It’s one of the biggest classes of incoming freshmen ever for Miami.
The RedHawks have 14 freshman hitting the ice this fall, and assistant coach Nick Petraglia handles a large portion of Miami’s recruiting.
So for the third straight summer, we talked to Petraglia about the team and the newest members of the program.
BoB: So how is the off-season going for the coaching staff?
Petraglia: It’s been great. A lot of time planning, and we all had some time away, obviously. I can tell you that we’re excited to get going here. We’ve all had time with our families but I know this season’s been on our minds the whole time and we’re charged up and ready to go.
BoB: With 14 incoming freshmen, what kind of challenges does that create for a coaching staff?
Petraglia: It’s a fun challenge. I think the most important thing is that we set the standard right away and they learn what our expectations are so they can make as seamless of a transition as possible. Obviously it’s going to be a learning curve for everybody, but just setting that culture, and we’ll lean on our returning players to do that right away. But with 14 guys being half of our team, the example we set and how we operate from a work ethic standpoint, a character standpoint, habits – just everything we do – trying to operate at the highest level possible right away so it becomes the way and we can just focus on getting better every single day, one day at a time. That’s what we’re going to try to do.
BoB: You coaches are super-intense people and obviously bleed for the program, so do you feel even more pressure because this big class of freshmen is coming in – especially with how last season ended – because this group is half of your team for the next four years?
Petraglia: No, I don’t think pressure is the way we look at it. I think we’re really excited. I will say that we very much believe in what we have in that room and what our culture is. We believe we have the right people and all the pieces of the puzzle are there and we just have to make sure they’re put together properly and guys are in a position to be themselves and be successful. Like I said, we’re very excited. We really love the class that’s coming in. We’re really happy with all of the work that’s been put in by the returning guys who have spent all of spring and the early parts of summer really taking the next step. We had a great summer with those guys in the weight room and off the ice and hopefully everything comes together as soon as possible.
BoB: We’ve written briefly about the freshmen individually (NOTE: That story can be found here), but specifically, the forwards in general, it seems like you’ve got a good mix of smaller guys, bigger guys – obviously that’s what you want – so can you talk about that group?
Petraglia: There’s a little bit of everything, and obviously that’s by design. Offensively, we have some guys that have proven they can produce.
– Karch Bachman: Has elite speed, a really good shot, a scoring touch and is somebody who’s pretty electric. He missed a lot of last season because of injury and that’s why his numbers weren’t what you’d expect. But he’s a kid that has some high-end offensive ability and talent.
– Carson Meyer: Had an incredible rookie season (in the USHL) helping Tri-City win the Clark Cup. He’s a kid that knows how to score, plays the game the right way, great shot, he’s a complete player that can hopefully contribute right away.
A couple of kids coming from Dubuque that have been committed for a while.
– Gordie Green: A smaller guy who plays with a ton of passion and energy. He’s a rat out there – he’ll get under your skin and he’s not afraid of anything. His biggest strength is just his hockey sense and playmaking ability. So he’s a guy that can make a lot happen, and we expect him to be a major contributor.
– Willie Knierim: (Green’s) teammate last year, the youngest guy in the class. Big power forward. The best thing about Willie is he knows his game and he takes pride in it. He doesn’t try to be something that he’s not. He’s got a nice set of hands, he knows how to score. He’s really good around the net, he’s good in the corners and he’s one of those players that as a power forward can really complement skilled guys around him. Very excited about those two coming in.
– Carter Johnson: Is an older, mature player from the North American League. He’s one of our Canadians that we have coming in – first ones in a while from Canada – he’s a well-rounded centerman that I think is going to surprise a lot of people. He plays both ends of the ice sheet, he skates well, he has good skills. He’s produced a decent amount throughout his career, and he’s just a big body that understands the game and gets around well, so he should be able to fill in an important role on our team.
– Alex Alger: Is a guy that’s been committed for a long time. He plays with a lot of energy, he can skate, he’s not afraid to be physical, he’s got a good shot. He played a big role on his team up in Johnstown the last couple of years, so hopefully he can come in and make an impact.
– Christan Mohs: Is a guy that just plays with a relentless compete level. Really good on the forecheck, a ton of energy, produced in Minot in the North American League, had a very successful career. I think he’s coming in here as that program’s all-time leading scorer. But just the way he plays – he gets after it and he’s tough to play against and he adds that element.
Part II of our interview with Coach Petraglia will cover the defensemen and all-important three freshmen goalies. That will be posted on Sunday, Sept. 11.
With Miami’s earliest exit in recent history last season and its biggest influx of freshman talent in a number of years, the 2016-17 season can’t get here soon enough.
BoB has you covered, with its summer withdrawal-killing first look at the RedHawks’ Class of 2020.
We take a look at all of the newcomers expected to don the Red and White this fall in Part II of our roster evaluation.
Miami has seven new forwards on its 2016-17 roster, a mix of big players, small players, goal scorers and playmakers – a necessary combination for a winning team. As mentioned in Part I, only eight forwards return from last season, so at least four members of this class will be in the lineup each night.
Alex Alger – A stud with Cranbrook in the Michigan high school system, Alger has spent the last three seasons in the NAHL, scoring 43 goals and dishing for 61 assists. He’s a slight skater at 5-11, 154 pounds and will be the first player in team history to wear a number in the 70s. His younger brother, Austin, is also a Miami commit.
Karch Bachman – The only draftee among this class, Bachman was limited to 35 games last season but scored 14 goals and set up eight more for three USHL teams. Bachman was selected in the fifth round by Florida last season and is a product of the prestigious Culver Academy in Indiana. He is also 5-11, weighing 171 pounds, and Miami is hoping he can help light the lamp this season, an area the RedHawks struggled with much of 2015-16.
Gordie Green – Green should be one of the more polished freshmen this season, having spent two-plus seasons with Dubuque of the USHL. He is a playmaker, although he’s also not afraid to stand in front of the net and redirect pucks when needed. Green finished with 12 goals and 27 assists last regular season, and he went 0-8-8 in 12 playoff games as the Fighting Saints won the Clark Cup. Maybe not the type of points producer as an Andy Miele or Austin Czarnik, but he should put up over 20 points a season. He’s definitely on the small side at 5-8-168.
Carter Johnson – A late bloomer out of Manitoba, Johnson signed midway through this past season. He will provide the team some much-needed size up front at 6-feet-3, 208 pounds. Johnson came out of Swan Valley of the Canadian second-tier juniors to score 16 goals and dish for 21 assists in his first and only NAHL season with Corpus Christi in 2015-16.
Willie Knierim – Knierim was ranked the 149th-best North American skater heading into the 2016 draft but was not selected. He’s an intriguing player because he has NHL size (6-feet-3, 212 pounds) and a solid skill set, albeit still a little raw. Like many big kids, it may take him longer to become a major contributor, but he hopefully he can contribute right away and continue to get better. Sean Kuraly was drafted highly by San Jose, but the development path in Oxford could be similar. And he’s just 18, a year younger than Kuraly when he put on the Miami sweater. Winning a Clark Cup with Green should help his confidence level.
Carson Meyer – What a first season in the USHL. Meyer – another Columbus product – scored 32 goals and added 19 assists for 51 points for Tri-City, the highest marker and points total of any incoming freshman. He spent four years in the Junior Blue Jackets system, and he went 21-30-51 with the U-18 team his final season. Big-time goal scorers are obviously needed at Miami, and hopefully those outstanding USHL numbers will translate to Division I.
Christian Mohs – Another late signee, Mohs has been a points machine in the NAHL the past two seasons. Mohs racked up 101 of them in 116 regular season games in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with Minot. He turns 21 this month, which is obviously older for a freshman, but his experience could be a benefit on a team loaded with teens. The Minnesota product is 6-0-183, so he has decent size for a points producer.
As documented in Part I, Miami will have an enormous challenge to replace Matthew Caito, Taylor Richart and Chris Joyaux on the back end. Four blueliners return (Colin Sullivan, Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock, Grant Hutton), and while all are solid, at least two newbies will dress each night.
Jared Brandt – A teammate of Mohs, Brandt put up 27 points in Minot this past season, his third with that team. The St. Louis product is a bit undersized at 5-9-174, but Miami fans know that smaller defensemen from that city can have plenty of success at the collegiate level and beyond (Chris Wideman). He also wore No. 6 with the Minotaurs. Brandt will be 21 this October, and the RedHawks have had a lot of success with older defensemen coming in
Grant Frederic – Already 21, Frederic is another St. Louis-area player described to BoB by a scout familiar with Miami hockey as “(Kevin) Roeder but six inches taller”. Frederic’s younger brother, Trent, was just drafted by the Boston Bruins in the first round last week. He played in the NAHL in 2013-14 but has been a standout for USHL Green Bay the past two seasons, racking up eight goals, 19 assists and 208 penalty minutes. Frederic will likely be a favorite to jump in the lineup immediately.
Bryce Hatten – Hatten suffered a major hip injury in a preseason game with USHL Cedar Rapids and was limited to six regular season games. He is 19 and played a full season with the RoughRiders in 2014-15, when he went 2-5-7 in 51 games. Hatten notched a pair of assists in four playoffs games this spring. He is 6-2-198 and will likely develop into a quality D-man for Miami. Hatten did miss almost an entire developmental season, so it will be interesting to see how he looks this fall, but he likely has a bright future in Oxford even if he isn’t 100 percent heading into 2016-17.
Chaz Switzer – Switzer turns 19 next week but has played in the USHL for three seasons, logging 121 regular season games with Muskegon and Sioux Falls. He is definitely a stay-at-home D-man, having recorded just 11 points in the USHL, but he definitely has no problem mixing it up, as he has 294 penalty minutes. Switzer is a little on the small side for an NCHC defenseman and 6-0-195, but he has plenty of high-level experience for his age and could be a quality asset on the blue line for Miami.
Miami will have four goaltenders with a total of 9:39 of collegiate experience entering 2016-17, but the RedHawks have gone through this before and have always been fine between the pipes. Whether it was ironman David Burleigh, Jeff and Eff, Cody and Connor or Jay and McKay, this team has an excellent track record in net under coach Enrico Blasi.
Ryan Larkin – Larkin is the cousin of the Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin, and while he was limited to four games in 2015-16, he is one of the favorites to log the majority of playing time in net this fall. At 19, Larkin has logged 32 USHL games with Cedar Rapids and recorded a 2.38 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Injured and done for the year by January, Larkin came to Oxford and got a head start on his class load late last season, so having a chance to be an informal member of the team the past six months can only help his transition to Division I.
Andrew Masters – Masters signed very late after a phenomenal season with Georgetown (Ont.) of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He went 28-9 in the regular season with a 2.00 GAA, .934 save percentage and four shutouts, and he was 13-9 in the playoffs as the Raiders lost to Trenton in the finals. He is already 21, and it’s unclear what role he will play this season with Miami, but his resume of winning can only help him as he heads into his first season of collegiate hockey.
Chase Munroe – A Chicago-area product, Munroe posted stellar numbers in his third and final NAHL season with Minnesota. He went 19-14 with a 2.22 GAA and .912 save percentage, notching three shutouts. Munroe also had a solid rookie campaign with Wichita Falls in 2013-14 but played for three teams the following year and was limited to 16 games. At 6-4-216, Munroe takes up a lot of net and the 21-year-old should compete for a large chunk of playing time right away.
A look at Miami commits’ 2015-16 stats in both the regular season and playoffs, which can always be found here https://blogofbrotherhood.com/future-redhawks/:
COMMITS’ 2015-16 FINAL REGULAR SEASON STATS
|Ryan Savage||2000||EC Salzburg||RBHRC U18||F||16||22||15||37||41|
|Carter Johnson*||1995||Corpus Christi||NAHL||F||59||16||21||37||-4||65|
|Ben Lown||1998||W. Falls/Omaha||NAHL/USHL||F||45||9||26||35||15||14|
|Johnny Gruden||2000||Honeybaked U16||HPHL U16||F||22||16||8||24||48|
|Rourke Russell||1998||Wichita Falls||NAHL||D||48||4||14||18||11||63|
|Grant Frederic*||1995||Green Bay||USHL||D||58||2||12||14||20||96|
|Phillip Knies||1998||Sioux City||USHL||F||47||5||8||13||-10||40|
|Chaz Switzer*||1997||Sioux Falls||USHL||D||48||2||4||6||-12||130|
|Bryce Hatten*||1997||Cedar Rapids||USHL||D||6||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Ryan Larkin*||1997||Cedar Rapids||USHL||4||3||0||1||2.13||.917||0|
COMMITS’ FINAL 2015-16 PLAYOFF STATS
Final regular season
|Ryan Savage||2000||EC Salzburg II||RBHS U20||F||4||1||2||3||4|
|Bryce Hatten*||1997||Cedar Rapids||USHL||D||4||0||2||2||1||0|
|Grant Frederic*||1995||Green Bay||USHL||D||4||0||1||1||1||0|
|Chaz Switzer*||1997||Sioux Falls||USHL||D||3||0||0||0||-5||0|
Last updated: 6-4-2016
*-will play for Miami in 2016-17
The letters “FR” are listed in the rows of 14 of the 27 players on Miami’s 2016-17 roster.
Meaning over half of the RedHawks expected to hit the ice this fall will be freshmen.
Of the other 13, seven are sophomores-to-be, three will be juniors and three enter their senior seasons.
Part I of this two-part series will focus on Miami’s position-by-position breakdown for the upcoming season, while the latter installment will introduce everyone to the newest crop of RedHawks.
OUT: 6 – Kevin Morris (graduated), Sean Kuraly (graduated), Alex Gacek (graduated), Devin Loe (cut), Michael Mooney (graduated), Andrew Schmit (graduated).
RETURNING: 8 – Seniors – Anthony Louis, Justin Greenberg. Junior – Conor Lemirande. Sophomores – Jack Roslovic, Kiefer Sherwood, Josh Melnick, Zach LaValle, Ryan Siroky.
IN: 7 – Gordie Green, Carson Meyer, Christian Mohs, Carter Johnson, Alex Alger, Karch Bachman, Willie Knierim.
ANALYSIS: Yes, Miami took some major hits in this department, but it’s the most stable of the three facets. The RedHawks’ top four scorers all return (Louis and Sherwood, 11 goals; Roslovic, 10 goals; Melnick, nine goals). The toughest thing to replace from this group will be the leadership – Kuraly was team captain and Morris was an alternate – and the penalty killing ability. Morris, Kuraly and Gacek were all studs on the PK. Last season’s freshman class was impressive, especially the second half of the year, and will be relied on heavily in 2016-17. Even if all of the returning skaters dress, that leaves four openings for incoming freshmen, so at least one-third of the forwards will be rookies every night this fall.
OUT: 4 – Matthew Caito (graduated), Chris Joyaux (graduated), Taylor Richart (graduated), Michael Mooney (graduated).
RETURNING: 4 – Senior – Colin Sullivan. Juniors – Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock. Sophomore – Grant Hutton.
IN: 4 – Bryce Hatten, Grant Frederic, Chaz Switzer. Jared Brandt.
ANALYSIS: Caito has been one of the best blueliners to play for Miami in recent years, and Richart and Joyaux were solid shut-down D-men for four years. The RedHawks were so deep here last season that Sullivan had trouble getting into the lineup despite playing very well just about every time he dressed. Like the forward corps, at least one-third of this group will be freshmen this season with only four blueliners returning. The good news is that this coaching staff has always brought in solid skaters on the back end that are game-ready as soon they come to Oxford. Hutton was the most recent example last season. If Belpedio takes another step forward he could be the top D-man in the conference. He is the lone returning alternate captain from 2015-16 and could wear the ‘C’ this fall.
OUT: 2 – Jay Williams (graduated), Ryan McKay (graduated).
RETURNING: 1 – Sophomore – Evan McCarthy.
IN: 3 – Ryan Larkin, Chase Munroe, Andrew Masters.
ANALYSIS: The Zatkoff effect continues. Jeff Zatkoff left after his junior year, leaving Miami with two freshmen in net for 2008-09, and eight seasons later the cycle repeats. Williams and McKay both had outstanding careers with the RedHawks, and the bar is high for the newcomers. McCarthy played the final minutes of one game last season, as he enters 2016-17 the most game-tested netminder on the team, having logged 9:39 between the pipes. Like with the blueline, Miami’s coaches continue to bring in excellent goalies. Masters was a late addition and gives the team four goaltenders on the roster, which is a bit of a rarity.
BOTTOM LINE: Scoring was a major issue for Miami last season, and while Roslovic was a stud early in the season, the rest of the freshman class caught up after the break, providing optimism in that area for 2016-17. And as for the goaltending, call fans spoiled but the RedHawks haven’t really struggled with talent in that area since Enrico Blasi took over the coaching reins 17 years ago, so there’s little reason to believe that will be an issue this season. The defense is arguably the biggest concern, and it’s no knock whatsoever on the incoming and returning players but a compliment to the graduated seniors from last season. The amazing two-way play of Caito, the passion and toughness of Richart, the physical and shut-down ability of Joyaux – that’s half of the blueline on the nightly lineup sheet – will be difficult to replace. Plus a D-corps can either make that transition to collegiate hockey much smoother or rougher for a team with three freshmen goalies. With all of the youth overall, at the risk of sounding cliché, this team may be much better in March than in October, which is the ultimate goal for a hockey team anyway.