth to earn home ice.

– Saturday’s game will be on DirecTV Ch. 608 in retina-burning standard def.


FORWARDS: C-. First line was solid, after that, comme ci comme ca. As mentioned, Colorado College is allowing 35 shots a game, and this corps just didn’t generate the type of chances it should have against the league doormat. Louis looked a step behind before being sent to the showers early. Kiefer Sherwood seemed to have picked up that speed Louis didn’t have, as the puck seemed to follow him all night. He’s proving absolutely deadly from the left side of the slot, where he buried his power play goal.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. This group seemed a little out of sorts without Caito in the lineup, as the pairings obviously had to be adjusted. Richart was outstanding, thriving in his PK role. Chris Joyaux had an outstanding first period but turned one over in the third for a breakaway and took a penalty trying to defend the player that stripped him. Louie Belpedio didn’t have a great game and may be suffering from the effects of playing in Europe over Christmas break. Colin Sullivan had one bad turnover but was solid otherwise.

GOALTENDING: A+. The easiest grade to give all season. Williams was simply unbelievable, especially under intense fire in the third period. The goalie’s best friends – the posts – helped him out a couple of times, and the net mysteriously came off its moorings multiple times to squelch scoring threats. Still not sure how he stopped a one-time shot from point-blank range in the final stanza, and Colorado College kept the puck alive and missed the empty net. Great game plus a little luck equals shutout.

Miami's Michael Mooney (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Michael Mooney (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

LINEUP CHANGES: So Blasi shook things up a little up front. Michael Mooney played for the first time in 11 games, and Ryan Siroky also saw action after being scratched for three straight. Andrew Schmit sat for just the fifth time this season, and Devin Loe was also out after playing in four in a row. Sullivan was in for Caito on defense. Goalie Ryan McKay was not dressed for 11th straight contest.


About John Lachmann (@rednblackhawks)

I've been writing about hockey since the late 1990s. First it was the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and the Cincinnati Cyclones for the Cincinnati Post, and most recently with WCPO and the Blog of Brotherhood online.

Posted on February 27, 2016, in 2015-16, analysis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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