Miami blanked by UML
OXFORD, Ohio – Through four games, Miami had been on either the giving or receiving end of a shutout three times.
On Friday, the RedHawks made that 4-for-5, and unfortunately for them they came out on the losing end, 3-0 vs. UMass-Lowell at Cady Arena.
Miami has held two opponents off the scoresheet and has been blanked twice this season. All of its 2018-19 contests have been decided by at least three goals.
RECAP: UMass-Lowell could not score on a 28-second 5-on-3, but after Miami returned one to the ice, Sam Knoblauch slipped a shot through the five hole of RedHawks goalie Jordan Uhelski with 2:20 left in the first period.
The Riverhawks extended their lead to two when Connor Wilson backhanded a shot just inside the far post on a 3-on-1 with 5:05 remaining in the middle stanza.
UMass-Lowell capped off the scoring when Connor Sodergren stole the puck from Uhelski behind the Miami net and fed Kenny Hausinger for a shorthanded tap-in.
STATS: Despite the lopsided loss, the RedHawks outshot UML, 36-22.
Special teams were a killer for Miami, which was 0-for-5 on the power play and allowed a shorthanded goal. UMass-Lowell also scored once on three chances with the man-advantage.
THOUGHTS: No offense to Alabama-Huntsville and Mercyhurst, but the RedHawks are better than those teams and won all three games against them, as they should have.
Providence is a top-5 team and Miami fell short.
This was an opponent that would be a true litmus test for Miami, a mid-level Hockey East school, and this series is in Oxford.
At least in the opener, Miami fell well short of expectations. The RedHawks’ passing was sub-standard and communication seemed poor at times as passes were thrown to no one in particular or sometimes right at Riverhawks skaters.
And despite outshooting UML by a wide margin, many of those shots were from the outside with no traffic in front, making for easy saves. To be fair to Wall, he made several outstanding saves and was deserving of first-star status.
It was kind of mind-boggling that with the power play struggling, the RedHawks went with a stay-at-home defenseman in Bray Crowder at the point in their first chance, although Miami is obviously still experimenting with combinations and seeing what works and what doesn’t. And right now the man-advantage clearly doesn’t.
FORWARDS – D-. Pass completion percentage among this corps was poor and the top players didn’t impress, although Josh Melnick did steal a puck and draw a penalty and Ben Lown skated with a lot of energy. Another positive is Monte Graham’s faceoff ability. He was 9-1 and is extremely innovative in earning draw wins.
DEFENSEMEN – B-. Grant Hutton was so-so and Rourke Russell lost the puck after pinching, which resulted in a 3-on-1 and the second UML goal. Other than that no one really stood out positively or negatively.
GOALTENDING – D. The first goal was on a nice power play shot through the five hole. The second was on a backhander to the far post. Uhelski probably should’ve come up with one of those two. He lost the puck behind his own net for an easy tap-in, which squarely falls on him. Uhelski made a couple of solid saves, flashing a quick pad to deny a shot in the first period and covering the post to prevent a goal.
LINEUP CHANGES: The biggest one was Uhelski is net for Larkin after Larkin had shut out Mercyhurst last Saturday, playing his best game in some time. Larkin did warm up and did not appear to be suffering from any injury. One of Uhelski’s roles is to push Larkin, so perhaps that’s why he got the start.
Carter Johnson returned after taking a devastating head shot in the season opener and was the extra skater.
On defense, River Rymsha was back on the ice after sitting vs. Mercyhurst. Andrew Sinard and Chaz Switzer were both a scratches.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s still a process of course, but at some point it will become a concern if Miami can’t score against mid- and high-level opponents. Against Providence and UML the RedHawks have zero goals in 120 minutes.
As for the power play, even though Miami has generated good chances during its drought — especially against Mercyhurst — lack of success may be getting into players’ heads.
Salvaging a split with a win on Saturday could be a real boost for this team, which seeks its first quality win of 2018-19.