Monthly Archives: January 2019
Blasi reprimanded by NCHC
Miami coach Enrico Blasi was sent a letter of reprimand by the NCHC for his actions during Saturday’s game, College Hockey News reported today.
The RedHawks lost on a 5-on-3 goal late in the third period, and while the teams were forming the postgame handshake line, Blasi walked out to referee Scott Bokal at the blue line and berated him.
Bokal gave it back to Blasi before skating away, ultimately issuing him a game misconduct.
Blasi was irate when the call was made, and after the decisive goal was scored, he grabbed one of his player’s sticks and made a motion as if he was going to throw it onto the ice before smashing it into pieces on the boards.
BoB discussed this whole incident more thoroughly in Saturday’s game report here, but this is really the first time Blasi has exercised the nuclear option in nine years, and he was obviously venting the frustration of a two-month winless streak.
According to the article, the letter said that the reprimand stems from “unsportsmanlike actions and comments toward on-ice officials during and immediately following Miami’s game,” according to the NCHC.
Whatever he said to Bokal after the game was probably really bad, since Blasi wasn’t penalized for breaking a stick although that was mentioned in the reprimand. But Bokal had been hearing it for the better part of 15 minutes and being on skates – as opposed to Blasi who was wearing dress shoes – could’ve easily fled by taking two strides back rather than compound the issue by engaging a clearly furious coach.
It is fair to point out this was Blasi’s second bench blow-up in as many weekends. He screamed at his associate coach, Peter Mannino, during the opener of the RedHawks’ homestand on Jan. 18.
The old-school hockey fan in me doesn’t have that much of a problem with Blasi’s actions once a decade, and honestly if this is finally the spark the team needs to start playing competitive hockey, this tirade was somewhat welcome.
And the league did the right thing here, publicly showing its disapproval but choosing not to suspend Blasi.
Photos: Colorado College at Miami
Late 5-on-3 goal dooms Miami
OXFORD, Ohio – It was a fitting end to a dreadful January for Miami.
Kristian Blumenschein blasted home a one-timer from the high slot on a 5-on-3 with 3:12 left in regulation, lifting Colorado College to a 3-2 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.
MU led, 2-1 entering the third period.
Miami (9-13-4) finished January 0-7-1 and is winless in its last 12 (0-8-4). The RedHawks have lost six games in a row.
The game ended with MU coach Enrico Blasi drawing a game misconduct for confronting the officials after the game.
That bench penalty could carry a suspension.
RECAP: Colorado College (10-12-3) took the lead just 3:54 into the game when Trey Bradley kicked a pass back to a wide-open Ben Israel in the high slot, and Israel trapped it, wound up and wired it over the glove of Miami goalie Jordan Uhelski.
The RedHawks tied it when Scott Corbett carried the puck across the blue line on the right wing, dragged it to the top of the faceoff circle and wristed it inside the far post with 1:50 left in the opening stanza.
Miami took the lead, 2-1 when Derek Daschke snuck a wrist shot through traffic on the power play with 7:35 left in the second period.
But the Tigers tied it 86 seconds into the final frame when Alex Berardinelli emerged from along the boards with the puck, slid a pass through the slot to a wide-open Cole McCaskill, who snuck in on the back door for a tap-in goal.
The RedHawks’ Casey Gilling was whistled for interference to give Colorado College the decisive power play. Miami went down two men when Andrew Sinard kicked a CC skater’s stick as he reached for it.
Blumenschein ripped his shot over the glove of Uhelski off a feed from Mason Bergh to put CC ahead.
Following the goal, Blasi grabbed a Miami stick and wound up to throw it on the ice but instead shattered it on the boards.
After the game Blasi and referee Scott Bokal jawed at each other at the Miami blue line, sticking their fingers in each other’s faces.
STATS: Daschke scored for the second time in five games, and Corbett snapped a seven-game scoreless streak.
— Gilling picked up an assist, giving him points in consecutive games.
— Miami did win 62 percent of its faceoffs (31 of 50) after struggling mightily in that area much of this month.
— Now the bad: The RedHawks slipped to 1-21-6 the past three seasons when pursuing their 10th win.
— Miami is 1-11-2 in January the past two seasons.
— The RedHawks took the lead and held it for 8:01. It was the first time MU had led at any point in seven games.
THOUGHTS: The Call.
The penalty on Sinard was crucial, and it nearly gave Blasi a coronary.
So a quick summary:
* With the score tied at two, Sinard was whistled for interference at 15:17 of the third period, setting up a 1:23 two-man advantage.
He didn’t do the “distinct kicking motion”, the term hockey throws around when pucks hit skates and result in goals, but made no attempt to avoid the stick.
* Did he do it deliberately? Unclear. He was heading to the bench and maybe he didn’t see it. If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick a side, I’d say he probably knocked it away on purpose. Technically that’s a penalty.
However, the bar is almost always higher when putting a team down two skaters, which results in a goal against a substantial percentage of the time.
* Also, these officials had called a total of two penalties on Friday – one to each team – and just three each prior to Gilling and Sinard’s minors.
* Blasi was also outraged that the officials didn’t make the proverbial make-up call when Grant Hutton was bumped seconds before the goal, but there wasn’t much contact there.
* Were Blasi’s antics following the goal on the bench and also after the game, rehearsed? Knowing him, probably not. It was more likely a frustrated coach losing his mind after a winnable game slipped away.
But even if it was, I think it’s a good thing he lit them up. This team seriously underachieved this month and someone or something needed to fire Miami’s players up.
Especially with a series at St. Cloud looming next weekend.
* For the record, the last time Blasi was kicked out of a game was Feb. 13, 2010 in a 10-2 rout at Bowling Green that also featured one of the team’s most memorable skirmishes.
* The Call – and resulting goal – was a huge part of the game, no doubt, but there are plenty of other questions about how this game flipped from a win to the ‘L’ column.
How did Miami end up with four shots in the third period against a team that had allowed 24 goals in its previous seven games?
Why is Gilling taking an interference call an area code away from the play to initiate that power play?
Why did the entire team flood the left wing in the second minute of that final frame, allowing a wide-open McCaskill an uncontested tap-in to tie it?
Why didn’t Phil Knies bust it on the left wing earlier in the 3-on-5 when Miami had a 2-on-1 to create a better scoring chance?
It was a hard way to lose, no doubt, but there were many other factors that went into this loss than merely a controversial interference call.
— What a crazy shift for Scott Corbett in the second period. He nearly scored, held off several Colorado College defenders along the boards and had the puck roll off his stick for a 2-on-1 the other way before obliterating a Tigers skater at center ice and drawing a retaliation penalty.
That power play culminated in Daschke’s goal, and Corbett scored the other one in the first period.
— It’s probably a little less than 50/50 that Blasi is suspended, and if he is it would likely just be for a game, but any announcement would likely be made on Monday.
FORWARDS: C-. A little more life than Friday but not enough. The creativity of Gordie Green and Karch Bachman has been completely stymied by defenses for weeks and Miami isn’t deep enough up front to have its top scorers held off the scoresheet for long periods of time. Corbett figured in both goals (although he didn’t get a point for the second one), and Gilling and Jonathan Gruden earned assists. Gruden’s father, NY Islanders assistant John Gruden, was in attendance because of the All-Star break.
DEFENSEMEN: C. This corps did clean up its play substantially over Friday but is still allowing too many quality chances. No one picked up the trailer on the second CC goal (Bray Crowder and River Rymsha were on the ice) and the Tigers ended up with at least 10 shots in each period.
GOALTENDING: B. The first goal snuck through traffic, the second was a slam dunk and the third was a rip from the high slot. Maybe Uhelski could’ve stopped the first or last, but he made a radical save on a 2-on-1 (Corbett’s shift, see above) and stopped 31 shots overall and was outstanding at controlling his rebounds.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one among skaters: F Carter Johnson was back on the ice, replacing Zach LaValle.
LaValle had played the previous three games and Johnson had sat the prior two.
Uhelski started for the third time in five games and relieved Ryan Larkin in the other two.
He has been the back-up most of this season but is the hotter of the tandem right now, so it will be interesting to see how much he plays the final 10 games of the regular season.
Co-captain Josh Melnick remains week-to-week with a lower body injury, as he missed his sixth straight game. There’s a very good chance he returns next weekend.
Chaz Switzer was in the stands wearing a boot and fellow D-man Grant Frederic is also out with a lower-bod injury.
SCHEDULE: Miami heads to No. 1 St. Cloud State next weekend. Its other remaining road contests are against No. 4 Denver and No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth.
The four home games left on the RedHawks’ schedule are vs. Nebraska-Omaha in two weeks and No. 13 Western Michigan to wrap up the regular season.
STANDINGS: Colorado College entered the weekend needing all six points to pass Miami for sixth place in the conference standings, and the Tigers swept them all.
At 3-9-2, the RedHawks are currently seventh in the NCHC, just one point ahead of last-place Omaha.
Miami has dropped to No. 35 in the PairWise and are now a major longshot for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The question becomes: If Miami can’t beat Colorado College – playing its eighth and ninth straight road games – in its own rink, how many more wins will the RedHawks get?
Their six remaining road games are brutal. Omaha is beatable but Western Michigan is ranked No. 13 and swept the RedHawks in Kalamazoo.
Those seven and eight seeds are death sentences, with best-of-3s at St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth in those teams’ rinks, so Miami really needs to figure out a way to earn enough points to get out of this hole.
The disturbing thing is we’ve gone from wow, this team could fight for home ice and an NCAA berth to, OK, curb expectations because this is still a pieced-together team to for the love of God, Miami just got manhandled at home by the last-place team in the league — all in a span of 22 days.
And now we’re questioning this team’s compete level, something that was never an issue in calendar year 2018.
So what happened? Miami was going so well against St. Cloud, when the RedHawks tied the Huskies twice at Cady Arena to cap off the first half of the season.
The loss of one of the captains is huge, no doubt, but that doesn’t explain not showing up for Game 1 of this series and blowing Game 2 in the third period against a CC team that had two previous conference wins.
Hopefully the RedHawks’ coaching staff has the answer and solution, because it’s hard to be optimistic about Miami’s chances next weekend when the team is 0-8-4 in its last 12 and is visiting the top-ranked team in Division I.
And at this point the RedHawks’ odds of advancing to the Frozen Faceoff and beyond for the first time in four years are looking equally bleak.
Miami slammed by Colorado College
OXFORD, Ohio – With the last place team coming to town this weekend, Miami had an excellent chance to snap its 10-game winless streak.
Instead the RedHawks suffered their worst loss of the season by goal margin, 6-1 against Colorado College at Cady Arena on Friday.
The Tigers (9-12-3) scored three times in a span of 5:14 in the first period, and by the 10-minute mark of the second frame Miami was down five.
The RedHawks are 0-7-4 in their last 11 games with their last win coming vs. Colorado College on Nov. 17.
RECAP: Colorado College opened the scoring midway through the first period when Brian Williams backhanded a rebound home off a shot from Erik Middendorf, who had cut to the side of the net uncontested.
Just 2:14 later, the Tigers scored on a 2-on-1 as Trevor Gooch centered a pass to Alex Berardinelli, who skated in alone and roofed one to the glove side.
With 4:54 left in the opening stanza, Miami goalie Ryan Larkin made a save but the puck was loose under him and teammate Derek Daschke poked it out of the crease. Troy Conzo grabbed it, shot it off a body and seized the rebound, which he fired into the net.
Intermission didn’t stop the bleeding for the RedHawks. At the 41-second mark of the middle frame, Trey Bradley emerged from a boards battle with the puck, skated behind the net and backhanded it into the cage to make it 4-0.
That ended Larkin’s night, as Jordan Uhelski replaced him between the pipes.
Williams buried a slap shot inside the far post from the top of the faceoff circle on a 3-on-2 created by a bad Miami line change midway through the second period.
The RedHawks (9-12-4) scored their first goal in over 160 minutes when Grant Hutton stopped, wound up and ripped a slap shot that found the bottom of the net on the stick side from the blue line with 8:52 remaining in the second period.
Colorado College sealed it when Christiano Versich buried a drop pass from Middendorf in the slot in the closing minutes.
STATS: Hutton snapped a 13-game goal drought. It was the 27th goal of his career, unofficially tying him for third on the all-time Miami defenseman scoring list with Andy Greene and Joe Cook. Dan Boyle and Kevin Beaton are the only RedHawks/skins blueliners with more tallies.
— Casey Gilling picked up the primary assist and also broke out of a funk by recording his first point in seven games and his first assist in 12.
— Brian Hawkinson notched the other helper. He has a point in each of the last three games in which Miami was not shut out.
— Larkin was pulled for the second straight start and has allowed eight goals on 34 shots in that span. Uhelski has played in four consecutive games and is 95 of 103 for a save percentage of .922.
— A positive? Despite all seven goals being scored at even strength, Phil Knies somehow went plus-1.
— Another positive: Miami was 30-23 on faceoffs, an area in which the RedHawks have struggled mightily in recent weeks.
— A random one: Only two penalties were called all game, resulting in one power play for each team. The last time a Miami game saw two or fewer man-advantage opportunities was Jan. 18, 2013 at Wisconsin.
In that game, the Badgers scored on their chance and won, 1-0.
THOUGHTS: Paying fans should really demand a refund for this game.
Colorado College, dead last in the NCHC, was playing its eighth consecutive road game, and Miami made the Tigers look like the Washington Capitals.
During the first six games of this winless stretch, Miami played pretty well in each game and certainly had intensity every night.
The RedHawks lost a pair of one-goal decisions on the road vs. a quality Western Michigan team, and then last week they were totally outmatched by Minnesota-Duluth, one of the top teams in Division I.
Colorado College was a tired cellar dweller going on the road and beating the bejesus out of a higher-skilled team.
Miami was completely lifeless and fell behind 5-0. Hutton’s goal energized the RedHawks momentarily, but the damage had been done.
MU Version 2018-19 is not a team built to erase a five-goal deficit.
— What in the deuce was going on with Miami’s defensemen?
Usually-dependable Rourke Russell was a turnover machine. Bray Crowder inexplicably skated to the boards on a 2-on-1, essentially allowing a breakaway goal that made it 2-0. Players were out of position all night. No one picked up Tigers cutting to the net.
Andrew Sinard was a rare bright spot among this corps if for no other reason because he plays cautiously and makes safe passes. He used his long reach to knock pucks away from opponents several times and is earning more ice time as a result of that and injuries to other defensemen.
— River Rymsha had an interesting night. He had played some wing this season but was the starting center in this one. He went 3-1 on faceoffs.
Rymsha also was hurt, as he came off holding his shoulder. Based on the optics it appeared he would miss significant time, but he returned and looked 100 percent the balance of the game.
FORWARDS: D-. The absence of Josh Melnick is having a crippling effect on this corps, which has not found the net in three games. Even Miami’s best most skilled forwards are struggling: Karch Bachman was minus-4, Jonathan Gruden minus-3, Gordie Green minus-3.
DEFENSEMEN: F. Hutton’s goal bumped their grade from a ‘G-’. Their woes were documented above: Bad decisions, bad positioning, turnovers, flat-footedness. It was easily the worst effort of the season by the blueliners.
GOALTENDING: C-. The first goal came off a point-blank shot that resulted in a rebound, so that can’t be blamed on Larkin. The second was a breakaway and a quality snipe. However, Larkin couldn’t control an innocuous shot on the third goal and was unable to get across to stop a wraparound on the fourth. Uhelski probably should’ve had the fifth one and the sixth was on an uncontested shot from the slot.
LINEUP CHANGES: Hutton was back after sitting last Saturday and forward Noah Jordan sat scratched. Rymsha shifted to forward and Zach LaValle was the extra skater, dressing for the third straight game.
Melnick missed his fifth consecutive contest.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was an all-around bad night at the rink.
There’s simply no excuse for falling behind 5-0 by the midpoint of the second period against a team that had won one of its last seven games.
The last team Miami beat was this Tigers team. But that was over two months ago in Colorado Springs, and this game showed how far the RedHawks have slipped since then.
Preview: Colorado College at Miami
Like Miami, Colorado College is looking for its first win of 2019.
The Tigers are 0-3-1 early this calendar year with all four games coming at home.
CC is currently last in the NCHC with just eight conference points.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: Colorado College (8-12-3) at Miami RedHawks (9-11-4).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 7:35 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
COLORADO COLLEGE RADIO: KRDO-FM (105.5), Colorado Springs, Colo.
MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Colorado College is last in the NCHC but the Tigers have always given Miami fits, as the RedHawks are 1-3-1 in their last five meetings.
CC averages three goals a game despite not having a skater over 17 points.
Thirteen Tigers have found the net at least three times, and Westin Michaud leads the team in points with 17.
CC’s top five points producers are forwards, with four being seniors and the other a junior.
Michaud has scored eight goals, and Trey Bradley is tops among Tigers skaters in goals (9) and second in points (16).
Mason Bergh has five goals and 10 assists, Trevor Gooch eight markers and five helpers and Nick Halloran has posted four goals and nine helpers for 13 points.
Halloran is the lone junior among this corps – the rest are all seniors.
Junior Alex Berardinelli is another major threat on a Tigers team that scores 3.00 goals per game. Berardinelli has scored seven times including twice shorthanded.
Colorado College has scored 69 times this season, but only three of its tallies have come from defensemen.
Freshman Bryan Yoon is 1-12-13 and easily leads this corps in points.
Zach Berzolla, Andrew Farny and Kristian Blumenschein are 0-6-6, 0-6-6 and 0-5-5 in 23 games each, respectively, and Ben Israel, Cole McCaskill and Alex Pernitsky have logged the remainder of the defensemen minutes for the Tigers.
Junior Alex Leclerc has logged over 90 percent of the team’s minutes in net, going 8-11-3 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
This wraps up a ridiculous nine-game road trip for the Tigers, who are 1-5-1 in their current stretch away from World Arena.
Colorado College’s last three games have all gone to overtime, and the Tigers lost two, both at North Dakota.
The Tigers had a game against Denver postponed last weekend because of weather.
Miami is 0-6-4 in its last 10 games and has not scored in 141:26.
Captain Josh Melnick has missed the last four games with a lower body injury and is questionable to return this weekend.
FutureHawks: 2 transfers headed to Oxford
Two transfers are officially set to join Miami in 2019-20, and both forwards should make an immediate impact with the RedHawks.
Brett Murray logged 33 games in two seasons with Penn State before leaving the team to return to juniors, where he is 20-24-44 in 35 games with Youngstown. The Buffalo Sabres’ fourth-round pick will be eligible to play for Miami this fall.
Matthew Barry was leading Holy Cross in points at 4-7-11. The transfer will miss two semesters and join he RedHawks for the second half of 2019-20.
Also, defenseman Jack Clement has signed an NLI with Miami. The 6-feet-4 blueliner is 1-6-7 with USHL Des Moines.
According to Eliteprospects.com, also expected to join the team this fall are F Ryan Savage, son of former NHLer Brian Savage, Ds Alec Capstick, Uula Ruikka and Matt Kessel and G Benjamin Kraws.
Kraws is with USHL’s Sioux City and is the favorite to back up Larkin next season.
The RedHawks will need to replace Fs Josh Melnick, Ryan Siroky and Zach LaValle, Ds Grant Hutton and River Rymsha and G Jordan Uhelski.
F Jay Feiwell was the latest to commit to Miami this week. He has posted 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 32 games with NAHL Shreveport.
BoB takes a look at Miami commits’ stats in juniors, high schools and other leagues:
COMMITS’ 2018-19 REGULAR SEASON STATS
|Primo Self||2001||Selects Aca. U18||Midget||F||39||19||31||50||44|
|John Waldron||2002||Chicago Fury U16||T1EHL U16||F||29||21||23||44||10|
|Dominick Rivelli||2003||Chicago Mission||HPHL U15||F||20||9||11||20||36|
|Frankie Carogioello||2002||St. Andrew’s||CISAA||F||10||8||10||18||14||Ben Dexheimer||2002||Blake||USHS||D||17||2||10||12||10|
|Red Savage||2003||Compuware U16||HPHL U16||F||18||6||5||11||22|
|Trevor Peca||2000||Buffalo Jr. Sabres||OJHL||F||12||4||7||11||26|
|Matthew Barry@||1997||Holy Cross||NCAA D1||F||13||4||7||11||-14||10|
|Ty Gallagher||2003||Compuware U16||HPHL U16||D||18||2||9||11||10|
|Matthew Kessel||2000||Sioux Falls||USHL||D||34||2||7||9||4||18|
|Kienan Draper||2002||L. Caesar’s U16||T1EHL U16||F||8||3||2||5||4|
|Nicholas Donato||2002||Chicago Miss. U16||HPHL U16||D||14||1||4||5||30|
|John Prokop||2001||Omaha||USHL||D||24||0||4||4||-6||2||Nick DeSantis||2002||Sioux Falls||USHL||F||3||1||0||1||-1||0|
|Anthony Vidrick||2001||Conn. Jr. Rangers||NCDC||F||1||0||0||0||0|
|Declan Ride||2003||Toronto Nat’ls Midget AAA||GTMMHL||D||N/||A|
|Ben Kraws||2000||Sioux City||USHL||29||16||12||2.84||.898||1|
|Gibson Homer||2003||Fox Motors U16||T1EHL U16||9||2.30||.892|
Last updated: 1-24-2019
* – signed NLI to play for Miami
! – transfer from Penn St., will join Miami in 2019-20.
@ – transfer from Holy Cross, will join Miami in Jan. 2020.
Photos: Minn.-Duluth at Miami
Four straight shutouts for UMD vs. Miami
OXFORD, Ohio – The last series Miami played against Minnesota-Duluth, the RedHawks were shut out on the road, 4-0 in the opener and 3-0 in the finale.
The No. 5 Bulldogs repeated that feat this weekend by identical scores.
After beating MU 4-0 on Friday, UMD reeled off its fourth straight shutout vs. Miami, 3-0 at Cady Arena on Saturday.
The RedHawks have not scored against UMD in 257:08.
Miami (9-11-4) played without both captains – Josh Melnick and Grant Hutton – and starting goalie Ryan Larkin watched the game from the bench.
The RedHawks’ winless streak has reached 10 games, with their last win coming over two months ago.
RECAP: Minnesota-Duluth (14-6-2) opened the scoring when Scott Perunovich tipped home a wrister from the blue line by Nick Swaney on the power play at the 17-minute mark of the first period.
Midway through the second frame, Miami was on a two-man advantage when the RedHawks’ Jonathan Gruden had a shot blocked and UMD’s Justin Richards went in for a breakaway but was hooked from behind by Derek Daschke, resulting in a penalty shot as one skater returned to the ice.
Richards scored, going backhand to the stick side to make it 2-0.
The Bulldogs sealed it 4:13 into the third period when Noah Cates stripped Casey Gilling, and the loose puck ended up on the stick of Swaney, who was all alone at the top of the crease for a slam-dunk goal.
STATS: Overall, Miami’s scoreless drought has reached 141:26. The RedHawks set a school record by being blanked for over 240 minutes in 2017-18, which included its shutout weekend at Duluth.
— The RedHawks finished with the same faceoff percentage both nights (.333). They went 18-36 in the circle in this game after struggled to a 20-40 mark on Friday.
— Miami slipped to 1-8-1 in January games dating back to last season and is 4-16-3 overall in the second half the past two campaigns.
— For over two months, the RedHawks have been in pursuit of win No. 10. They are 1-19-6 since 2016-17 going after that elusive 10th victory.
— MU dropped to 1-13-1 in its last 15 meetings with the Bulldogs.
THOUGHTS: Like Friday, Miami was buzzing in the first period despite its lack of star power, but once again a late first-period goal by Minnesota-Duluth completely deflated the RedHawks.
The two-man advantage-turned-shorthanded-rush-turned-penalty-shot also represented a major momentum swing in the game, since it was an excellent opportunity for Miami to tie the score that went horribly, horribly wrong.
From there, it was obvious that Bulldogs goalie Hunter Shepard wasn’t going to give up a pair of late goals, as he was outstanding in shutting Miami out for the fourth straight time.
— Hutton was given a game misconduct and not a disqualification on Friday, so the decision to sit him was on Miami’s coaching staff.
It was a bad penalty for sure and I have no problem scratching him for a game, especially with the team mired in a deep slump.
Hutton is an exceptional talent and a wonderful young man, but as a senior he hasn’t taken that step forward that we’ve seen elite NHLers-to-be often take their final season.
One pro scout said he hasn’t seen an urgency in his game this year. Sometimes even elite players need a wake-up call, and hopefully a night in the stands will rejuvenate Hutton.
No Hutton, no Melnick and no Larkin against the No. 5 team was a tall order for the RedHawks, but sometimes a shake-up is needed when a team is struggling.
— Melnick is battling a lower-body injury and Larkin was pulled after allowing four goals on 22 shots on Friday.
Hopefully Melnick will return next weekend.
— The current review process has to stop. It’s ruining games.
Everyone wants calls to be correct. But there has to be a limit.
A UMD player went down behind the play in this game. After the next whistle, the officials went under the headsets for several minutes to see if a penalty was warranted.
On Friday the officials went to the booth to decide Hutton’s penalty, even know everyone in the building knew he was getting 5-and-10.
Coach Enrico Blasi asked for a review on UMD’s goal, citing the puck might have gone out of play prior to it going in. The original no-call was upheld.
The best is when a goal is scored and there’s a review to see if the play was off-side a minute earlier.
You know, because in baseball when someone hits a home run, they go back to see if that ball one call really should’ve been a strike five pitches prior.
I give credit to college hockey for being open to rules changes to better the game (except shootouts, but that’s for another day), so I have one:
Give teams two timeouts instead of one. Challenge anything you want. If you’re wrong, you lose a timeout, as it is now.
But no other reviews except inside five minutes of the third period and overtime.
You hired a second ref for each game, let the officials do their jobs.
— It’s too bad the weather kept a large number of fans away on Saturday.
The roads were brutal after the game, and many smartly stayed home.
The attendance was listed as 2,018 but I suspect that includes season ticket holders who have paid for their seats. Actual attendance was closer to one thousand.
A large number at the rink were in town for the whole weekend anyway.
I can’t express how much I hate to name drop, especially when it’s someone I’ve never met with a name as prestigious and sensitive as his, but when conditions are poor I’ll always think of that series nine years ago when Brendan Burke was killed.
For those not in the know, Burke and his friend died in a car accident on horrible roads northwest of Oxford the day of a Friday game vs. Lake Superior State.
Burke, the team manager at the time and son of former NHL general manager Brian Burke, was a pioneer when he came out as openly gay months before the wreck, gaining national attention.
That weekend’s weather could’ve claimed any of us who traveled to Oxford for those games.
Burke died on a Friday, and the team didn’t find out until later that night, but its members did The Brotherhood proud by scoring seven goals the first 29 minutes of Saturday’s game against a ranked Lakers team in a 10-4 win.
Not a team on the planet, including the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, could’ve beaten Miami for that period and a half.
— Back to Friday for a second: Blasi was caught yelling at associate coach Peter Mannino on the bench early in the second period.
If there’s a disagreement between coaches, that’s something that needs to be handled in private at intermission, especially when a team is struggling as Miami clearly is.
LINEUP CHANGES: Andrew Sinard stepped in for Hutton, as the RedHawks are down to seven healthy defensemen.
Grant Frederic and Chaz Switzer are both out with lower body injuries.
Uhelski got the start for Larkin after the senior’s strong performance in the second half of Friday’s game and stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss.
His save percentage is now .922. Larkin is at .923.
Noah Jordan also started up front for the fourth time this season as Carter Johnson was scratched.
FORWARDS: D-. An upgrade from ‘F’ on Friday only because they generated better shots and Shepard was outstanding, but seriously, 13 shots and zero goals?
DEFENSEMEN: C. Too many shots allowed and this corps did zilch offensively. But with Hutton out, Sinard seemed to thrive with more ice time and Alec Mahalak showcased his defensive talents more with the additional TOI available.
GOALTENDING: B+. Uhelski had zero chance on the first and third goals and the other was on a penalty shot.
STANDINGS: Miami has fallen to 29th in the PairWise and is in sixth place in the NCHC with a 3-7-2 record.
The RedHawks trail fifth-place North Dakota by six points and are seven out of fourth, which is the last home-ice spot for the league tournament.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s necessary to take a step back and realize that this was always going to be a rebuilding season.
After three straight sub-.500 seasons and a 7-2 start, this 0-6-4 skid feels like a Lucy-again-pulling-away-the-football moment, but it’s important to realize that success this season was always going to be a tall order.
With six non-seniors and both assistants leaving, the RedHawks pieced this team together in the summer, and still – still – at 9-11-4 have exceeded expectations.
It’s just frustrating to see Miami play so well against No. 1 St. Cloud for 120 minutes and then get manhandled by the fifth-ranked team seven weeks later.
What we’ve seen in four months of the 2018-19 is a major step ahead in the process toward being an NCAA contending team.
But as Minnesota-Duluth showed this weekend, the RedHawks still aren’t there. At least not right now.
Fortunately for Miami, there’s still plenty of season left to turn that around.
UMD 3-goal burst sinks Miami
OXFORD, Ohio – For the first 18 minutes, Miami played evenly against No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth and nearly matched the Bulldogs in shots.
But a UMD goal late in the opening period and three more in an 89-span of the second spelled a 4-0 loss for the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Friday.
Hunter Shepard stopped all 23 Miami shots he faced for Minnesota-Duluth, which doubled up the RedHawks in that category the final 40 minutes.
The loss extended Miami’s winless streak to nine games, its longest stretch since going 0-9-1 to close out 2016-17.
RECAP: The RedHawks (9-10-4) appeared to win an offensive-zone faceoff on the power play, but the puck shot back to neutral ice, where Nick Swaney beat the defense to it, skated in, was partially tripped by Miami’s Derek Daschke and recovered to roof one glove side with 1:24 left in the opening stanza.
The Bulldogs (13-6-2) made it 2-0 when Jackson Cates redirected a slap pass in from Dylan Samberg after the RedHawks’ Jonathan Gruden turned the puck over along the boards 3:45 in the middle frame.
Noah Cates one-timed one past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the power play 55 seconds later off a feed from Scott Perunovich to make it 3-0, sneaking his slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle inside the far post.
Just 34 seconds passed before UMD’s final goal, which was scored after Larkin lost his stick while being bumped out of position, and Parker Mackay deposited a behind-the-net pass from Justin Richards into the vacated net.
That ended Larkin’s night, as he was relieved by Jordan Uhelski.
The game got chippy late, as RedHawks captain Grant Hutton was later given a major and game misconduct for checking from behind and MU’s Karch Bachman and UMD’s Riley Tufte were assessed roughing penalties after their lines paired off following an interference call against the Bulldogs.
STATS: Coming off the bench, Uhelski stopped all 15 shots he faced.
— Miami was 20-40 (.333) in the faceoff circle.
— The RedHawks shut out Minnesota-Duluth in the third period, snapping a string of 15 straight frames allowing a goal.
— Eleven of Miami’s 23 shots came on its five power plays, as the RedHawks spent 8:06 on the man-advantage.
— This was the third time this season MU has been blanked.
THOUGHTS: It’s become a recent MO for Miami: The RedHawks came out strong again but were once again deflated when allowing that first goal.
With 90 seconds left in the first period, Miami went on the power play so it appeared the worst-case scenario would be a 0-0 score heading into the second with a brief 5-on-4 to start the next frame.
Instead, Swaney’s shorthanded goal in the final minute-plus gave UMD a huge momentum boost heading into intermission.
Arena staff made its best effort to fire up fans by cranking ABBA, but three Bulldogs goals early in the second frame later essentially sealed the game. That makes eight middle-stanza goals against in five games for the RedHawks.
To be fair, once again MU battled hard in the third period but the outcome had been decided by that point.
Duluth was the better team in practically every aspect: The Bulldogs scored twice at even strength, once on the power play, once on a Miami power play, they dominated on faceoffs, seizing loose pucks, were way better passing, miles better defensively and got better goaltending.
— The major on Hutton was the right call. He had multiple seconds to decide if he was going to bury Cole Koepke, who had his back to the play along the boards, and the ultra-strong Hutton followed through and hammered him face-first into the glass.
Especially as a captain, Hutton can’t make that play.
— Uhelski prevented this game from being 7-0 or 8-0, stopping a breakaway and a 3-on-1. Following the latter, a Miami fan yelled “where’s the rest of your team?” There was no answer.
— Miami had taken a major step forward on draws this season, especially with the addition of Monte Graham, but the team has been miserable in the circle recently. The RedHawks are 40.9 percent on faceoffs their last six games and have won a third or fewer draws in three of those contests.
Part of the reason for that is…segue…
— Miami’s leading scorer, Josh Melnick, was scratched for the third straight game with a lower body injury. He is considered week-to-week.
His absence is huge because in addition to his 19 points, he is solid on draws and one of the team’s best defensive forwards in addition to being a team captain.
FORWARDS: F. Thirteen forwards scored zero goals and generated 14 shots, many of which were of the low-percentage variety. Despite the decent shot total on the power play, there was no flow on the man-advantage from this corps. Gruden had an easy clear opportunity on the second UMD goal but overskated it. He was also the forward at the point when Swaney blew past all five Miami skaters to score on his breakaway. This Melnick-less group’s passing wasn’t particularly impressive either. Scott Corbett dished out a couple of good hits, but that was one of very few forward highlights.
DEFENSEMEN: D+. Friday’s game footage will not be used by Hutton for his personal highlight reel. He was late reacting when Jackson Cates scored that second goal and as mentioned above, he deserved his major. Daschke was a little flat-footed on that shorthanded breakaway. UMD managed 37 shots, equaling the fourth-highest total allowed by Miami this season. River Rymsha was first star out of this group.
GOALTENDING: B-. The first goal was on a breakaway, the second Larkin had no chance on, the third he should’ve stopped and the fourth he lost his stick and positioning when he was bumped at the side of the crease. Larkin wasn’t that bad but he wasn’t great either. Uhelski was great and had to be or this one would’ve gotten out of hand. Individually Larkin was a C-, Uhelski an A.
LINEUP CHANGES: Melnick missing his third straight game was the biggest news in terms of the lineup. It was hoped he would return for this series but he will shoot for Colorado College next weekend.
Defenseman Andrew Sinard sat after playing six straight games, as the RedHawks elected to use 13 forwards. Zach LaValle dressed in that extra spot after being scratched for the last six.
Uhelski was the starter last Saturday and ended up logged 35 relief minutes in this one.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was the first regular season home game for Miami in seven weeks and proved quite anticlimactic.
It feels like the game could’ve been completely different had Swaney not scored late in the first period but that seemed to shift the Bulldogs’ play to a higher gear and Miami could not match UMD in any facet for the balance of the game.
Minnesota-Duluth looks like a team poised to repeat as national champions, and in this game, the RedHawks were nowhere near that level.
Preview: Minn.-Duluth at Miami
No set of euphemisms can shield the obvious: Minnesota-Duluth has owned Miami the past few seasons.
The Bulldogs are 11-1-1 vs. the RedHawks since the start of the 2016 calendar year and 15-4-2 vs. MU overall.
If there’s good news for Miami it’s that the lone win during its current drought vs. UMD came on home ice last season.
And the RedHawks have defended their home rink well this season, going 6-2-2 at Cady Arena.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (12-6-2) at Miami RedHawks (9-9-4).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 7:35 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
UMD RADIO: KDAL-AM (610), Duluth, Minn.
MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Duluth is one of the best defensive teams in Division I.
The Bulldogs allow very few shots, and the overwhelming majority of those are snagged by goalie Hunter Shepard.
Minnesota-Duluth is tops in the conference in goals allowed (41) and seventh in the NCAA defensively at 2.05 goals against per game.
Opponents average just 23.0 shots, and the Bulldogs’ defense corps consists of five sophomores and a junior with another junior between the pipes.
Second-round pick Scott Perunovich leads all defensemen in points (18) and the entire team in assists (16).
Blueliners Nick Wolff, the lone junior in this corps, and Kings draftee Mikey Anderson also have offensive ability, as Wolff is 2-7-9 with 62 penalty minutes, and Anderson has scored three times.
Jets second-round pick Dylan Samberg, Louis Roehl and Matt Anderson round out Minnesota-Duluth’s top six on defense.
Shepard led the Bulldogs to the national championship last season by allowing just five goals in four NCAA Tournament contests. He posted a 1.91 goals-against average in 2017-18 and is at 1.92 this season.
Shepard’s GAA is eighth-best in college hockey and he has a save percentage of .916. He has played all but 16 minutes in net for Minnesota-Duluth this season.
Up front, Justin Richards’ emergence has been a major storyline for the Bulldogs. He leads the team with 12 assists and 19 points, and he has also scored seven times, including a pair of game winners.
The sophomore had zero goals in 44 games last season and finished with nine helpers.
Parker Mackay is team captain and one of the top two-way players in the conference. He has a Bulldogs-best eight goals plus eight assists for 16 points.
Only three other UMD forwards have 10 or more points. Senior Peter Krieger is 2-12-14, Wild draft pick Nick Swaney has six goals and six assists, and Tampa Bay selection Cole Koepke has a pair of markers and eight helpers.
Minnesota-Duluth has two more NHL draft picks among its forwards. Riley Tuftes was Dallas’ first-round choice in 2016, and Noah Cates was taken by Philadelphia in 2017.
They have identical 5-3-8 lines.
The Bulldogs are the top penalty killing team in Division I at 92.0 percent, as they have surrendered just six power play goals.
This weekend series is the front half of a four-game homestand for Miami, which is mired in an eight-game winless streak.
With their record at .500 for the first time this season, the RedHawks need to start winning games if they hope to earn home ice in the NCHC Tournament and eventually qualify for the national championship tournament.
Gordie Green is starting to heat up, which is great news for Miami, as he has scored three goals in three games.
Grant Hutton has four points in four games and Brian Hawkinson recorded points in both contests last weekend.
Co-captain Josh Melnick missed both games last weekend with a lower body injury, and there’s no certainty he will play in this series.
Goalie Ryan Larkin did not play the finale in Kalamazoo last week but is expected to play against UMD.