Analysis: Good job preserving lead
OXFORD, Ohio – The last 50 minutes might not have been the most exciting in Miami history, but with the RedHawks allowing 17 goals the first four games, the shut-down hockey over the final two and a half periods was welcomed.
Miami scored three times in the first 10 minutes and coasted to a 3-0 win over Connecticut on Friday.
The RedHawks held the Huskies to 11 shots over the final two periods – in other words they did an excellent job of preserving the lead.
This weekend’s games are so important because the NCHC season begins next weekend for Miami, which doesn’t want to enter league play under .500.
Posting a winning record in this conference is hard enough, the RedHawks don’t need the additional burden of chasing victories against top 10 teams.
Whatever position in which Miami finds itself during NCHC play, this game had to help the RedHawks gain confidence in their ability to hold a late lead.
As exciting of a sport as hockey is to watch, sometimes an unsexy period or two are good for a team.
For Miami, the final 40 minutes of defensive, grind-it-out hockey were exactly what it needed.
– It must’ve been in Miami’s scouting report to throw the puck at the net from the left side of the blue line. Scott Dornbrock did this twice early in the first period: Once Carson Meyer tipped home a goal and the other time Dornbrock’s shot got all the way through.
– Boy did Ryan Larkin need a solid performance. The sophomore entered the weekend with an .840 save percentage and a goals-against average well north of 4.00. He also wasn’t bombarded with A-plus scoring chances. Hopefully with this win Larkin’s confidence sores. So does the confidence of his teammates in Miami’s goaltending, because when the skaters don’t have faith in the guy between the pipes, it can takes players out of their game.
– The only downer is that as many NHL draftees as Connecticut has, it wasn’t a very impressive squad. At least it wasn’t very impressive in this game. The Huskies didn’t have much of an offensive punch, and they lacked a high level of team speed. One doesn’t get the feeling UConn is going to compete for a Hockey East title.
– Realized recently that only one or two file photos are loaded for some of Miami’s newsmakers, so BoB (read here: I) promise to add some very soon.
FORWARDS: B-. Not a bad effort. There was nothing doing after the top two lines, really, as forwards not named Gordie Green or Kiefer Sherwood combined for just nine shots. Coach Enrico Blasi has never had any fear of throwing freshmen into the penalty kill, and Casey Gilling et al are doing a solid job. Both goals were sweet to watch: Meyer re-directed one from the slot and Green one-timed a thread-the-needle pass from Josh Melnick for the other marker by this corps.
DEFENSEMEN: A. This group not only held its own defensively, helping hold Connecticut to 19 shots and very few of high quality, it is also chipping in on offense regularly. Grant Hutton’s five goals are well documented, and he and Louie Belpedio racked up 10 shots on goal between them. Dornbrock scored on a beautifully-placed wrister. The freshmen are playing somewhat conservatively but aren’t making mistakes. Four shots allowed in the third period with a three-goal lead is pretty much optimal.
GOALTENDING: A. There were only a few good scoring chances for UConn, but Larkin looked his old self, playing technically sound but with lightning reflexes and top-notch instincts. Most of the Huskies’ good chances came early, and Larkin made the necessary stops late to preserve the shutout. His rebound control was outstanding as well.
LINEUP CHANGES: On defense, Mahalak was back in the lineup after being scratched for the finale in Maine. Up front, Zach Lavalle and Ben Lown returned the ice, as Alex Alger and Christian Mohs did not dress.