Monthly Archives: December 2017

Miami wins tune-up vs. Windsor

OXFORD, Ohio – Starting goalie Ryan Larkin logged 20 scoreless minutes, the Green-Melnick-Bachman line is a quasi-permanent thing and no one got hurt.

Those are the headlines from Miami’s 8-2 exhibition win over the University of Windsor at Cady Arena on Saturday.

To address the relevance of this meeting first though: This game was a well-scheduled tune-up for the RedHawks, whose last game was three weeks ago.

That’s a long time to go between contests in any sport. Plus in recent years, Miami has struggled in the games immediately following Christmas break.

This way, the RedHawks could get its regulars ice time and allow others to earn experience by logging valuable minutes as well.

The downside to NCAA-CIS (Canada’s version of the NCAA) matchups is CIS teams play more of a pro style of hockey. Meaning half-shields instead of cages and more importantly, an increased tolerance of chippiness.

That addresses the final headline point: No one gets hurt, and additionally, no one gets suspended.

It can seem like there’s little upside to these exhibitions.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Anyway, on Larkin: He played the first period, presumably to knock off any down-time rust. Good call by the coaches to keep him sharp without overusing him during a season he’s clearly destined to log almost all of Miami’s minutes between the pipes.

Chase Munroe played the second period, Grant Valentine the third, as both of Windsor’s goals were scored under Valentine’s watch.

Then there’s the first line: Karch Bachman joined Josh Melnick and Gordie Green at the end of the Cornell series, and they were together at Western Michigan and again in this game.

They combined for three goals and five assists, with each tallying at least two points.

Melnick recorded a game-best four points on two markers and a pair of helpers.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Bachman has blazing speed and a super-quick shot release, so he provides another sniper on the first line, and he has also moved into a penalty killing role this season. He is 3-6-9 this season after racking up just six points his freshman season.

Green and Melnick – should we call them Grelnick? – clearly make this offense go, and being the third member of their line is a privilege.

Other thoughts…

– To catch up: Decembers are tough in this part-time writer’s full-time vocational field, thus the lack of content here, but Miami split its final two NCHC games at Western Michigan, winning 5-2 on Friday and dropping a 4-3 overtime decision in the finale.

Saturday’s loss was tough to accept, as the RedHawks led 3-1 in the second player before allowing a natural hat trick – with the latter coming in overtime.

That was the second time in three weekends Miami saw a Saturday outcome flipped. The RedHawks also ended up tying Bowling Green on Nov. 25 on an extra-attacker goal with 38 seconds left.

– Miami is currently sixth in the NCHC with a 3-4-1 league record, although the RedHawks have played two fewer games than all of the top five teams. MU has completed its non-conference schedule, as its remaining 16 regular season games are all against league opponents.

– Perhaps the best news is that Miami is 17th in the PairWise rankings, which ultimately determine which teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament. In a 16-team Division I tournament with at-large bids, typically a PairWise rank of 12 or 13 is considered safe.

– Love the toughness from Chaz Switzer, who blocked a slap shot in the leg and returned after a brief stint in the locker room, and Conor Lemirande, who needed facial sowing after scoring a goal but returned.

– Also love the game-to-game improvement by Ben Lown. The freshman scored and picked up an assist.

– Miami had 21 skaters for this game, three more than is allowed in NCAA play, and forwards Christian Mohs and Zach LaValle and defenseman Grant Frederic were listed as the extra bodies. F Carter Johnson, F Alex Alger, D Bryce Hatten and G Evan McCarthy were the only RedHawks who did not dress.

– Denver’s up next. The Pioneers are No. 5 in the PairWise and second in the USCHO poll. Big two games in Oxford this Friday and Saturday.

Advertisements

Photos: Cornell at Miami

Images from the Cornell at Miami series played at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, on Dec. 1-2, 2017. All images by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

Analyis: Let’s be happy for the split

OXFORD, Ohio – Well, maybe it’s best to look at the weekend as a whole.

After an epic win over No. 5 Cornell on Friday, Miami dropped a 4-0 decision at Cady Arena on Saturday to finish the weekend with a split.

Back to the old cliché that if you knew heading into the series that the RedHawks would take 1 of 2 against the fifth-ranked team in Division I, would you be happy with that?

Most would probably say yes, especially considering Miami is a .500 team right now.

Yeah, Saturday was forgettable. There were the defensive lapses, poor officiating and the inability of the RedHawks to do anything offensively the first two periods.

The game was pretty much over when the Big Red (10-2) fired the third goal in, 38 seconds after their second, as a player stood wide open in the slot waiting for a pass.

The better team took advantage of two early power plays and lackadaisical play on the third, then coasted the final 47 minutes, as Cornell entered play allowing 2.00 goals and 23.6 shots per game.

Shut down is the Big Red’s specialty.

Miami needs to find to way to overcome that vs. the balance of its NCHC slate chock full of high-ranked teams.

No forward not named Melnick, Green or Gilling has recorded a point in the past three games.

Other thoughts…

Miami defenseman Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Another disclaimer that we try to keep official criticism to a minimum, but this group of refs Nick Krebsbach and Brad Shepherd and linesmen Ryan Madsen and Paul Karnathan were truly brutal.

The Grant Hutton call on Friday was nowhere near a major, and yet they initially ruled a game disqualification against the defenseman, which carries and automatic suspension before reducing it to a 5-and-10.

It’s hard to believe that was a miscommunication issue between the on- and off-ice officials, and the off-ice officials relayed a DQ penalty to the PA announcer.

– Then there was the faceoff fiasco. Gilling had an in-depth discussion with a lineman before a drop on Friday, and in this game, Gilling took exception to a Cornell foe’s positioning, and he was booted by one of the refs after he refused to move into faceoff position.

Gilling later received a 10-minute misconduct, and interestingly did not return.

Alec Mahalak was drilled in the head at his own blue line. No call.

To be fair, the loss shouldn’t be blamed on officiating, but it hurts the integrity of the game.

Cornell was the better team and deserved to win. But film of this series will not be used in the how-to portion of the officials’ training videos.

– No forward not named Gilling, Melnick or Green recorded a point on the weekend.

– With Gilling gone, Karch Bachman joined the Green-Melnick line but results were inconclusive.

GRADES

FORWARDS: F. Just 17 shots and obviously no goals. Once again a key member of this corps was out of action for an extended period of time for arguing (Gilling). Not much going on at all after the top line.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. The first two Cornell goals were scored on the power play, and the third was on a breakdown in slot coverage. This corps wasn’t a huge factor in the outcome.

GOALTENDING: B-. Ryan Larkin was 19 of 22 and was pulled with five minutes left and Miami down by three. The first goal was very stoppable, but the next two on a tip-in and a point-blank shot, respectively.

LINEUP CHANGES: On defense, Scott Dornbrock returned to the lineup as Rourke Russell sat. Russell had played 14 of the first 15 games, and Dornbrock has missed just two contests. Zach LaValle was back on the ice in favor of Austin Alger, who logged limited minutes in his return from injury on Friday.

Cornell shuts out Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – Special teams are the main reason Miami won on Friday, but a night later they were the RedHawks’ nemesis.

No. 5 Cornell scored three times in the first 13 minutes and handed Miami its first shutout of the season, 4-0 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

The Big Red (10-2) netted goals on each of their first two power plays, added a third tally 35 seconds after that second PPG and tacked on an empty netter. They were perfect on three penalty kills.

On Friday, the RedHawks scored just two times with both goals coming on the man advantage, and they were 4-for-4 on the PK.

At the 9:24 mark of the first period, Cornell’s Anthony Angello skated from behind the goal line to the outside edge of the faceoff circle and whipped a low shot that snuck through the pads of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin.

A wrist shot from the blue line by the Big Red’s Yanni Kaldis was deflected by Trevor Yates and past Larkin just 2:37 after the first goal.

And 38 seconds after that, Kyle Bettis netted his first career goal, ripping one home from the slot off a centering feed by Alex Rauter.

That put Miami (7-7-2) down three against a fifth-ranked Cornell team that came into the game allowing 2.00 goals per game.

The RedHawks actually outshot the Big Red, 18-13 the final 40 minutes but could not solve goalie Hayden Stewart, who played the third period on Friday in relief.

He finished with 26 saves and his first shutout of the season. It was the first time Miami had been blanked since Jan. 21 vs. Nebraska-Omaha.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak for MU, which fell back to .500.

Casey Gilling received a misconduct penalty in the second period, the team’s fifth 10-minute penalty in five games. Miami has been assessed 113 penalty minutes in its last five games.

The RedHawks completed their non-conference schedule as well as their 2017 home slate. They travel to Western Michigan next weekend to wrap up the pre-Christmas Break portion of their schedule.

Analysis: Miami rallied with short bench

OXFORD, Ohio – Poll your average fan on what he or she thinks Miami’s odds of winning would be if the team was down a goal four minutes in, and two minutes later faced a five-minute penalty kill against the fifth-best team in the NCAA.

And for good measure, was without elite defenseman Grant Hutton for the balance of the game.

Miami defenseman Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

That was the RedHawks’ predicament early on Friday, and yet they rallied to a 2-1 victory over No. 5 Cornell at Cady Arena.

Like the UMD win sparked by Chaz Switzer’s fighting major, Miami’s emotions were tapped when Hutton was ejected for checking from behind.

The call, which for the record should’ve been a minor and no more, was initially read as a major and a game disqualification, which carries with it a compulsory suspension. It was announced at the first intermission Hutton actually received a game misconduct, which means he was done for the night but would be eligible on Saturday.

And if we take the player in question into account, Hutton had 50 penalty minutes in 86 career games entering this one. Zero major penalties.

Quite impressive considering this is a guy that logs more minutes than anyone on the team except possibly Louie Belpedio and defends opponents’ top forwards every night while playing a physical, punishing game.

Back to the game: Hutton out, five defensemen left. And oh yeah, Big Red were badly outplaying Miami to this point.

But instead of folding, Miami killed the penalty.

Seemingly galvanized by the Hutton incident and gaining momentum from the PK, the RedHawks took advantage of their first power play and tied it.

Then another confrontation: Six-three sophomore Willie Knierim ended up in a scrap with Morgan Barron, with both getting the boot in the closing minutes of the second period.

Miami netted the go-ahead goal with 54 seconds left in that frame.

The third period was excruciating, as the RedHawks went into late survival mode – a documented area of weakness for this team in recent years – and they turned the last 20 minutes into a giant penalty kill.

It was a gutsy win, an improbable win, and with team’s place in the Division I world still a bit of a question mark, Miami helped its resume royally by putting this one into the ‘W’ column.

Other thoughts…

– The chemistry evolution of Josh Melnick and Gordie Green has a delight to watch. These guys could probably complete passes to each other in the dark.

– Couldn’t believe Cornell, which played so well defensively, let Green skate in and score the go-ahead goal. He corralled a pass from Casey Gilling at the top of the faceoff circle and was unchallenged. So he penetrated and no one went to him. So he drove further and wired one home, lifting it over a sprawling defender.

– That was the second and third major penalties for Miami in its past four games, and its third and fourth 10-minute misconduct, three of which have been for the game. In that span the RedHawks have 91 penalty minutes.

– Melnick’s four-game point streak is the third-longest by anyone on the team. Melnick also had a five-game run earlier this season, and Green went five straight with at least one point as well.

– CU starting goalie Matthew Galadja was pulled after 40 minutes. He allowed two goals on 10 shots through two periods, and while the Gilling shot appeared stoppable, Green’s goal was point blank and ticketed for the corner. Backup Hayden Stewart only faced three shots in the final stanza but stopped them all.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C-. Definitely a case in which the results were much better than the process. Gilling and Green scored power play goals, but this corps was practically non-existent the rest of the game. Miami was down to 10 forwards for the final 24 minutes with Knierim booted and Austin Alger – in his first game back from injury – very limited in ice time. Kiefer Sherwood committed several turnovers in the first period, including one that ultimately led to the Cornell goal.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

DEFENSEMEN: B. The Big Red finished with 30 shots, but not a ton were Grade-A chances. Cornell seemingly possessed the puck 80 percent of the game, especially early in the first period and the entire third, yet this corps playing with five – down a huge minutes eater in Hutton – did not seem to wear down. Scott Dornbrock didn’t dress for this one either, so this was an exceptionally young group post-Grant, with a senior (Louie Belpedio), two sophomores and two freshmen.

GOALTENDING: A-. Lots happened and that’s the only reason it takes this far down to reach the Ryan Larkin love-fest in this game. As mentioned, not a ton of exceptional chances but Larkin stopped all but one of the good ones, and the only Cornell shot that went in was on a wrister from the high slot through traffic. He stopped all 12 he faced in the third period and finished with 29 saves, which believe it or not ties a season high.

LINEUP CHANGES: For the second time in six games, Dornbrock was out. He had not missed a game since October of his sophomore year prior to the past month. Switzer returned to the ice after serving his two-game suspension. Grant Frederic remained in the lineup after taking Switzer’s place last weekend. F Zach LaValle also sat for the third time in five games after missing just three contests in all of 2016-17. Alger came back from an upper-body injury that cost him five starts.

Miami powers past No. 5 Cornell

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami was outshot by more than a 2-to-1 ratio and finished with its lowest shot output of the season.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

But the RedHawks scored on both of their power play chances and rode 29 saves by goalie Ryan Larkin to a 2-1 win over No. 5 Cornell at Cady Arena on Friday.

It was the first meeting between these teams in Oxford, and Miami was swept in a two-game set in Ithaca last season. The Big Red finished with 30 shots to Miami’s 13.

The night certainly did not start off well for the RedHawks.

A wrister by Alex Rauter hit the top corner of the net, putting Cornell (9-2) ahead 3:59 into the first period.

Just over 2:30 later, Miami defenseman Grant Hutton was ejected for a checking-from-behind major.

In addition to being one of the RedHawks’ top penalty killers, Hutton leads college hockey with six power play goals.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

But Miami (7-6-2) killed the five-minute man advantage, and on a power play of their own, the RedHawks tied it with 3:25 left in the opening frame. Casey Gilling’s seeing-eye wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle snuck in the far corner of the net.

With 54 seconds left in the second period, Gordie Green took a pass from Gilling, penetrated on the left wing and buried a shot, top shelf to put Miami ahead.

The RedHawks survived a furious Big Red surge in the third period, as they were outshot, 12-3.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami has been exceptional in both facets of special teams recently, as the team is 5-for-10 in its last three games on the man-advantage and has played four straight contests without allowing a power play goal.

Green and Gilling both finished with a goal and an assist. It was Gilling’s first career multi-point game, and the fifth of the season for Green, who leads the team in assists (11) and points (17).

Josh Melnick and Louie Belpedio also picked up assists for the RedHawks. Melnick extended his points streak to four games, and Belpedio has six points in his last six games.

Miami stretched its unbeaten streak to four and are a game over .500 for the second time this season.

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