Category Archives: Ohio State Buckeyes

Photos: Miami at Ohio State

Images for the game between Miami and Ohio State played at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 31, 2016. All images by Cathy Lachmann.

s1

s5

s6

s7

s11

s12

s13

s14

s15

s16

s17

s21

s22

s23

s24

s25

s26

s27

s28

s29

s30

s31

s32

s33

s34

s35

s36

s37

s38

s39

s40

s41

s42

s43

s47

Analysis: Miami solid in home debut

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami fans have been through the early-season Ohio State litmus test before.

Beat up on the woeful Buckeyes, inspire the team and fanbase with hope only to see that gauge prove wrong once the RedHawks face stiffer conference competition later in the season.

But Saturday was different. Miami didn’t beat the Buckeyes, tying them 1-1 at Cady Arena in their home opener, and yet this game gave those in attendance a better understanding of where the RedHawks are than most previous meetings with OSU with a freshman-laden team.

The reason is: Ohio State is a lot better than it has been in recent seasons.

Entering play at 1-0-1 including a win at then-No. 3 Denver, this edition of the Buckeyes has speed and can move the puck. These essential attributes were severely lacking as recently as last October.

This was an entertaining game to watch, more from a purist fan perspective than a casual fan one, as these teams did those unsexy things like backcheck, get sticks in lanes and shut down shooting lanes.

But there was still plenty of fast-paced, end-to-end action that is sometimes lacking in October contests as teams are still trying to build chemistry.

Miami started sluggishly, with a bad turnover at its own blue line by sophomore Kiefer Sherwood ultimately ending up in his own net five minutes in. The team looked nervous on its home ice.

The RedHawks were much improved in the second and third periods, although OSU owned overtime.

No one knew what this team would look like when it actually hit the ice this month: Not the fans, media, coaches or even the players themselves. Now after three games we all have a better idea.

There is certainly plenty of room for improvement for Miami, but if Saturday is any indication – and this game vs. Ohio State is a much better barometer than those Buckeyes matchups in the past – there is cause for optimism among those who root for this team.

Other thoughts…

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– First, it’s really hard to evaluate nine freshman in a 65-minute game when you haven’t seen seven of them play before. The overall impression was that one skater really stood out: Karch Bachman. Bachman, who is a Florida Panthers draftee, has excellent speed and a nose for the net. He was placed on Sherwood’s line, and the two worked exceptionally well together, with Sherwood lobbing outlet passes to him and Bachman using his speed to track them down. It should be a lot of fun watching these two develop together if they remain linemates.

Gordie Green and Carson Meyer also impressed among the new forwards. Green is small but seems to do everything, from playmaking to puckhandling to defending. Meyer appears poised to make his mark in the scoring column, as he displayed his missile of a shot a couple of times. He scored 32 times in his first full season in the USHL in 2015-16.

Miami used three freshman on defense, and none were terribly noticeable, but that’s meant as a compliment because blueliners often have their names called after making mistakes.

And we can’t forget to mention Ryan Larkin. His Cady Arena debut was quite impressive, with his rebound shot save in overtime and breakaway stop in the third period. Coach Enrico Blasi has started the season by giving the backups a start in the first couple of games most years, and it speaks to what Blasi thinks of Larkin that the netminder has been the lone goalie in net for the RedHawks through three games.

– It truly is a game of inches. Sherwood hit a crossbar and Bachman rang one off the post, both on excellent scoring chances. If those two remain together they’re going to be a force on this team.

– Talk about a game of highs and lows for new captain and junior defenseman Louie Belpedio. Belpedio looked flat-out lost on the ice in the first period, committing multiple egregious turnovers and handling the puck poorly early. But his second-period laser from the high slot resulted in MU’s only goal, and he appeared to settle down dramatically after the first 20 minutes. It was his first game as team captain on home ice, and that role has hindered the past two Miami players to wear the ‘C’ early in the season.

– [rant] For the love of God, can we please not have 3-on-3 and skills contests when they mean nothing? They’re passable at best during conference play, but Saturday they served no purpose other than to confuse fans and unnecessarily have players risk injury and/or suspension.

So after five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime, the game was officially a tie. Miami and Ohio State are no longer in the same conference, so shake hands and call it a night, right?

Nope. The teams skated three a side for five minutes – perhaps for fun? – and then participated in an abbreviated shootout, which supposedly the Buckeyes won.

The purpose is clear: College hockey wants winners and losers in each game, and the NCAA is slowly working toward that goal or at least is evaluating its current system. We get that.

But the major problem is that fans who don’t live and breathe with their teams don’t have a clue what’s going on. For decades hockey has been all about trying to grow the game, which is really tough with such nuanced rules. Why confuse your fans about the most important aspect of the game: The decision?

One knowledgeable fan asked me after the 5-on-5 if the game was officially over for NCAA purposes. I said I thought so but wasn’t 100 percent sure. Another fan asked that fan, who said that was just what he asked me.

One fan walked out during the 3-on-3, telling the ushers there was no point in watching since it meant nothing. Ninety-plus percent of the crowd either didn’t get that or didn’t care, wanting to watch the 3-on-3.

And make no mistake, the 3-on-3 isn’t the issue, it’s that it meant nothing and the fact that’s a tough message to get out to the masses. To Miami’s credit, it was made clear over the PA.

Either have college hockey’s governing body sanction 3-on-3 and shootouts or don’t. The sport and those who love to watch it deserve better than we’re-going-to-determine-a-winner-one-way-or-another-and-oops-Ohio-State-won-nope-just-kidding.

We’ve said it before: The NHL is certainly not a model of rules excellence, but it has it right with 4-on-4 overtimes. If that doesn’t determine a winner, it wasn’t meant to be. Or go to 3-on-3 after that. Those two sessions would determine winners 80 percent of the time. But two things: 1) Unlike last night, let’s be consistent and up front about the format from year to year and get rid of meaningless demonstrations to determine a “winner”, and 2) if we’re going to play 10 minutes of extra hockey when the temperature reaches the mid-80s in southern Ohio, can we please scrape the ice first?

But as the rules currently stand, the game should have been over after the five-minute 5-on-5 overtime. From the NCAA’s perspective it was. Why should fans who paid good money walk away from the rink unclear about that fact? [/rant]

– Speaking of fans, they were great. The students were on mid-term break, but it was still a loud crowd. Let’s hope that continues, and based on Miami’s level of play it should.

GRADES

Ah yes, with mid-terms come grades. As we have the past few seasons for games we attend, we evaluate the play of each facet of Miami’s lineup.

FORWARDS: C. They didn’t score a single goal but the season is a process, especially with all of the rookies. There was a lot to like in the line combinations, especially the Sherwood-Bachman combination with Green on the right wing. Anthony Louis showed a lot of life on the first line with Josh Melnick, who never seems to have an off game, and Carson Meyer gives the former two a sniper to finish. Conor Lemirande really seemed to step his play up, as he carried the puck more and was effective in both ends of the ice, using his huge frame.

DEFENSEMEN: B. The three freshmen did their jobs by not making a splash. Grant Hutton and Scott Dornbrock both looked like they may take another step forward this season, and Belpedio was at times the best and at other times the worst among this corps. Hopefully his first period was just the result of new captain jitters.

GOALTENDING: A. Well, Larkin made a couple thousand new fans, especially since he made his overtime rebound-shot save in front of the most boisterous fans in the student section. It was just one game but the kid looks like the real deal: Watching him away from the puck he appears to have great anticipation of where the puck is going and is athletic enough to position himself perfectly in order to squelch any scoring threats.

LINEUP CHANGES: How about this for Game 3: Blasi’s starting 19 were the same as in Game 2.

One surprise was that goalie Chase Munroe was a scratch, and Andrew Masters was the backup. Masters was expected to be the third goalie after committing late last school year.

Miami is light up front, with Alex Alger and injured Christian Mohs being the only scratches there, and Colin Sullivan and Grant Frederic sat among the blueline corps.

Miami ties OSU to open home slate

OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan Larkin deserved better than a tie.

The Miami freshman goalie stopped 23 of 24 shots including multiple point-blank chances late as the RedHawks and Ohio State finished even at one in Miami’s 2016-17 home opener at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Larkin, who has been the lone goalie to log minutes for MU this season, denied a breakaway in the third period, and after making the initial save on an overtime rip, he stretched to his right to cover the post, narrowing denying a rebound shot from the side of the net.

After allowing four goals in Miami’s season opener in Providence, Larkin has stopped 43 of 45 shots (.956), surrendering just two goals in 124:58 for a 0.96 goals-against average in his last two outings.

The Buckeyes (1-0-2) struck first when David Gust slammed home a rebound after Larkin had stopped a shot from the high slot by Dakota Joshua just 4:32 into the first period.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin made this third-period save to preserve the tie (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin made this third-period save to preserve the tie (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The RedHawks (1-1-1) tied it on a 5-on-3 when junior defenseman Louie Belpedio ripped a shot that beat OSU goalie Matt Tomkins just inside the far post 4:11 into the second period.

Miami hit a pair of posts on quality scoring chances, one off the crossbar by sophomore Kiefer Sherwood in the middle stanza and another by freshman Karch Bachman that rang off the far post late in the final frame.

Ohio State dominated the overtime, outshooting the RedHawks, 4-1 and spending 1:59 on the power play.

After overtime, the teams played an exhibition 3-on-3 to no avail, and finally the Buckeyes won a shootout that also did not have any bearing on the standings or rankings.

Belpedio and Sherwood, who picked up an assist on Belpedio’s goal, lead the team with three points each. Senior forward Anthony Louis also picked up a helper, his first point of the season.

Miami has scored six goals in three games this season, and all have come on the power play. All of its contests to this point have been decided by one goal or zero.

The RedHawks host Maine next weekend, with faceoffs slated for 7:35 p.m. on Friday and 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: MU succeeding without vet scoring

OXFORD, Ohio – A 2-1-1 record to start the season with one point from Anthony Louis and Sean Kuraly you say?

As Miami fans, yeah, we’ll take it.

The RedHawks’ two top returning scorers are off to slow starts offensively, but the RedHawks (2-1-1) swept Ohio State this weekend, 3-2 in Columbus and 3-1 in Oxford the following night with five of its goals coming by freshmen.

Rookies have potted seven of 11 Miami goals for the season. Four of the five freshmen forwards have found the net in the team’s first four games.

Miami's Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Beyond Jack Roslovic, it was unclear entering the season how much newbies would contribute offensively to a forward corps that had lost Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber and Blake Coleman among others. But at least for two weekends, the answer is significantly.

Overall, Miami hasn’t set the world on fire from a scoring perspective, averaging 2.75 goals per game. But the RedHawks missed several Grade A scoring chances in the first period alone on Friday and had multiple chances on Saturday it should’ve cashed in.

MU finished the finale with 41 shots on goal and missed the net a number of times.

There is cause for optimism regarding this team’s offensive potential. The RedHawks are holding their own during what most knew would be a transition process with numerous new faces taking over the jobs of established studs.

If they have been able to hold their own during their growing pains without contributions from Kuraly or Louis, just wait until those two hit their strides.

And they will hit their strides, hopefully very soon.

Other thoughts on Saturday:

– This was the best all-around game Roslovic has played. He engaged in battles along the boards and was generally more of a presence on the ice than in the previous games. Roslovic also showed more of ability to make defenders look silly as he can seemingly skate around them at will, a feat made even more amazing considering he is still just 18. That won’t fly at higher levels, or even against better college opponents, but he is certainly showing everyone why he was a first-round pick this summer.

– Sherwood seems to get better every game. He blew up in the USHL last season, scoring 29 goals after netting 13 the previous season, so hopefully that will translate at this level – it certainly did on Friday when he picked the top corner on his first college goal. And it looks like he could do more, as he engages physically and appears capable of playing both ways. Josh Melnick and Roslovic have been the obvious standouts early, but Sherwood looks like he may develop into a very good player for Miami as well.

– The power play was 1,000 percent better on Saturday than Friday. Yes, Miami went 2-for-5, but beyond that, the puck movement was outstanding and the communication appeared much improved. The first unit could be devastating to opponents this season with Roslovic-Melnick-Louis-Kuraly-Belpedio, and its makeshift second unit scored the final goal on Saturday, with Zach LaValle finding the net.

– Miami’s four-game road stand will be difficult but should provide a bonding opportunity and could make the team better overall. At least the RedHawks get their feet wet on a real road trip – not like Ohio State, which was an up-and-back drive with more Miami fans than OSU fans in attendance – before opening conference play in two weeks.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B+. At this point of the season, improvement is more vital than results, and the improvement is there. The freshmen are getting better. Louis played well but only had a point, and many more will follow. Kuraly has struggled at times early but appears ready to break out. If either Kevin Morris or Alex Gacek ever find the net they may be unstoppable – both have done everything right except finish in the first four games. Overall, this unit fired a ton of shots and missed the net a bunch more. They played pretty well defensively as well, but the competition will get a lot stiffer very soon.

DEFENSEMEN: A. This unit made mistakes the first three games, and many were costly. That really didn’t happen on Saturday. We mentioned Louis and Kuraly and how they will get going eventually, and Louie Belpedio belongs on that list as well. His best hockey is yet to come. Senior Matthew Caito was outstanding, as he shut down seemingly every OSU threat on his watch, and classmate Chris Joyaux is playing some of the best defense of his career right now. Like with the forwards, the process is in place, which is very encouraging, and the opponents will get better from this point forward.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDING: A. Senior Ryan McKay hasn’t played a lot of back-to-back nights, but he shined in this one. He appeared to be screened on the only goal against, and he had to shut down a couple of high-percentage chances, including a breakaway. McKay finished 27 of 28 (.964) on the night and 52-for-55 (.945) on the weekend. This team’s prospects are a lot higher if McKay can continue to play at this level.

LINEUP CHANGES: Senior Michael Mooney was back in at forward on Saturday, replacing junior Devin Loe, who did not have a point in his first three games. On defense, sophomore Scott Dornbrock was scratched for the second time this season, as junior Colin Sullivan returned to the lineup sheet. McKay started for the third straight game.

Frosh help Miami complete Ohio St. sweep

OXFORD, Ohio — Miami’s youth continued to shine offensively on Saturday.

Freshmen scored all three of the RedHawks’ goals in a 3-1 win over Ohio State at Cady Arena in the series finale, a night after edging the Buckeyes in Columbus.

Forwards Josh Melnick, Jack Roslovic and Zach LaValle all found the net in the win, Miami’s sixth straight in its all-time series vs. OSU (0-4).

Roslovic set up Melnick’s goal to open the scoring when he whipped a cross-ice pass for a one-timer on the power play with 7:49 left in the first period.

Like Friday, after the RedHawks (2-1-1) took the initial lead, Ohio State tied it. A wrist shot from just inside the blue line by Mason Jobst eluded Miami senior goalie Ryan McKay 5:11 into the second period to make it 1-1.

Roslovic put the RedHawks ahead for good when he beat two defenders and roofed a shot with 6:04 left in the middle stanza. Melnick picked up the lone assist on that goal after a steal in the neutral zone.

Miami's Zach LaValle scores his first career goal to ice Saturday's game (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Zach LaValle scores his first career goal to ice Saturday’s game (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

LaValle jammed a rebound home off a shot by Kiefer Sherwood – another rookie – with 17:55 to play in regulation, sealing it. That goal also came on the man advantage, on which Miami finished 2-for-5.

Melnick and Roslovic finished with a goal and an assist each, as they are tied for the team lead with five points apiece.

Of the eight individual points earned by Miami in this game, six were by freshmen – two each by Melnick and Roslovic and one apiece by LaValle and Sherwood. Junior forward Anthony Louis and senior defenseman Matthew Caito also picked up assists.

Louis finished with nine of the RedHawks’ 41 shots.

McKay stopped 27 to earn the win for the second straight night.

The RedHawks’ first significant road trip of the season is this weekend, as they travel to St. Lawrence for a two-game set. Both games will be at 7 p.m.

Following those games, Miami travels to St. Cloud State to open NCHC play on Oct. 30-31.

Analysis: Win over OSU a morale booster

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Granted it wasn’t against a top-10 team, but getting into the win column has to be a huge moral victory for Miami, especially on a late game winner.

The RedHawks won their road opener at Ohio State, 3-2 at Value City Arena on Friday on a rebound goal by Columbus native Jack Roslovic with 1:33 left.

Miami has a plethora of new forwards this season, and many are in the starting lineup because of their abilities, and also with three extra skaters on the roster including one blueliner, it was obvious most or all of them were going to get the opportunity to play.

Seeing four of them into the points column in this game (Roslovic, Josh Melnick, Kiefer Sherwood, Ryan Siroky) had to be a mental boost for all of them, and getting that first win does everyone good.

The offense was a concern heading into this season, with so many ultra-talented players from 2014-15 departing. But this team has scored eight goals in three games, which is neither bad nor good, and better things are ahead for this team.

One can see the passes that just miss, the chemistry that is still developing, the shots that aren’t quite perfect enough to hit the net. And let’s face it, the Ohio State ice does not exactly rival Edmonton.

We’ll say it again: The defense will be fine. Heck, Colin Sullivan was scratched in this game and he scored a beautiful goal last Friday and made very few mistakes last weekend.

The goaltending? Two fourth-year starters there. Can’t get more experienced there in college.

With the 2015-16 team, the question is always been about scoring enough goals. Three games into the season, Miami is already scoring at an OK clip, and the offense should only improve.

Other thoughts:

– Can’t say enough about how much better senior Alex Gacek has been this season. He kills penalties, he passes, he hits people – which almost defies physics at his size – he defends, he’s doing pretty much everything. Gacek finished strong in 2014-15 and it was hoped that would carry over to this season, but he has exceeded those expectations.

– Also impressed with the step up taken by senior Kevin Morris. He’s been seemingly everywhere so far this season.

– On defense, senior Chris Joyaux seems to have taken a big step forward as well. He was scratched for the season opener last week but has really earned a spot in the lineup with his play since.

– Senior Taylor Richart has been shooting and generally getting involved in the offense a lot more, which is a good thing. He had a shot redirected into the net last week, and he was firing from the blue line again on Saturday and pinched into the play several times. He’s such a smart player that he can be trusted to pick his spots while jumping in without getting caught.

– How about that Crash Cousins line? Andrew Schmit scored the first goal, and the whole line of him, Conor Lemirande and Ryan Siroky played well together. On a team that really only has two scoring lines at present, it was great to see this trio step up.

– Let the controversy begin: Josh Melnick is the best overall forward on the team right now. He’s an absolute pest on the PK (and how much confidence does Coach Enrico Blasi have in him to put a freshman right into the mix on the top PK unit?), he passes incredibly well, he goes into corners and win battles, he scores, he defends very well and steals pucks. Three games in, this kid is the biggest story on the team, especially since everyone knew Roslovic was going to be unreal. Roslovic hasn’t disappointed, Melnick has just been that good. And oh yeah, that winning goal? Melnick made that happen with a picture-perfect centering feed to Morris from along the boards.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– The penalty killing has been excellent. Miami allowed just two shots on three man advantages and is now 12 of 13 (92.3 percent) early in the season. Again, defense, goaltending, not a surprise this is a strength for the RedHawks. Add in a rejuvenated Gacek and Morris, plus Melnick up top and this team could stay above 90 percent this season. The power play on the other hand…but that will get better. Let’s hope.

– Kudos to Miami fans and event organizers who helped get Red and White fans in the seats for this game. RedHawks fans easily outnumbered Ohio State fans in the Buckeyes’ own rink and made a lot of noise. It’s possible there were more Miami fans at this game than at either for opening weekend at Cady.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. Miami missed some shots it should’ve buried early but got the big one from Roslovic when it needed it. In addition to the others mentioned above, Anthony Louis was more involved all around although he didn’t get on the scoresheet. Sherwood was OK in the opener, scratched for Game 2 and much more of a factor in this game. Overall there was a lot to like from this group, but the RedHawks’ opponent was nowhere near Providence level.

DEFENSEMEN: C. Belpedio fell into the boards with the puck, which directly resulted in the first goal against. On the second one, it looked like freshman Grant Hutton lost Anthony Greco as he skated to the net, resulting in the one-timer. Sophomore Scott Dornbrock, Joyaux and Belpedio all took penalties, and for the latter, that’s four minors in three games. Dornbrock struggled early but got better.

GOALTENDING: A-. McKay stopped 25 of 27 shots (.926) but after Belpedio slipped on the first goal, McKay was left out of position (he understandably couldn’t have anticipated Belpedio losing the puck there), and the second one was a point-blank one-time run he had no chance on. McKay didn’t face many other tough chances until the six minute of the third period, when Miami took a shift off and McKay had to make three great saves. He’s been very solid so far this season.

LINEUP CHANGES: Sherwood was dressed in place of senior Michael Mooney, and Dornbrock played in place of Sullivan. One could envision Blasi going with the same 12 forwards tonight, and which defenseman will sit is anyone’s guess, but Sullivan certainly should not be scratched every night. McKay started for the second straight game, which was interesting because Jay Williams was in net for the opener, so it’s unclear what Blasi will do for the finale. Knowing Blasi he won’t let Williams rot on the bench over one game, especially since numerous goals scored in that tilt weren’t his fault.

Roslovic’s late goal sinks OSU

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In its one trip to the state’s capitol this season, it was a freshman from the area that scored the game winner for Miami in its first road game of the season.

Forward Jack Roslovic banged home a rebound with 1:33 left in regulation to lift the RedHawks to a 3-2 win over Ohio State at Value City Arena on Friday.

Miami's Jack Roslovic buries the game winner with 1:33 left (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic buries the game winner with 1:33 left (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The Buckeyes (0-3) had tied the score 72 seconds earlier.

Miami senior forward Andrew Schmit hit the top corner of the net to open the scoring 9:56 into the first period, the third goal of his career and his first of 2015-16.

RedHawks defenseman Louie Belpedio lost the puck when he fell to the ice, leaving OSU’s Anthony Greco alone with goalie Ryan McKay, and Greco flipped a backhand over the sprawling McKay to tie the score shorthanded 6:54 into the middle stanza.

Like Schmit, Miami freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood also went top shelf on the glove side to beat Buckeyes goalie Matt Tomkins, giving the RedHawks a 2-1 lead 3:14 into the third period. It was Sherwood’s first career goal, and he is also from Columbus.

Greco tied it again with 2:45 remaining in regulation when he buried a one-time centering feed from behind the net by David Gust.

Melnick set up the game-winner with a perfect feed from the side boards to senior forward Kevin Morris, who whipped a shot on net that Tomkins saved, but the rebound trickled to the side of the net for a waiting Roslovic, who buried it.

Morris was the only Miami skater with multiple points, finishing with two assists. McKay stopped 25 shots to earn the win, the 30th of his career.

Four MU freshmen picked up points. Ryan Siroky earned an assist for his first career point.

The RedHawks (1-1-1) extended their unbeaten streak at Ohio State to five games (4-0-1), and overall Miami has won five games in a row vs. the Buckeyes.

The series finale will be at 8 p.m. at Cady Arena in Oxford.

RedHawks Rewind: Recapping Week 1

Sing a song! Miami Sweeps Ohio State on opening weekend!

Sing a song! Miami Sweeps Ohio State on opening weekend!

We partied too much on Saturday night and you have permission to give us a tongue lashing when you see us in Oxford this weekend for skipping out on the Twitter SixPack and our new Three Stars feature. We’ll be more diligent with the SixPack in the future. Promise. Time for some news you can use after last weekend’s games.

After the win, here are a few things Coach Blasi had to say:

That’s obviously the first weekend of our season against our huge in state rival and its a huge start for us.  We’ve been opportunistic with our chances and if we’re going to play with this intensity, scoring will come. But we still have to clean things up. We’ve got to manage the puck a little bit better and be more determined away from the puck.

I thought our defense handled themselves well – I thought we saw a lot better gap control tonight but we’re still a work in progress, and we have to get better. We’ve got to forget about what happened and get ready for our next game.

Saturday’s 3 Stars

Riley Barber currently leads the NCAA with 7 points after 1 week. (Michael Griggs/Miami University Athletics)

Riley Barber currently leads the NCAA with 7 points after 1 week. (Michael Griggs/Miami University Athletics)

3. Enrico Blasi and the Power Play unit. On Friday night, Blasi deployed 5 forwards on their 2 early 5-on-3 power plays, and why not? They scored twice, so it was clearly the right move. On Saturday, Miami again scored a power play goal, this time on just a normal 5-on-4 scenario. On the ice were Riley Barber who scored the goal, Austin Czarnik, Blake Coleman and Max Cook, plus Matthew Caito – Miami’s best offensive defenseman. Miami is now 4 of 10 on the power play in 2 games, having scored in both games. Sat’s PPG came in just 14 seconds of PP time as well.

2. Austin Czarnik had 4 points (1-3–4) on the night. Add in a goal from Friday and he still wasn’t even close to our #1 star for the weekend. But Czarnik was, as usual, all over the ice and looked like the best player on either squad and an early season Hobey Baker favorite.

1. Was there any question that Riley Barber would get this slot? Barber had 3 assists Friday and 4 goals Saturday (let’s see if he can keep up 3.5 points per game this season!). Barber becomes the first RedHawk to score 4 goals since Tommy Wingels did so in December of 2009.

Check out the Saturday night highlights from Miami All-Access and Rachel Lewis’s Photo Gallery of Saturday’s game.

Press Clippings

By now you know that Miami sits firmly atop the National Polls. What you may not remember is that the last time Miami played North Dakota on November 28, 2009, they were amidst a 12-week run (their longest ever) at #1. North Dakota was #4 at the time.

Barber and Hamilton garner two of the four first-ever NCHC weekly awards. You know what Barber did – basically undressed Ohio State for two nights, notching 3 assists and 4 goals, to earn the first NCHC Player of the Week. Trevor Hamilton is one of the new faces in Oxford, and had 3 assists and was a +4 on the weekend to earn Rookie of the Week. Read all about it from the NCHC.

Upcoming

North Dakota heads to Oxford for their first ever visit. Miami is 0-2-1 vs North Dakota all time. The three matchups were in 1999 in Milwaukee, WI, in the Lefty McFadden Invitational to start the 2005-06 season and the aforementioned 5-5 tie in 2009. Get used to seeing North Dakota, as we see them twice more this year (Happy Valentine’s Day), and a whole bunch more as we move forward in the NCHC. Most likely, the NCHC Tournament will have to go through them as well. We are reminded by Brad Schlossman – writer for North Dakota at the Grand Forks Herald – how good Miami has been at home recently:

After playing UND this weekend, Miami then heads out to Providence, RI for a return date with the Friars after they came to Oxford last year.

Hawks finish first half, get 5 points in Columbus

Lantern

The RedHawks lit the lantern and earned
5 points
against OSU this weekend.

This past weekend’s game had me singing “takin’ care of business” after the RedHawks took 5 points from Ohio State in their own barn in 2 hard-fought contests. We expected some gritty hockey with lots of big hits and a whole lot of energy, and what we received for the weekend was well worth the admission price. Both games were very intense, with Friday night’s game going all the way to a shootout, and Saturday’s coming down to some staunch defense in the third period for an exciting 3-1 victory. Here are some game notes and our weekend recap.

Friday Night

  • Miami had only 5 shots in the entire first period. Ohio State had 10 for the first, but didn’t register their first shot until 6:45 into the game. After the slow start and subsequent slow second period, the Hawks had us thinking that we were headed for a “Rico Swoon.” We’re also happy it didn’t end up that way.
  • It wasn’t until the third period until any scoring happened, with OSU’s Devin Krogh scoring 3:52 in to put Ohio State up 1-0. Jay Williams made a big save, but kicked out a rebound to the right side, and on an awkward angle, Krogh snuck the puck through his legs for the first tally of the season
  • At 11:25 of the third, Krogh then took what would turn out to be a very costly penalty. At 12:43 of the period, Riley Barber made a slick pass into the slot area and Curtis McKenzie drilled a 1-timer that found twine, and the game was tied. The power play goal was McKenzie’s 3rd goal of the season, and it earned him the #1 star of the game. It was nice to see Curtis was flying around the ice throwing body blows all night. He ended the night with a team-high 5 shots and also recorded 2 blocked shots.
  • The defense and goaltending were the stories of the night on both sides.
    • Miami was limited to 5 first period shots and just 7 in the third.
    • Ohio State had more shots in overtime (4) than they did in the third (3), and had just 23 total on the night.
  • Somehow, Ohio State goalie Brady Hjelle was named the #2 star of the game ahead of Jay Williams, who won his 8th game in Oxford and stopped all 3 shootout attempts. For the season, Miami has now faced off with 4 different opponents in shootouts and has not allowed even one attempt to find the back of the net (3 wins for Williams and 1 win for Ryan McKay).
  • In a somewhat troubling statistic, Miami’s record in the faceoff circle was a paltry 22-41. Austin Czarnik had a rough night all around, and won just 2 of the 19 faceoffs he fought for. Ohio State’s Tanner Fritz was 19-3 on the night, and this was likely a big contributing factor to the sloppy looking play for the first half of the game.
  • Czarnik made up for his rough night on faceoffs with yet another sweet move in the shootout. He beat Hjelle with a forehander that had it all: speed, deception and creativity… AND he roofed it over the goalie’s shoulder. We’ve got the video of the goal (and the game winning save from Williams) below.
  • Blasi put a somewhat strange lineup on the ice for the night. Bryon Paulazzo, Jimmy Mullin and Taylor Richart got the night off, possibly because of finals week. There were no indications of injuries, and only Paulazzo did not play on Saturday.

Here’s Czarnik’s shootout winner:

And here’s the save and celebration from Jay Williams:

Saturday night

  • Ryan McKay was the story on Saturday and almost came away with his 3rd shutout in just his 5th career start. Unfortunately, after spotting OSU a 2-0 lead, he did allow a goal 6:20 into the third, but he stood tall and stopped the flurry of shots Ohio State threw at him the rest of the way, stopping 22 of 23 on the night.
  • McKay allowed just 1 goal on the night, the third ever of his young 5-game career, and it was the first even strength goal he has allowed.
  • Alex Gacek scored his 3rd goal of the season in the first period, and from there Miami settled into their shell and just stifled Ohio State the rest of the way.
  • Blake Coleman returned to the scoring sheet, as he assisted on Gacek’s 1st period goal and scored the eventual game winner in the second.
  • Miami was 5 for 5 on the penalty kill, and did not allow any shots on the power play until the 5th and final kill, which started with 12:39 left in the third period.
  • Once again, no mention of a Miami goalie in the 3 stars of the game, where Coleman, Hjelle (!?!?!?!?!) and Riley Barber took those honors. There is no explanation other than being a home game for Ohio State that Hjelle got the 2nd star of the game nod each night. It’s clear once again that Ohio State can’t seem to get over themselves when they were outclassed on the ice on Saturday night.

For his efforts this weekend, Riley Barber once again earned the CCHA Rookie of the week award. Barber is the 2-time reigning CCHA Rookie of the Month, and this is his 3rd rookie of the week honor. On Friday night, he had an assist on McKenzie’s goal. He had the OSU goalie beat on his shootout attempt, but his shot hit the knob of the goalie’s stick and didn’t trickle in. He also tallied a goal (the empty net clincher that sent Ohio State fans to the exits) and an assist on Saturday night in Miami’s 3-1 win. Barber now has 8 points and 14 assists on the season, and leads the CCHA in scoring. He has left Oxford and is now in New York in hopes of playing for Team USA with teammate Sean Kuraly in the World Junior Championships.

Speaking of the WJC, tryouts will start in Finland tomorrow the 19th, and you can keep an eye on Team USA during the tournament on the NHL Network. The 2013 World Junior Championships will be held in Ufa, Russia Dec. 26, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013. (We’ll post any roster updates and the upcoming schedule when we know more.) The only other CCHA players headed overseas are Michigan freshman Jacob Trouba and Notre Dame freshman Mario Lucia.

After this weekend, Miami is in a tie with Notre Dame for the top spot in the CCHA. Looks can be deceiving, however, as the Irish have 3 games in hand on Miami. In fact, the RedHawks have played the most games in the CCHA, and 3rd place Western Michigan has 2 games in hand on them and sit just 4 points behind. Meanwhile, Michigan, selected #1 by the media and #2 by the coaches of the CCHA in the preseason polls, sits in a tie for 7th with Alaska and behind teams like Ohio State, Lake Superior State and Ferris State. It should be an interesting second half, that’s for sure. Miami will need to keep taking 5 and 6 points a weekend and also play well in their non-conference games to be well positioned in the PairWise rankings, which will lead to a berth in the NCAA tournament.

And finally, let’s take a quick look at the polls. Miami now sits in the #5 spot in both polls, staying exactly where they were last week. Seeing as though it’s the half way point of the season, now is a good time to take a good look at the PairWise, and Miami is currently 9th there. Not a bad place to be, especially considering the recent opponents. Teams like Dartmouth, Yale and Quinnipiac should drop a smidge, and Miami should be able to move up with upcoming opponents like Wisconsin (in Madison January 18-19), Western Michigan (in Kalamazoo February 8-9) and Notre Dame (home and in Chicago on February 15th and 17th).

The Hawks will be off for 2 weeks, adn return to action December 28th in the Three Rivers Classic. Miami plays the same Ohio State squad on Friday night, and Saturday’s games will be determined by Friday’s results. It will be Robert Morris or Penn State on Saturday night.

Miami looks to rebound with next 3 games against Ohio State

Wait what? 3 games against Ohio State?

Well, let’s lump them all in together. Miami plays this weekend at Ohio State in what could be the last games in Columbus in a good while, and follows that up with a game in between Christmas and New Years in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh against the same team. That makes 3 in a row. And I want to throw up now.

In the effort of having our lunches remain inside of us for now, I’ll spare you the gruesome pictures of Ohio State’s uniform choices in the past, but remind you that they are hideous. We’ll see enough of that on the ice in the next 35 hours or so. Let’s jump in with some comparisons, shall we?

Brady Hjelle will be in net for Ohio State, most likely for both games this weekend. He is 5-3-3 on the season with a 1.46 GAA. Not to shabby until you look at Miami’s Fab Freshmen Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. McKay has still only allowed 2 goals in his 4 starts (2-1-1) and Williams is a stellar 8-2-2 on the season, having filled in for McKay for a stretch. On the other hand, Hjelle has started 40 games already in his career, while Miami’s duo is still at only 16 combined games. There will be rubber flying around the rink the next 2 nights, but it may not tickle the twine too often for either side.

Where Miami MUST be strong this weekend is on special teams. Last weekend against Lake Superior State, all three goals the Lakers scored were on the power play, and LSSU was 3 for 7 overall. On the season, Miami’s scoring pretty well on their own power play at 15%, but are operating at just 86.2% efficience on the kill. That’s quite the low number compared to years past from the RedHawks under Head Coach Enrico Blasi. On paper, Miami shouldn’t have to deal with too much on the Ohio State side of special teams. OSU is scoring just 11.4% of the time on the power play and is a paltry 85.7% on the kill. Austin Czarnik will look to cheat the penalty kill and get another SHG – he currently leads the NCAA with 3 shorties so far this season.

Ohio State is also in the midst of possibly playing the same team three times in a short span. They had a home and home series against Robert Morris last weekend, and came away 0-1-1. Everyone A team like Ohio State should be able to roll over RMU easily. Instead, OSU lost at home to them 3-2, and then tied them 2-2 in Pittsburgh.

As we know, Miami’s young core of talent leads the way, and only 2 returning upperclassmen are in the team’s top 10 in scoring (Curtis McKenzie is 4-6–10 and Bryon Paulazzo is 2-2–4, Senior Marc Hagel has 2-3–5 in his first season in Oxford). Ohio State is led by Ryan Dzingelberry, who has 6 goals and 8 assists on the season. He is undoubtedly the Ohio State leader and is often seen skating all out and hustling on every play. Stopping him will be another key to the extended series.

Tonight’s game will will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network. They are also the first games of the Ohio Cup series for Miami among the 3 Ohio teams  (Ohio State won and BGSU won a shootout in their series earlier this year). Wouldn’t it be nice to deal a crushing blow to Ohio State on their network? I think so too. Hawks tonight. Other guys tomorrow for the split.

If you are travelling to Columbus or are attending with the Miami group, be sure to say hi and drive safely! Enjoy the games, and Happy Holidays everyone!