No set of euphemisms can shield the obvious: Minnesota-Duluth has owned Miami the past few seasons.
The Bulldogs are 11-1-1 vs. the RedHawks since the start of the 2016 calendar year and 15-4-2 vs. MU overall.
If there’s good news for Miami it’s that the lone win during its current drought vs. UMD came on home ice last season.
And the RedHawks have defended their home rink well this season, going 6-2-2 at Cady Arena.
BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:
WHO: No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (12-6-2) at Miami RedHawks (9-9-4).
WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday – 7:35 p.m.; Saturday – 7:05 p.m.
UMD RADIO: KDAL-AM (610), Duluth, Minn.
MIAMI RADIO: WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Duluth is one of the best defensive teams in Division I.
The Bulldogs allow very few shots, and the overwhelming majority of those are snagged by goalie Hunter Shepard.
Minnesota-Duluth is tops in the conference in goals allowed (41) and seventh in the NCAA defensively at 2.05 goals against per game.
Opponents average just 23.0 shots, and the Bulldogs’ defense corps consists of five sophomores and a junior with another junior between the pipes.
Second-round pick Scott Perunovich leads all defensemen in points (18) and the entire team in assists (16).
Blueliners Nick Wolff, the lone junior in this corps, and Kings draftee Mikey Anderson also have offensive ability, as Wolff is 2-7-9 with 62 penalty minutes, and Anderson has scored three times.
Jets second-round pick Dylan Samberg, Louis Roehl and Matt Anderson round out Minnesota-Duluth’s top six on defense.
Shepard led the Bulldogs to the national championship last season by allowing just five goals in four NCAA Tournament contests. He posted a 1.91 goals-against average in 2017-18 and is at 1.92 this season.
Shepard’s GAA is eighth-best in college hockey and he has a save percentage of .916. He has played all but 16 minutes in net for Minnesota-Duluth this season.
Up front, Justin Richards’ emergence has been a major storyline for the Bulldogs. He leads the team with 12 assists and 19 points, and he has also scored seven times, including a pair of game winners.
The sophomore had zero goals in 44 games last season and finished with nine helpers.
Parker Mackay is team captain and one of the top two-way players in the conference. He has a Bulldogs-best eight goals plus eight assists for 16 points.
Only three other UMD forwards have 10 or more points. Senior Peter Krieger is 2-12-14, Wild draft pick Nick Swaney has six goals and six assists, and Tampa Bay selection Cole Koepke has a pair of markers and eight helpers.
Minnesota-Duluth has two more NHL draft picks among its forwards. Riley Tuftes was Dallas’ first-round choice in 2016, and Noah Cates was taken by Philadelphia in 2017.
They have identical 5-3-8 lines.
The Bulldogs are the top penalty killing team in Division I at 92.0 percent, as they have surrendered just six power play goals.
This weekend series is the front half of a four-game homestand for Miami, which is mired in an eight-game winless streak.
With their record at .500 for the first time this season, the RedHawks need to start winning games if they hope to earn home ice in the NCHC Tournament and eventually qualify for the national championship tournament.
Gordie Green is starting to heat up, which is great news for Miami, as he has scored three goals in three games.
Grant Hutton has four points in four games and Brian Hawkinson recorded points in both contests last weekend.
Co-captain Josh Melnick missed both games last weekend with a lower body injury, and there’s no certainty he will play in this series.
Goalie Ryan Larkin did not play the finale in Kalamazoo last week but is expected to play against UMD.
Miami’s special teams were not very special on Friday.
No. 14 Western Michigan scored twice on the power play. No. 20 Miami had zero goals on the man-advantage despite a five-minute 5-on-4 at the beginning of the third period.
Those tallies were the difference as the Broncos edged the RedHawks, 4-3 at Lawson Arena in a weekend series opener.
Miami extended its winless streak to seven games (0-3-4) while WMU is now unbeaten in its last nine.
Josh Melnick missed just the second game of his RedHawks career. He was out with an apparent lower body injury.
RECAP: The Broncos’ Colt Conrad penetrated from the point and wristed one from the slot into the far corner of the net on the power play to open the scoring 10:27 into the first period.
Miami (9-8-4) tied it 91 seconds later when Gordie Green and Karch Bachman played give-and-go entering the offensive zone, and Bachman threaded a pass to Green at the side of the net for a tap-in.
WMU (12-6-1) jumped ahead again when Ethen Frank fielded a pass through the slot on his backhand, pivoted and threw it in at 1:36 of the second period.
Frank set up Hugh McGing off a break with 4:12 remaining in the middle stanza.
Miami deficit to one when Bachman slid a pass from along the end boards to Green, who shoveled it home, making it 3-2 with 12:15 left in regulation.
Passolt put WMU back up by two with his second goal of the night on a 4-on-3 with 8:17 remaining.
Just 82 seconds later, the RedHawks’ Scott Corbett stole the puck in the corner and centered to Brian Hawkinson, who capped off the scoring.
STATS: Green scored twice and has three goals in two games. He went through a nine-game stretch without finding the net prior to that, so his rejuvenated scoring is welcome for Miami.
Bachman also finished with two points, both on assists. It was his first career multi-assist game.
— Grant Hutton had gone eight consecutive games without a point but he picked up a helper and has at least one in three straight, going 0-4-4.
— Miami was on the power play for 7:39 but generated just three shots.
— MU won just 21 of 69 faceoffs (30.4 percent).
— The RedHawks have allowed 12 power play goals in their last eight games and are just 63.6 percent on the penalty kill in that span.
— Opponents have scored against MU in 10 straight periods.
— Melnick missed his only other game on Oct. 29, 2016.
THOUGHTS: It’s always a learning experience when Miami plays on national TV and Dave Starman does color.
The CBS College Sports analyst said that Miami defenseman Alec Mahalak will win conference player of the year one day.
Mahalak did play one of his better games of the season on Friday.
— Starman was very complementary of a number of RedHawks players, including Bray Crowder, Carter Johnson and Derek Daschke.
— Starman also spoke highly of these programs’ futures, saying “the best days were ahead” for both Miami and Western Michigan.
— Bachman’s speed once again resulted in a goal, as he won the race to his self-pass along the boards and eventually spooned one to Green for the marker.
— What a play by Corbett to set up Hawkinson’s goal. He stole the puck in seemingly in one motion thrust the puck to the edge of the crease where Hawkinson buried it.
— Yes, Melnick is one of Miami’s better faceoff men, but 21-48 in the circle? Really? Overall the RedHawks have been much better on draws than in recent seasons.
— The penalty kill has been brutal. On Thanksgiving, MU was 84.5 percent on the PK for the season. That number has plummeted to 76.5 since. Miami has allowed 10 power play goals in six games while scoring just four PPGs in that stretch.
LINEUP CHANGES: Melnick was the only player not in the lineup from Saturday’s game against Providence, and Johnson dressed in his place after sitting the last two.
He played on the line with Bachman and Green.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Another one that falls into the “near miss” category, Miami hurt itself with three offensive zone penalties (good catch, Starman) and finished 4-for-6 overall shorthanded.
It’s really tough to win on the road when you give a team six power plays including a 4-on-3.
Taking the second period off didn’t help. The RedHawks were outshot, 16-4 in that frame and allowed a pair of unanswered goals that put WMU ahead for good.
And yes, Melnick’s unexpected absence hurt Miami in multiple areas, but the Broncos were without one of their best as well in Wade Allison.
As has often been the case recently, the RedHawks were right there all night and didn’t give up.
But they didn’t quite do enough to win.
Miami’s ninth game of the season was its first true road contest, but the No. 20 RedHawks kept up their MO of winning by wide margins.
Gordie Green found the net twice as MU scored the final three goals in a 4-1 win vs. Nebraska-Omaha at Baxter Arena on Friday, extending its winning streak to four games.
This was also the NCHC opener for the RedHawks (7-2), who played six of their first eight games this season in Oxford and the other two in Erie, Pa., in the Ice Breaker Tournament.
During their recent hot spell, the RedHawks have surrendered just three goals and none in the third period.
Miami goalie Ryan Larkin won his fifth straight game, stopping 19 of 20.
RECAP: Jonathan Gruden scored his first career goal when he skated behind the UNO net and shot it off the back of goalie Evan Weninger on the power play just 79 seconds into the game.
The Mavericks (0-6-1) tied it with a Taylor Ward goal on a tic-tac-toe passing play as he swept in a pass from the top of the crease with 2:53 remaining in the first period. That tally was also scored on the man advantage
Miami regained the lead 66 seconds later on a blue line blast by Grant Hutton that was deflected in by Brian Hawkinson for his first career goal.
With 5:27 left in the middle stanza, Gordie Green jarred the puck from an UNO defender in the Miami zone, and Scott Corbett seized it and fired a shot off the crossbar. The puck skipped through the top of the crease and Green batted it out of the air as it dribbled into the back of the cage.
Green picked up his second marker of the night with an emphatic rip into the empty net from the outside edge of the faceoff circle with 22 seconds to play after controlling a Josh Melnick two-line outlet pass.
STATS: The Green-Melnick combo on Miami’s top line continues to dominate, as Green extended his multi-point game streak to four and Melnick picked up multiple points for the third consecutive contest.
Green has scored in three straight games and is 4-5-9 during his points streak. Melnick has scored twice and earned five assists in his last three.
— Hawkinson also has points in three straight, including his first career goal in this one.
— Larkin has allowed just three goals during his five-game win streak and has stopped 123 of 126 shots in that span (.976).
— This was the fourth straight game in which Miami did not allow a third-period goal, and the RedHawks have given up just three in nine contests this season.
In 2017-18 they surrendered 46 tallies in 37 games after the second intermission, including a pair in overtime.
THOUGHTS: Miami, once again, played a full 60 minutes against a team they were supposed to beat, and the RedHawks won for the seventh time, with six of those wins coming by three or more goals.
In other words, they’re beating teams they should beat and doing so in decisive fashion.
This was both the first true road game and the inaugural league contest for Miami, which passed both tests with high grades.
And UNO may be winless but it is not a bad team, or at least the Mavericks didn’t play that poorly. Their shot total of 20 is somewhat deceiving because they generated a lot of chances.
A road win in this league, regardless of the opponent’s status, is a major accomplishment, and in this game Miami pulled out the victory on hostile ice and looked good doing so.
— Great job answering the tying UNO goal late in the first period goal by regaining the lead before intermission. That was the Hawkinson deflection on the Hutton blast and eventual game winner.
— Can’t say enough about how well Green is playing. He has nine points in four games and his defense is as good as his offense. He made his first goal happen with his forechecking, as he knocked the puck loose and scored on the rebound from Corbett’s ensuing shot.
— I’d been to all of the first eight games and this was the first one I’d seen on TV, but Derek Daschke looked even better on the tube than live. Twice a last-second desperation play prevented a slam-dunk goal, and he picked up two assists, giving him five points in his last four.
Daschke was probably even more amped to play against the school he was formerly committed to. Mentioned this last weekend but he continues to better every game.
— Prior to this game, only four Miami forwards had played every game but had not scored, and Hawkinson and Gruden both took their names off that list.
Gruden had been snakebitten, as the Ottawa Senators’ fourth rounder was expected to contribute right away.
Yet Hawkinson played three full USHL seasons – 164 games – and only scored 10 times with just 16 assists. Despite his lack of scoring in juniors Hawkinson has a 1-5-6 line in nine games with Miami.
Gruden has tons of raw talent and it should be fun to watch him develop, and Hawkinson has taken complete advantage of his opportunity in Miami’s lineup and has already become a regular on the penalty kill.
— Karch Bachman hit a post early and then a crossbar-and-post later in the game. He had three goals in the first four games this season and continues to get better in other aspects.
He is scoreless in five straight but has been pretty unlucky recently and it feels like he’s going to break out again soon.
— This game was broadcast nationally on one of the regional Fox Sports Channels, and UNO announcers Dave Ahlers and David Brisson did a fabulous job.
Both are very fair in their announcing – regularly complimenting Miami players for their play – and extremely knowledgeable.
Ahlers is a former AHL announcer and Brisson played briefly in the pros after graduating from UNO.
FORWARDS: A-. A well-played game by this entire corps, up and down the lines. Green was the standout with Melnick not far behind. Gruden still makes too many high-risk passes but hopefully this goal will vault his game another level.
DEFENSEMEN: B+. Especially liked Daschke’s play although he did turn one over for a near-goal. Rourke Russell also stood out, and watching from a higher vantagepoint it was easier to appreciate his geometrical smarts in his usage of the boards on defensive-zone passes.
GOALTENDING: A. The goal against was on a magnificent passing play that was basically a 2-on-oh at the top of the crease. Larkin is a key reason for Miami’s hot start and his rebound control is as good as it’s ever been since he came to Oxford.
LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Up front, Carter Johnson was back in the lineup after sitting last Saturday. He has now played three straight series openers but has sat in consecutive finales.
He replaced Andrew Sinard, who was the seventh defenseman in Game 2 vs. Colgate last weekend.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Winless or not, UNO played pretty well and Miami was better.
The Mavericks hurt themselves with undisciplined penalties early and the RedHawks took advantage with a power play goal.
Omaha is obviously in a down year but this was still a quality win for Miami.
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:
71 JONATHAN GRUDEN
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
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
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
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
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.
13 DEREK DASCHKE
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
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
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
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.
32 JORDAN UHELSKI
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.