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Analysis: Any win has to help morale

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Getting a win, even in an exhibition game, can only help Miami.

The RedHawks edged the U.S. National Development Team, 7-5 on Friday to earn its first victory in nearly nine months.

It’s odd to hold an exhibition after the season starts, but scheduling in college hockey isn’t easy and a game against some of the top American-born prospects should always be welcome.

Plus those in attendance were able to watch commit Jonathan Gruden, who scored a goal for the U-18 squad.

It’s hard to know what to take from this game. Miami (0-2) generated numerous quality scoring chances, but the RedHawks allowed a good number as well.

Leaving Oxford and having success can only help Miami, which will travel to Maine next weekend for a series against the Black Bears.

Other thoughts…

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– Gordie Green and Josh Melnick were dynamic together, as Green scored twice and Melnick earned three assists. Green scored the game winner six minutes into the third period when Melnick kicked the puck from along the boards right to Green’s stick while he was streaking down center ice through the neutral zone, and Green buried the shot.

– Even though they don’t count, Grant Hutton scored two more goals in this win. That gives him 12 goals since the start of 2016-17 after he did not record a single marker in 2015-16.

– Another positive of playing Team USA is that top scouts from NHL teams will surely be in attendance. High-ranking members of Anaheim, Winnipeg, Dallas and Toronto were in attendance.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A-. Maybe a little soft defensively for Coach Enrico Blasi, but otherwise a solid performance by this group. Green and Melnick were outstanding, and Phil Knies showed off more of his stickhandling skills.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. Hutton scored twice but a team of 20-23 year-olds should have been able to hold down the number of quality shots by 17-year-olds.

GOALTENDING: D. Chase Munroe played all 60 minutes and let in a couple of easy shots. He was just 16 of 21 (.762) overall.

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Other leagues: SPHL’s Mantha thrives

Devin Mantha logged his fourth season in the SPHL, and despite playing just 32 games, he tallied 18 goals and 21 points for his best career points-per-game ratio in the pros.

Mantha, whose father is former NHL-er Moe Mantha, has scored 63 goals and dished for 86 assists for 149 points in just 170 games with Mississippi since 2013.

Max Cook finished the season with 11 goals and 13 assists in 47 games with Fayetteville, and rookie Andrew Schmit tallied six goals, 16 assists and 91 PIMs in 55 games with Pensacola.

EUROPE: Only four former Miamians suited up for European teams in 2016-17, and F/D Matt Tomassoni led ex-RedHawks in points with 32 on seven goals and 25 assists in 41 games with Frankfurt.

Ryan Jones scored 19 goals for Cologne, which plays in the the top league in Germany.

Cody Murphy (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Cody Murphy tallied 12 goals and 15 assists in 42 games for Bjorkloven (Sweden), and Mike Glumac – in his 15th pro season – went 8-8-16 for Zagreb in his fourth season with the Croatian-based KHL team.

PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?!?!?!?!? – No former Miamian playing in the SPHL or Europe was able to enjoy a late playoff run.

Schmit and Cook notched a goal and an assist in four games in their respective series, as both saw their teams eliminated in the first round. Cook dished for an assist in two games and Mantha picked up a helper in three contests, as his team also exited the playoffs early.

Andrew Schmit (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Jones played seven postseason games overseas and recorded one assist.

MILESTONES: Despite being limited to seven games, Jones tallied his 200th professional point last season. He needed just three to reach that mark and finished with a pair of goals and two helpers. That give him 121 pro goals and 90 assists between the NHL, AHL and Europe.

Glumac has now logged 921 games between the ECHL, AHL, NHL and Europe. Now the elder skatesman among former Miamians in the pros, he has 297 goals and 262 assists for 559 career points over 15 seasons.

See also: BoB’s look at RedHawks in the NHL, as well as RedHawks in the AHL in 2016-17 and RedHawks in the ECHL.

A look at all RedHawks that appeared in other leagues this season:

FINAL 2016-17 REGULAR SEASON STATS

SPHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Devin Mantha Mississippi F 32 18 21 39 16 20
Max Cook Fayetteville F 47 11 13 24 6 12
Andrew Schmit Pensacola F 55 6 16 22 10 91

Europe
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Matt Tomassoni Frankfurt (DEL-2)% F 41 7 25 32 17 8
Ryan Jones Cologne (DEL)# F 49 19 11 30 8 49
Cody Murphy Bjorkloven (Sweden)@ F 42 12 15 27 -2 41
Mike Glumac Zagreb (KHL)& F 60 8 8 16 -10 31

FINAL 2016-17 PLAYOFF STATS

SPHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Andrew Schmit Pensacola F 4 1 1 2 0
Max Cook Fayetteville F 2 0 1 1 2
Devin Mantha Mississippi F 3 0 1 1 2

Europe
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Ryan Jones Cologne (DEL)# F 7 0 1 1 8

%-Frankfurt is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga and plays in DEL2, the second highest league in Germany.
#-Cologne is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the top league in Germany.
@-Bjorkloven is in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second highest league in Sweden.
&-Zagreb is in the Kontinental Hockey League, the top league in Russia, its territories and surrounding countries.

Photos: North Dakota at Miami

Images from the North Dakota-Miami series played at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, on March 3-4, 2017. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/Blog of Brotherhood.

Miami drops its fourth straight

OXFORD, Ohio – Game 2 of Miami’s home series vs. No. 2 Denver bore a striking resemblance to Game 1.

Fall behind, tie the score at two, allow the final three goals.

And ultimately, drop its fourth straight game by an identical 5-2 score as the Pioneers swept the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami (9-15-1) is now ensured a losing record in both the regular season and conference play.

MU’s night starting promisingly enough, as Carson Meyer opened the scoring with a bad-angle shot that eluded goalie Tanner Jaillet just 4:10 into the first period.

But in another similarity to the series opener, Denver (22-6-4) would net its first two goals less than 90 seconds apart.

Troy Terry penetrated the zone, skated in and beat goalie Ryan Larkin after toe-dragging the puck to tie the score on the power play with 7:04 left in the first period.

The Pioneers pulled ahead when a shot from the left faceoff circle snuck through Larkin’s pads with 6:22 remaining in the opening stanza.

In 42 seconds, Miami had gone from leading 1-0 to trailing, 2-1.

The RedHawks did tie the score on the man advantage when Grant Hutton blasted one by Jaillet 4:08 into the middle frame.

But Denver took the lead for good 2:22 later, as Terry skated across the slot and whipped one into the top corner of the net.

Romig made it 4-2 when he scored on a one-timer off a pass by Colin Staub from behind the Miami net with 14:55 left in regulation.

Exactly 10 minutes later, Tariq Hammond capped the scoring when he beat Larkin low to the stick side moments after a potential fifth Denver goal was waved off.

With time running out, RedHawks defenseman Louie Belpedio was kneed and left the game. He did put pressure on his leg but was still helped off the ice. The Pioneers’ Jarid Lukosevicius was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct.

Miami's Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Meyer snapped a six-game goal drought but has points in his last three. Hutton found the net for the second time in five contests.

Anthony Louis picked up an assist, becoming the 34th player in Miami history to rack up 120 career points. He is in a five-way tie for 30th with 45 goals and 75 helpers.

Miami remains in seventh place in the NCHC, five points out of both fifth and sixth, and dropped to 28th in the PairWise Rankings.

The RedHawks travel to Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game set next weekend.

Photos: W. Michigan at Miami

Images from the series played at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, on Jan. 27-28, 2017. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

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Photos: UNO at Miami

Images from the series between Nebraska-Omaha and Miami played at Cady Arena on Nov. 11-12, 2016. All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

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Miami allows 6 more in UNO finale

OXFORD, Ohio – In a 1:50 span of the first period, Miami erased a two-goal deficit on two blasts by Kiefer Sherwood.

But over the final 40 minutes, Nebraska-Omaha netted four unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday, spoiling MU goalie Chase Munroe’s first collegiate start and extending Miami’s losing streak to five games.

The RedHawks (3-6-2) have allowed 23 goals in their last four games.

Only two of the eight goals were scored at even strength.

UNO (6-3-1) opened the scoring on the power play, as the Mavericks won the draw and a pass found Teemu Pulkkinen in the high slot. Pukkinen backhanded one on net, got his own rebound and slid across to Mason Morelli for a slam-dunk goal 6:15 into the first period.

Nebraska-Omaha extended its lead shorthanded less than seven minutes later when RedHawks defenseman Grant Hutton had a defensive zone pass intercepted, and David Pope and Austin Ortega played give-and-go for a tap-in goal by Ortega.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami responded with 4:58 left in the opening period on the power play when a shot by Anthony Louis hit a body in the slot and ricocheted to Sherwood, who fired it into the top corner from the left faceoff circle.

Sherwood scored from nearly the same spot 110 seconds later, again on the man advantage, on a set-up pass from the point by Josh Melnick, tying the score.

But after that the game got away from the RedHawks.

Ian Brady centered a pass to Luc Snuggerud, who skated around Miami goalie Chase Munroe and deposited the puck in the net to give UNO a 3-2 lead 7:20 into the second period.

The Mavericks again took a two-goal lead just over two minutes later on a 5-on-3 slap shot by David Pope from the center of the faceoff circle.

Tristan Keck sprung Ortega loose for a breakaway, and Ortega pulled up and slid the puck under Munroe to make it 5-2 with 15:12 left in regulation.

Snuggerud capped off the scoring when he pitchforked one through Munroe three minutes later.

Sherwood has scored four goals in his last four games, and Melnick, Louis and Brandt all picked up assists for the second straight contest.

Carter Johnson recorded the other helper.

Ortega and Snuggerud both ended the night with two goals and an assist.

In addition to struggling on the ice, Miami’s injuries are also piling up. Goalie Ryan Larkin, who had started the first 10 games, was out with an upper-body injury, and it is unclear when he will return.

Forward Carson Meyer, the RedHawks’ freshman points leader with 10, missed the entire weekend with an illness and could be out multiple weeks. And defenseman and captain Louie Belpedio missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury and had a noticeable limp when he walked around the concourse, but he is expected back next weekend.

Miami is now 0-4 in NCHC play.

The RedHawks’ next four games will be on the road, with their first two coming at Denver on Nov. 18-19.

Analysis: Youth no excuse for loss

OXFORD, Ohio – A young Miami team learned a hard lesson on Friday.

Playing 15 of a possible 60 minutes will not earn you many wins against NCHC opponents.

The RedHawks were lackluster in the first period and the final 25 as they squandered a three-goal lead, falling to Nebraska-Omaha, 6-4 at Cady Arena.

More specifically, it was Miami’s defensive play that did it in during its NCHC home opener. In the first period, UNO players were left open via the backdoor cut multiple times, and the goal the Mavericks scored was on a tip-in by an uncovered player at the edge of the crease.

The latter point is one we’ve seen used a lot by opponents recently. Miami goalie Ryan Larkin has pro-level reflexes, and one of the hardest things for any goalie to defend is the redirection.

Three times the RedHawks were scored on by shots from the blue line that were altered down low by players that were not adequately defended.

The other three were the direct result of turnovers, which is a major concern 10 games into the season. Passing has not been this team’s forte but it was believed that area would improve as the season progressed.

After Saturday’s game we’ll be a third of the way through the regular season, and Miami’s turnover total on Friday would make Pillsbury envious.

Miami captain Louie Belpedio (Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami captain Louie Belpedio (Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Captain Louie Belpedio missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, and it’s become obvious how important he is to this team. The RedHawks are allowing 5.67 goals per game during his absence, which not only is a huge loss because of his two-way play out of his defense spot, but we see how key his leadership is.

The good news on that front is he should return next weekend. That should help stabilize both the blue line and the team in general.

And yeah, we can talk about growing pains, 14 freshmen, etc., but Miami was up three goals in its own building halfway through Friday night’s game. Surely even a freshman-laden team can close out a win up 4-1.

This team has been together for a month and a half, working hard in practice almost every day. Yes, the process still supersedes outcomes to some degree, but there’s no reason why Miami can’t still continue to learn while enjoying success in the win-loss department.

Quality teams do this all the time. It’s reloading vs. rebuilding.

This schedule was set up for Miami to have early league success before facing the truly elite in the NCHC.

Western Michigan is receiving votes but is not ranked and has scored seven goals in three conference games against teams other than Miami. The Broncos lit the lamp 11 times vs. the RedHawks last weekend.

UNO is getting fewer votes in the polls than WMU but was able to chase MU goalie Ryan Larkin, something no other team has done this season.

If Miami is having major struggles against these teams, how will it fare against No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, No. 2 Denver, No. 6 North Dakota and No. 13 St. Cloud State?

To the Mavericks’ credit, they took every advantage of Miami’s miscues and turned the game around on a shorthanded goal late in the second period. They carried that momentum into the third period and added four more unanswered goals.

Weak third periods have been a recent trend for the RedHawks, who have been outscored, 13-6 in 2016-17 and 9-0 during their current four-game losing streak.

This Miami team that showed so much promise early is in a definite funk, and it needs to get out of it before it gets buried so deeply in the NCHC standings it can’t find its way out.

Other thoughts…

– Let’s start with a positive. Kiefer Sherwood played some of his best hockey of the year in the second period. Sometimes teams have been able to shut him down, but UNO had no answer for him in that frame, as he was able to control the puck, generate several excellent scoring chances and set up others. He’s becoming a dominant player in this league.

– One reason for the key problems for Miami during its skid is its penalty kill. Tops in the NCAA through six games, the RedHawks have surrendered seven power play goals in the last four games, going just 18-for-25 (72.0 percent).

– Even with a semi-strong student presence, attendance only reached 3,002. Many of those fans headed for the gates during the TV timeout following UNO’s go-ahead goal with eight minutes left. Right or wrong, Miami is starting to lose its fanbase for this season and needs to start winning or it will be playing in a half-full building during its most crucial league games when it most needs to maximize its home-ice advantage.

– Off the subject, but it seems now is a good time to bring up honoring a couple more recent graduates by adding their numbers to the wall. It’s a completely Goggin-central class right now, which is understandable considering the rink is just 10 years old, but Andy Greene and Ryan Jones should have their names in the zamboni end. Both were class acts and captains as well as two of the most dominant players ever to don Miami sweaters. Greene did not play at Cady, having graduated in 2006, and Jones finished in 2008. That’s 10 and eight years, respectively. It’s time to officially honor their accomplishments.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C+. Some of the offensive success this group is off-set by turnovers that resulted in UNO goals. Josh Melnick uncharacteristically coughed one up for the go-ahead goal in the third, and Anthony Louis’ errant pass in the second led to the critical SHG. But those two also accounted for three goals and two assists. Coach Enrico Blasi is understandably shaking up the lines at this point.

DEFENSEMEN: D. Did we mention we miss Belpedio? Even sure-handed Grant Hutton got beat by shifty Mavericks forwards a couple of times. Confusion among this group resulted in the delay of game penalty that ended up in Miami’s net for UNO’s first goal. Some of the youngsters are improving but will need to continue that process or it could be a long season in conference play.

GOALTENDING: C. Larkin made a couple of strong saves, as he always does, and he had little chance on either redirection goal. The second UNO goal was on a good one-time shot from the slot that beat Larkin. The fourth and final goal scored on Larkin was definitely stoppable though. Munroe had no shot at stopping the slap-pass goal. After looking nervous on his first couple of shots, he settled in and finished 7 of 8 including a point-blank backhand that he corralled cleanly.

LINEUP CHANGES: Carson Meyer was out for the first time this season, although it is unclear why (he has two goals and eight assists). Karch Bachman returned after sitting on Saturday at Western Michigan. Along with Belpedio, who likely will not play on Saturday but should be back next week, Bryce Hatten was also a scratch. Munroe replaced Larkin for the final 14 minutes, making it unclear who will be in net for the series finale. Larkin may be losing confidence after seeing so many high-quality shots recently, and he stopped just 16 of 20 in this one.

Photos: Bowling Green at Miami

Images from the series played between Bowling Green at Miami at Cady Arena on Oct. 29-30, 2016. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

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Analysis: BG finale a tough lesson for Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – Fans had to realize this season would come with growing pains.

They can chalk Saturday up to that, as Bowling Green fell behind early but scored the final four goals in a 4-1 win over Miami at Cady Arena as the Falcons salvaged a series split.

BGSU beat the RedHawks for the second time in 21 games. And the Falcons were 0-6-1 entering Saturday. Ouch.

Two things though: Bowling Green is better than its 1-6-1 record, and on Saturday, the RedHawks were worse than their 3-1-2 mark.

It’s a disappointing finish to an otherwise inspiring non-conference slate, although Miami does head to Ohio State on New Year’s Eve to officially conclude its out-of-NCHC schedule.

Bowling Green, with former RedHawks assistant Chris Bergeron at the helm, found a way to bottle up Miami’s fast, skilled forwards all weekend, and things will only get tougher for MU from an opponents standpoint, as the RedHawks play 24 of their last 25 regular season games against physical NCHC foes.

Much of what fans have seen the first month of the season has been encouraging, but that will need to translate to the ultra-difficult conference schedule Miami faces the next four months.

The RedHawks’ first test comes next weekend at Western Michigan.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D-. Not really inspiring to watch from a fan’s perspective after the Louis goal. It seemed like that motivated Bowling Green, which dominated the remainder of this game. Bachman had the bad turnover that resulted in the Falcons’ second goal, although he was trying to do the right thing by clearing the puck to the boards. This corps finished with 15 shots.

DEFENSEMEN: D+. It seemed like a slower, less skilled BG team skated around this corps far too often for quality chances. Grant Hutton took three penalties and now has seven in seven games after taking three minors all of 2015-16. Obviously the fault doesn’t lie entirely with this group for the shot differential, but holy smokes, 41-18?

GOALTENDING: D+. Larkin has been a stud in net for the most part during the first leg of this season, partly because he has been stellar at controlling his rebounds. He gave up a huge on on the first goal, and on BGSU’s third goal, he failed to control a puck along the side of the boards, and a player poked it in off him from behind the net. He still stopped some great chances.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

LINEUP CHANGES: As feared, Josh Melnick was out of the lineup on Saturday. He was in the concourse and walked with a noticeable limp. He is day-to-day with a lower body injury, and the hope is that he will be ready for this weekend. Willie Knierim dressed in his place. Carter Johnson centered the first line – he was on the fourth line previously! – and did a quality job, but Melnick is an exceptional player that is impossible to replace at this level. On defense, Chaz Switzer and Colin Sullivan were back in and Grant Frederic and Bryce Hatten were scratched. The three freshmen have all been OK but Sullivan has outplayed them all to this point. Sullivan, a former Montreal Canadiens draftee, should not be sitting.