Category Archives: NCHC
In four meetings last season, No. 20 Miami only beat Colorado College once, with that win coming in overtime. In its first win over the Tigers since, the RedHawks again won in an extra session.
Casey Gilling fired home a power play shot from the high slot to lift MU to a 3-2 win over CC at the 2:19 mark of overtime on Saturday as the teams split the weekend series.
The RedHawks (9-5), who led by two after the first period before CC rallied to force the extra session, are now 3-3 in the NCHC, one-quarter of the way through league play.
RECAP: River Rymsha fired a shot from the left point that found its way, opening the scoring for Miami with 5:25 left in the first period.
The RedHawks extended their lead to two four minutes later. Josh Melnick slid a pass between his legs to Scott Corbett, whose shot was denied, but the rebound was backhanded in by Derek Daschke at the top of the faceoff circle.
Colorado College (5-6-1) cut the Miami lead to one four minutes into the second period shorthanded when RedHawks defenseman Alec Mahalak tried to break up a cross-crease pass, but it went in on MU goalie Ryan Larkin, and after he deflected it to side of the net, Mason Bergh banged home the loose puck.
Bergh tied it with 3:49 left in the middle stanza on a one-time blast from the right wing faceoff dot on the power play for his third goal of the weekend.
Corbett was whistled for a penalty with 1:50 remaining in regulation, and Colorado College couldn’t score, but the Tigers took a minor in the extra frame to set up Gilling’s game winner.
Gilling wristed one toward the net but it broke the stick of CC’s Tanner Ockey and came back to Gilling, who snuck one in on the stick side to win it.
STATS: Daschke and Melnick both finished with two points, as Daschke scored once and picked up an assist and Melnick ended up with a pair of helpers.
— Daschke has nine points in nine games and Melnick has 11 in eight games. Melnick also went 22-7 in the faceoff circle.
— Gilling now has seven points in as many contests.
THOUGHTS: A popular mentality is that the altitude catches up to opposing teams on Saturdays when playing a weekend series a mile above sea level, but Miami scored in Minute 122 of this set.
Like Friday, the RedHawks were dominated for portions of this game, especially in the second period, but they still found a way to win.
— Larkin seemed skittish at times in this game but settled down for the stretch run and obviously shut CC out the final 26 minutes. He has allowed exactly two goals in four straight contests.
— Andrew Sinard started the game paired with Bray Crowder but Rymsha took over his defense spot later in the game. Not sure if Sinard was hurt or benched.
— On that note, a full disclosure: I watched this game on NCHC TV but had major internet issues and was reduced to viewing the balance on the phone.
So we’ll keep the opinions to a minimum.
LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Noah Jordan dressed for the third time this season and fellow forward Zach LaValle sat.
Coach Enrico Blasi has gotten away from playing F Carter Johnson and Ds Chaz Switzer and Grant Frederic.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami blew a two-goal lead but won in overtime and is now 3-3 in the league despite playing four of those six games on the road.
The league schedule gets a lot tougher from here so these slow starts aren’t going to fly.
Not as strong of a schedule vs. 2017-18, admittedly, but still: 9-5 after 14 has a good sound.
Colorado College and Miami have been the two least successful teams since the formation of the NCHC, but both are on upswings and could challenge for NCAA berths next spring as well as make runs at all-important home-ice seeds for the first round of the conference tournament.
The Tigers were 4-1-1 before their brutal start to the league schedule, as they dropped their first four NCHC games against St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth and are still looking for their first league win of 2018-19.
Meanwhile, Miami split both of its opening series in conference play and are looking to make an early move in the ultra-competitive NCHC.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: No. 20 Miami RedHawks (8-4) at Colorado College Tigers (4-5-1).
WHERE: World Arena (7,380), Colorado Springs, Colo.
WHEN: Friday – 10:07 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 9-7-2.
LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: Colorado College, 2-1-1. Nov. 3 – Miami, 3-2, OT; Nov. 4 – Colorado College, 2-1; Jan. 26 – Colorado College, 6-3; Jan. 27 – Tie, 4-4.
COLORADO COLLEGE RADIO: Both nights – KRDO-FM (105.5 and 92.5) and KRDO-AM (1240), Colorado Springs, Colo.
MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
TELEVISION: Friday – AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (DirecTV Ch. 683, Dish Network Ch. 414).
NOTES: Colorado College opened NCHC play by facing the top two teams in Division I the past two weekends — St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth — and were outscored, 15-5 in four losses.
The Tigers have been well balanced in their scoring early this season, with eight skaters averaging at least half a point per game.
Ten forwards have recorded at least four points for Colorado College, with Nick Halloran and Trey Bradley tied for the team lead at nine.
Alex Berardinelli is tops in Tigers goals with five, including two shorthanded, and Westin Michaud has scored four times and added three assists.
Grant Cruikshank (2-4-6), Mason Bergh (0-5-5) and Chris Wilkie (3-2-5) round out Colorado College’s scoring leaders, although Wilkie has missed the last four games.
Freshman Bryan Yoon leads the team in defenseman points with five, including one goal, and Kristian Blumenschein has four assists.
Andrew Farny, Ben Israel, Zach Berzolla and Alex Pernitsky have been the other regulars on the blueline.
Alex Leclerc has logged nine games in net and will likely start both games this weekend. He has a 2.62 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
Amazingly, the Tigers have had 51 power play chances compared to 29 for their opponents and have scored 10 times on the man advantage as well as three shorthanded goals.
But Colorado College is just 72.4 percent on the penalty kill and has surrendered a pair of shorties.
Gordie Green has led the RedHawks by tallying 10 points in his last seven games, including five goals, and Josh Melnick has notched nine points in six games. Casey Gilling is 1-4-5 in his last five.
Miami is 7-for-26 (.269) on the power play the last seven games.
Two trends MU would like to reverse: The RedHawks have been outshot by an average of 14 SOG the last three games and have given up five third-period goals in that span.
OXFORD, Ohio – Not only did Casey Gilling score the goal that put No. 19 Miami ahead for good, he assisted on the other two RedHawks tallies.
The sophomore’s three-point night powered MU to a 3-2 win over the No. 11 Fighting Hawks at Cady Arena on Saturday as the teams split their two-game weekend series.
Miami (8-4) snapped a two-game skid and ended UND’s winning streak at five.
RECAP: With 6:01 left in the first period, Gilling fired a shot from the right wing that hit off a skate and caromed to Josh Melnick at the left faceoff circle, and Melnick roofed it to give the RedHawks the early lead.
The Fighting Hawks’ Jordan Kawaguchi tied it when he took a one-time pass from Jasper Weatherby and whipped it past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin from the right faceoff circle just 3:38 into the third period.
That goal came seconds after Larkin had made a highlight-reel stop on a one-timer from the slot.
The RedHawks took the lead for good when Gilling deflected a blue line wrister from Derek Daschke with 10:23 left in regulation, giving MU a 2-1 lead.
Gilling fired a pass to Karch Bachman on the left wing, and Bachman blew past the defense and fired a shot under UND goalie Adam Scheel with 3:40 remaining, extending Miami’s lead to two.
The Fighting Hawks (5-3-1) cut the deficit to one with 22 seconds left as a wrister by Matt Kiersted hit Miami’s Brayden Crowder and bounced to Kawaguchi for his second goal of the night.
Kawaguchi had not previously scored this season.
STATS: Gilling’s three points ties a career high and he earned two assists for the first time in his career.
It was the third goal in six games for Melnick, and Bachman found the net for the first time in eight contests.
Larkin stopped a season-high 35 shots, as he made over 30 saves for just the second time in 2018-19.
THOUGHTS: Miami came out flat to start Friday but did not have that issue in this game.
The RedHawks earned this win against one of college hockey’s flagship programs during a supposed rebuilding year.
This is the biggest quality victory for Miami this season, which has seen MU beat a lot of downtrodden teams.
— And the crowds are coming back. This was the best of 2018-19 in terms of numbers and intensity, and UND’s vocal contingent helped build this rivalry.
Miami’s so-called rebuild for this season seems to be happening more quickly than anticipated.
— Phil Knies was injured on a hit along the boards, and he may miss some games to a resulting upper-body injury.
FORWARDS: B. Much better puck possession by this corps than Friday, when UND put on a clinic. We mention the top guys all the time, but Zach LaValle has really stood out in his opportunities. River Rymsha jumped up from the blue line to anchor the Melnick-Gordie Green line.
DEFENSEMEN: C+. North Dakota generated a lot of scoring chances against the defense corps, not surprising considering the Fighting Hawks’ resume. With Knies being injured, Brayden Crowder and Andrew Sinard played together for a 13-feet, 1-inch pairing, and both stood out. Crowder made multiple key defensive plays with his stick and Sinard used his backside to impede opponents and shut down a UND breakaway with his backchecking.
GOALTENDING: A-. Larkin stopped 36 shots, and the the two goals he allowed were on a cross-crease one-timer and a fluky bounce off a blocked shot. Seconds prior to the first UND goal Larkin flashed the pad on a 2-on-1 for his best save of the season.
LINEUP CHANGES: LaValle was back in up front and Sinard was in the lineup as the extra skater.
F Carter Johnson and D Chaz Switzer did not dress.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami has played one-third of its games and has a record of 8-4.
Yes, the team schedule hasn’t been as strong but any sane person would’ve taken a .667 winning percentage to this point if asked about it prior to the season.
Miami has also brought its recently-dormant crowd back into the mix, giving it another advantage as the RedHawks enter the crux of their schedule.
OXFORD, Ohio – North Dakota took advantage of a sluggish Miami start and rode an early two-goal lead to victory, handing MU its second consecutive loss.
The No. 11 Fighting Hawks, who won their fifth straight game, scored twice in the first period and held the RedHawks to 17 shots on goal en route to a 3-1 victory at Cady Arena on Friday.
Ryan Siroky scored the lone No. 19 Miami goal in the closing seconds of the second period, and RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin stopped 25 of 27 shots in the loss, with the third UND goal coming on an empty netter.
RECAP: North Dakota (5-2-1) opened the scoring at the 8:28 mark of the first period when Joel Janatuinen reversed course behind the Miami net and centered a pass to a wide-open Matt Kiersted in the slot, and Kiersted deposited it into the net on the power play.
The Fighting Hawks extended their lead to two when Mark Senden wired home a drop pass from the top of the faceoff circle with 4:41 left in the opening stanza.
Miami (7-4) cut the lead to one with a second left in the middle frame when a wrister from the point by Derek Daschke was deflected in by Ryan Siroky from the top of the faceoff circle.
But the RedHawks were unable to capitalize on a pair of third-period power plays and North Dakota’s Rhett Gardiner stole a pass from Grant Hutton and fired it into an open net with 10 seconds to play.
STATS: Siroky’s third goal tied a career high and gives him 10 career markers.
Daschke picked up his sixth point in six games, and Monte Graham also earned an assist, his second point of the season.
Miami failed to score on the power play for the first time in six games and has allowed five PPGs in its last three contests.
The RedHawks’ 17 shots were their fewest of the season. In their last game vs. UNO they generated 23, their previous low.
THOUGHTS: In terms of puck possession, North Dakota took Miami to school.
The hope was that in the third period, the Fighting Hawks may have tired due to skating circles around the RedHawks in the offensive zone.
UND had the better chances the first 35-37 minutes, but Miami began to flip that trend late in the second period, culminating in Siroky’s goal in the final seconds.
The RedHawks could not take advantage of that momentum, however, as they generated a total of one shot on two power plays in the final nine minutes of regulation. That’s not how you beat a perennial power like North Dakota – teams in that situation have to take advantage of such opportunities.
FORWARDS: D. Just didn’t create enough offense. Passing wasn’t crisp, and the faceoff percentage – a strength coming into this weekend – was in the low .300s.
DEFENSEMEN: C. Daschke was integral in Miami’s lone goal, and it looked like he was tripped on North Dakota’s eventual first goal. Rourke Russell also was juked along the end boards before the centering feed. On the Fighting Hawks’ final goal Grant Hutton played the puck to himself along the boards but it was picked off and fired in.
GOALTENDING: B. Larkin allowed two goals: One on a wide-open point-blank rip from the slot and the other on a laser-perfect snipe by Senden.
LINEUP CHANGES: Defenseman Chaz Switzer dressed for the second time this season, and Carter Johnson was in the lineup for the fourth straight Friday.
Out were F Christian Mohs and D Andrew Sinard.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Ultimately Miami didn’t play well enough to win. The RedHawks hung with North Dakota the final 40 minutes but had already dug themselves a two-goal hole, which is huge against such a talented opponent.
The Fighting Hawks were certainly the better team and played like a top-20, and at this point their No. 11 ranking seems about right.
A major penalty was a key reason Miami’s four-game winning streak ended on Saturday.
The No. 20 RedHawks led by two goals early but lost, 6-3 to Nebraska-Omaha in the series finale at Baxter Arena, partly due to three power play goals scored during a Mavericks five-minute man advantage.
Miami went up, 2-0 in the first period but allowed a Mavericks goal with 61 seconds left in the opening frame.
RedHawks captain Josh Melnick was given a major and game misconduct for spearing midway through the second period and UNO scored three times on the ensuing power play to give the team a lead which it would not relinquish.
It was the first win of the season for the Mavericks and the most goals against for the RedHawks in 2018-19.
RECAP: Miami (7-3) took the lead on a 5-on-3 when Melnick slid a lateral pass across the top of the faceoff circles, and Grant Hutton one-timed a rip past goalie Evan Weninger.
With one UNO (1-6-1) skater back, Hutton had a shot blocked, but the puck trickled to Phil Knies in the right faceoff circle, and he whipped one just under the crossbar to make it 2-0 a minute later.
But Taylor Ward batted home a bad-angle shot off a rebound from a point-blank Mason Morelli chance with 61 seconds left in the opening frame.
Melnick’s penalty put Miami down two men, and UNO’s Fredrik Olofsson roofed one from the right faceoff dot to tie it.
Kevin Conley scored from nearly the same spot on a partly-deflected pass 96 seconds later, giving the Mavericks their first lead of the weekend, 3-2.
Another 1:57 passed before Chayse Primeau one-timed a backdoor pass from Conley at the side of the cage, giving UNO a two-goal lead.
Miami cut its deficit to one when Gordie Green knocked home a long rebound from the inside edge of the faceoff circle less than two minutes into the final stanza.
But UNO’s Tristan Keck extended his team’s lead to two late in the third period, and Morelli netted his second of the night when he poked home a centering feed from behind the net.
STATS: Green scored for the fourth straight game and extended his points streak to five games.
He has five goals and five assists during his hot streak.
— Melnick has a four-game points streak (2-6-8), and Hutton and Jonathan Gruden both picked up points for the third straight contest.
— After a slow start on the power play, Miami has scored on the man advantage five straight games, going 6-for-19 in that span.
THOUGHTS: The elephant on the ice in this game is the Melnick penalty. The ensuing power play was obviously critical.
There was no replay on the UNO feed on NCHC.tv, so here’s what I think after going reviewing that segment of the game on the site:
— It appears Melnick rammed his stick between the legs of an UNO skater after the two battled for the puck along the boards for an extended time.
— The case could be made that said skater interfered with Melnick as he attempted to vacate the area.
— The NCAA is tightening up in certain areas, and while I’ve certainly witnessed way worse hits in recent years that have not been called, college hockey is now replaying nefarious incidents and is obviously not afraid to dish out majors.
— All that said, a minor was certainly warranted. Considering what we’ve seen called majors the first four weekends, it’s not out of line that Melnick received a major.
The upgrade was extremely costly to Miami, as the Mavericks scored twice in the final three power play minutes that wouldn’t have happened had the call been a minor. Those three goals flipped a 2-1 Miami lead to a 4-2 UNO advantage.
— The Mavericks had already tilted the ice in their direction heading into their scoring barrage, having trimmed the RedHawks’ lead to one after Miami jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and the penalty provided UNO the fuel to seize control of the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: Forwards Zach LaValle and Carter Johnson did not dress.
Christian Mohs and defenseman Andrew Sinard did, giving Miami seven defensemen.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is the first disappointing loss of the season, not because UNO was winless but because Miami had the lead and let it get away.
To be fair, Nebraska-Omaha is definitely better than the 0-6-1 record it sported entering this contest, but good teams rarely lose when they take two-goal leads.
The series ends in a split and Miami finishes its first 10 games with a 7-3 record, and not to put words in anyone’s mouth but I’m guessing under the off-season circumstances the coaching staff is happy with a .700 winning percentage through the first weekend in November.
But the schedule gets a lot tougher the rest of the way, and the RedHawks can ill afford to have discipline lapses turn would-be wins into losses.
Miami’s ninth game of the season was its first true road contest, but the No. 20 RedHawks kept up their MO of winning by wide margins.
Gordie Green found the net twice as MU scored the final three goals in a 4-1 win vs. Nebraska-Omaha at Baxter Arena on Friday, extending its winning streak to four games.
This was also the NCHC opener for the RedHawks (7-2), who played six of their first eight games this season in Oxford and the other two in Erie, Pa., in the Ice Breaker Tournament.
During their recent hot spell, the RedHawks have surrendered just three goals and none in the third period.
Miami goalie Ryan Larkin won his fifth straight game, stopping 19 of 20.
RECAP: Jonathan Gruden scored his first career goal when he skated behind the UNO net and shot it off the back of goalie Evan Weninger on the power play just 79 seconds into the game.
The Mavericks (0-6-1) tied it with a Taylor Ward goal on a tic-tac-toe passing play as he swept in a pass from the top of the crease with 2:53 remaining in the first period. That tally was also scored on the man advantage
Miami regained the lead 66 seconds later on a blue line blast by Grant Hutton that was deflected in by Brian Hawkinson for his first career goal.
With 5:27 left in the middle stanza, Gordie Green jarred the puck from an UNO defender in the Miami zone, and Scott Corbett seized it and fired a shot off the crossbar. The puck skipped through the top of the crease and Green batted it out of the air as it dribbled into the back of the cage.
Green picked up his second marker of the night with an emphatic rip into the empty net from the outside edge of the faceoff circle with 22 seconds to play after controlling a Josh Melnick two-line outlet pass.
STATS: The Green-Melnick combo on Miami’s top line continues to dominate, as Green extended his multi-point game streak to four and Melnick picked up multiple points for the third consecutive contest.
Green has scored in three straight games and is 4-5-9 during his points streak. Melnick has scored twice and earned five assists in his last three.
— Hawkinson also has points in three straight, including his first career goal in this one.
— Larkin has allowed just three goals during his five-game win streak and has stopped 123 of 126 shots in that span (.976).
— This was the fourth straight game in which Miami did not allow a third-period goal, and the RedHawks have given up just three in nine contests this season.
In 2017-18 they surrendered 46 tallies in 37 games after the second intermission, including a pair in overtime.
THOUGHTS: Miami, once again, played a full 60 minutes against a team they were supposed to beat, and the RedHawks won for the seventh time, with six of those wins coming by three or more goals.
In other words, they’re beating teams they should beat and doing so in decisive fashion.
This was both the first true road game and the inaugural league contest for Miami, which passed both tests with high grades.
And UNO may be winless but it is not a bad team, or at least the Mavericks didn’t play that poorly. Their shot total of 20 is somewhat deceiving because they generated a lot of chances.
A road win in this league, regardless of the opponent’s status, is a major accomplishment, and in this game Miami pulled out the victory on hostile ice and looked good doing so.
— Great job answering the tying UNO goal late in the first period goal by regaining the lead before intermission. That was the Hawkinson deflection on the Hutton blast and eventual game winner.
— Can’t say enough about how well Green is playing. He has nine points in four games and his defense is as good as his offense. He made his first goal happen with his forechecking, as he knocked the puck loose and scored on the rebound from Corbett’s ensuing shot.
— I’d been to all of the first eight games and this was the first one I’d seen on TV, but Derek Daschke looked even better on the tube than live. Twice a last-second desperation play prevented a slam-dunk goal, and he picked up two assists, giving him five points in his last four.
Daschke was probably even more amped to play against the school he was formerly committed to. Mentioned this last weekend but he continues to better every game.
— Prior to this game, only four Miami forwards had played every game but had not scored, and Hawkinson and Gruden both took their names off that list.
Gruden had been snakebitten, as the Ottawa Senators’ fourth rounder was expected to contribute right away.
Yet Hawkinson played three full USHL seasons – 164 games – and only scored 10 times with just 16 assists. Despite his lack of scoring in juniors Hawkinson has a 1-5-6 line in nine games with Miami.
Gruden has tons of raw talent and it should be fun to watch him develop, and Hawkinson has taken complete advantage of his opportunity in Miami’s lineup and has already become a regular on the penalty kill.
— Karch Bachman hit a post early and then a crossbar-and-post later in the game. He had three goals in the first four games this season and continues to get better in other aspects.
He is scoreless in five straight but has been pretty unlucky recently and it feels like he’s going to break out again soon.
— This game was broadcast nationally on one of the regional Fox Sports Channels, and UNO announcers Dave Ahlers and David Brisson did a fabulous job.
Both are very fair in their announcing – regularly complimenting Miami players for their play – and extremely knowledgeable.
Ahlers is a former AHL announcer and Brisson played briefly in the pros after graduating from UNO.
FORWARDS: A-. A well-played game by this entire corps, up and down the lines. Green was the standout with Melnick not far behind. Gruden still makes too many high-risk passes but hopefully this goal will vault his game another level.
DEFENSEMEN: B+. Especially liked Daschke’s play although he did turn one over for a near-goal. Rourke Russell also stood out, and watching from a higher vantagepoint it was easier to appreciate his geometrical smarts in his usage of the boards on defensive-zone passes.
GOALTENDING: A. The goal against was on a magnificent passing play that was basically a 2-on-oh at the top of the crease. Larkin is a key reason for Miami’s hot start and his rebound control is as good as it’s ever been since he came to Oxford.
LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Up front, Carter Johnson was back in the lineup after sitting last Saturday. He has now played three straight series openers but has sat in consecutive finales.
He replaced Andrew Sinard, who was the seventh defenseman in Game 2 vs. Colgate last weekend.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Winless or not, UNO played pretty well and Miami was better.
The Mavericks hurt themselves with undisciplined penalties early and the RedHawks took advantage with a power play goal.
Omaha is obviously in a down year but this was still a quality win for Miami.
How appropriate is it that Miami faces Nebraska-Omaha to commence league play?
Six teams begin their in-conference schedules this weekend, and the RedHawks open their NCHC slate against the Mavericks after landing associate head coach Peter Mannino and multiple commits from UNO last off-season.
BoB takes a look at this weekend’s series between Miami and the Mavericks.
WHO: Miami RedHawks (6-2) at Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (0-5-1).
WHERE: Baxter Arena, Omaha, Nebraska (7,898).
WHEN: Friday – 8:07 p.m.; Saturday – 8:07 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 20-17-6.
LAST SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD: UNO, 2-0-0. Jan. 12 – UNO, 11-7. Jan. 13 – UNO, 4-3.
UNO RADIO: Both nights – KZOT-AM (1180), Bellevue, Neb.
MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Though the teams had identical 10-13-1 conference records last season and UNO finished just two games better than Miami, with Mannino behind the RedHawks’ bench his new team is 6-2 and earned the No. 20 spot in this week’s USCHO poll.
Without Mannino and his commits – including defensemen and MU starters Derek Daschke and Bray Crowder – UNO is 0-5-1, losing five straight after an opening-night tie at Union.
The acquisition of those now-Miami blueliners is especially noteworthy because the Mavericks have hemorrhaged in the goals against department this season. UNO has allowed 33 goals, including 11 on the power play and three shorthanded in just six games.
Opponents are averaging 37 shots and scoring on 15 percent of them.
The Mavericks have played all three goalies on their roster, and they have a collective 5.42 goals-against average and .851 save percentage.
Evan Weninger has started five games and has a GAA of 5.01 and team-best save percentage of .872. He stopped 74 shots in last weekends losses at Arizona State but surrendered 12 goals, getting the hook after letting seven in Friday.
Alex Blankenburg and Matej Tomek both have save percentages well below .800 in limited action.
Dean Stewart is the lone Maverick defenseman to find the net this season, as he has scored twice and earned three more assists.
The rest of UNO’s blueline corps has combined for just five points, all on assists, led by Ryan Jones’ two. Stewart, Jones, Lukas Buchta and Jalen Schulz are all returning regulars, having logged at least 30 games for Nebraska-Omaha last season.
Up front, Fredrik Olofsson leads the team in assists (6) and points (7). Zach Jordan – a 16-goal scorer in 2017-18 – and Mason Morelli are tied for the team lead with three goals and are second and third in points, respectively.
Tristan Keck and Teemu Pulkkinen have identical 1-2-3 lines.
Four of the Mavericks’ top five points producers from last season graduated, and freshman and sophomores have a combined three goals and five assists in 2018-19, so UNO needs to hit the recruiting trail hard in the coming months.
By comparison, Miami has generated 21 points from its first-year skater class.
Last season, these teams met for one series, which was played at Omaha, and the RedHawks allowed 15 goals in the two-game sweep.
While Phil Knies did score four times that weekend, Miami would like to see a better defensive effort at Baxter Arena this season.
A couple of online sites list this game as being televised on one of the FOX Sports regional channels, but it’s not showing up on the DirecTV schedule.
If it does pop up we’ll send an update on Twitter.
He was the starting goalie during Denver’s 2005 NCAA championship season and played six NHL games before turning to coaching, and behind the bench he has already won a Clark Cup title in the USHL as an assistant with Chicago.
On March 29, less than three weeks after Miami relieved both of its assistant coaches of duties, Peter Mannino was hired into the associate head coaching role.
Mannino moved to Oxford along with his wife, Alyta, daughter, Sienna, 3, and son, Luca, 1.
BoB: You were named associate head coach this off-season, so what would you want Miami fans to know about you from a coaching philosophy perspective?
Mannino: I’m a very approachable, honest coach. One that really dives into the experience I had when I played. I try to bring that to the table because I never want to forget those days. My brain is at the same level as what they’re going through. That’s just the way I approach things, the way we ask (the players) to every day – be honest, work hard and be approachable, have a two-way communicative relationship. That’s what I really, really want the players to know, is that we care about them. We’re here to push them, on and off the ice, take care of them when we need to, push them when we need to and make them earn everything that they’ve deserved up to this point. Kind of all those little attributes, those words kind of pile up together and that’s the way things go with me and the players.
BoB: You played at Denver and have coached at Nebraska-Omaha, so you seem like a perfect fit at Miami in terms of a coach who understands this conference and these teams’ styles as well as the type of player teams need to recruit to win in this league.
Mannino: Absolutely. It was the same way when I played – I played in the USHL, I played junior hockey, I went through the different steps and levels, and what I’m really excited about is I was able to coach two years in the USHL with the Chicago Steel and work my way up. Because you see those players define their levels of college or next step in life, and I went through that for several years. I had a lot of success my second year and I was able to distinguish that level change for (those players) as they developed and when I went to UNO last year, first hand I was a part of it, from practicing to recruiting to game-like speed. I’m very familiar with the NCHC, which is so identical to the old WCHA when I played.
BoB: Stepping back to your NCAA career, you were in net for every game of Denver’s title run in 2005 culminating in a Frozen Four played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Can you reflect on that experience, winning a national championship as a freshman?
Mannino: Obviously the cliché: It was special. It was kind of unique too because (Denver) had won it the year before. So when I went in everybody was like, oh, you jumped on the bandwagon. No, no, no, I committed before they won, so actually we had a bullseye on our backs. We had to play honest every night because people wanted to get us. We were the defending champions but really it was kind of awkward because our freshman group wasn’t a part of that, but we were meshed into it. So it was really unique to be a part of a very special time at Denver hockey where they had just won – and it was an iconic Frozen Four – to then step foot into my position, there was a lot of what could’ve been looked like as pressure.
But our group from seniors to freshmen, we meshed right away. We pushed each other, we held each other accountable and it just showed, game by game all the way to that championship, we all relied on each other and we all needed each other, it wasn’t just (Paul) Stastny, it was Matt Laatsch our captain – it was awesome. You have to have a team approach to win in the NCAA because it gets so hard, so tight, and one goal can change your career. It’s an eternal memory that I am obviously am very fortunate to have from when I played and moved on to play professionally, but now as a coach I cherish those memories because I can dive into those and talk to guys about them and hopefully help them.
BoB: Your 2005 run is quite a story, because your dominant final stretch that postseason was preceded by a pair of games in which you allowed five goals each. You then posted three straight shutouts and obviously went 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament. What turned you around so quickly that season?
Mannino: It’s that freshman year, right? You go into it, it’s a new team, new feel, new level, and my game was adjusting. I had ups and downs – I remember my first game getting pelted by Boston College then turning around and playing Wisconsin and having a really good win on the road. That’s what I tell the guys – you’ve got to use those (struggles) and get through them, and it’s the big picture. Just like you said: No one looks at those back-to-back five-goal games, but that was my journey. I needed to embrace that and get better and over it, and then in the end you look at the big picture and (the title) was the end result. You were just asking me about that year and the first thing I think of is the ups and downs. We had a tough start, we played some games in which we struggled as a team but those struggles are so important rather than just the back-to-back (titles). We needed to struggle to get to that point, to stay the course at the national tournament, so yeah, that was part of the journey.
BoB: For those like myself who grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL but lacked the necessary talent, you made it to the NHL and played six games. What do you take from that chapter of your life in which you were able to play hockey at the highest level, albeit for a brief time?
Mannino: A dream come true. Everything you do from when I was went to that first NHL game I wanted to be in that arena, be part of that crowd, and I remember telling my third- or fourth-grade teacher that I want to play in the NHL. That was my goal. The thing you learn is just how hard it is to get there. You said I played six games, but I was up for 50 games. No one ever knows that, but it’s so hard to get there, and then to play a game – guys get called up and sit around and they never get that shot. It is so hard but that’s what it’s so special, because of that, and it’s the group and the teams – everything around you from your parents to coaches to opportunities people give you. I could spend hours telling you: This guy believes in me, this guy believes in me, this guy called me and let me play here, this guy allowed me to get seen here. It’s all about finding people that you trust and taking advantage of opportunities. I did that for the most part and that’s what got me six games, but I’m fortunate for everything – I’m thankful to my parents, I’m thankful to every coach, every teammate, every team that I was a part of, because everybody played a part of it.
BoB: You were a coach at Omaha, and the Mavericks have been slightly better than Miami in recent years, so what was the hook that brought you to Oxford?
Mannino: You and I know and we have this conversation with so many people that last year, from where we were at Omaha, (we could’ve finished) anywhere, 4-through-8, the last few four weekends, and it was very stressful. In Omaha we were able to piece together a nice little finish there with some splits and some wins. The boys dug deep, we had a nice senior class, everybody played a big part of that, and we were able to stay in that mid-pack, and unfortunately Miami kind of flipped, right? That just shows you how special our conference is. In any given year – three years ago Miami won the NCHC. There’s so many differences in the year-by-year.
For me it’s not about that, it was more opportunity, relationship-based: Rico Blasi the head coach and one of the founders here, George Gwozdecky, was my coach at Denver. So when I played in college, which is a special part of anybody’s career, when you’re there for four years, it establishes a culture, a mindset and just a belief in coaching and the whole philosophy. I’ve gotten to know Rico over the years, I know Jeff Blashill, I know the whole group that sort of mingles with George Gwozdecky, Rico and myself. There’s a trust – there’s a circle that you really know.
So when things kind of finished up and I received a call from Rico, it was not like talking to a person for the first time, it was listening to a person who was offering up an opportunity that was incredible. The history here – 20 years that Rico has been at Miami, he’s been to the top. What he’s built here, the Brotherhood, everything about it is so special. I’ve played with Andy Miele, players like that, that are part of the Brotherhood, I’ve seen it firsthand from an alum in the pro levels. Played in the game here, you know that game Denver vs. Miami (in the Ice Breaker to open Cady Arena in 2006), that was me, I was in that game. So I wanted to work under and with somebody that’s had such a special coaching career and players can attest to that, the success of the program. I wanted to be a part of that, and that was a special thing to get offered that and to be a part of (this program) here today with Miami.
And obviously that goes along with the school, everything from our AD to the president. This is such a beautiful campus, this whole setup, to live here with my family in Oxford – I’m from Michigan, my wife is from Illinois – you have that kind of hockey side of it and you have the personal side of it, and it just lined up, it made sense. I had to go through the process myself which was very tough because Omaha was a special place, great people – same thing, from ADs all the way down. But it was the right choice, 100 percent, this is where I needed to take that step and I’m very happy and very fortunate for this opportunity.
BoB: You mentioned you were the goalie for Denver in the first game at Cady Arena. As I recall, Miami won that game.
Mannino: Yeah, Rico sticks that to me every time. 5-2, I didn’t play very well, I probably overhyped the game because of all of the fans and the crowd and the students in the front of the building – I saw them while I was stretching. I hear it every day and every recruit hears it here too. But like it or not I’m kind of a part of the history here, and that kind of holds a special place because I didn’t play here but I did get a chance to play here, against them and feel the environment first-hand, and I think that’s an important piece to have when I talk to the players, to recruits coming in, is that I actually did play here, I know what this is like.
BoB: You were hired in late March, and coaches and players were leaving left and right, then Miami was still piecing together its roster this summer, so how tumultuous has this off-season been as you transition here?
Mannino: It was similar with Omaha, I think we had 10 or 11 players coming in – it’s the way it goes any time there’s change. When there’s change, you bring change because it’s time to kind of hit reset. There’s tough decisions, there’s players that move on. But in any of those situations or any losses that happen, a (Kiefer) Sherwood leaving early, losing a four-year player like (Louie Belpedio) and just other players moving on, it’s part of it. That’s the way things are today in college hockey. It’s a very, very quick-changing game with freshmen leaving, sophomores, people leaving just because they want to move. It’s a very loose field today, and it’s okay – that’s what we’re here for as coaches is to understand, players that sign early, move onto other places or can’t afford it, whatever might be.
This is a life here, it’s not just that you’re going to play hockey. There’s money invested, not everybody’s on a full scholarship, there’s so much stuff that happens. I understand that, Rico understands that, (assistant) Joel (Beal) understands that – that’s part of it, it’s forever changing. We’re thrilled obviously – like you said, there were a lot of changes that needed to be made and gaps that we had to fill – and we’re really excited about that, bringing in a lot of experience, a lot of great character personalities and success levels before they got here. That’s what we do, we’re piecing it together. I was in the same boat last year and everybody does it because you lose a lot of players because (college) is a level where players are moving on.
BoB: You were hired on March 29, and at that point most potential recruits’ seasons were winding down. So what has your primary focus been in the months since you accepted this position?
Mannino: Initially, (Miami’s) season was obviously over, so I got to fly in and sit in on all the end-of-the-year, start-of-the-spring-season meetings. So I got to listen in on a lot of guys talking about where they were, where they wanted to go. We broke it down as a staff. That was very crucial.
I know a really good amount of (Miami’s players), either coaching against them, USHL…I have a pretty good feel for most of the guys. Obviously I watched tape to get a good feel and then was just able to catch up in different sessions.
You already know them, you pre-scouted against them last year and obviously coached against a lot of them when I was in the USHL so I have a good feel there. As a coach, as a recruiter you have to understand what you’re getting into, and I knew right away what I was getting, what you inherit as a group.
That was a big thing because now it shifts to when I was hired, it was recruiting, getting to know the committed players, verbally and signed players. I got to know them right away. Get out there and see them if I haven’t – which is probably 90 percent of them anyway – and start the work for Miami right away. What are our holes, what are our needs? And we did that: We brought in defense, we brought in forwards to add depth in every area. With (goalie) Jordan (Uhelski), bringing a nice little competitiveness in the back end, that was the idea is making sure we’re hitting on all of our needs.
So that was kind of it off the hop: Identifying the current, identifying the future players and then going after them from a recruiting standpoint. Rico and I hit the road a good amount and then when Joel came aboard all three of us were running. And then it was sit down, strategy, plan out and kind of prepare from there.
Now we’re in practices, myself and Joel are working the penalty kill, working the goalies, working the systems. It’s a constant group effort, which is a big reason I wanted to come to Miami from the coaching side.
BoB: How difficult of a situation is this to come into, with Miami having not gone to the NCAA Tournament three straight years after a long run of success?
Mannino: Yeah, I think that’s it. We will see a different approach, a real good team approach, a hard-working, really good-skating, better mindset of defending. We’re going to see a really good goalie performance, whoever that is – I know Larks (Ryan Larkin) has carried the load here, and Jordan’s going to come in here and push which is all good competition. And we can say that throughout the lineup because we have depth. We’ve added pieces all around. We’ve added three Clark Cup (USHL) champions, you’ve added guys from the U.S. National Team or USHL, and those are pieces that are very, very important because that creates that culture and that championship mindset that we all want.
Knowing (defenseman) Derek (Daschke), we won with him (in Chicago), and that’s the mindset of all of our players is you know that they can come in and contribute right away in all areas, up and down the lineup. And that’s all you can ask for is experience like that and maturity.
So I think we’re going to have a very good year. It’s a stepping stone, every year, you wish you had one more here, one more there, but once again, that’s the way it is in college. Every team is looking at their board and they’re not complete. That’s just a fact.
BoB: You mentioned Derek Daschke. He is a highly-touted defenseman who was committed to UNO after playing for you in Chicago but switched to Miami this off-season after your hiring. He has a solid reputation and a two-way blueliner who can score, move the puck, run a power play and defend well. Can you talk about him since he’s a player you’re so familiar with?
Mannino: I know a lot of the guys, like Karch Bachman I coached in Chicago, recruited Bray Crowder, recruited Scott Corbett, recruited Monte Graham. I coached against (Phil) Knies when we were in the Clark Cup championship. It goes on and on and on. So I’m very familiar – this isn’t just one player. I know Larkin when he was in the USHL, I watched him in all of those festivals. I’ve seen all these guys, give or take a handful. (Derek) would be that mature, junior-experienced player that has had success and has gone through the gauntlet and prepares for it. His mindset is just like our other freshmen and sophomores moving forward, we feel like across the board we have a group that wants to be a group.
BoB: It’s been fun watching Karch Bachman get better and better, as he started finishing those chances toward the end of last season.
Mannino: You can say that about all of them, right? Everybody that’s still here is here to develop and continue to work toward that next level, and if not they’ve moved on to other levels or they’ve graduated. Kind of the fun part about college: It’s a very developmental stage. These guys have holes in their game that they want to work on every day and they have those strong attributes, like Karch can skate, he can shoot the puck, so what do you do with it? He’s been great – he understands it, identifies it and attacks it. Go after it, get better.
BoB: The former assistants had specific in-game roles, like Coach Brekke handled the defensemen. Being a former goalie, will you handle the netminders, and do you and Coach Beal know what your duties will be once the puck drops?
Mannino: Defense, PK, Joel and I will be working hand in hand in those areas, because if one of us is on the road we want to be up to par there. Obviously the goalies are a special nook – that’s one thing I’m going to be working with every day.
What I will say is going into it with Rico is he’s been awesome and receptive, asking Joel and myself whatever it is. We’re open on all cylinders here, drills, practice flow, plans for scheduling – that’s the fun part is learning under Rico and all contributing in all different ways, because that’s what we ask our guys to do. I think it’s a productive environment behind the scenes that we can all be on the same page too.
In 2016-17, Western Michigan finally reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the NCHC era.
Last season the Broncos regressed to four games under .500, posting their second-lowest winning percentage under coach Andy Murray.
But WMU could surprise, as the team returns its top eight points-producers and a talented eight-man freshman class that includes the Broncos’ second-highest NHL draft pick ever.
NCAA titles: 0.
COACH: Andy Murray (9th season, 118-116-34, .504).
2017-18 RECORDS: 15-19-2 (10-13-1 NCHC, 7th place).
POSTSEASON: Swept at Minnesota-Duluth in the first round of the NCHC Tournament.
RINK (capacity): Lawson Arena (3,667).
MIAMI VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN LAST SEASON: 2-2.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 68-63-11.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Jan. 11-12 – at Western Michigan; March 8-9 – at Miami.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Dawson DiPietro, F Wade Allison, F Hugh McGing, D Cam Lee, D Corey Schueneman, G Ben Blacker.
KEY NEW FACES: D Matthias Samuelsson, F Paul Cotter, D Jared Kucharek.
KEY LOSSES: D Paul Stoykewych, D Neal Goff.
NOTES: All three of Western Michigan’s 30-point skaters were sophomores last season, and with its top eight points leaders back again this fall, the Broncos’ offense looks formidable.
Dawson DiPietro dressed just once his freshman year but led WMU in assists (22) and points (35) in 2017-18. Wade Allison led the team in goals with 15 and notched 30 points.
Hugh McGing racked up 21 helpers and 30 points overall.
Colt Conrad was another key contributor up front, finishing 9-18-27, and Austin Rueschhoff notched 10 goals as a freshman.
Paul Cotter enters his freshman season after being selected by Las Vegas in the fourth round of this summer’s NHL draft. He was named to the USHL’s all-rookie team in 2017-18 following a 39-point campaign.
Three of the Broncos’ returning defenseman tallied at least 15 points last season, led by Corey Scheuneman’s 26. He scored five times – all on the power play.
Cam Lee picked up six goals and 18 assists, and Luke Bafia racked up 15 assists in addition to his lone goal, which was a game winner.
Mathias Samuelsson, son of former Pittsburgh Penguin Kjell Samuelsson, is expected to make an immediate impact on the blue line. He was drafted by Buffalo with the opening pick of the second round this June, the second earliest any Bronco has ever been selected.
He has played 105 games for the U.S. National Team.
Another newcomer for Western Michigan is Mike Joyaux, the youngest of the three Joyaux brothers. Both Chris and Matt played for Miami.
Following a stellar freshman season, goalie Blacker struggled in 2017-18, going 12-13-2 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .893 save percentage. Neither backup impressed in limited action.
Like many NCHC teams, Western Michigan scored plenty but also gave up its share of markers. The Broncos were No. 11 in the NCAA in goals per game but fourth last in average goals allowed.
NOTE: BoB previewed each opposing NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the seventh and final installment.
Here are the links for the remaining snapshots: