Monthly Archives: October 2018
ERIE, Pa. – Through four games, Miami has beaten the teams it should’ve beaten and lost to the team ranked in the top five of the national polls.
The RedHawks sit at 3-1 two weeks into the season, having swept Alabama-Huntsville twice at home and shut out Mercyhurst in the third-place game of the Ice Breaker on Saturday. Their blemish is a 4-0 loss to No. 5 Providence in Friday’s semifinal round here.
Miami outscored UAH and Mercyhurst, 12-1, an encouraging sign that the RedHawks have blown out those teams since MU has 11 new players on its roster.
And really Miami played better than the final score indicated in the loss to the Friars.
Considering how the RedHawks’ off-season began, this quote-unquote rebuild could’ve been a whole lot worse.
Miami will get plenty of true litmus tests against teams of its caliber, but its start has been encouraging.
— 6-feet-7 defenseman Andrew Sinard made his collegiate debut on Saturday, and he handled his start well. He was listed as the seventh defenseman on Miami’s lineup card and appeared cool when the puck ended up on his stick while holding his own on D.
He threaded a pass to Jonathan Gruden that nearly resulted in a goal as well.
“He handled himself pretty well,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “He’s a big boy, he’s got good reach and he made a nice play on the back door to Gruds that just kind of got away from Gruds a little bit, otherwise it was a tap-in, but he saw some limited ice but I thought he did a good job.”
— Sinard and Chaz Switzer made their 2018-19 debuts on Saturday as Miami dressed seven defensemen. River Rymsha sat for the first time this season. Switzer was banged up in preseason but logged 55 games his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
— After this weekend, eight blueliners have dressed in four games – Grant Hutton, Alec Mahalak, Rourke Russell, Brayden Crowder, Derek Daschke, Rymsha, Switzer and Sinard. The first five have skated in all four games, Rymsha has played in three games, Switzer and Sinard made their 2018-19 debuts on Saturday.
The fact Miami has trouble getting some of these guys in the lineup speaks to its depth.
“We’re pleased with that, and obviously we’ve got to keep going and keep pushing guys to get better,” Blasi said. “We want our guys to play their best every night, I think the depth and everyone buying into that helps.”
— Karch Bachman leads the team with three goals, including a breakaway tally and eventual game winner in the first minute on Saturday.
He forfeited some of his gold star when he took a spearing major and was assessed a game misconduct in the second period, but the Florida Panthers draftee has clearly found another gear early this season.
Finishing chances was an issue at times in 2017-18 but his shooting percentage is .200 in a small sample size this season.
Asked whether his improved play was a product of confidence, Blasi said “you let me know if you figure it out.”
— So playing the Canadian and U.S. anthems prior to games is apparently a thing for Mercyhurst, so we heard both each night at Erie Insurance Arena.
— Somehow missed this in the off-season but teams are allowed to dress a 19th skater this season. On Saturday it was Sinard, on Friday it was forward Noah Jordan. That was extremely helpful for Miami on Saturday since Bachman was sent to the dressing room early, and the RedHawks also benefitted in their opener when Carter Johnson was cheap-shotted.
— If there was a penalty killing first star for the weekend, it would go to Brian Hawkinson. The freshman is proving himself quite an agitator and is earning tons of PK time with his defensive ability.
— Attendance was listed at 2,387 for Saturday, but there were fewer than 500 for each of Miami’s games, including the third-place game against Mercyhurst, which is located in Erie. As many MU grads as there are living in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, there should’ve been more RedHawks fans in the seats.
ERIE, Pa. – Miami couldn’t get a single shot past Providence on Friday.
But it took just 29 seconds for Karch Bachman to generate a goal for the RedHawks on Saturday as they beat Mercyhurst, 3-0 in the third-place game of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Erie Insurance Arena.
“That’s huge,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “You’ve got to score first – that’s one thing that you want to try to do in a game because all in the sudden now you’re playing on your toes and not your heels.”
Bachman accelerated through a pair of Lakers defenders, went in alone and buried a forehand shot on the glove side in the opening minute to open the scoring.
That was all the offense Miami (3-1) needed, as goalie Ryan Larkin turned 21 shots aside to earn his second shutout in three starts this season, which is already a career high. The junior now has four perfect sheets for his career, with one each his freshman and sophomore years.
Ahead by one, Ryan Siroky carried the puck around the back of the Mercyhurst net and stuffed the wraparound into the net to make it 2-0 with 13:51 left in the second period.
In the final minute of the middle stanza, Phil Knies stole the puck from a Mercyhurst (0-2-1) skater at center ice, went in alone and slid a backhander through the five hole of goalie Stefano Cantali.
“I would say maybe a little undisciplined today, so we had to kill some penalties, still trying to understand how to manage the game in certain areas,” Blasi said. “I think that comes with some youth – but I thought for the most part our effort and our structure was pretty good.”
Historically, Bachman and Siroky have not been huge goal scorers but both are off to hot starts.
Bachman, a junior, netted two goals as a freshman and six last season, but his breakaway tally was his team-leading third marker of 2018-19. Siroky is second on the team behind Bachman with two tallies in four games this campaign after the senior found the net just seven times his first three seasons.
Despite scoring three times, Miami was credited with just one assist, with Christian Mohs notching his first point of the season on Siroky’s goal. Bachman and Knies both scored unassisted.
Larkin has made 61 saves on 64 shots (.953), an encouraging sign after last season when his save percentage was just .886.
“I thought he struggled with a couple shots (vs. Providence) – or at least one for sure – but he made good saves today,” Blasi said. “Top of his crease was solid, and he played the puck well. It’s there, he just has to make sure he stays focused.”
The RedHawks were 0-for-4 on the power play and finished the weekend without a man-advantage goal despite 11 opportunities. After netting a pair of PPGs in its opener, MU has failed to cash on in 14 chances over the last three games.
Conversely, Miami’s penalty kill was 6-for-6 and has allowed just one power play goal this season. Bachman took a spearing major in the second period and was ejected.
“We had a lot of good chances on the power play, but right now it’s just not going in for us,” Blasi said. “But our PK did a great job and sometimes you’re going to have to play games like that.”
This is the first time the RedHawks have won three of their first four games since 2014-15, and Blasi said he is pleased with the start overall.
“You take four-game segments like that, they start to add up,” Blasi said.
Miami opens a four-game homestand with a two-game series vs. UMass-Lowell next weekend. Colgate comes to Oxford for a pair of contests on Oct. 26-27.
MIAMI U. 1-2-0 – 3
MERCYHURST 0-0-0 – 0
First period: 1. Mia., Bachman 3, uag, 0:29.
Second period: 2. Mia., Siroky 2 (Mohs), 6:09; 3. Mia., Knies 1, shg, 19:11.
Third period: None.
Shots on goal: Miami U. 8-18-5 – 31; Mercyhurst 7-6-8 – 21. Power plays: Miami U. 0-for-4; Mercyhurst 0-for-6. Goalies: Miami U., Larkin (21 of 21 saved); Mercyhurst, Cantali (28 of 31). Referees: Ryan Sweeney, Eugene Binda. Linesmen: Brendan Lewis, Joe Lewis. Time: 2:20. Attendance: 2,387.
ERIE, Pa. – Turnaround shot had a double meaning in the first period of the Ice Breaker Tournament opener.
After Miami dominated No. 5 Providence for eight minutes, a spin move followed by a wrister from the high slot beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin to give the Friars the lead.
That marker completely swung the momentum toward PC, which won 4-0 over Miami at Erie Insurance Arena on Friday.
That shot by Greg Printz at the 8:45 mark was the first of the game for Providence (2-0) after the RedHawks had fired six.
The Friars’ second shot found twine as well just 1:48 later. Vincent Desharnais whipped one through traffic and past Larkin with 9:47 left in the first period.
“Obviously the better team won tonight – I didn’t think we generated enough chances to make a good push,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “I thought our guys worked hard, but after they got the first two goals I thought we got a little bit off our game and weren’t able to generate anything.”
The score remained 2-0 until Spenser Young corralled a pass from Jack Dugan just inside the near faceoff circle and fired it into the back of the net with 6:09 left in regulation.
Young sealed it with time winding down by launching a puck down the ice and into the open net.
“We’ve got to generate a lot more second chances, and we didn’t do that,” Blasi said.
These teams meet regularly but Providence had only shut Miami out once prior to this game, and that was on Oct. 20, 2000. The RedHawks (2-1) were blanked four times overall last season.
MU was limited to 22 shots overall and just 13 after the opening 20 minutes despite seven power play chances. The last time the RedHawks went 0-for-7 or more on the man advantage was opening night 2017-18 vs. this PC team when they had nine opportunities squelched.
Despite allowing goals on the first two shots, Larkin stopped 29 of 32 overall. In the very small sample size, his goals-against average and save percentage are both substantially better than last season.
Miami will play the loser of the late Notre Dame vs. host Mercyhurst contest in the consolation game at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve got to learn from how we reacted to certain situations and we’ve got to get better,” Blasi said. “The plan is still to get better – there’s lot of effort in our locker room but we’ve got to make sure that we play the game the right way.”
In addition to this meeting, Miami will face Providence in a traditional weekend series in Rhode Island on Jan. 4-5. The RedHawks have struggled to score in their last few meetings vs. the Friars, netting just five goals in their last four games.
“(Providence) did a great job defending and they’re a program that they are for a reason,” Blasi said. “Their entire team’s bought into what they do, and we’ve got to learn from that.”
PROVIDENCE 2-0-2 – 4
MIAMI U. 0-0-0 – 0
First period: 1. PC, Printz 2, 8:45; 2. PC, Desharnais 1 (Bryson, Tait) 10:13.
Second period: None.
Third period: 3. PC, Young 1, ppg, 13:09; 4. PC, Young 2 (Dugan), eng, 18:16.
Shots on goal: Providence 9-12-12 – 33; Miami U., 9-5-8 – 22. Power plays: Providence 1-for-3; Miami U. 0-for-7. Goalies: Providence, Hawkey (22 of 22 saved); Miami U., Larkin (29 of 32). Referees: Chris Ciamaga, Mike Schubert. Linesmen: Adam Tobias, Matt Terreri.
WHO: Miami RedHawks (2-0) vs. No. 5 Providence Friars (1-0).
WHEN: Friday – 4 p.m.; Saturday – vs. Notre Dame/Mercyhurst 4 p.m./7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Erie Insurance Arena, Erie, Pa.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Providence leads, 9-5-3.
PROVIDENCE RADIO: WHJJ-FM (104.7), Providence, R.I.
NOTES: Miami dominated Alabama-Huntsville in a home sweep to open its season last weekend, but the RedHawks will face at least one top five team as they participate in their first Ice Breaker since 2006.
MU will face either host Mercyhurst or No. 2 Notre Dame on Saturday, depending on the outcome in the openers. The last time the RedHawks participated in an Ice Breaker was the weekend Cady Arena opened in October 2006.
Miami finished second that weekend, beating Denver but falling to Vermont.
The RedHawks and Providence have frequently met in October the past few seasons, but typically on one of the teams’ campuses. The last time they met at a neutral site was the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2015 when PC won 7-5 in Providence at a game hosted by Brown.
Hayden Hawkey was in net for all 24 Providence wins last season and is already 1-0 in 2018-19. He posted a 2.04 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage as he seeks his 50th career collegiate victory.
He is one of 17 returning members of the Friars, who have added three NHL draft picks including their fourth-ever first-round pick in Philadelphia Flyers selection forward Jay O’Brien.
Providence lost its top two points-producers from 2017-18 but has four of its double-digit goal scorers back, including Kasper Bjorkqvist, who tied for the team lead with 16 last season.
Josh Wilkins potted 15 and tallied 31 points, Scott Conway scored 13 times and is 1-1-2 already in 2018-19, and Vimal Sukumaran finished with 10 markers.
PC swept Miami last October at Cady Arena and beat American University, 3-1 in this season’s opener. Notre Dame is seeing its first regular season action this weekend, and Mercyhurst dropped an 8-2 decision vs. Bowling Green in its lone game last weekend.
OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan Larkin’s 2018-19 debut was worth the one-day wait.
The junior stopped all 11 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over Alabama-Huntsville at Cady Arena on Sunday, earning his third career shutout.
Jordan Uhelski, expected to back up Larkin, started and won on Saturday while Larkin did not dress.
The win completes a series sweep for the RedHawks (2-0), who have won their first two games for the first time since 2013-14.
RECAP: The game was scoreless through the first period, but Brian Hawkinson teed up River Rymsha with a pass across the blue line, and Rymsha buried it just inside the post 5:39 into the second frame.
Less than three minutes later, a blast by Alec Mahalak tricked off the glove of goalie Mark Sinclair, and Karch Bachman was there to slam home the rebound.
Early in the third period, Josh Melnick whipped a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Sinclair. With 6:14 left in regulation, Ryan Siroky was denied on his initial attempt at the side of the net but batted one into the air, off Sinclair’s back and into the net.
STATS: Rymsha and Hawkinson led Miami with two points apiece. Rymsha scored once and set up another and Hawkinson earned a pair of helpers.
Larkin’s last shutout was Oct. 27, 2017 vs. Connecticut. All of his perfect sheets have been in October and at home.
Miami was 37-15 on faceoffs for a .714 win percentage. Casey Gilling was 14-3 on draws and Melnick 13-3 in the circle.
How about a strange one: Grant Hutton was the lone MU defenseman without a shot. The others combined for 15.
THOUGHTS: The first period was slow but once Rymsha’s shot went in, Miami dominated the balance of the game.
When it came to 50/50 pucks, the RedHawks won almost every physical battle and not only were faster but outhustled UAH as well.
By the third period the Chargers (0-2) were a beaten team. The final shot totals reflect that: 45 Miami, 11 UAH.
— Let’s give one of the stars of the game to the facility. This was a 3 p.m. game when the temperature is about its highest, and it was 90 degrees out for opening faceoff.
The ice certainly wasn’t January-Edmonton-in-the-1990s-caliber but it held in the near-record heat.
— Alabama-Huntsville captain Kurt Gosselin, who was booted for his hit on Carter Johnson in the opener, was absent from Sunday’s lineup. It’s unclear if the team or an outside entity made that call.
He should miss multiple games for that hit. It’s everything hockey is trying to take out of its game for the long-term well being of its players.
— Not to bore about a non-sexy subject, but Miami’s faceoff success is an area in which it has struggled for several years.
Gilling has been key in this realm since Day 1 and isn’t afraid to voice concerns to officials when he thinks draws are unfair.
Melnick’s numbers are outstanding early, as are those of Monte Graham, who won a team-best 11 draws on Saturday.
— While the 2-0 start is exciting, Miami has been above .500 early each of the four recent seasons in which it has finished below that mark.
The RedHawks started 2013-14 at 6-2-1, were 3-1-1 to open 2015-16, 3-1-2 in their first six of 2016-17 and reached 4-3 last season before their descent.
Miami’s problem in recent unsuccessful campaigns has been earning wins in those cold-weather months.
FORWARDS: A. This was a solid effort by all. We saw some suspect passing on Saturday but this corps seemed to tighten that up in that game. Loved Siroky’s combination of persistence and athleticism on his goal. Thought Gruden was much better in this game than in the opener. Thought Bachman was as much as force as in the opener. In the second period he stole the puck and nearly scored despite having a defender draped on his during a shorthanded chance. As mentioned, MU dominated on faceoffs.
DEFENSEMEN: A. This corps actually outshot the opposition, firing 15 shots while the entire UAH team managed just 11. None of those chances were Grade-A. Rymsha went 1-1-2 including the first goal and eventual game winner, Hutton and Mahalak picked up assists. Granted UAH lacks a lot of elite offensive talent but Miami’s D-corps shut the Chargers down in this game.
GOALTENDING: A. Hard to slight Larkin for not facing a difficult shot. He was perfect, albeit on 11 non-high-quality chances. This has to be a confidence boost for Larkin after last season when he posted an .886 save percentage.
LINEUP CHANGES: Two key ones: Larkin started in net after Jordan Uhelski earned the win in the opener, and Carter Johnson was out up front after getting cheap-shotted on Saturday.
Zach LaValle also sat among the forward corps, and Noah Jordan and Christian Mohs took the ice in their place.
Coach Enrico Blasi stuck with his starting six on D for Game 2, which is even more interesting because it was 20 hours between starts instead of the normal 23:30, and often a coach will go with a rested player in such a situation, but Andrew Sinard, Grant Frederic and Chaz Switzer all sat out for the second straight night.
UP NEXT: Miami will play in Pennsylvania for the first time since Robert Morris hosted the RedHawks six years ago at the Penguins’ home rink.
MU faces Providence at 4 p.m. on Friday, and if it wins will face the Notre Dame-Mercyhurst winner in the championship at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday but would play in the consolation vs. the loser of the other game at 4 p.m. Saturday. All games will be played at Erie Insurance Arena, home of the OHL Erie Otters.
In late 2012, MU took second in Pittsburgh, beating Ohio State before losing to the hometown host. Both scores were 1-0.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This weekend will provide a much better indication of where Miami is in early-to-mid October.
A strong showing could earn the RedHawks some much-needed respect into a four-game homestand.
At least against UAH, the forwards, defensemen and goalies were all superior. Much tougher test against this weekend’s foes.
OXFORD, Ohio – It started off shaky but ended up a successful start in net for Jordan Uhelski.
The senior stopped 17 shots to earn the win in his Miami debut, a 5-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville at Cady Arena on Saturday.
The fact Uhelski earned his undergraduate degree at UAH had to make the outcome that much sweeter. He is working on his Master’s degree and had one year of eligibility remaining, which is why he was able to join the RedHawks without sitting out a season.
RECAP: Miami junior Carter Johnson drove the net and went top shelf to open the scoring 4:48 into the first period.
But exactly one minute later, an outside shot by the Chargers’ Austin Beaulieu beat Uhelski on the stick side on the team’s first shot of the game, tying the score.
The RedHawks (1-0) answered 42 seconds after that marker, as Karch Bachman skated across the top of the crease and tucked one past sprawled out goalie Mark Sinclair.
Early in the second period, Johnson was driving the when UAH’s Kurt Gosselin delivered a head shot and was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct. Johnson eventually skated off under his own power but did not return.
Miami made the Chargers (0-1) pay on the power play, as Gordie Green slammed home a rebound off a Bachman shot with 15:18 left in the middle stanza.
The RedHawks made it 4-1 with 9:46 remaining in regulation as a Derek Daschke one-timer found the corner of the net off a feed by Green.
Miami capped off the scoring with 2:17 to play when Jonathan Gruden centered a pass from the side of the net to a wide open Grant Hutton in the slot, and Hutton buried it.
STATS: After allowing a goal on the first shot he faced, Uhelski stopped the next 17.
Hutton, Green, Bachman and Daschke all finished with two points on a goal and an assist apiece as 11 different RedHawks recorded at least one point.
Those were the first career points for Daschke, and Gruden, Brian Hawkinson and River Rymsha also picked up their inaugural Miami points, all on helpers.
THOUGHTS: One game is obviously a very small sample size, but there was an energy at the rink that had been recently lacking.
The attendance was 2,702 on a day when it was 90 degrees and the football team played at Akron in the afternoon.
‘Reenergize’ is a term Coach Enrico Blasi said the team is using a lot these days. That was an apt description of the Cady atmosphere as well, which is a welcome improvement.
— There was a lot to like among the newcomers.
After allowing a soft goal early, Uhelski settled in nicely and made a pair of high-quality saves, including one on a semi-breakaway.
Gruden’s pass to Hutton for the final goal was pretty sweet, Hawkinson played with a lot of grit, Rymsha dished out a couple of solid hits and for 6-feet-6, Brayden Crowder seems pretty cool handling and moving the puck.
We’re delve more into the newcomers after Sunday’s game.
– Gosselin’s hit on Johnson was everything that hockey is trying to get away and warrants a suspension. He was issued a game misconduct and not a disqualification, which would’ve carried an automatic suspension and is disappointing.
He had Johnson lined up and had ample time to target somewhere other than the head but did so anyway.
And Johnson has been a fantastic story, as his game surged the second half of last season and he scored in this game before getting hurt. Now who knows when he’ll get back on the ice?
Let’s keep in mind too: Gosselin is UAH’s captain. I always rooted for the Chargers when they wasn’t playing Miami, but it’ll be a little harder to do so now.
– On Tuesday, coach Enrico Blasi said Ryan Larkin was the starter, but he was in a suit on Saturday. He had no obvious sign of injury, so hopefully this is just a one-game thing that happens frequently the first game of a season.
— One thing about Coach Enrico Blasi: He’s totally unafraid of using freshmen in high-leverage spots, even in their first games. At one point three rookies manned the penalty kill.
— We saw a lot of line combinations, partly because of Johnson’s early injury. Definitely a feeling out process for all of the skaters, which is not unexpected considering the number of newcomers.
— Miami resisted the urge to pound Charger tail after the major on Johnson, and that resulted in a power play goal. It would’ve been tough to find fault with the RedHawks if they had gone after Gosselin though.
FORWARDS: B+. Liked Bachman in this one and Johnson stood out until his injury. Both scored early goals. Green scored as well and was his typical solid self. Faceoff stats were excellent: Monte Graham finished 11-5 and Josh Melnick went 9-6 to lead this corps.
DEFENSEMEN: A-. Helped hold UAH to 17 shots while combining for 16 themselves. Very few Grade-A chances against. Hutton and Daschke both went 1-1-2 and Alec Mahalak and Rymsha both earned assists.
GOALTENDING: B. Definitely could’ve used a mulligan on the goal allowed, but Uhelski turned aside the next 17, including a pair of high-percentage chances. A good debut for the former-Charger-turned-RedHawk.
LINEUP: Uhelski was a surprise in net but Blasi said earlier this week that Larkin was the primary starter. On defense, 2017-18 regular Chaz Switzer was scratched, as was part-timer Grant Frederic. Freshman Andrew Sinard was the other blueliner who did not dress. Up front sophomore Christian Mohs and freshman Noah Jordan were casualties. That means eight Miami players made their RedHawks debuts – six freshmen and graduates Rymsha and Uhelski.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Alabama-Huntsville doesn’t look ready to challenge for an NCAA title but it was still a good win to open the season for MU.
And by the way, the RedHawks’ last win in their season debut was 2013.
With so many making their Miami debuts – both on the ice and the bench – getting victory under the belt has to provide a confidence boost.
UP NEXT: Miami plays in the Ice Breaker Tournament in Erie, Pa., next weekend. The RedHawks open with Providence at 4 p.m. on Friday and will face either Mercyhurst or Notre Dame on Saturday.
WHO: Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (12-23-2) at Miami RedHawks (12-20-5).
WHEN: Saturday – 7 p.m.; Sunday – 3 p.m.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 8-1.
NOTES: Miami typically hosts a CIS (Canadian collegiate) team in an exhibition to open competitive play, but the RedHawks have no such luxury this season, heading straight into regular season action without a tune-up opportunity.
The last time these teams faced was in February 2012, when Miami swept UAH at Cady Arena. In 2010 these teams met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and the RedHawks prevailed, 2-1.
Alabama-Huntsville lost its only two 20-point producers from last season, and Christian Rajic is the Chargers’ leading veteran forward with 15 points, nine of which came on goals.
A pair of small forwards – Hans Gorowsky and Madison Dunn – netted five goals each and finished with double-digit points totals.
Kurt Gosselin leads the blueline after scoring five times – three of which came on the power play – and notching 11 assists. John Teets and Cam Knight also return for their senior seasons after combining for 20 points in 2017-18.
These teams have not met in six years and Miami is 2-0 vs. UAH at Cady Arena.
OUT (2): Chase Munroe, Evan McCarthy.
IN (1): Jordan Uhelski (graduate student).
RETURNING (2): Jr. – Ryan Larkin; So – Grant Valentine.
NOTES: Miami had four goaltenders on its roster last season but finished with a team save percentage of .874, its worst rate in Coach Enrico Blasi’s tenure.
Only four teams in Division I allowed more goals than the RedHawks, who surrendered 128 for a per-game average of 3.46.
It was a down year for Ryan Larkin, who stopped 91 percent of the shots he faced in 2016-17 but posted an .886 save percentage last season.
The junior faced a lot of A-plus shots last season but he also let in a number of soft ones from outside.
Larkin was on the ice for all but 85 of the RedHawks’ minutes, going 12-18-5 with a 3.12 goals-agaisnt average. His GAA was up 0.35 from his freshman season.
Jordan Uhelski completed his degree at Alabama-Huntsville and is joining Miami for his final year of eligibility. He has over 3,000 minutes of college experience and a career .906 save percentage.
Grant Valentine, now a sophomore, saw just nine minutes of action and allowed one goal on three shots. With Uhelski coming in as a senior, Valentine has a chance to prove worthy of more time in net the next couple of seasons.
“I expect to have results from our goaltending,” Blasi said. “Ryan has had a great summer, Jordan as an older guy has come in and, I guess I would say I’m impressed the way he’s pushed Larks yet still been very focused on his game, so he’s ready to go if called upon. The two of them have gotten along really well and Val, our third goalie is right there every day and pushing them as well. I think it’s been a good competition for all of them. When you get to know Jordan, he’s very charismatic and he’s always on – he doesn’t take any days off in terms of his attitude and the way he works.”
With all three goalies being different classes, the Zatkoff Effect officially ends, meaning Miami has broken its cycle of having a freshman duo between the pipes every four years.
That trend started in 2008 when primary starter Jeff Zatkoff left following his junior season the same off-season as Charlie Effinger, forcing the RedHawks to bring in both Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp the following fall.
Four years later it was Jay Williams and Ryan McKay, and four more after that Larkin and Chase Munroe were freshmen, but Munroe did not return to the team this season.
OUT (3): Louie Belpedio (graduated), Scott Dornbrock (graduated), Bryce Hatten.
IN (4): Derek Daschke, Andrew Sinard, Brayden Crowder, River Rymsha (graduate student).
RETURNING (5): Sr. – Grant Hutton; Jrs. – Grant Frederic, Chaz Switzer; Sos. – Alec Mahalak, Rourke Russell.
NOTES: Four of Miami’s starting six defensemen are back from last season, but the two who graduated were key contributors on the blue line.
Louie Belpedio was team captain for two seasons and Scott Dornbrock logged 139 career games, but Miami adds four to its blueline corps and will have nine D-men to battle for six starting slots each night.
“I think we’re a lot deeper, bigger, stronger,” Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. “I think whe you add some of the size that we did and just sheer bodies, it’s going to be equally hard to come up with six (starters) on a game-to-game basis.”
All-planet senior Grant Hutton will share the captaincy with Melnick after leading college hockey in defenseman goals with 13 and tying for the Division I lead in power play goals by a blueliner (8).
He has also been arguably the team’s best shutdown D-man the past three seasons.
Alec Mahalak dressed for 36 of 37 games as a freshman and seemed to gain confidence in every facet as last season progressed, finishing 1-8-9. His size (5-feet-9, 165 pounds) worked against him defensively at times but he proved he can make smart plays, carry and pass the puck.
Rourke Russell is a shutdown defenseman who was in the lineup 34 times his rookie season. He got tougher to play against later in the season, blocking 51 shots, and Chaz Switzer, who played 32 games, showed improvement in his second campaign with Miami and finished with 47 blocks.
Grant Frederic only saw the ice 15 times but also seemed more confident in his second go-around, using his big body to defend more. If Frederic continues to make the case for a lineup spot as well as the four other returning blueliners, that would leave just one spot for four freshmen.
And Derek Daschke is considered the defensive blue chipper of this incoming class. He has logged 232 USHL games in four seasons and went 8-21-29 in 2017-18. The 6-feet-2 blueliner played under associate head coach Peter Mannino in Chicago en route to a Clark Cup title two seasons ago.
At 6-feet-6, Brayden Crowder will join Michael Findorff and Brian Sipotz among the tallest Miami D-men.
Andrew Sinard will also join that list of trees on the RedHawks’ blue line, as he is also 6-6 and listed at 185 pounds. He did not score a goal in 96 NAHL games but did pick up 21 assists in that span.
Dartmouth graduate River Rymsha joins Miami for his senior season. He is also a big body at 6-3, 205 pounds, and dressed for 28 games and picked up a goal and two helpers at that Ivy League institution last year.
“So we obviously added some size with Sinard and Crowder, and those are two guys that are really difficult to play against, from what we’ve seen out of them in practice, and a guy in Daschke who can really move the puck,” Hutton said. “All of the guys that have come in on defense have made an impact and an impression so far in practice, and obviously we have our returners that we’re going to look to for experience and help show the younger guys the way. We’ve all had the privilege of having guys like that in our freshman years that we’ve looked up to and learned a lot from. I’m excited about the group.”
This corps helped Miami hold opponents to 27.2 shots per game in 2017-18, but too many were high quality. They also need to help tighten up a penalty kill unit that killed just 78.0 percent of its chances, ranking 46th in the NCAA.