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Despite Miami’s lack of success, I’ve had a blast writing for BoB the past four years.
When I was essentially laid off by WCPO in 2015 and had my blog stripped from its site despite 18 years of service to parent company Scripps-Howard overall, I agreed to join BoB to continue writing about Miami hockey.
I’m both extremely grateful and extremely glad I made that choice.
But I want to create something of my own, and that’s why I’m launching the site viewfromtheglass.com.
Thanks to everyone who has read my work here over the past four years, and I welcome you to check out my site (which is still a work in progress) and also please continue to frequent this site, which will provide plenty of content as well.
And we thought last off-season was eventful.
With the dismissal of Miami head hockey coach Enrico Blasi on Tuesday, the program faces an even more chaotic spring and summer than last year, when the RedHawks replaced both assistant coaches and had six non-seniors leave Oxford.
Now the status of everyone involved in the program is uncertain.
For those who aren’t MU hockey diehards, let’s catch you up.
The year is 1999 and Miami hires a 27-year-old alum in Enrico Blasi. He’s the youngest coach in Division I at the time.
His fifth season – his first having all his recruits dressing each night – Miami qualifies for the NCAA Tournament for the third time ever.
The RedHawks miss that field the following season, but for the next eight – eight! – campaigns, the RedHawks are back in the nation’s top college championship.
And in 2006, Cady Arena opens at the new Goggin Ice Center, and the beautiful new home for Miami hockey is packed to the walls, sometimes exceeding its alleged capacity of 3,642.
From then on, not only did the NCAA berths start becoming an annual event, the RedHawks inched closer to bringing home a national title.
In 2007, Miami earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament win, 2-1 over New Hampshire.
The next season, as the No. 2 overall seed, the RedHawks took out Air Force in overtime and led Boston College, 3-1 late in the second period before falling in overtime, 4-3 in the NCAA regional final.
Numerous players graduated prior to 2008-09, but that spring 2009 Miami still managed to sneak into the tournament.
As a four seed in their bracket, the RedHawks won the NCAA regionals, getting past Denver and Minnesota-Duluth as they headed to their first-ever Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.
The success continued, as they beat Bemidji State, 4-1 in the national semifinal and advanced to the NCAA title game.
We know what happened next, but many forget Miami went right back to the Frozen Four the next season in Detroit after winning an epic, double-overtime thriller over Michigan in Fort Wayne.
No one knew it at the time, but that win over the Wolverines would represent the tip of the plateau that Miami had been riding.
The RedHawks returned to the NCAAs the next three seasons but won just one game, a 4-0 blanking of Minnesota State in Toledo in 2013.
Then in 2013-14, MU transitioned to the NCHC and the unthinkable happened. A sub-.500 record. No trip to the NCAA Tournament.
It appeared that season was just a hiccup, as the RedHawks won the NCHC Tournament and earned a No. 1 seed in the Providence Regional in 2015.
But that conference title game came at a huge cost, as Riley Barber was injured and Blake Coleman was assessed his third game misconduct of the season and was suspended for the NCAA opener.
On top of that, Miami drew the lowest seed in the bracket – Providence – which played its home games two miles from the rink they would play in.
The RedHawks lost that game, 7-5, and haven’t been back to the tournament since.
They haven’t reached the .500 mark in the four subsequent seasons, and after winning 15 games in 2015-16 their victory totals since have been nine, 12 and 11.
Miami’s collapse was blamed on recruiting, which was definitely a major reason.
The RedHawks benefitted greatly from the players brought in by assistants Chris Bergeron and Jeff Blashill. Bergeron was hired as the head coach at Bowling Green and Blashill became the head coach for the Indiana Ice of the USHL, where he continued to push quality players toward Oxford, such as Sean Kuraly and Coleman.
But Blashill climbed the proverbial coaching ladder and is now the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings.
That brings us to March 11, 2018. Assistants Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia are both let go, and in the following months, Peter Mannino and Joel Beal are hired in their place.
Derek Daschke and others decommitted from Nebraska-Omaha – where Mannino coached previously – and came to Miami to follow the coach that recruited them.
So things are looking up heading into 2018-19, and the change behind the bench seems to pay instant dividends, as the team starts the season 7-2 and is 9-5 at Thanksgiving.
A tough road trip that involved multiple canceled flights and some players arriving just shy of gametime in New Hampshire, and Miami comes away from that series with a tie and a loss.
The RedHawks return home and play two of their best games of the year, coming back from a goal down six times in a pair of ties against No. 1 St. Cloud State.
Off to Providence, where Miami was 0-1-1 but rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to salvage a tie in the finale.
Then in Kalamazoo, the RedHawks were a little sluggish at times and lost both games by a goal.
That’s eight straight without a win (0-4-4) but Miami is still playing mostly good hockey at this point and has a high collective compete level.
After all, the expectations weren’t terribly high this season, but it would be good to see the team play hard and show signs it’s moving in the right direction, right?
To this point, the RedHawks had. After this point, no.
Duluth came to Oxford and in the series opener, Blasi ripped Mannino on the bench for a disagreement in strategy. Coincidentally or not, Miami was outscored, 7-0 for the weekend.
Colorado College was the next team to visit the RedHawks, and CC picked up all six points in a 6-1 and 3-2 sweep at Cady Arena, with Blasi receiving a game misconduct and eventually a reprimand from the league for berating an official and breaking a stick on the boards during the latter game.
St. Cloud State swept Miami by identical 5-1 scores the next week.
Finally, after a 3-0 home loss to Omaha, the RedHawks beat the Mavericks in the series finale to snap a 15-game, 0-11-4 skid that essentially ended any chance Miami had to earn the all-important home ice advantage for the NCHC Tournament.
The RedHawks pulled out a win in Denver the next Friday but would not pick up another victory, losing their last seven for a 2-18-4 post-Thanksgiving mark.
To its credit, Miami played quality hockey at times during the NCHC opening round but was outskilled by No. 1 St. Cloud.
What happened after such a promising start?
It’s likely a combination of several of factors. The schedule got tougher after December. The frustration of the winless streak snowballed. The Mannino-Blasi bench rift. Youth. Injuries played a major role.
The end result: A final record of 11-23-4. Three days after the Game 2 loss at St. Cloud State, Blasi was fired by Miami.
He was under contract until 2023 but an adjustment to his contract after last season only guaranteed him one year’s pay should he be terminated.
So that’s where we are now, and everyone is left to speculate about the future of Miami hockey.
Let’s reflect on the Blasi legacy first.
Criticism of the former coach has been whipping through cyberspace for some time, and how ever much of that is warranted no longer matters.
Blasi played for four years at Miami, was a captain, a 115-point scorer and played on the first-ever RedHawks (then Redskins) NCAA Tournament game in 1993.
After a short assistant coaching stint abroad, he took over the head coaching job at Miami at age 27. Again, the RedHawks went to 10 NCAA Tournaments under Blasi, including eight in a row.
They went to the Frozen Four twice and the national title game once. They won the CCHA Tournament, they won multiple CCHA regular season titles. They won the NCHC Tournament in 2015.
Still just 47, Blasi has 398 career coaching wins.
Miami hockey may have existed before Blasi, but he took the program from fledgling to a level of excellence rarely seen in any RedHawks sport.
Yes, Miami hockey has struggled in recent years but without Blasi, there’s no NCAA runs and no Cady Arena.
This man belongs is one of the greats in the history of Miami sports, and when we get some distance from this tumultuous run, hopefully everyone will realize that.
Blasi has either played or coached Miami hockey for a quarter century despite still being well short of 50 years old and deserves the upmost credit and respect from the hockey community.
So where does that leave the coaching situation?
We’re entering that pure speculation portion of the piece because probably no one knows at this point. The release from the AD said “a national search” has begun in search of the next head coach.
And there’s no doubt, as John Buccigross said, that despite its recent issues that job is still a very desirable one.
The NCHC is the best D-I conference by far, creating a magnet for top recruits.
Miami is still a fantastic school. Oxford is still a beautiful college town. Cady Arena is still a top-notch building, and the RedHawks still have their own multi-million dollar weight room just outside their locker room, a perk very few NCAA hockey players enjoy.
So regardless of who the new coach is – and my guess is it’s not going to be an obvious name familiar to the program – he should be a quality candidate.
The process probably won’t drag on for too long, although if it’s someone already on a bench – pro or college – it could be held up if the ideal candidate’s season is still ongoing.
Because uncertainty in the head coaching slot obviously makes recruiting exceedingly difficult.
Then there’s the assistants, and here’s where Miami may have a problem.
The RedHawks brought in assistants Mannino and Beal a year ago, and obviously that’s not ample time to turn a program around. But when Miami hires a new coach, he will almost certainly be allowed to pick his own assistants.
The optics of that could be terrible for Miami sports overall if the athletic department is perceived as treating their coaches poorly.
Both men uprooted their families to move to Oxford and unless there is an agreement in place to allow them to remain with the team regardless of the head coach, they could presently be in limbo.
Now could Mannino be considered for the head coaching job? Absolutely. He’s an exceptional recruiter, but with only a couple of seasons as a Division I assistant, the perception is that he may not be ready for such a high-profile position.
Then there’s the recruits. Mannino and Beal have pieced together a well-reputed recruiting class for the next few seasons, but many of those potential RedHawks could bolt if the coach that sold them on Miami are not retained.
There could be roster overhaul anyway, as some players could choose not to remain with the program, and – like last year – some may not be invited back by the team if they are not performing to expectations.
So the question becomes: Why let Blasi go now?
Miami could’ve blown the entire program up last season and started over, but at that point Blasi’s contract was still structured so that he would’ve received a lot more money, should he be relieved of duty.
And Blasi was – and still is – very well respected by many at Miami, especially with his decades of service to the program and being an alum, plus with recent firings in other sports, it appeared at the time Miami hockey was deserving of a reboot.
The powers-that-be know all of this, of course. So this is just a guess, but the athletic department probably intended to give the coaching staff at least a second season to right the program, but the 2-18-4 finish may have sealed all of their fates.
From their perspective, paid attendance, merchandise and concession sales plus those all-important alumni dollars have been dwindling, and they may have figured they couldn’t afford to take the chance the program wouldn’t improve in 2019-20 and then having to hire in a new coaching staff anyway as their incoming revenue pool continued to dwindle.
It had to be an excruciatingly difficult decision.
But agree or not, the David Sayler-led athletic department expects results and will replace anyone – even a 20-year tenured coach and alum with Blasi’s credentials – who isn’t meeting those expectations.
Miami was able to hang with St. Cloud State into the third period, but three unanswered Huskies goals in the final frame ended the RedHawks’ season.
SCSU topped Miami, 6-3 in Game 2 of the opening-round NCHC playoffs, clinching the best-of-3 series at the Herb Brooks Center on Saturday.
The RedHawks lost their last seven games of the season and finished 2-18-4 in their final 24 contests.
Easton Brodzinski scored twice and added an assist, and Sam Hentges and Robby Jackson finished with a goal and two helpers each to pace the Huskies.
Karch Bachman led Miami by netting the team’s first two goals.
RECAP: Bachman gave the RedHawks the lead 6:23 into the first period when he was sprung loose down the left wing after Derek Daschke had tipped the puck away from a SCSU skater, and Bachman corralled the puck and wired it just under the crossbar from the faceoff circle.
Miami (11-23-4) held the lead until the 4:32 mark of the second period when Brodzinski tied it off an intercepted clearing attempt, as he carried the puck across the slot and shot the puck in to the opposite side.
St. Cloud State (29-4-3) took its first lead 83 seconds later when a pass by Jimmy Schult into the crease hit a Miami skate and caromed in.
Bachman tied it at two from nearly the same spot as his first goal, as Lown fed him on the left wing on a 2-on-1.
The Huskies regained the lead when Jackson banged a puck off the pads of sprawling Miami goalie Ryan Larkin with 5:30 left in the middle stanza on a play that was initially ruled no goal. After several minutes of review the call was reversed.
The RedHawks again evened the score at three when Brian Hawkinson poked home a loose puck at the side of the net after a Scott Corbett shot handcuffed goalie David Hrenak.
But a neutral-zone turnover resulted in a 2-on-1 as Hentges one-timed a Brodzinski feed just over two minutes later.
A failed clearing attempt resulted in Brozinski’s second goal of the night with 8:48 left and Lizotte wrapped up the series with an empty netter.
Miami failed to score on a major power play late in the second period that included over a minute of 5-on-3 time.
STATS: Bachman’s two-goal game was the second of his career.
He ended the season with 10 goals, one behind team leader Gordie Green and more than he had his freshman and sophomore years combined.
— Hawkinson scored for the first time since Jan. 11 and finished his freshman season with 15 points, including five in his last seven games.
— The RedHawks were outshot, 45-21 overall and 35-13 the final two periods.
It was the seventh time this calendar year Miami has allowed more than twice as many shots as it has generated.
— During its current seven-game losing streak, the RedHawks have allowed at least four goals in each and an average of 5.14.
— Miami finished 2018-19 0-4 in this building and was outscored, 21-7.
— The RedHawks have been scored in the third period eight straight games and have allowed 18 markers in that span, or 2.25 per game in the last 20 minutes.
THOUGHTS: Turnovers devastated Miami, as multiple failed defensive-zone clears ended up in the RedHawks’ net.
The eventual game-winning goal was on a neutral-zone giveaway.
That, combined with MU’s inability to score on its power play chances, was the difference. To beat a team this good on the road a team has to play nearly flawless hockey, and that was far from the case here.
— One last replay rant then we’re done for a while.
It took about three minutes to review a boarding penalty on Nick Poehling to see if it warranted a major. The hit in question didn’t even look like a penalty, much less an eject-worthy offense.
That was late in the second period. Then there was the Jackson goal that was initially called no goal.
It should’ve required irrefutable evidence to reverse, and no camera angle on television showed that. Maybe the officials had access to angles not available to FSN North.
Most of Larkin’s body was across the blue line and it looks like it probably went in, but again, clear evidence is necessary to reverse that call and viewers never really got that.
LINEUP CHANGES: None.
FINAL THOUGHTS: For the fourth straight season, Miami’s was done before St. Patrick’s Day and the RedHawks are 1-8 in the first round of the NCHC Tournament in that span.
MU seemed to peak in the first eight weeks of the regular season and was lifeless the last two months.
The RedHawks really struggled at home down the stretch, going 1-7 at Cady Arena in 2019, playing some of their worst hockey on their own ice sheet.
They were even significantly outshot in their lone home win of this calendar year vs. Omaha.
As a fan, you really hoped would show improvement late in the year, give people in the stands hope for the coming seasons.
Instead Miami hemorrhaged goals against the final few weeks, and the RedHawks’ so-so offense couldn’t keep up.
This highly-touted recruiting class coming in this fall will be key.
Because without more good players hitting the ice for Miami, the team will remain in its current loop.
OXFORD, Ohio – Six years ago when a graduate senior joined Miami, it worked out so well that the RedHawks doubled down on that concept last summer, adding a pair of fifth-year players who had already earned their undergraduate degrees.
Goalie Jordan Uhelski and defenseman River Rymsha both joined the RedHawks for their final seasons of NCAA eligibility, and they have been godsends on a team that has battled depth issues, not only with their skills but their Division I veteran status.
“With only (four seniors), it was important for us to have a couple of extra guys to help those guys in terms of leading the way with their experience in college hockey,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said.
A player who has already earned his undergraduate degree does not have to sit out a year if he transfers, so Uhelski and Rymsha were courted last off-season when six skaters left Miami early for various reasons.
Uhelski was the starting goalie for Alabama-Huntsville and Rymsha logged four injury-plagued seasons on the Dartmouth blue line.
Forward Marc Hagel was the first transfer who came to Oxford for his fifth season after graduating. He earned his degree from Princeton before joining the RedHawks in 2012-13 and behind his 19 points, tenacious defense and leadership helped Miami advance to the NCAA regional final.
With more player movement than ever and the ability to avoid a missed season due to the NCAA transfer rules, college hockey could see an uptick in players shifting schools after competing their degrees.
Rymsha, the son of former NHL right wing Andy Rymsha, from the northern Detroit suburb of Huntington Woods, was a forward growing up.
While playing Bantam for Little Caesar’s, a line brawl broke out and the next game his team only had two defensemen eligible to play.
So Rymsha, who was undersized at the time, moved back to the blue line and has been there since as he ballooned to his current dimensions of 6-feet-3 and 205 pounds.
After one season of prep hockey at St. Mary’s, Rymsha was hoping to join USHL’s Fargo – which drafted him – but he was told he wasn’t going to make the team.
At the last minute, he talked to current Miami assistant coach Peter Mannino’s cousin and hooked on with Wenatchee of the NAHL, where he scored four goals and dished for 12 assists in 45 games.
After just one season of major juniors, Rymsha packed for New Hampshire and headed to Dartmouth, the school he had committed to at age 16 out of Fargo’s camp.
“Education has always been super-important to me, so going Ivy League was something that I’d always wanted to do and Dartmouth gave me that opportunity,” Rymsha said.
He turned 18 just two months before his freshman season, during which he dressed just six times.
“Freshman year, I went in too early,” Rymsha said. “I needed to develop more, needed to get bigger, needed to get stronger.”
As a sophomore, Rymsha played in 24 games, posting two goals and two assists while playing with a torn labrum.
“After sophomore year I got my left (shoulder) repaired, rehabbed over the summer, came back and then I tore my other shoulder,” Rymsha said. “After having double shoulder injuries, I decided it would probably be a good idea to redshirt, get an extra year.”
He did register an assist in five games as a junior, but through three seasons Rymsha had been in the lineup just 35 times.
Finally healthy heading into his senior season, Rymsha played in 28 games, registering a goal and two helpers.
He initially intended to spend his fifth season at Dartmouth, decelerating his program to remain a full-time student throughout.
But Miami called to see if he would be interested in spending his final year of eligibility with the RedHawks.
“That was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Rymsha said. “Miami was a school that I loved watching and always wanted to play for growing up.”
So he beefed up his class schedule and took summer classes, graduating from Dartmouth last September.
“I met a lot of great people – the relationships that I built there are something that I’ll carry with me forever – and hockey-wise, they really developed me there,” Rymsha said.
Rymsha was in the lineup for both games opening weekend vs. Alabama-Huntsville, and after tallying just eight points in four seasons at Dartmouth, he scored and picked up a pair of helpers in that series.
“To go out the first week and have the kind of first weekend that I did individually was a really cool feeling,” Rymsha said.
Rymsha has played in 32 of Miami’s 34 games this season, and not all of his minutes have been spent on defense.
Because of injuries and other game situations, Miami’s coaches have tapped his upbringing as a forward and have used him both on the wing and at center.
The Thursday before the series at Omaha in early November, Miami’s centers were taking draws in practice. Rymsha had completed his drills but wasn’t ready to get off the ice, so he went up to Blasi, who was dropping pucks, and asked to take some faceoffs.
Rymsha won most of the draws.
“(Blasi) was a little bit surprised, and I was like yeah coach, I had a little bit of experience playing forward growing up,” Rymsha said.
That weekend a game misconduct left Miami short a forward, so Rymsha shifted to the front end.
“So it’s always been in the coaching staff’s back pocket that if they need me up front, it’s something that I can do and they can rely on me,” Rymsha said. “This is something that I told the coaching staff at the beginning of the year, that I wanted to help out any way I can.”
Due to injuries this season, Rymsha has done pretty much everything but put on goalie pads. He has logged time on the power play, penalty kill, both defensive positions, wing and center, even taking the opening draw at home.
“I think there were four games in a row where he was bouncing back from forward to D, and people don’t realize how hard that is to do at this level,” senior captain Grant Hutton said. “It’s hard to get into a rhythm.”
Rymsha has three goals and four assists for seven points – all career highs – and he is third on the team only to Rourke Russell and Bray Crowder with 41 blocked shots.
“He comes in every day and he works his hardest, so hard that he sets a tone for everybody else,” Uhelski said. “He’s got the skill, and he’s got the speed…he’s an unbelievable player, a well-rounded player.”
He has also been one of the most physical skaters on the team, dishing out punishing hits all season regardless of his position.
“He’s a swiss army knife,” Uhelski said. “He’s got every tool in the box. What’s been so cool and what I think a lot of guys coming up could learn from him is he’s there for the team. Coach wants you on forward, yeah, I’ve got you. Where do you need me? It’s not, oh man, I’m not playing my position. He’s going with a smile on his face and his hard hat on, ready to work.”
With one weekend series left in the regular season and the postseason looming, Rymsha feels like he’s playing at a higher level than ever.
“I think especially now, getting into playoffs, you have to be playing your best hockey and I think that’s what four and a half seasons of college hockey have prepared me for,” Rymsha said. “Looking back to my freshman year all the way up to now, every year I’ve gotten better. The hockey that I felt like I was playing my senior year at Dartmouth you could say was my best hockey and obviously that’s what attracted the coaching staff at Miami. I knew when I came in here that there was another level that I felt like I could go to, and they’ve helped me with that.”
Rymsha credits his father for guiding him during his ascent through the hockey ranks. Andy Rymsha was a fourth-round pick of St. Louis and played six games for Quebec and 11 total seasons in the pros.
“Honestly it’s hard to put into words,” Rymsha said. “He’s been there for me my entire life. The advice he gives me on a day-to-day basis has helped me become the player that I am today. He’s taught me what it’s like to be a pro when you’re (in) juniors and into college, the responsibilities and how to handle yourself on and off the ice. I can’t thank my dad enough for everything that he’s taught me along the way.”
Rymsha’s brother, Drake, is a Los Angeles Kings draftee currently playing in the ECHL.
Uhelski grew up in Flint, Mich., and hockey was an easy sell for him since his mother was a professional figure skater.
There was never a doubt about what position he was destined for.
“I always joke around that when I was young I was a little chubby so they stuck me in net right away,” Uhelski said. “So I was a goalie from the first time I played and I absolutely loved it.”
After two seasons with Belle Tire, he went to Muskegon of the USHL, where he posted a 2.66 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 18 appearances, notching a pair of shutouts.
“When I was growing up obviously I dreamed of playing college hockey – but here was the first time where I thought that, oh my gosh, this might actually happen,” Uhelski said.
After another year in Muskegon, Uhelski began his college hockey career with Alabama-Huntsville.
But as he would find out, being on a Division I team didn’t necessarily equate to playing time.
UAH had won two games the season before Uhelski joined the team, and he expected to make an immediate impact upon arriving in Huntsville. But Carmine Guerriero had an outstanding season in net and Uhelski did not see the ice for one second that season.
“Halfway through (freshman) year I was getting upset and I hadn’t played, and it can go one of two ways: I could shut down and this is no good, I’m sick of this or whatever, or you can just battle through it, take what you can for experience and try to learn and grow and develop,” Uhelski said. “That’s what I did.”
As a sophomore, it was the other UAH goalie – Matt Larose – that took over the starting job, and again Uhelski sat the entire season without logging a minute in net.
Uhelski did receive a red shirt for one of those seasons.
“It was something that I think has given me so much strength as a leader today,” Uhelski said. “Whenever you go a new place, you have all these ideas of, oh man, everything’s going to go exactly the way I want it.”
Finally, junior year arrived and Uhelski played his first game in 2½ years against a more talented Michigan Tech team, and UAH salvaged a tie.
From then on, Uhelski was essentially the No. 1 goalie for the Chargers. He was between the pipes for 23 games that season and 32 as a senior, finishing with a .906 save percentage.
“It was definitely an up-and-down, emotional experience but it’s one that I can look back on and draw a lot of confidence and know that I’ve really been through a lot and come out on the other side,” Uhelski said.
After four seasons with Alabama-Huntsville, many of Uhelski’s teammates were leaving and he was looking for a change.
“I knew wherever I went I wanted to be a part of something special,” Uhelski said. “I was really upfront with my coach (Mike Corbett) at Huntsville, and he said if you want to transfer, I’ll do whatever I can do to help you. We decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
So when Blasi talked to him about coming in for his fifth season, Uhelski couldn’t say yes quickly enough.
“I always joke around with him that it was the easiest commit that he’d ever even gotten,” Uhelski said. “He hadn’t even finished the sentence and I was ‘yeah, I’m coming, when do you need me there?’ Before graduation I was ready to pack up for Miami if I could. I was so excited to come here and be a part of this program and be a part of the rich history. It was an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
There was one problem for Uhelski: Miami already had a starting goalie in Ryan Larkin.
“I’ve been through a lot in my college experience, and I know that it’s just as important to be someone the team needs when you’re in the lineup as when you’re not in the lineup,” Uhelski said. “That was really my expectation: Just to come in and be a great team guy and try to leave a positive mark on the program.”
Uhelski didn’t have to wait long. Blasi tapped him to start the first game of the season.
The opponent? Alabama-Huntsville.
“When Coach (Blasi) said, yeah, you’re going the first game, I was so excited,” Uhelski said. “To be able to go against some of the old boys that I’d played with, it was awesome.”
The first shot he faced in his RedHawks career was an innocuous wrister from the blue line.
Somehow it snuck through and found the net.
“I was wondering what Coach Blasi was thinking, like who is this kid that I just picked up?” Uhelski said.
Uhelski had already had a cryptic conversation about the very subject prior to the game.
“One of my old roommates from Huntsville was texting me, he was like, if you let a shot in, I’m going to make fun of you the rest of your life,” Uhelski said. “(UAH) scored the first goal, and I was like, oh man. There’s no way that that just happened.”
But Uhelski settled down and stopped the next 18 shots he faced in a 5-1 win.
In his first 10 games his save percentage was .918. That has slipped to .902 after a pair of off-nights, but thanks to Uhelski’s pushing, Larkin is at .916 after posting an .886 save percentage last season.
“His personality and his character helps Ryan in terms of, he’s much more outgoing and very vocal,” Blasi said.
One of Uhelski’s season highlights was the St. Cloud series in Oxford. Larkin was banged up in the series opener, and Uhelski stopped 59 of 63 shots on the weekend to earn a pair of ties.
The Huskies were ranked No. 1 in the NCAA at the time.
“Jordan’s a great player,” Rymsha said. “Coming from Huntsville, he probably didn’t have a lot of help and if you look at his numbers, he’s put up some good numbers and that’s translated here. The work ethic, the energy that he brings to the rink, day in and day out, on and off the ice, it’s made a big impact on the team, and it’s made a big impact on me.”
Although both Rymsha and Uhelski have only spent one season here, they have loved every minute of the little time they’ve had in Oxford.
“It’s exceeded my expectations – it’s a great program,” Rymsha said. “Not to take anything away from the ECAC – it’s obviously a great conference – but the league that we play in is on another level. The coaching staff can tell you every day how hard it’s going to be every day, but not until you get into the thick of it can you really see how hard it actually is.”
Said Uhelski: “I wish I had four more. The year hasn’t gone how you write it up, but every storybook ending has a little adversity. My experience has been so amazing. I love every guy that’s on our team, and it’s been an honor to get to play for a program that has so much history and such support from the community and the fans. When you’re a little kid and you’re thinking about playing college hockey, this is what you dream about. I really wish I had four more years here because every person that I’ve met at Miami has been so loving and so real and amazing and heartfelt to me. I cannot say enough about my time here at Miami. I have people back home joke with me that every time I go out I’ve got something Miami on, it’s just because every day I get up to go the rink I’m so proud to wear that ‘M’ and be a part of something like this program and this school. It’s been truly amazing.”
Miami saw quite enough of Noah Cates on Friday, as the Minnesota-Duluth freshman finished with more points than the RedHawks had goals.
The No. 3 Bulldogs won the series opener, 4-2 over MU at Amsoil Arena, as the Philadelphia draft pick scored the first two goals of the game and assisted on UMD’s third marker.
After falling behind by two, twice Miami pulled to within a goal but the Bulldogs (20-9-2) were able to reextend the lead each time.
RECAP: Following a scoreless first period, Cates wristed one from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the stick side 4:25 into the middle stanza.
Less than four minutes later, Cates scored on another wrist shot from the upper edge of the opposite faceoff circle, sneaking one inside the far post.
Miami (11-19-4) answered 81 seconds later, as Jonathan Gruden skated around a defender and backhanded a pass through the slot to Phil Knies for a one-timer.
A streaking Cates took a pass from Peter Krieger and returned the favor, setting him up at the edge of the crease for a tap-in goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead 55 seconds into the third period.
Miami again trimmed its deficit to one when Ryan Siroky tipped home a Derek Daschke wrister on the power play with 15:27 left in regulation.
But Cole Koepke snuck a wrister through the five hole with 11:56 left to seal it.
STATS: Siroky’s 2018-19 goal total has eclipsed that of his first three campaigns combined.
His eighth goal of this season also gives him three in his last three games. Siroky had netted seven goals in 2015-18.
— It was the second goal in four games for Knies, which is a positive sign.
The sophomore, who found the net 11 times in 2017-18, scored for just the fifth time this season. Knies did miss six games with an upper-body injury earlier this season.
— Miami extended its winless streak at Amsoil Arena to 12 games (0-10-2), dating back to Halloween of 2014.
Overall the Bulldogs have won five straight games vs. MU.
— The RedHawks did not have to kill a single penalty, the first time that has occurred for Miami in the NCHC era.
THOUGHTS: Miami was manhandled early and although the RedHawks pulled to within one on two occasions you never really felt like they were going to earn points.
MU could barely clear its defensive zone in the first period, generating just two shots.
Larkin was a save-ior in the first 20 minutes, turning aside 11 shots including multiple stops on A-plus chances.
Then things evened out in the second period, as shots Larkin probably would’ve liked back found twine.
Miami showed better life in the final frame, where was that intensity the first 40 minutes?
Inconsistency has been a major issue for the RedHawks this season.
But their record against Duluth in recent years has been very consistent.
— So Miami came back from 2-0 down and made it 2-1, which was the score heading into the third period.
Then the guy who had scored both UMD goals is allowed to skate into the zone uncontested, receive a pass and return it for an easy tap-in.
Grant Hutton, the right defenseman, was caught out of position and forwards Gordie Green and Knies also were caught flat-footed on that crucial Krieger pass.
The Bulldogs’ fourth goal also was the result of players skating into the zone on the left wing unchallenged.
— Gruden’s move and backhand pass to Knies for Miami’s first goal was one of the highlights of the year.
LINEUP CHANGES: River Rymsha was suspended by the NCHC for his hit at the end of last Saturday’s game vs. Denver. The league is wrong on that, by the way.
Christian Mohs also sat after dressing for 16 straight games, and Scott Corbett missed his third straight game with an upper body injury.
Carter Johnson was in the lineup after sitting for three of the last four contests, and Noah Jordan played for just the sixth time this season.
It was the sixth consecutive start for Larkin.
FINAL THOUGHTS: With Miami’s fate as a road team to open the NCHC Tournament sealed, the goal is getting better heading into the tournament.
We saw no evidence of this on Friday.
The RedHawks should’ve been down by at least two in the first period but Larkin bailed them out, then he gave up two he maybe shouldn’t have, and Miami answered with a goal twice but surrendered a third and a fourth on shaky defense.
Doesn’t exactly sound like a team that could make a run at an NCHC Tournament title.
Miami is currently in league tournament prep mode, which is a larger body of work than just one game, so it’s unfair to summarily judge based on a single night.
But the point is that this is the caliber of team Miami will face to open up the league tournament in two weeks, and the RedHawks did nothing to show they have a chance to steal a road series and advance to the Twin Cities for the first time in four years.
Despite being outshot by more than a 2-to-1 ratio, Miami won its first game at No. 7 Denver in four years, largely thanks to a pair of Ryans.
Ryan Larkin stopped 46 shots and Ryan Siroky recorded his first career multi-goal game, scoring twice in the RedHawks’ 3-1 win over the Pioneers at Magness Arena on Friday.
Miami (11-16-4) snapped an eight-game road winless streak and gave the RedHawks their first winning streak since November.
MU’s last win on DU’s home ice came on Feb. 27, 2015.
RECAP: The RedHawks took the lead just 3:08 into the game when Siroky reached out with his stick and redirected a blueline pass from Alec Mahalak into the net with one hand from the side of the net.
Siroky scored again 1:53 into the second period when River Rymsha threw a puck at the net from the blue line and he was able to tip it home from the top of the crease.
Only 47 seconds later, Miami extended the lead to three when Karch Bachman eluded a defender at the faceoff dot, cut to the slot and backhanded one in on the glove side.
Ian Mitchell snuck a wrist shot in from the blue line to give Denver (16-8-4) its only goal just 55 seconds after the RedHawks had made it 3-0.
STATS: Larkin’s 46 saves were the second most of his career. His highest total was against Denver on Nov. 19, 2016 when he stopped 49 shots. He also turned 44 shots aside vs. the Pioneers last season.
— Siroky netted his sixth and seventh goals of the season, giving him as many tallies as his freshman, sophomore and junior years combined.
It was his second career multi-point game, with the other coming Jan. 5 at Providence.
— Bachman and Derek Daschke also finished with two points, with both of Daschke’s coming on assists.
Both have three points in two games, as does Josh Melnick, who notched a helper.
THOUGHTS: This was a case of the goalie proverbially stealing one on the road, as Larkin made a couple of highlight-reel saves in the first period.
Denver pretty much dominated in every other category and seemed to control the puck the entire game.
But winning on the road is tough, especially against highly-ranked teams, especially at altitude and especially when a team has not done so in over three months.
— Siroky is really thriving around the net, as he scored his first goal while practically falling away from the play and the second on a beautiful deflected in the slot.
— Bachman’s goal – the only one for either team not scored off a shot or pass from the blue line – snapped a 13-game drought for the junior and will hopefully boost his confidence. He has been streaky this season and is starting to heat up.
— That shot discrepancy looks even worse when you consider Miami had six shots on the power play vs. one for Denver. That means when the RedHawks were not on the man-advantage, they were outshot, 46-15.
The RedHawks did not score on the power play and the Pioneers scored their lone 5-on-4.
LINEUP CHANGES: The week off came at a good time for Miami.
Brian Hawkinson was back in the lineup after missing four games due to an upper-body injury, but Scott Corbett was mysteriously scratched for the third time this season.
Bray Crowder made the trip but did not dress, as he sat for the second straight game with an upper-body injury.
It was Larkin’s fourth straight game in net for the RedHawks.
FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s something about Denver that brings out the best in Miami, at least on the scoresheet.
This is a good experience for the RedHawks, who won a critical road game against a more skilled opponent.
That’s the situation they will face when the NCHC Tournament starts, as they will almost certainly be facing a top-10 team away from home in a best-of-3.
Of course Josh Melnick’s 100th career point was going to come on a crucial goal.
Melnick’s feed to Gordie Green for a one-timer resulted in the tying goal with 42 seconds left in regulation in a 3-3 tie at Providence on Saturday.
The assist was the senior’s 65th of his career and his 12th this season, moving him into the team lead. He leads the RedHawks in points (19) and is tied with Green and Karch Bachman atop Miami’s goal leaderboard with seven.
In his four years at Miami, the RedHawks have won seven games in overtime. Melnick has three of those OT winners and six career GWG overall.
His points total has increased each season in Oxford. Melnick finished his freshman season with 25, jumped to 27 as a sophomore and ended 2017-18 with 29.
Melnick is the 52nd member of Miami’s 100-point club, and the first to reach that threshold since Anthony Louis in 2017.
Miami’s 100-point club