Miami shuts out, sweeps Colgate

OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan Larkin had one shutout in his freshman season and one more as a sophomore.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Six starts into 2018-19, the Miami junior has already blanked more opponents than in his first two years combined.

On Saturday, he recorded his third clean sheet of 2018-19, a 30-save effort in a 6-0 win over Colgate at Cady Arena that wrapped up a weekend sweep for the RedHawks.

It was the fourth straight win for Miami in the all-time series, as the RedHawks have outscored the Raiders, 18-2 during their winning streak vs. CU and 40-17 overall.

MU wrapped up its four-game homestand with three consecutive victories and is 5-1 on its home ice this season.

RECAP: Just 2:48 into the first period, Josh Melnick backhanded a pass to Gordie Green at the blue line, and Grant Hutton received a drop pass from Green, skated into the high slot and wired one home on the stick side on a 4-on-4.

It remained 1-0 until the 7:49 mark of the middle frame, when Green fed a pass to Melnick from the point to the side of the cage, where Melnick rammed in a bad-angle one-timer on the power play.

With 3:14 left in that period, a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle by Alec Mahalak handcuffed goalie Andrew Farrier, and Scott Corbett was there to knock in the rebound on the opposite side for his first career goal, making it 3-0.

Melnick and Green connected again, as Melnick threaded a pass through two defenders from the inside edge of the faceoff circle to a wide-open Green, who fired it into the vacant half of the net with five seconds left in a second period that saw MU score three times.

Midway through the final stanza, Casey Gilling fed a one-time pass to River Rymsha, who was crossing the blue line, and Rymsha found the top corner of the net as he stepped into a slap shot.

Hutton wrapped up the scoring as he eluded three defenders while carrying the puck from the blue line to the slot before backhanding one in to the stick side with 5:03 left in regulation.

STATS: Larkin leads all of Division I in shutouts with three. His save percentage of .966 is second in the NCAA and he is third in goals-against average (0.83).

His five career clean slates moves Larkin into a tie with Dan Kodatsky for seventh all-time on the Miami leaderboard.

Green finished with a goal and three assists for four points, the second-highest total of his career only to his five-point effort vs. Maine on Oct. 20, 2017.

It was his second three-assist game as a RedHawk.

Hutton ended the night with two goals and a helper, becoming the first skater to score twice or more in a game this season. It was his fifth career multi-goal game and the fourth time he has picked up three points.

Melnick also notched three points – the third time he has done so in a Miami sweater – on a goal and two assists.

Green has seven points in his last three games including six this weekend and Melnick picked up five points this series.

It was the third career multi-point game for Mahalak, who tallied two assists and wrapped up the series with three points.

Miami scored in all six periods this weekend and has goals in seven consecutive frames overall.

THOUGHTS: Miami played with maximum effort from the opening faceoff to the final horn, as the RedHawks were still bombarding the offensive zone in the closing minutes trying to add another score.

Too many times for too many years Miami has had trouble closing out wins, but at least for the first month of this season, the RedHawks have wielded a killer instinct late in games.

Colgate didn’t play poorly on Friday but fell behind early in this one and sort of threw in the proverbial towel the final 20-25 minutes on Saturday, and rather than sit back and play not to lose, Miami absolutely took it to the Raiders in the sixth period of the weekend, punishing them physically and on the scoreboard.

At this point, the RedHawks are better than Colgate. They aren’t 6-0 better though, but both teams got the outcomes they deserved: Miami didn’t let up the entire game and the Raiders did.

And good teams take advantage when that happens. That’s the difference between the first eight games of 2018-19 and their 110 contests the previous three seasons.

And that’s what makes this such a big win heading into NCHC play.

— Corbett returned to the Green-Melnick line and all three ended up finding the net. They combined for eight points (Green 1-3-4, Melnick 1-2-3, Corbett 1-0-1).

We heaped praise on this line for its play on Friday but it was even better in this game at both ends.

— This is as locked in as Larkin has been since coming to Oxford. In his last four starts he is 4-0 with a .981 save percentage, stopping 104 of 106 shots.

He’s second in the NCAA in save percentage at .966 only to a Lake Superior goalie whose last name is Mitens (how do you compete with that)?

And that’s been a big difference in Miami’s start: It’s virtually impossible to have a successful season when your team save percentage is .883 and your starter finishes at .886, which was the case in 2017-18.

Quality goaltending can help a decent team become a great one, and while there’s no way Larkin maintains his current save rate, he has the ability to steal wins for the RedHawks.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A. The passing by this corps was so much crisper than in any other game this season. Yeah, Green and Melnick were studs, but their supporting cast was strong as well. Karch Bachman continues to generate chances with his speed. Gilling keeps winning key draws and impressing with his defense, plus he set up Rymsha’s goal. Sophs Ben Lown and Phil Knies continue to play above their size. Zach LaValle is earning playing time by stepping up. Corbett scored his first career goal and plays a high-energy, physical style. Etc., etc.

DEFENSEMEN: A. Hutton, Mahalak and Rymsha were the standouts among this group. This was Hutton’s best game at both ends, and probably the same could be said for Mahalak, who picked up two assists and earned some power play time. Rymsha’s goal was an absolute blast with pinpoint accuracy.

GOALTENDING: A+. About as perfect of a game as a goalie could play. He turned 30 shots aside and faced some Grade-A chances. He seemed more comfortable going side to side this weekend and gave up almost zero second chances.

LINEUP CHANGES: Corbett replaced Johnson, both on the first line and in the lineup, as Johnson was a scratch.

Defenseman Andrew Sinard dressed for the second time this season as Christian Mohs sat out.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Percentagewise, this equals Miami’s best start through eight games since 2010-11.

The locker room is much more unified than in recent seasons.

Goaltending has been phenomenal. Defense has been solid. The RedHawks are starting to score goals.

Even those in the stands are having a lot more fun, and hopefully more will show up as we enter the cold-weather months and super-skilled league opponents come to town.

Miami has a lot going for it, but the RedHawks also haven’t played a true road game yet, suiting up for six at home and two on neutral ice. They also haven’t started league play.

MU will tackle both of those obstacles next week in its NCHC-opening series at Omaha.

Maybe Miami, picked to finish last in the conference, ends up being the biggest surprise in the NCAA. Maybe the RedHawks do struggle in league play as was predicted.

But if they keep up the kind of effort they put forth this weekend, the dividends will eventually come for this program.

At least by playing the game the right way the foundation is now being laid for future success.

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Posted on October 28, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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