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NCHC preview: St. Cloud State

March was an exhausting month for the St. Cloud State hockey program.

The Huskies won the NCHC regular season title and earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Within a week and a half of the bracket layout, SCSU had been bounced by four seed Air Force and lost head coach Bob Motzko to in-state foe Minnesota.

Despite the turnover behind the bench, the Huskies return nine of their top 10 scorers from 2017-18, with their lone loss from that corps being early pro signee Mikey Eyssimont.

ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES

NCAA titles: 0.

COACH: Brett Larson (first season).

2017-18 RECORDS: 25-9-6 (16-4-4 NCHC).

POSTSEASON: Lost to Air Force, 4-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

RINK (capacity): Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (5,159).

MIAMI VS. ST. CLOUD STATE LAST SEASON: 1-4.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 17-16-2.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 30-Dec. 1 – at Miami; Feb. 1-2 – at St. Cloud State.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Robby Jackson, F Ryan Poehling, F Blake Lizotte, F Easton Brodzinki, D Jimmy Schuldt, D Jack Ahcan, G David Hrenak.

KEY NEW FACES: F Sam Huntges, D Nick Perbix, D Spencer Meier, D Brendan Bushy.

KEY LOSSES: F Mikey Eyssimont, F Judd Peterson, D Will Borgen.

NOTES: Larson has been an assistant at St. Cloud State for six of the past 10 seasons, and his only high-level head coaching experience was two years at Sioux City of the USHL.

But where the Huskies lack in head coaching experience they account for on the ice, as they return all but three players from that top-seeded 2017-18 squad.

Robby Jackson is back after leading the team in points with 42, and the two-way forward also netted three shorthanded goals.

Montréal draftee Ryan Poehling also returns up front following a 30-point campaign.

Three other returning St. Cloud State forwards eclipsed 20 points – Blake Lizotte posted eight goals and 19 assists for 27, Patrick Newell also finished with 27 points, including 21 assists and Easton Brodzinski scored 14 goals en route to a 24-point season.

The Huskies hope newcomer Sam Huntges can help the forward corps as well, as the Minneapolis native was selected by his hometown Wild in June.

Talk about an experienced D-corps: Four returning blueliners played in at least 36 games for SCSU last season.

Team captains Jimmy Schuldt and Jon Lizotte are both seniors and dressed for all 40 contests in 2017-18.

Schuldt led the team in assists with 28 and scored 10 times for 38 points, the second-best total on the team. He led the Huskies with eight power play goals.

Lizotte’s five goals, 12 assists, 17 points and plus-20 rating were all career highs.

Undersized junior Jack Ahcan also skated in all 40 contests last season and rolled up 22 points, including 19 helpers.

Mike Ilvonen also returns for his fifth year as a graduate student.

St. Cloud State also added three freshman on the back end, all massive, in-state products. Tampa Bay draftee Nick Perbix and Spencer Meier are both 6-feet-4 and Brendan Bushy weighs 225 pounds

Both pieces of the Huskies’ goaltending tandem from last season also return.

Sophomore David Hrenak was selected by Los Angeles this summer after posting a 2.11 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and three shutouts in 25 games for SCSU.

Senior Jeff Smith went 11-2-4 in 19 games and has played over 2,500 career minutes.

SCSU’s 3.60 goals per game last season was fourth in Division I. The Huskies were second in the NCHC and 10th in college hockey in drawing penalties, going to the power play 174 times, and they scored 39 times on the man advantage.

St. Cloud State’s also tied for second in college hockey with seven shorthanded goals.

Since 2006, this program has been stuck in a holding pattern. The Huskies have qualifying for the NCAAs eight of the past 12 years including four of the last five but despite all their regular season success have only advanced to the Frozen Four once and was bounced in the regional semifinal that year.

The next step for St. Cloud State is an extended NCAA Tournament run, as this program has never been to a championship game.

This season’s team has the weapons to make that happen but enters 2018-19 with a rookie head coach.

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NCHC preview: North Dakota

For the first time since 2001-02, North Dakota failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Coach Brad Berry won the national championship in his first season with the Fighting Hawks in 2015-2016, but the team won just 21 games the following campaign – its worst total in 15 years – and posted just 17 victories last season.

Four NHL draftees join the Fighting Hawks, who enter 2018-19 trying not to become the first UND squad since 1996 to miss to national championship tournament back-to-back years.

NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS

NCAA titles: 8 (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000, 2016).

COACH: Brad Berry (4th season, 72-35-17, .649 winning percentage).

2017-18 RECORDS: 17-13-10 (8-10-6 in NCHC).

POSTSEASON: Lost to St. Cloud State in an NCHC Tournament semifinal.

RINK (capacity): Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634).

MIAMI VS. NORTH DAKOTA LAST SEASON: 1-1-2.

ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 13-6-3.

2018-19 SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 9-10 – at Miami.

KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: G Peter Thome, D Colton Poolman, F Grant Mismash, F Rhett Gardner, F Nick Jones.

KEY NEW FACES: F Gavin Hain, F Jasper Weathersby, F/D Jonny Tychonick, D Jacob Bernard-Docker, G Adam Scheel.

KEY LOSSES: G Cam Johnson, D Christian Wolanin, F Shane Gersich, F Austin Poganski.

NOTES: North Dakota averaged fewer than three goals per game for the first time in the NCHC era, as the Fighting Hawks ended the season fifth in the league in scoring, their lowest finish since the conference’s inception.

And three of UND’s top three four goal producers from 2017-18 have joined the pro ranks.

Fortunately for the Fighting Hawks, leading sniper Nick Jones is back after the Ohio State transfer led the team with 15 markers and ranked second on the team in points with 30.

Nashville second-round pick Grant Mismash returns after posting nine goals and 13 assists as a freshman, and he is expected to take a major step up this season.

North Dakota’s other returning 20 point-producing forward is Rhett Gardner, who went 7-13-20.

Three other Fighting Hawks reached double figures in points – Jordan Kawaguchi, Joel Janatuinen and Cole Smith.

Islanders draft pick Collin Adams was limited to 26 games in 2017-18 but scored five goals and could make a significant leap.

NHL draftee forwards USNDT product Gavin Hain and 6-feet-3 Jasper Weathersby enter their freshman seasons.

On defense, captain Colton Poolman scored seven times and picked up 22 assists last season while being whistled for just four penalties.

UND’s blueline is deep – five other defenseman logged at least 25 games last season.

Hayden Shaw dressed for all 40, going 3-10-13 and Gabe Bast tallied 10 assists in just 27 games. Matt Kiersted, Casey Johnson and Andrew Peski all played in the majority of the Fighting Hawks’ contests.

And North Dakota added the Ottawa Senators’ first- and second-round picks from 2018 in Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick. The Alberta-raised tandem has played together since age 10.

Columbus draft pick Peter Thome posted a 2.14 goals-against average and .910 save percentage – showing how strong UND’s defense was last season – and he remains the favorite to start the majority of games this season after playing in 29 as a freshman.

Freshman Adam Scheel should be Thome’s primary backup after a strong showing in the BCHL in 2017-18.

North Dakota set a program record with 10 ties last season, which is part of the reason the team struggled to reach 20 wins. Eleven more of its contests were decided by one goal.

Despite the Fighting Hawks’ downturn the past two seasons, in May coach Brad Berry signed a five-year deal that will run through 2022-23.

NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the fifth of seven installments.

Here are the links for the other snapshots:

Colorado College
Denver
Minnesota-Duluth
Nebraska-Omaha

NCHC preview: Minn.-Duluth

Minnesota-Duluth entered the NCAA Tournament just five games over .500 but pulled off four straight one-goal wins to earn its second Division I title.

And the goalie that was in net for every minute of the Bulldogs’ playoff run, Hunter Shepard, returns for his junior season.

MINN.-DULUTH BULLDOGS

NCAA titles: 2 (2011, 2018).

COACH: Scott Sandelin (340-300-85 in 18 seasons).

2017-18 RECORD: 25-16-3.

POSTSEASON: Won NCAA Tournament.

RINK (capacity): Amsoil Arena (6,726).

MIAMI VS. UMD LAST SEASON: 1-3.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Minn.-Duluth leads, 15-4-2.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Jan. 18-19 – at Miami; March 1-2 – at Minn.-Duluth.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: G Hunter Shepard, F Parker Mackay, D Scott Perunovich, D Nick Wolff, F Riley Tufte, D Mikey Anderson, D Dylan Samberg, F Peter Krieger, F Joey Anderson.

KEY NEW FACES: F Jackson Cates, F Noah Cates, F Cole Koepke.

NOTES: A couple of pieces may be gone from last season’s championship team, but Minn.-Duluth’s back end looks as good as any in college hockey.

Shepard logged 41 games and posted a 1.91 goals-against average and a save percentage of .925, and four returning defenseman recorded at least 13 points in 2017-18.

Shepard was second in Division I with 25 wins, 10th in save percentage and sixth in GAA. He won all four of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Tournament games this spring.

Blueliner Scott Perunovich led the team in plus-minus (22), assists (25) and points (36), and Mikey Anderson went 5-18-23.

Nick Wolff and Dylan Samberg finished with 13 points apiece, with Wolff hitting the net seven times and leading the Bulldogs with 81 penalty minutes.

Wolff and Samberg combined for 150 blocked shots.

Minn.-Duluth brings all that experience back after allowing just 2.09 goals per game last season – the fourth-best clip in the NCAA – and surrendering just 57 even strength tallies.

UMD also returns its top three points-producing forwards from its title year.

Peter Krieger led all forwards with 30 points and netted a team-best five game-winning goals. Riley Tufte finished with 29 points including a Bulldogs-high 16 markers, and Nick Swaney went 6-16-22, posting a plus-11 rating.

Newly-named captain Parker Mackay is also back and is a two-way stud up front.

The Bulldogs still have not released their 2018-19 roster, so it’s unclear how many freshmen they will bring in, but three players from that incoming class participated in NHL development camps this summer – Cole Koepke, Noah Cates and Jackson Cates.

NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the third of seven installments.

Here are the links for the other snapshots:

Colorado College
Denver

NCHC preview: Denver

Denver has actually seen a more substantial exodus than Miami this off-season.

Head coach Jim Montgomery left for the NHL this spring, and the Pioneers’ three top scorers and five of their top 10 points producers from 2017-18 bolted for the pros in recent months.

So Denver has a lot of work ahead if it hopes for return trip to the regional final.

DENVER PIONEERS

NCAA titles: 8 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005, 2017).

COACH: David Carle (first season).

2017-18 RECORD: 23-10-8.

POSTSEASON: Lost to Ohio State, 5-1 in a regional final.

RINK (capacity): Magness Arena (6,315).

MIAMI VS. DENVER LAST SEASON: 1-2-1.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 14-11-3.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Feb. 22-23 – at Denver.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Colin Staub, F Jarid Lukosevicius, D Ian Mitchell.

KEY NEW FACES: F Brett Stapley, F Mathias Emilio Pettersen, F Cole Guttman, D Slava Demin, D Sean Comrie, D Les Lancaster, G Filip Larssen.

KEY LOSSES: F Troy Terry, F Dylan Gambrel, F Henrik Borgstrom, F Logan O’Connor, F Blake Hillman.

NOTES: Denver probably expected early departures this off-season, but the Pioneers were hit harder than many expected.

DU has 11 freshmen listed on its roster, and its goaltending threesome has logged a total of 20 collegiate minutes.

Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell – all of whom left before completing four seasons – combined for 143 points in 2017-18.

Leading the way up front this season will be Jarid Lukosevicius, who scored 21 times last season, and two-way stud and team captain Colin Staub, a senior who has logged 117 career games and tallied 51 points.

Undersized Liam Finlay and Jake Durflinger produced 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Several of Denver’s newest forwards have been drafted, and the Pioneers will need them to contribute right away if they hope to return to the top tier of the NCHC standings.

Brett Stapley (Montréal), Mathias Emilio Pettersen (Calgary) and Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay) were all taken in the last two rounds.

On defense, Ian Mitchell led all blueliners last season in assists (28) and points (30) as a freshman.

But other than Mitchell, only Griffin Mendel and Michael Davies were the only other DU blueliners to dress for the majority of games in 2017-18.

Les Lancaster is an interesting addition, as he racked up 81 points at Mercyhurst, and he is eligible this season because he’s a graduate transfer.

Slava Demin, a Vegas fourth-round pick who thrived in the BCHL last season, is also expected to make a pick impact on the DU defense corps.

In net, Devin Cooley played one period last season as a freshman, as Tanner Jaillet was a mainstay between the pipes, and Detroit draftee Filip Larssen is expected to log substantial minutes as a freshman.

Denver has a talented freshman class coming in, but the Pioneers lost a lot of NHL-caliber talent and lack experience at forward, defense and especially in net.

Coach Jim Montgomery accepted the head coaching job with the Dallas Stars, and assistant David Carle was promoted to his position despite being just 28.

Carle is an NHL draftee, but sadly his career ended when he was diagnosed with a heart problem prior to him dressing in the NCAA.

He was a student assistant for Denver during his collegiate years, and after a year at USHL Green Bay as an assistant coach, he returned to the Pioneers as an assistant to Montgomery the past four seasons.

NOTE: BoB is previewing each NCHC team leading into the 2018-19 season. This is the second of seven installments.

The first one on Colorado College can be read here: 2018-19 Colorado College preview

NCHC preview: Colorado College

Colorado College played with zero seniors last season but came within two points of home-ice advantage in the first round of the NCHC Tournament.

The Tigers took Denver to a third game in their best-of-3 series before finally falling to the Pioneers, but CC was better in practically every metric than in any other season since the formation of the league, finishing 23rd in the all-important PairWise rankings.

Each Wednesday through September, BoB will post a quick Miami-centric preview on one of the NCHC teams as the countdown the opening night begins.

This week we take a look at the Tigers in the first of seven team snapshot installments.

COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS

NCAA titles: 2 (1950, 1957).

COACH: Mike Haviland (35-96-13 in four seasons).

2017-18 RECORD: 15-17-5.

POSTSEASON: Lost at Denver in NCHC quarterfinal.

RINK (capacity): Colorado Springs World Arena (7,343), Colorado Springs, Colo.

MIAMI VS. COLORADO COLLEGE LAST SEASON: 1-2-1.

ALL-TIME SERIES: 8-8-2.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 16-17 – at Colorado College; Jan. 25-26 – at Miami.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Nick Halloran, F Mason Bergh, F Trey Bradley, F Westin Michaud, D Kristian Blumenschein, D Andrew Farny, D Ben Israel, G Alex Leclerc.

KEY NEW FACES: RW Chris Wilkie, F Ben Copeland, F Erik Middendorf, D Bryan Yoon.

KEY LOSSES: F Kade Kehoe, F Branden Makara.

NOTES: Mike Haviland signed a well-deserved five-year extension this off-season after leading the Tigers to their best finish in the NCHC era.

Colorado College had won seven, six, eight and eight games in the first four seasons since joining the league before posting 15 victories in 2017-18.

This is definitely a team on the rise, as it ended last season two games below .500 despite having zero seniors on its roster.

Five players are out from that 2017-18 squad, but those skaters combined for just six points last season. CC has added eight new faces, including junior right wing and Florida Panthers draftee Chris Wilkie.

Wilkie played two seasons with North Dakota, going 6-13-19 before transferring to the Tigers. He sat out last season.

Freshman forward Ben Copeland racked up 62 points with Waterloo of the USHL in 2017-18, and Bryan Yoon was one of the top points-producing defensemen in that league, going 3-32-35 for Tri-City.

Another newbie for the Tigers is forward Erik Middendorf, who has spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Development Team.

All of Colorado College’s top 14 points leaders from 2017-18 return.

Junior Nick Halloran led the team with 45 points, and senior Mason Bergh finished with 40.

Seniors Ben Israel and Andrew Farny key a defense corps that combined for just nine goals last season. The Tigers will need to tighten up in their own zone, as they allowed an NCHC-worst 35 shots per game, an average that ranked 55th out of 60 in the NCAA.

Last season’s goaltending tandem of Alex Leclerc and Alec Calvaruso returns. Leclerc, a junior, saw the bulk of the playing time, going 15-15-4 in 36 games with a .907 save percentage and 3.21 goals-against average. Calvaruso logged 314 minutes and finished 0-2-1, .909 and 3.06.

And more good news for the Tigers: They recently had their plans for a $38 million on-campus rink green-lighted, as they look to open that facility in 2020.

Miami has struggled against Colorado College, posting just a .500 winning percentage vs. the Tigers all-time despite CC’s doormat status in the formative seasons of the NCHC.

The RedHawks have not won in Colorado Springs since 2015.

These teams meet in mid-November at CC as Miami wraps up a six-game, three-weekend set vs. NCHC opponents.

They hook up again at Cady Arena in late January in the back half of a RedHawks four-game homestand.

Different foes for Miami in 2018-19

A weekend tournament in Erie, Pa., a pair of New England road trips and rare Oxford visits for three out-of-conference opponents.

Those are some of the RedHawks’ 2018-19 schedule highlights.

Miami will also play an extra series for a 36-game regular season instead of the usual 34. Teams are allowed an additional two games when participating in a tournament or traveling to Alaska so they can recuperate travel expenses.

The RedHawks drop the puck on Oct. 6 vs. Alabama-Huntsville, hosting an unusual Saturday-Sunday weekend series. They are 8-1 all-time vs. the Chargers, who will skate at Cady Arena for just the second time.

Next up is the Ice Breaker Tournament, hosted by Mercyhurst. Miami will play Providence in the opening round and either Notre Dame or the host in the finale.

UMass-Lowell and Colgate visit Oxford the next two weekends. Miami and the Riverhawks have never played on each other’s campus, and Colgate has only played three games on the RedHawks’ home ice, with two of those games coming at Cady Arena in 2011.

UML is 1-0-1 vs. Miami with a neutral-ice tie in 2003 and an opening-round NCAA Tournament win in 2012. The Raiders and RedHawks split a 2011 series in Oxford, and Miami hammered Colgate, 14-2 in the only other series meeting on MU’s campus at Goggin.

Miami is 4-2 vs. the Raiders all-time.

After six straight conference games, the RedHawks head to New Hampshire, hooking up with the Wildcats for the first time since 2011. Miami is 1-2-1 at UNH and 5-6-1 in the history of the series.

Providence is the lone non-conference carryover from 2017-18. These teams will face off three times this regular season, including the Ice Breaker opener. They will play at Cady Arena on Jan. 4-5.

The Friars are 9-5-3 vs. the RedHawks including three straight wins. The last neutral-site game between these teams was the 2015 NCAA Tournament opener which PC won, 7-5.

Miami is 2-3-1 at Providence all-time and has played the Friars 12 times the past seven seasons.

The RedHawks will finish their campaign with 16 straight in-conference contests.

Dropping off the schedule from 2017-18 are Maine, Connecticut, Bowling Green and Cornell.

Starting with the first weekend in October, Miami hits the ice nine straight weeks to open the season. Dec. 1 is its final game of the first half, and the RedHawks do not play again until their lone exhibition vs. Guelph on Dec. 30.

They return to regular season action Jan. 4 at Providence then skate every weekend except one until the postseason, with the exception being Feb. 15-16.

Our thoughts: For better or worse, this is definitely not as difficult a schedule as Miami faced last season. Cornell was well embedded in the top five, Bowling Green challenged for the top 20 all season and Maine ended up in the middle of the pack.

Two of 2018-19’s non-league opponents, UAH and New Hampshire, finished in the bottom 10 of the NCAA.

Once again it will be a difficult finish for the RedHawks, as they face the defending national champions in four of their final 12 games and also travel to both St. Cloud and Denver, both of which were top five teams in 2017-18.

By the way, Bowling Green should be back on the schedule next season, but scheduling conflicts prevented the in-state foes from hooking up in the upcoming campaign.

A look at the 2018-19 schedule with opponents’ records in 2017-18 and Miami’s all-time head-to-head history:

NOTE: The next seven Wednesdays, BoB will preview each of Miami’s seven NCHC foes as we count down to the start of the 2018-19 season.

Home games in CAPS.

Date Opponent ’17-’18 record PairWise MU vs. all-time
Oct. 6-7 ALA.-HUNTSVILLE 12-23-2 51 8-1
Oct. 13 Providence! 24-12-4 7 5-9-3
Oct. 14 Mercyhurst/N. Dame! 21-12-4/25-9-2 23/2 0-0/39-18-10
Oct. 19-20 UMASS-LOWELL 17-20-2 36 0-1-1
Oct. 26-27 COLGATE 17-17-6 27 4-2
Nov. 2-3 at Nebraska-Omaha 17-17-2 19 20-17-6
Nov. 9-10 NORTH DAKOTA 17-13-10 14 6-13-3
Nov. 16-17 at Colorado Coll. 15-17-5 24 8-8-2
Nov. 23-24 at New Hampshire 10-20-6 52 5-6-1
Nov. 30-Dec. 1 ST. CLOUD STATE 25-8-6 1 17-16-2
Dec. 30 GUELPH@ 24-11 NA NA
Jan. 4-5 at Providence 24-12-4 7 5-9-3
Jan. 11-12 at W. Michigan 15-19-2 28 66-55-11
Jan. 18-19 MINN.-DULUTH 21-16-3* 12 4-15-2
Jan. 25-26 COLO. COLLEGE 15-17-5 24 8-8-2
Feb. 1-2 at St. Cloud State 25-8-6 1 17-16-2
Feb. 8-9 NEBRASKA-OMAHA 17-17-2 19 20-17-6
Feb. 22-23 at Denver 22-9-8 5 11-14-3
March 1-2 at Minn.-Duluth 21-16-3* 12 4-15-2
March 8-9 W. MICHIGAN 15-19-2 28 66-55-11

POSTSEASON

March 15-17 NCHC Tournament# TBA TBA TBA
March 22-23 Frozen Faceoff$ TBA TBA TBA
March 29-31 NCAA regionals TBA TBA TBA
April 11-13 Frozen Four% TBA TBA TBA

*-won NCAA championship in 2017-18
!-Ice Breaker Tournament, Erie, Pa.
@-exhibition
#-first-round best-of-3 series at campus sites
$-at the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
%-at Buffalo, N.Y.

Ten newbies on Miami’s roster

Miami entered 2017-18 with just three seniors, but its 2018-19 roster features 10 first-year RedHawks.

One is an NHL draftee – Johnny Gruden was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round last month.

Of the 10, five are forwards, four are defensemen plus one goalie. That brings Miami’s full roster to 15 wings and centers, nine blueliners and three netminders.

Two key names were missing from the RedHawks’ roster: Fs Matej Pekar and Ryan Savage.

Pekar was committed to UNO but switched to Miami this spring, following assistant coach Peter Mannino. He was drafted one spot ahead of Gruden, No. 94, by the Buffalo Sabres.

Since this is a sensitive subject that could negatively affect Pekar, BoB will not report any speculation about if or when he will join the team.

Savage, son of former NHL forward and RedHawks standout Brian Savage, signed an NLI prior to 2017-18 but will play another season in juniors after going 8-7-15 in 48 USHL games. He will join the RedHawks in 2019-20.

A glance at the newest official members of the Miami hockey community:

FORWARDS


71 JONATHAN GRUDEN

DOB: 5/4/2000.

Height: 6-0.

Weight: 170.

From: Farmington Hills, Mich.

2017-18 stats/team: USNDT, 61 GP, 28-32-60.

Notes: Gruden has the best credentials of any incoming player. He was drafted by Ottawa 95th overall in June and kept a point-a-game place for the USNDT and posted 15 goals and 19 assists in 25 games vs. USHL opponents.

His father, John Gruden, is a former NHL defenseman who logged 92 games over parts of six seasons with Boston, Ottawa and Washington. He is now the coach of OHL Hamilton, which makes Jonathan Gruden choosing the college path interesting.

In addition to his points production, he has impressed with his two-way play, and he also can play multiple forward positions. Coach Enrico Blasi really likes versatility.

Where he fits in this season: There’s rarely a sure thing in college hockey, but barring injury Gruden will almost certainly skate on one of the top two pairings this season and should excel.

The RedHawks will need his offensive talents, as six forwards from 2017-18 have moved on.


18 MONTE GRAHAM

DOB: 5/4/1998.

Height: 5-11.

Weight: 174.

From: Hanover, Mass.

2017-18 stats/team: Muskegon (USHL), 57 GP, 10-15-25.

Notes: The former Boston College commit (actually still on the Eagles’ 2018-19 roster!) is the cousin of former NHLer Tony Amonte and current Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle.

Graham has already played three full seasons in the USHL, logging 173 games and notching 21 goals and 36 assists. He is known for his skating, and he racked up 95 PIMs last season.

While he went from eight points to 24 in his first two USHL seasons, he climbed just one point to 25 in 2017-18.

Where he fits in this season: Not a big offensive guy in juniors, but Graham reached the 10-goal mark for the first time last season, so he may slide into a starting role.

Miami only has nine returning forwards, so opportunities for ice time should be ample for rookies up front.


14 NOAH JORDAN

Position: F.

DOB: 3/8/1997.

Height: 6-5.

Weight: 216.

From: Toronto, Ont.

2017-18 stats/team: North York (OJHL), 47 GP, 18-20-38.

Notes: Jordan played four seasons for St. Michael’s of the Ontario Junior Hockey League then was back in that league for his overage season in 2017-18. He netted 18 goals and dished for 20 assists in 47 games with North York and also tied for the team lead in playoff points with 12 in 11 games.

Jordan is 21, and only 20 Division I players are taller, according to College Hockey News. Originally a Quinnipiac commit, Jordan switched to Miami in April.

Where he fits in this season: The OJHL is considered a slight step above the NAHL, so we’ll see how that offensive success translates in the NCAA.

With Conor Lemirande graduating, a player exhibiting a similar style could be welcome for the RedHawks.


19 BRIAN HAWKINSON

DOB: 1/10/1998.

Height: 5-9.

Weight: 146.

From: Aurora, Colo.

2017-18 stats/team: Tri-City (USHL), 58 GP, 6-10-16.

Notes: Hawkinson has played the past three seasons with USHL Tri-City, where he was team captain last season. He was also teammates with Graham the duo’s first two juniors campaigns.

Known as a do-anything-to-win type, he enters 2018-19 with 164 games of regular-season experience in the USHL. He notched just 10 points in his first two seasons combined in that league, but he stepped up with a 6-10-16 line last year.

Tri-City lists him at 5-10, 175 while other sites have him at 5-9-146.

Where he fits in this season: Hard to say because smaller forwards are usually known for their offense and Hawkinson is more of a grit guy.

A ton of USHL experience should make for a smooth transition to the college game.


25 SCOTT CORBETT

Position: F.

DOB: 4/14/1998.

Height: 6-1.

Weight: 187.

From: Carmel, Ind.

2017-18 stats/team: Dubuque (USHL), 59 GP, 6-18-24.

Notes: Another older player with ample USHL experience, Corbett started his Major Juniors career in the NAHL but has been in the U the past season and a half.

The dual citizen committed to Miami last week, becoming the third player from the northern Indianapolis suburb to join the RedHawks in the past dozen years, with Cameron Schilling and Grant Hutton being the others.

Corbett was solid in his first full season in the USHL, going 6-18-24 in 59 games with Dubuque. He has good size for a forward competing in the ultra-physical NCHC.

Where he fits in this season: He hasn’t been a big points producer in juniors but Miami hasn’t gotten much production from its third and fourth lines in recent seasons so he may have the opportunity to thrive.

Again, with nine returning forwards, starting slots will be there for the taking so Corbett and the four other newbies up front should get long looks this fall.

DEFENSEMEN


13 DEREK DASCHKE

DOB: 1/6/1998.

Height: 6-2.

Weight: 190.

From: Troy, Mich.

2017-18 stats/team: Chicago (USHL), 56 GP, 8-21-29.

Notes: Peter Mannino was Daschke’s coach for Clark Cup-winning Chicago of the USHL this spring.

Daschke was committed to Nebraska-Omaha, where Mannino was an assistant, but when Mannino was hired by Miami this off-season, the blueliner switched his commitment to the RedHawks.

His commitment is definitely in the top five news items from this program this off-season. Daschke has played in the USHL since 2014 and he was the captain of that championship Steel team last season.

He has a laser of a shot and found the net eight times last season, adding 21 assists.

Where he fits in this season: It’s hard to imagine, barring injury, Daschke not contributing right away.

He’s big, he’s experienced, he can shoot the puck and he’s joining a team that has just five returning D-men.


4 ANDREW SINARD

DOB: 5/22/1997.

Height: 6-6.

Weight: 185.

From: Brentwood, Tenn.

2017-18 stats/team: Aberdeen (NAHL), 58 GP, 0-19-19.

Notes: Sinard is a shut-down defenseman with a huge reach, and he also picked up 19 assists last season with NAHL Aberdeen.

He started his Major Juniors career with USHL Cedar Rapids but has been with the Wings since. Sinard does not have a goal in 96 juniors games, but he has impressed with his shut-down prowess.

Where he fits in this season: The only two similar players in recent Miami history are Brian Sipotz and Michael Findorff, and neither were full-time starters, although Sipotz played six seasons with Chicago of the AHL.

We’ll see if Sinard can buck that trend.

3 BRAYDEN CROWDER

DOB: 11/17/1998.

Height: 6-6.

Weight: 201.

From: Sudbury, Ont.

2017-18 stats/team: Muskegon (USHL), 55 GP, 5-14-19.

Notes: Like Daschke, Crowder was also committed to Nebraska-Omaha but switched to Miami after Mannino was brought in as an assistant.

Crowder left Canada two seasons ago, and after staying in the NAHL in 2016-17, he jumped to the USHL and went 5-14-19 with Muskegon, finishing plus-11.

Miami will be his 10th team in six seasons, so the blueliner should welcome the stability. His father, Troy, was a tough guy who logged 150 NHL games over seven seasons, amassing 433 PIMs to go along with his nine goals and seven assists.

Where he fits in this season: A 6-6 defenseman who scores five goals in the USHL is very intriguing, especially since he was 18 when last season started, and big guys typically develop later.

81 RIVER RYMSHA

DOB: 8/11/1996.

Height: 6-3.

Weight: 205.

From: Huntington Woods, Mich.

2017-18 stats/team: Dartmouth (NCAA), 28 GP, 1-2-3.

Notes: Like former Miamian Marc Hagel, Rymsha completed his degree with a year of eligibility remaining due to an injury that cost him the majority of a season, so he will work on his graduate studies at Miami.

Rymsha, who will not turn 22 until next month, played just 63 games at Dartmouth and scored three goals accompanied by five assists.

He is known as a physical D-man with a high hockey IQ. Rymsha also boasts a strong hockey pedigree, as his father, Andy, played six games with Quebec of the NHL and his brother is a Los Angeles Kings prospect.

Where he fits in this season: He has not played more than 28 games in an NCAA season and has just eight points, so it’s unlikely he goes Grant Hutton this season.

But another steady blueliner with plenty of college experience can’t hurt on a team that will start the season with five D-men who are freshmen or sophomores.

GOALTENDERS


32 JORDAN UHELSKI

DOB: 8/4/1993.

Height: 6-1.

Weight: 194.

From: Burton, Mich.

2017-18 stats/team: Alabama-Huntsville (NCAA), 32 GP, 12-18-2, 3.05, .907.

Notes: Another fifth-year senior situation, as Uhelski was a major contributor in net for Alabama-Huntsville the past two seasons.

He played 55 games with the Chargers the past two seasons, posting a .907 save percentage and recording 18 wins.

Where he fits in this season: Chase Munroe and Grant Valentine were expected to vie for the backup job this season, but Munroe is not listed on Miami’s roster and Uhelski is.

Boasting a quality resume, Uhelski could move into the No. 2 spot and push Larkin for starts.

Miami could have 3 taken in NHL draft

The past two Junes, just one Miami player has had his name called on NHL draft weekend.

But in the next couple of days, as many as three RedHawks-to-be could be selected prior to their freshman seasons.

Carson Meyer was taken in the sixth round by Columbus last summer, and 2016 was the first draft in which Miami was not represented since the NHL dropped to seven rounds.

Since the program’s inception, 62 Miami players have been drafted.

A quick look at this year’s potential draftees:

JOHNNY GRUDEN

Birthplace: Rochester Hills, Mich.

Birthdate: 5/4/2000.

Position: Center/left wing.

2017-18 team: U.S. National Development.

Height: 6-0.

Weight: 170.

2017-18 stats: 86 GP, 43 goals, 51 assists, 94 points, 66 PIMs.

Skinny: Coming off an outstanding season with the U.S. Under-18 team, Gruden will likely be the highest pick among this group. After scoring 43 goals with the U.S. National Development Team – including 15 in 25 games vs. USHL opponents – Gruden’s already-healthy stock rose slightly.

He jumped from No. 48 to No. 46 among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting rankings from the mid-term rankings until the final edition, and with an allegedly strong European class this year, Gruden may be picked in the third round or fourth rounds.

Gruden is six feet tall, but at 170 pounds he knows he needs to add weight.

His father is John Gruden, a former defenseman who logged 92 NHL games over parts of six seasons with Boston, Ottawa and Washington.

That’s where it gets interesting. John Gruden previously coached Team USA before accepting a job with Flint of the OHL. He was fired in his first season for not playing the owner’s son enough then hired back after the players protested. Then he was fired again three months later. He got the last laugh, accepting a job with the OHL team in Hamilton and winning that league’s championship last month.

So it’s unusual that a successful OHL coach would have a son playing in the NCAA, although John Gruden attended Ferris State.

Anyway, Gruden could be the next major points producer on a Miami team has been short on offense the past couple of seasons, and he’s impressed with his defense.

He can play multiple forward positions and will likely excel at all of them when he takes the ice in Oxford this fall.

MATEJ PEKAR

Birthplace: Turnov, Czech Replublic.

Birthdate: 2/10/2000.

Position: Center/right wing.

2017-18 team: Muskegon.

League: USHL.

Height: 6-0.

Weight: 170.

2017-18 stats: 56 GP, 14 goals, 40 assists, 54 points, 36 PIMs.

Skinny: When Miami hired Nebraska-Omaha assistant Peter Mannino this spring, he came bearing gifts. Pekar almost immediately changed his commitment from UNO to Miami, and he is headed to Oxford this fall.

The Czech-born forward will be entering his fourth season of hockey in North America, and he earned Rookie of the Year honors in the USHL last season by averaging a point a game.

He is known for his intelligent play, versatility and a missile of a shot.

Similar to Gruden, Pekar earns high marks for his two-way play and could thrive on both the penalty kill and power play.

He has impressed with his ability to win battles for loose pucks, both in front of the net and along the boards, but he will need to add muscle to compete with NCHC foes physically.

Pekar rose 32 spots among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting rankings, up from 87th to No. 55. The means, like Gruden, he projects as a third- or fourth-round pick.

RYAN SAVAGE

Birthplace: Montreal, Canada.

Birthdate: 3/31/2000.

Position: Right wing.

2017-18 teams: Fargo/Omaha.

League: USHL.

Height: 5-11.

Weight: 187.

2017-18 stats: 48 GP, 8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points, 14 PIMs.

Skinny: Savage’s first full season in the USHL did not go well, and he slipped from 149th among North American skaters in the mid-terms to not ranked as a result.

Despite the setback, NHL teams love pedigree and take more chances late in drafts, so Savage could still be selected.

Savage will be another second-generation Hawk – he is the son of former Miami standout and NHL forward Brian Savage. Ryan Savage’s younger brother – Red Savage – is also committed to the RedHawks, so it’s likely Miami will have a Savage on the ice for a number of seasons.

Brian Savage played 12 seasons in the NHL, going 192-167-359 for Montreal, Phoenix, St. Louis and Philadelphia. He scored 37 goals in 38 games his final season in Oxford as he led MU to its first-ever NCAA Tournament contest.

It’s possible Savage returns to the USHL this fall. His stats were underwhelming last season, and another season of development in juniors could vault Savage back onto the fast track to draftee status.

Another two-generation Miami hockey family is the Kuralys, and son Sean benefited tremendously from another season in the USHL.

Photos: North Dakota at Miami

Images from the series played between North Dakota and Miami University at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, on Feb. 23-24, 2018. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

Miami loses late lead, ties NorDak

OXFORD, Ohio – On Friday, Miami battled back from three down to win.

One night later, No. 12 North Dakota was the team overcoming a multiple-goal deficit.

But unlike the RedHawks, the Fighting Hawks were only able to salvage a tie after evening the score on a pair of third-period goals for a 2-2 draw at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami (11-17-4) earned the extra point in 3-on-3 play after the game was officially ruled a tie, giving the RedHawks five of a possible six points on the weekend.

Despite the strong showing this weekend, Miami clinched last place in the NCHC. Three teams are tied for fifth, six points ahead of the RedHawks. All have two regular season games remaining.

So it is possible for MU to tie at least one of those three, but Miami cannot win a tiebreaker against any of them.

Melnick

Miami’s Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

After the completion of this game, St. Cloud clinched the conference title, so the RedHawks will travel there for their first-round NCHC Tournament series in two weeks.

RECAP: The teams were scoreless after the first period, but Miami’s Josh Melnick gave Miami the lead when he stole a puck at his defensive blue line and skated in for a breakaway, pounding the puck into the pads of North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson.

At first it appeared Johnson had made the save, but the referee by the net ruled it a goal, a shorthanded tally at the 4:23 mark of the middle stanza.

The RedHawks made it 2-0 just 26 seconds into the third period when Carter Johnson slid a pass through the slot that Kiefer Sherwood rifled home.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

But at the 4:20 mark of the final frame, a shot by the Fighting Hawks’ Hayden Shaw from a bad angle hit the glove of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin and trickled in.

Exactly three minutes later, UND’s Nick Jones redirected a blue-line shot by Colton Poolman to tie the score.

After five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime, Sherwood found the net in the 3-on-3 to give Miami the extra league point.

STATS: It was the ninth goal of the season for Melnick, and Sherwood scored his seventh. Melnick led Miami with three points on the weekend.

— It was just the second time in 14 games the RedHawks allowed fewer than two goals.

— Make that six straight games with neither a power-play nor a first-period tally.

— And Miami still hasn’t won a Saturday game since Nov. 18.

— Both Melnick and Louie Belpedio reached 80 career points this weekend. Melnick has 27 goals and 53 assists, while Belpedio has scored 25 times and dished out 55 assists. Belpedio is a senior while Melnick is a junior.

That duo is tied for the team lead in active career points, and Sherwood is two back with 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points. He’s also a junior.

THOUGHTS: Torn again.

Happy with a 1-0-1 weekend against North Dakota? Of course. Is Jack Johnson still hated in Oxford?

For the most part it was a very well-played series by Miami in a down year against a national power.

Cady Arena was rocking and these were two extremely entertaining games to watch.

But it’s hard to be happy about yet another third-period collapse. Winning the 3-on-3 skills competition point does nothing to assuage that.

When the final chapter is written about RedHawks Version 2017-18, near the top of the list of what went wrong this regular season will be the inability to close out games.

And this has been a problem for a number of years.

Miami has shown glimpses of excellence this season, but it cannot afford to continue flipping wins to ties and losses.

— Not happy with the penalties in this game on multiple fronts. Karch Bachman was taken down in the second period by a player also committing interference and possible a felony or two and there was no call.

A too-many-men call was missed. Miami had one power play, North Dakota (14-11-9) three including a major. That’s a night after concurrent minors against the RedHawks resulted in the Fighting Hawks’ second goal on Friday.

Penalty minutes were 19-2 on Saturday.

— That said, Rourke Russell’s minor penalty was undisciplined, and Carson Meyer’s major was deserved.

Russell had just turned the puck over and took a blatant chop at the steal-ee. Meyer saw numbers on the back of jersey and barreled into his guy anyway.

That’s a major in the NCAA.

— Speaking of the Meyer hit, someone decided to make that the hit of the game on the scoreboard at Cady Arena. A dangerous hit from behind. A major penalty and ejection.

Wise up, Cady staff.

— Miami looked extremely tired in the third period. Second game in two nights, of course, but that’s true of every team in college hockey in the third period every Saturday.

It was unusually humid and warm for this area in February, but again, both teams had to deal with that.

— With this being the final home game, I think it’s time to lobby for some additional players’ numbers to be added to the Zamboni end walls.

Andy Greene has been out of Oxford for 12 years. It’s time his name goes up. Ryan Jones graduated in 2008. Same goes.

A decade plus on both. What in the world is everyone waiting for?

The first two are no-brainers, but I’d add Andy Miele to that list as well.

He won the Hobey Baker seven years ago. That’s long enough.

In two years, add Austin Czarnik. He’s already been gone since 2015 and he epitomized Miami hockey values both on and off the ice as much as anyone else on that wall.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C. Sherwood finished with seven shots and Green had six. It’s so nice to have Sherwood playing as well as he did in 2016-17. Melnick created his own goal with the steal in his own zone, and Sherwood’s came after Miami won board battles, so both markers came off of hard work.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. North Dakota controlled the puck more than Miami, so it’s sort of comme ci, comme ca to point out that Grant Hutton, Alec Mahalak and Chaz Switzer all blocked three shots, and Scott Dornbrock added two blocks. Russell took two penalties and one of those chances resulted in a North Dakota goal.

GOALTENDING: B. Hard to fault a guy for a tip-in from the slot, but the first one was all Ryan Larkin. He should’ve gloved the puck but it bounced out and into the net. But he was 28 of 30 and made some outstanding saves.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. This looks like the 19 that coach Enrico Blasi will ride into the NCHC Tournament.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It was senior night, and overall a 1-0-1 weekend vs. North Dakota is a great send-off for Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock and Conor Lemirande in their final home series.

Unfortunately, this class made the NCAA Tournament just once, and that was their freshmen seasons.

Miami will finish last in the NCHC for the second time since the league’s inception in 2013-14 and will head to the road for the fourth time in five years to open the league tournament.

In the eight-team conference, the RedHawks have finished eighth, second, fifth, seventh and now eighth again since joining the league.

Next weekend, Miami heads to Denver for a series that means zilch to the RedHawks in terms of points/seeding/NCAA Tournament qualifying.

The focus now is all on their series at St. Cloud State in two weeks.