Larkin stays hot as Miami tops Colgate
OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan Larkin extended his personal winning streak to three games for the third time in his career, and he stopped 12 shots in the third period – including several high-percentage chances – to preserve the win.
He finished with 28 saves as Miami beat Colgate, 4-1 at Cady Arena on Friday. In his last three outings, Larkin has turned aside 74 of 76 shots or 97.4 percent.
The RedHawks (5-2) improved to three games over the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 2015 season.
Miami scored twice before the Raiders generated their first marker, and the RedHawks closed the win out with two more unanswered goals.
MU has won three straight meetings vs. Colgate (2-2) – all at Cady Arena – outscoring the Raiders, 12-2 in that span.
RECAP: Fourteen minutes into the first period, Derek Daschke centered a pass to Gordie Green, who juked before whipping a shot home on the forehand from the slot to open the scoring for the RedHawks.
Miami extended its lead to two when Phil Knies snuck home a short-side wrist shot from the left wing 96 seconds into the middle stanza.
Colgate’s Josh McKechney netted his first goal of the season with 7:35 left in the second period with one second left on a Raiders power play, cutting their deficit to one.
But Miami reestablished a two-goal lead six minutes later when Alec Mahalak sprung Josh Melnick loose up the middle, and Melnick eluded two defenders, penetrated the zone and ripped one over Mitch Benson’s blocker from the high slot.
Zach LaValle capped off the scoring for the RedHawks, as he corralled a puck on the left faceoff dot, maneuvered it to the sweet spot and wired one top shelf just inside the near crossbar with 6:19 left in regulation.
STATS: Green and Melnick finished with a goal and an assist each. It was the second tally of the season for both.
Knies’ goal was also No. 2 of this campaign, and it was the first for LaValle, his first since March 10, 2017.
Daschke picked up a career-high two helpers. He and River Rymsha ended the night a team-best plus-2.
THOUGHTS: Miami actually started the night a little soft on defense, allowing multiple quality chances early, but overall the team played well all night.
The final score is a tribute to the RedHawks’ effort and execution, as Colgate was better than 4-1 indicates.
Fortunately for Miami, Larkin was on form from the opening whistle, as he had to turn aside five shots in the first few minutes.
Even when Colgate pulled to within one, it never felt like the game was in doubt, and Melnick’s pure-effort goal made it 3-1 and really seemed to deflate the Raiders.
— This was Green’s best game of the early season, and he and Melnick showed off their chemistry in this one.
And they did so with Carter Johnson as their third, as he moved onto that line with Scott Corbett scratched.
Miami’s early-season success had come without huge offensive contributions from the Melnick-Green tandem, but they were a force in this win.
— Derek Daschke has seemed to get better every game. His first assist was on a high-precision feed to Green in the slot, and he also picked up a secondary helper on Knies’ marker.
— Monte Graham’s faceoff percentage is north of .700 – which is insanely high – and he won a draw in the third period that went right to LaValle, who loaded up for Miami’s fourth goal.
Graham was 4-0 in the circle.
FORWARDS: B+. Melnick and Green (Grelnick?) were stars 1 and 1a among this corps. Knies and LaValle both found the net on well-located shots. Brian Hawkinson played his grinder role and provided energy. Ryan Siroky was his physical self and played solid defensively. Christian Mohs – limited to nine games last season after knee surgery the previous year – looked a step better than in previous games, especially early.
DEFENSEMEN: B-. A little sloppy early but solid enough overall. Daschke was the standout in this group, both with his passing and his shut-down play as his stock continues to rise. Rourke Russell also seems to be in a constant state of improvement as he seems to be gaining confidence every night. River Rymsha has been a pleasant surprise as he impresses with his two-way play and hockey IQ.
GOALTENDING: A. Couldn’t see the Colgate goal live and there is no clear replay, so no idea if Larkin had a chance on it, but either way he made some excellent stops early and turned 28 shots aside overall. A strength of his as a freshman was his rebound control, and once again in 2018-19 opponents are rarely getting second chances vs. Miami with him on net. The Raiders created quality chances throughout but Larkin was having no part of it.
LINEUP CHANGES: Corbett was a head-scratching scratch up front, as Johnson was not only back on the lineup card but moved to the top line with Green and Melnick. The move didn’t seem to affect the duo, as each went 1-1-2.
Mohs was also back in the lineup, dressing for the fourth time this season.
Grant Frederic did not play after skating in the finale vs. UMass-Lowell.
FINAL THOUGHTS: True, Miami hasn’t played an NCHC contest yet, and this hasn’t been as a brutal of a non-conference schedule as in 2017-18 but considering the RedHawks’ off-season, 5-2 is a solid start.
Miami should’ve beaten Colgate and it did. Same with Alabama-Huntsville, same with Mercyhurst.
Sounds axiomatic, but at times in recent seasons the RedHawks have underachieved against lesser-skilled opponents.
And this is another example of Miami not only getting into the win column but leaving little doubt late.
In this game plus the three others vs. UAH and Mercyhurst, the RedHawks have scored five times in the third period. MU’s lead after 40 minutes has been at least two in all four of those contests.
That means Miami is establishing the lead in the opening two periods and pulling away late.
Will the RedHawks be able to keep that MO against its league foes, all of which will be better than Colgate?
We’ll see, but winning these October non-conference games in decisive fashion has to give the RedHawks confidence heading into NCHC play.