Defense again lacking for RedHawks
It was just five seasons ago when Miami held its opponents to 1.74 goals per game.
One of the top defensive teams in Division I half a decade ago, the RedHawks have allowed 21 goals during their current three-game road set alone, including Friday’s 6-3 loss at Colorado College.
MU is surrendering goals at nearly twice the clip of 2013-14, as foes have lit the lamp 82 times in 23 games, an average of 3.39 goals against.
RECAP: Didn’t see the game, just the highlights. Those 9:37 p.m. starts are a little late for those of us with early hours.
It was never really a contest, as the Tigers scored 99 seconds in and ran out to a 5-1 lead. Miami scored twice to trim the deficit to two, but a CC empty netter sealed it.
STATS: Kiefer Sherwood tied a season high with three points, scoring once and setting up the other two MU goals.
— Freshman defenseman Alec Mahalak’s two points – both on helpers – were a career best.
— Grant Hutton also picked up two points on a goal and an assist, giving him points in three straight games (1-5-6).
— Colorado College was 3-for-3 on the power play, and Miami has now killed an absurd 5 of 13 chances during this road trip. That’s a 38.5 PK percentage.
THOUGHTS: So Miami’s defensive struggles last season were documented regularly here, but the RedHawks were doing a better job in their own zone the first three months of 2017-18.
But three games and 21 goals against into an 0-3 road trip later, it makes one wonder what the deuce is going on.
Opponents are getting way too good of looks and goaltending is underperforming. And Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College are both near the bottom of the NCHC standings table.
Miami should’ve been past this, with Louie Belpedio playing the best hockey of his career in Games 1-20, Grant Hutton continuing to prove himself one of the best undrafted D-men in the conference. Chaz Switzer, Scott Dornbrock and Grant Frederic had all shown improvement.
Alec Mahalak has also displayed a lot of promise and his confidence level seems to rise each night.
Forwards Gordie Green, Josh Melnick and Casey Gilling all are outstanding defensively, but too often Miami’s centers and wings aren’t getting back or don’t pick up opponents as they cruise toward the Miami net.
Miami needs to tighten up, and quickly. Time is running out on the regular season, and drawing a low seed in the conference tournament is tantamount to a death sentence in the NCHC.
LINEUP CHANGES: Carter Johnson returned to the lineup for the first time since the Bowling Green series. Carson Meyer was also back after being scratched in the finale at UNO.
Zach LaValle and Ryan Siroky did not dress.
On defense, Dornbrock returned after missing the second game vs. the Mavericks. He replaced Frederic.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s a four-game losing streak for Miami, its longest of the season.
Now three games under .500, the RedHawks’ path the NCAAs gets a lot tougher. MU really needed to sweep these games to have a decent shot at home ice for the first round of the NCHC Tournament and the potential for an at-large berth.
Not that it’s mathematically impossible by any stretch, but the odds of Miami reeling off a bunch of wins in a row against its remaining opponents are not strong.