Monthly Archives: November 2016
Analysis: Series big for MU confidence
Just when it seemed like Miami had pulled off a surprise by tying No. 1 Denver once on its home ice at elevation, the RedHawks did it again a night later.
MU and the Pioneers skated to a 2-2 tie in a series that Miami entered as a huge underdog, having lost its previous five.
Like Friday, the RedHawks were severely outshot, 51-26 including 22-3 in the first period (that’s a 37-6 first-period shot advantage for DU on the weekend).
As we’re constantly reminded, especially with a young team, the season is a process, and hanging with the top team in NCAA for six period in a hostile rink a mile above sea level will do wonders for Miami’s confidence.
And let’s face it, that confidence couldn’t have been in a great place after a pair of demoralizing losses at home to UNO last weekend.
At the same time, confidence builder or not, the RedHawks (3-6-4) are still winless in league play with two of a possible 18 points a quarter of a way through their NCHC schedule. They have three wins in 13 games and haven’t picked up a victory in November, with their last coming on Oct. 28.
Youth breeds inconsistency, something we’ve been reminded of often the first two months of this season, and while it can be incredibly frustrating, weekends like this show that at least Miami appears headed in the right direction overall.
– You know what is consistent for Miami? Ryan Larkin. He posted a .963 save percentage this weekend, making 87 saves on 90 shots. The RedHawks have certainly had rough patches this season, but imagine if Larkin wasn’t between the pipes.
– Willie Knierim hasn’t looked completely confident at times this season, but hopefully his rebound goal will springboard his overall game. After the puck hit goalie Tanner Jaillet, it popped into the air and Knierim banged it home before it hit the ice. It was a goal-scorer’s goal and from in close, and area the wide-body could have a lot of collegiate success as he adapts to this level.
– With injuries and such plaguing a Miami team that was never terribly deep, Colin Sullivan played forward on Friday and shifted back to defense on Saturday. Coach Enrico Blasi loves guys he can play anywhere, and Sullivan can do just that, plus the fifth-year senior provides experience on a team lacking in that department. Defenseman Bryce Hatten sat out on Saturday after playing Friday, and forward Alex Alger returned to the lineup sheet.
– The upcoming off weekend is bittersweet, as Miami would probably like to capitalize on the momentum it built this weekend, but at the same time it can certainly use another week to heal. Louie Belpedio should be ready and will fortify the blueline substantially, and Carson Meyer may be ready to go as well.
– Justin Greenberg has really stepped up not only on the PK but in the faceoff circle. He was 11-5 on draws Saturday and 20-10 for the weekend.
Miami, Denver tie again in finale
Miami had tied just four times in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons combined.
On Saturday, the RedHawks equaled that mark in the 13th game of this campaign, skating to their second straight draw, 2-2 at No. 1 Denver on Friday.
And for the second straight night, the Pioneers (7-2-3) secured the extra league point by winning the sudden-death shootout after the teams remained even after 70 minutes.
After Miami’s Conor Lemirande was assessed an interference major in the first minite, Dylan Gambrell took a cross-ice pass from Troy Terry that hit the skate of the RedHawks’ Gordie Green, skated to the center of the faceoff circle and whipped a wrister over the glove of goalie Ryan Larkin 3:02 into the game.
Miami pulled even at the 3:28 mark of the second period when Grant Hutton’s shot from the blue line was stopped by Tanner Jaillet, but the goaltender allowed a huge rebound that Willie Knierim batted in for his first collegiate goal.
With 5:57 left in that frame, Terry emerged from the corner with the puck, skated laterally into the slot, turned and fired one just under the crossbar to give Denver a 2-1 lead.
But the RedHawks (3-6-4) again pulled even with 4:09 left in regulation on another rebound, as Kiefer Sherwood backhanded one that Jaillet knocked aside, but Ryan Siroky was skating by and deposited it into the net.
It was Siroky’s first goal of the season as well.
Louis picked up an assist for the fourth straight game, giving him 103 career points.
Larkin turned 38 shots aside on Friday to set a career high but blew that away in this game, turning 49 aside. He finished the weekend 87 of 90 and made 14 more stops in the unofficial double overtimes both nights.
Miami – now winless in its last seven – picked up its second points of the season in NCHC play but remains in last place in the league, one point behind Colorado College.
The RedHawks are off this week and head to Cornell for a two-game set on Dec. 2-3.
Analysis: Tie is pleasant surprise
Blog of Brotherhood doesn’t make predictions on games, and Friday was Exhibit A as to why that’s the case.
After losing five straight games – three of which were at home – Miami skated to a 1-1 tie against No. 1 Denver at Magness Arena, which is at an altitude of over 5,000 feet.
When we last left the RedHawks, they were drubbed in their own building by Nebraska-Omaha, 6-2 a night after blowing a 4-1 lead in what was ultimately a 6-4 loss.
In addition to proving that hockey is impossible to predict, we are reminded of another of the sport’s axioms, which is that goaltending is king and a dominant goalie can steal games. Miami was outshot, 39-21 including 15-3 in a first period that saw the RedHawks emerge with a 1-0 lead.
Granted Ryan Larkin didn’t pick up the win, but Miami had little chance if he didn’t stop 45 shots, 38 of which were official because they happened in regular and the legitimate overtime (the other seven were in five minutes of 3-on-3, which in itself is mind-blowing).
The RedHawks were still without captain Louie Belpedio on Friday and showed they are still capable of hanging with the best team in college hockey for 65 minutes.
That has to help this team’s confidence.
There was nowhere to go but up after the giant egg Miami laid last Saturday, and the RedHawks deserve a lot of credit for their significant ascension from six days earlier.
– It was hoped Belpedio would be back this week, but the lower-body injury that he is battling through cost him a fifth straight game. Miami is 0-4-1 without him. His return – whenever that is – will bolster the D-corps substantially and give coach Enrico Blasi more flexibility on his lineup card.
– Carson Meyer missed his third straight game. Hopefully with the off week for Thanksgiving next weekend, Miami will have both Meyer and Belpedio back when it resumes action at Cornell on Dec. 2. Meyer was starting to make a major impact, going 2-8-10 to lead all freshmen.
– There were three total power plays in this game – two for the RedHawks and one for Denver – and six combined penalty minutes assessed. No, really. Miami had averaged seven power plays and six penalty kills through its first 11 games. Neither team scored during the man-advantage, snapping a four-game stretch in which the RedHawks had allowed at least two PPGs. So that’s a positive.
– It was great to see Grant Hutton get a goal after an uncharacteristically poor showing last weekend. He did not register a goal his freshman year but has three in 12 games in 2016-17 and is arguably the top shut-down blueliner on the team.
– In the that-wouldn’t-have-happened-last-year department, how about Anthony Louis stripping a player to set up the Hutton goal? He’s always been a very good player but never was a major factor on D and along with Kiefer Sherwood has to be one of the top picks for most improved player.
– Believe it or not, this was just the third time this season Miami has blanked an opponent in the third period. Teams have outscored the RedHawks, 11-0 in the previous six third periods and Miami snapped a six-game streak in which it had been scored on in the final frame.
Miami ties top-ranked Denver
It’s a pretty safe bet to say that Miami was happy to have Ryan Larkin back.
Larkin was pulled from last Friday’s game with an injury and missed Saturday’s contest as a result, but returned to stop a career-high 38 shots as the RedHawks salvaged a 1-1 tie at No. 1 Denver on Friday.
Miami extended its winless streak to six games but it had lost its last five and was 0-4 against its first two NCHC opponents, neither of which were ranked.
The RedHawks (3-6-3), who received one point after DU won the sudden-death shootout, were outshot, 39-21.
Miami’s only goal came just 1:59 into the game when Anthony Louis stole the puck in the defensive zone, slid a pass to a streaking Grant Hutton, and the sophomore defenseman ripped one by goalie Tanner Jaillet on the stick side.
Denver (7-2-2) trailed by a goal after the first period despite leading on the shot counter, 15-3.
But the Pioneers tied it in the middle stanza. With 16:02 left in that frame, Troy Terry stole a Bryce Hatten defensive zone pass, went in alone and beat Larkin stick side to tie it.
The RedHawks generated 11 of their 21 shots in the second period.
After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game was officially ruled a tie. In the second OT for a conference point, Denver outshot Miami, 7-2 in the 3-on-3.
Henrik Borgstrom converted his sudden-death penalty shot but Kiefer Sherwood was denied.
Hutton’s goal was his third of the season after he did not record a marker in his first season with Miami.
Louis picked up the lone RedHawks assist, giving him helpers in three straight and points in nine of his last 10 games. He now has 102 career points, moving him into sole possession of 49th place on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.
The RedHawks remain in last place in the NCHC, as they picked up their first league point of the season.
These teams wrap up their two-game weekend series at 9:07 p.m. on Saturday.
Photos: UNO at Miami
Analysis: Woeful defense led to sweep
OXFORD, Ohio – A weekend that started off with so much promise turned into a pair of mistake-laden losses that have a Miami team that showed so much promise in the opening weeks skating backwards.
The RedHawks led 4-1 on Friday before allowing the final five goals in a 6-4 loss and were beaten soundly, 6-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday after rallying from two down to tie the score.
MU (3-6-2) netted four of the first five goals this weekend but surrendered 11 of the final 13.
The RedHawks have allowed 23 goals in their four NCHC games – or 5.75 per contest – as they have dropped to 44th in the NCAA in overall team defense.
Most disturbing is special teams, as Miami was tops in college hockey on the PK a couple of weeks ago but has given up nine power play goals and two more shorthanded in the last four games, killing penalties at an anemic 65.3 percent clip.
The most important stat is wins and losses, and Miami has dropped its last five, getting outscored 11-0 in the third period during its current skid.
The absence of Louie Belpedio has hurt this team on several fronts, as the RedHawks were 3-2-2 with him in the lineup and 0-4 since. Without their captain, they seem less focused, the compete level has been inconsistent, and paramount is the loss of 20-plus minutes of play from their best all-around defenseman.
And the latter has a trickle-down effect, as everyone gets bumped up a spot in the D pecking order, and as a result the entire group has had its struggles.
Of course it doesn’t help when starting goalie Ryan Larkin goes down with an injury, or that stud freshman Carson Meyer may miss several weeks.
No one will feel sorry for Miami, especially not No. 1 Denver, the team the RedHawks play next weekend at altitude after getting drubbed in five straight third periods.
We’re already one-third of the way through the regular season, and Miami needs to turn this thing around fast or we could be in for a very long winter.
– Like Friday, the RedHawks again allowed too many players to skate into the slot uncontested. Snuggerud was left alone for the third UNO (6-3-1) goal. He scored again by beating Scott Dornbrock to the net for a backhander. The physical game got away from Miami entirely this weekend, especially around the net. The RedHawks might as well have placed a welcome mat in orange and black at the top of their crease both nights.
– Let’s insert some positive: Despite everything that’s happened in six weeks, Kiefer Sherwood continues to get better every game. He dominates play for portions of games, not just with his shot but with puck possession and high-level passing. He’s a certifiable nightmare on the power play, as defenders have to come out to protect against his shot, opening up other avenues for Miami.
– Speaking of the power play, Coach Enrico Blasi went with five forwards numerous times with Josh Melnick at the point. He obviously trusts the defense of Melnick, who effectively ran the point, but without Belpedio it may be his way of saying none of the other D-men have earned that high-profile playing time. Miami did allow two SHGs this weekend, although neither were the result of his five-forward units. And using that many forwards on the first unit leaves even fewer offensive-minded bodies up front for the second line, which has been mostly ineffective this season.
– If UNO is in the bottom half of this league, the NCHC is absolutely loaded. This is a very good team, and not surprisingly is well coached by Dean Blais.
FORWARDS: D+. Sherwood has two rips for goals and these guys showed some signs of life but did little on a five-minute power play in the third period and combined for just 21 shots despite 13 minutes of power play time. On a positive note, Melnick and Justin Greenberg were much better on faceoffs, an area in which Miami has struggled seemingly since Pat Cannone and Carter Camper graduated.
DEFENSEMEN: D-. Without Belpedio this group is contributing almost nothing offensively and are committing too many egregious turnovers. Normally-reliable Grant Hutton had a miserable weekend, including a giveaway that directly led to UNO’s second goal. Dornbrock got beaten badly on Goal No. 6. The Mavericks finished with just 26 shots, but too many were high-percentage chances. This group needs to get a lot better, especially in front of its own net, and that needs to happen quickly.
GOALTENDING: D+. Six goals against, it’s easy to blame goaltending, but Chase Munroe faced a ton of A-plus chances in his starting debut. Three of his goals against were on the power play, including a 5-on-3 tally. The first was on a PP scramble in front of the net, the second was basically a 2-on-0 on a power play, No. 3 was scored after yet another player was left open in the slot, the fourth was a 5-on-3 but was probably the one Munroe would’ve most likely wanted back, No. 5 was a breakaway and the sixth was on a player crashing the net, and Munroe was unable to hold the post. Certainly not a memorable debut but he was not the reason Miami lost.
LINEUP CHANGES: Munroe for Larkin was the most notable. The only other switch was Bryce Hatten in basically the sixth defense spot in favor of Chaz Switzer.
Miami allows 6 more in UNO finale
OXFORD, Ohio – In a 1:50 span of the first period, Miami erased a two-goal deficit on two blasts by Kiefer Sherwood.
But over the final 40 minutes, Nebraska-Omaha netted four unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday, spoiling MU goalie Chase Munroe’s first collegiate start and extending Miami’s losing streak to five games.
The RedHawks (3-6-2) have allowed 23 goals in their last four games.
Only two of the eight goals were scored at even strength.
UNO (6-3-1) opened the scoring on the power play, as the Mavericks won the draw and a pass found Teemu Pulkkinen in the high slot. Pukkinen backhanded one on net, got his own rebound and slid across to Mason Morelli for a slam-dunk goal 6:15 into the first period.
Nebraska-Omaha extended its lead shorthanded less than seven minutes later when RedHawks defenseman Grant Hutton had a defensive zone pass intercepted, and David Pope and Austin Ortega played give-and-go for a tap-in goal by Ortega.
Miami responded with 4:58 left in the opening period on the power play when a shot by Anthony Louis hit a body in the slot and ricocheted to Sherwood, who fired it into the top corner from the left faceoff circle.
Sherwood scored from nearly the same spot 110 seconds later, again on the man advantage, on a set-up pass from the point by Josh Melnick, tying the score.
But after that the game got away from the RedHawks.
Ian Brady centered a pass to Luc Snuggerud, who skated around Miami goalie Chase Munroe and deposited the puck in the net to give UNO a 3-2 lead 7:20 into the second period.
The Mavericks again took a two-goal lead just over two minutes later on a 5-on-3 slap shot by David Pope from the center of the faceoff circle.
Tristan Keck sprung Ortega loose for a breakaway, and Ortega pulled up and slid the puck under Munroe to make it 5-2 with 15:12 left in regulation.
Snuggerud capped off the scoring when he pitchforked one through Munroe three minutes later.
Sherwood has scored four goals in his last four games, and Melnick, Louis and Brandt all picked up assists for the second straight contest.
Carter Johnson recorded the other helper.
Ortega and Snuggerud both ended the night with two goals and an assist.
In addition to struggling on the ice, Miami’s injuries are also piling up. Goalie Ryan Larkin, who had started the first 10 games, was out with an upper-body injury, and it is unclear when he will return.
Forward Carson Meyer, the RedHawks’ freshman points leader with 10, missed the entire weekend with an illness and could be out multiple weeks. And defenseman and captain Louie Belpedio missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury and had a noticeable limp when he walked around the concourse, but he is expected back next weekend.
Miami is now 0-4 in NCHC play.
The RedHawks’ next four games will be on the road, with their first two coming at Denver on Nov. 18-19.
Analysis: Youth no excuse for loss
OXFORD, Ohio – A young Miami team learned a hard lesson on Friday.
Playing 15 of a possible 60 minutes will not earn you many wins against NCHC opponents.
The RedHawks were lackluster in the first period and the final 25 as they squandered a three-goal lead, falling to Nebraska-Omaha, 6-4 at Cady Arena.
More specifically, it was Miami’s defensive play that did it in during its NCHC home opener. In the first period, UNO players were left open via the backdoor cut multiple times, and the goal the Mavericks scored was on a tip-in by an uncovered player at the edge of the crease.
The latter point is one we’ve seen used a lot by opponents recently. Miami goalie Ryan Larkin has pro-level reflexes, and one of the hardest things for any goalie to defend is the redirection.
Three times the RedHawks were scored on by shots from the blue line that were altered down low by players that were not adequately defended.
The other three were the direct result of turnovers, which is a major concern 10 games into the season. Passing has not been this team’s forte but it was believed that area would improve as the season progressed.
After Saturday’s game we’ll be a third of the way through the regular season, and Miami’s turnover total on Friday would make Pillsbury envious.
Captain Louie Belpedio missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, and it’s become obvious how important he is to this team. The RedHawks are allowing 5.67 goals per game during his absence, which not only is a huge loss because of his two-way play out of his defense spot, but we see how key his leadership is.
The good news on that front is he should return next weekend. That should help stabilize both the blue line and the team in general.
And yeah, we can talk about growing pains, 14 freshmen, etc., but Miami was up three goals in its own building halfway through Friday night’s game. Surely even a freshman-laden team can close out a win up 4-1.
This team has been together for a month and a half, working hard in practice almost every day. Yes, the process still supersedes outcomes to some degree, but there’s no reason why Miami can’t still continue to learn while enjoying success in the win-loss department.
Quality teams do this all the time. It’s reloading vs. rebuilding.
This schedule was set up for Miami to have early league success before facing the truly elite in the NCHC.
Western Michigan is receiving votes but is not ranked and has scored seven goals in three conference games against teams other than Miami. The Broncos lit the lamp 11 times vs. the RedHawks last weekend.
UNO is getting fewer votes in the polls than WMU but was able to chase MU goalie Ryan Larkin, something no other team has done this season.
If Miami is having major struggles against these teams, how will it fare against No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, No. 2 Denver, No. 6 North Dakota and No. 13 St. Cloud State?
To the Mavericks’ credit, they took every advantage of Miami’s miscues and turned the game around on a shorthanded goal late in the second period. They carried that momentum into the third period and added four more unanswered goals.
Weak third periods have been a recent trend for the RedHawks, who have been outscored, 13-6 in 2016-17 and 9-0 during their current four-game losing streak.
This Miami team that showed so much promise early is in a definite funk, and it needs to get out of it before it gets buried so deeply in the NCHC standings it can’t find its way out.
– Let’s start with a positive. Kiefer Sherwood played some of his best hockey of the year in the second period. Sometimes teams have been able to shut him down, but UNO had no answer for him in that frame, as he was able to control the puck, generate several excellent scoring chances and set up others. He’s becoming a dominant player in this league.
– One reason for the key problems for Miami during its skid is its penalty kill. Tops in the NCAA through six games, the RedHawks have surrendered seven power play goals in the last four games, going just 18-for-25 (72.0 percent).
– Even with a semi-strong student presence, attendance only reached 3,002. Many of those fans headed for the gates during the TV timeout following UNO’s go-ahead goal with eight minutes left. Right or wrong, Miami is starting to lose its fanbase for this season and needs to start winning or it will be playing in a half-full building during its most crucial league games when it most needs to maximize its home-ice advantage.
– Off the subject, but it seems now is a good time to bring up honoring a couple more recent graduates by adding their numbers to the wall. It’s a completely Goggin-central class right now, which is understandable considering the rink is just 10 years old, but Andy Greene and Ryan Jones should have their names in the zamboni end. Both were class acts and captains as well as two of the most dominant players ever to don Miami sweaters. Greene did not play at Cady, having graduated in 2006, and Jones finished in 2008. That’s 10 and eight years, respectively. It’s time to officially honor their accomplishments.
FORWARDS: C+. Some of the offensive success this group is off-set by turnovers that resulted in UNO goals. Josh Melnick uncharacteristically coughed one up for the go-ahead goal in the third, and Anthony Louis’ errant pass in the second led to the critical SHG. But those two also accounted for three goals and two assists. Coach Enrico Blasi is understandably shaking up the lines at this point.
DEFENSEMEN: D. Did we mention we miss Belpedio? Even sure-handed Grant Hutton got beat by shifty Mavericks forwards a couple of times. Confusion among this group resulted in the delay of game penalty that ended up in Miami’s net for UNO’s first goal. Some of the youngsters are improving but will need to continue that process or it could be a long season in conference play.
GOALTENDING: C. Larkin made a couple of strong saves, as he always does, and he had little chance on either redirection goal. The second UNO goal was on a good one-time shot from the slot that beat Larkin. The fourth and final goal scored on Larkin was definitely stoppable though. Munroe had no shot at stopping the slap-pass goal. After looking nervous on his first couple of shots, he settled in and finished 7 of 8 including a point-blank backhand that he corralled cleanly.
LINEUP CHANGES: Carson Meyer was out for the first time this season, although it is unclear why (he has two goals and eight assists). Karch Bachman returned after sitting on Saturday at Western Michigan. Along with Belpedio, who likely will not play on Saturday but should be back next week, Bryce Hatten was also a scratch. Munroe replaced Larkin for the final 14 minutes, making it unclear who will be in net for the series finale. Larkin may be losing confidence after seeing so many high-quality shots recently, and he stopped just 16 of 20 in this one.
Miami loses 3-goal lead, game to UNO
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami came within 24 minutes of snapping a three-game losing streak.
But the RedHawks, who led by three goals with four minutes remaining in the second period, allowed five consecutive goals down the stretch in a 6-4 loss to Nebraska-Omaha at Cady Arena on Tuesday.
The Mavericks (5-3-1) jumped on top early, as Mason Morelli tipped in a blue line shot by Ian Brady just 7:21 into the first period on the power play.
After that, it was a game of runs, as Miami (3-5-2) scored the next four goals.
The RedHawks tied it with 3:29 left in the frame when Anthony Louis carried the zone, skated along the boards and centered a pass to Josh Melnick, who one-timed the puck home from the high slot.
Miami took the lead on an innocuous wrister by Scott Dornbrock from along the boards that Conor Lemirande redirected home 6:23 into the second period.
Dornbrock picked up another assist when he slid a pass to Louis in the high slot, and Louis buried a shot to the stick side for his 100th career point with 10:09 remaining in the frame.
Just 34 seconds later, the Louis penetrated uncontested and roofed a backhander from the center of the faceoff circle on the short side to make it 4-1.
But UNO cut the lead to two prior to the second intermission, when Steven Spinner stole a Louis pass, skated the length of the ice along the boards and connected with trailing defenseman Joel Messner, who buried a shot to cut the deficit to two.
Jake Randolph made it a one-goal game 83 seconds into the final stanza on a tip-in off a blue line wrist shot by Messner.
The Mavericks tied it when Spinner picked off a Melnick pass in the neutral zone, skated in and went top shelf for a shorthanded goal with 14:13 left in regulation.
That ended the night for Miami goalie Ryan Larkin, the RedHawks only goalie used this season to that point, as he gave way to freshman Chase Munroe, who made his MU debut.
Munroe was greeted rudely, as Luc Snuggerud’s slap pass from the blue line found the blade of David Pope’s stick for a redirection goal that gave UNO a 5-4 lead with 8:05 to play.
The Mavericks sealed it when Morelli scored an empty netter after Austin Ortega intercepted a Louis centering pass from behind the net.
The RedHawks have surrendered 17 goals in their last three games and have been outscored, 9-0 during their current four-game skid.
Louis finished with three points, giving him 101 for his career and a team-high 14 on the season, including a Miami-best nine goals. All of his points have come in the last eight games.
Melnick recorded a goal and an assist for his first multi-point game of the season, and Dornbrock ended the game with a pair of helpers, his first two-assist game since Jan. 29.
Miami drops to 0-3 in the NCHC.
The series finale will be at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.