It’s been the most eventful off-season in Miami hockey history, and four months still remain until the puck drops in 2018-19.
Starting just days after the RedHawks’ NCHC opening-round tournament loss at St. Cloud, a nearly non-stop flow of news has hit the internet.
A quick timeline:
March 11 – Miami’s best-of-3 first-round NCHC series at St. Cloud ends with an overtime loss. The RedHawks took the Huskies to Game 3 and led the finale, 3-1 but ultimately fell, 4-3 in the extra session.
March 16 – Stories surfaced that both assistant coaches, Nick Petraglia and Brent Brekke, were relieved of duties. One report added that four players from 2017-18 would not be back as well, which turned out to be true.
March 20 – Junior Kiefer Sherwood turns pro, signing with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks after playing three seasons and recording 86 points in Oxford.
March 29 – Peter Mannino, an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha, was named to Brent Brekke’s vacated associate head coach position. He was an NCAA title-winning goalie for Denver and played briefly in the NHL, and he was a head coach in the USHL before taking his post with the Mavericks.
May 22 – The Athletic reports that sophomore and Columbus Blue Jackets draftee Carson Meyer is leaving Miami after two seasons. That makes six players to leave the team since the end of the season.
May 31 – Seniors-to-be Grant Hutton and Josh Melnick go on record stating they will return this fall. Melnick has 81 points in three years at Miami, and Hutton scored 13 goals in 2017-18, the most by a RedHawks defenseman in a quarter century.
Also in the past week – Miami’s 2018-19 preliminary roster was posted on its site without any freshmen listed. Absent were Willie Knierim, Alex Alger, Austin Alger and Bryce Hatton.
June 2 – Sacred Heart assistant Joel Beal is named to Petraglia’s vacated spot. That rounds out the coaching staff. He was a solid player at Union and coached there as an assistant for two seasons before joining the Sacred Heart staff. That team has improved significantly in his five seasons on its bench, and he was promoted to associate head coach.
June 7 – Petraglia was named the director of external relations. As expected, the former RedHawks goalie and MU graduate was retained within the athletic department.
Now that we’re caught up, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these events.
MIAMI FALLS TO ST. CLOUD – Not a shocker here, as the RedHawks were an eight seed and St. Cloud was No. 1, with all three games played in Minnesota. Miami played solid hockey in this set but as has happened so many times in recent years, it could not hold a two-goal lead in Game 3. The RedHawks gave up a late second-period goal, the tying marker with six minutes left in the third period and of course the series-clincher in OT.
That capped off Miami’s third straight losing season and its fourth in five years. Prior to that, the RedHawks had not posted a sub-.500 record since 2004-05.
Which led to this…
BREKKE, PETRAGLIA OUT – It’s an unfortunate part of the game, but this is a business and sometimes the most decent, passionate and hard-working people can’t translate those attributes into wins, and both coaches were casualties as a result.
Sub-par recruiting was a major reason for their departure. Brekke had been a Miami assistant for 10 seasons, Petraglia eight, and those two were exclusively responsible for bringing talent to Oxford.
Since the players that both coaches inherited graduated and Miami’s on-ice talent has been solely their responsibility, the quantity of highly-talented skaters and goalies in Oxford has dwindled.
On Thursday, Petraglia was named the director of external relations. Brekke was recently offered the Alaska-Fairbanks job and turned it down.
SHERWOOD TURNS PRO: This was somewhat surprising because Sherwood took a step back the first half of the season and appeared to need that fourth season in Oxford to prepare for his pro career.
Overall in 2017-18, he seemed less pro-ready than classmates Grant Hutton and Josh Melnick – both of whom recently announced they would be back – but it sounds like Sherwood had surgery prior to last season and that contributed to his slow start.
That deeply-personal decision is extremely difficult and different for everyone, and BoB wishes Sherwood nothing but the best in the pros. He scored twice in 11 games with AHL San Diego.
For a Miami team that finished seventh in the eight-team NCHC in scoring last season, that’s a major offensive cog that will be missing from its lineup.
MANNINO NAMED ASSISTANT: The former netminder won an NCAA title in Denver and led Calder Cup playoff runs with Chicago and Wilkes-Barre in the AHL. He logged six NHL games with Atlanta, Winnipeg and the New York Islanders.
He clearly has the playing experience and he knows the NCHC, both from playing against most its current teams with Denver and more recently by coaching at UNO.
Mannino should understand the type of players it takes to win in this league, and he will be a primary recruiter for the RedHawks, who have recently struggled in this area.
For what it’s worth, BoB has heard nothing but praise for Mannino in his brief stint with the team, but that’s pretty standard when a team that has struggled brings in a fresh face.
But because he’s inheriting an entire team he did not recruit, it will take time to see the effects of a Mannino-recruited team.
F Matej Pekar, a Czech player previously committed to UNO, has since switched allegiances to Miami, and he is expected to join the RedHawks this fall.
Two more players could defect from the Mavericks and follow Mannino to Oxford as soon as this fall.
TEDDYGATE: Making an already-eventful off-season a lot more bizarre is the saga of Carson Meyer, who discharged a 25-inch tapeworm, which is believed to be the cause for his struggles the past season and a half.
Meyer lit it up the first half of his freshman year but missed a handful of games down the stretch of 2016-17 due to what was believed to be mononucleosis. He did not improve last season, and in May, The Athletic broke the story that “Teddy” had exited Meyer.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, Meyer also announced that he was exiting Oxford in favor of his hometown Ohio State.
Meyer indirectly blamed the coaching staff for its handling of his situation, which was more bad pub the team didn’t need in an already tumultuous spring.
That’s one more forward out of an already-decimated corps for 2018-19.
It’s a horrible situation for Meyer, who has been a shell of himself for a season and a half and will almost certainly have to redshirt in 2018-19.
BoB mirrors the Miami coaching staff in wishing Meyer nothing but the best in his hockey career moving forward.
HUTTON, MELNICK RETURNING: The worst part of the off-season for the college hockey fan is the waiting. At any point from the final horn of a campaign’s last game to the puck drop the following fall, a player could bolt for the pros.
That chance was elevated for standouts Hutton and Melnick in recent months after watching their roster from 2017-18 disintegrate. Both are pro-ready and both will be entering their senior seasons for a Miami team that will likely be picked to finish near the bottom of the league standings.
For everything that hasn’t gone right for the RedHawks this off-season, having two of your studs publicly tell your fanbase they are coming back – and doing so while inserting some much-needed positive comments about the program – couldn’t have come at a better time.
And Hutton and Melnick aren’t just outstanding players, they’re leaders. They’ll be co-captains this season. And they’re class acts.
THE ABRIDGED ROSTER? Miami recently posted its 2018-19 roster with no freshmen and just 15 skaters and four goalies, so obviously it will be updated.
In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at the RedHawks’ pipeline and who we can expect to see in uniform this fall.
COACHING STAFF COMPLETE – Miami has little history with Union and Sacred Heart, so it’s unclear if there was any previous relationship between Beal and the RedHawks.
It’s only fair to note that the Pioneers took a step back this past season, finishing with their lowest win percentage since 2013-14, and .421 has been the team’s winning percentage high-water mark with Beal in his role.
But Sacred Heart won just 14 games total in the three seasons before his arrival.
PETRAGLIA REASSIGNED – Petraglia exudes positive energy. If he’s bummed during a losing streak he never shows it.
So he will be a face of Miami athletics to the Blue Line Club and alumni among others and serve as a fundraiser. No doubt he will thrive in his new position.
Carson Meyer is leaving Miami University, according to a story by The Athletic, and said a tapeworm is to blame for his struggles the past season-plus.
He is “hoping to transfer to Ohio State”, the piece said, adding that “there were issues with the coaching staff, specifically coach Rico Blasi, that Meyer doesn’t want to discuss publicly”.
On Feb. 27, the Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick discharged a 25-inch tapeworm, according to his mother, Holly, and Carson’s mental and physical health has been much better since.
Meyer recorded 22 points in his first 19 games during his freshman season but posted just 14 in his final 47, including a 6-4-10 sophomore campaign in which he went minus-22.
(Here’s a link to The Athletic’s story, which is behind a Paywall: https://theathletic.com/362923/2018/05/22/absolutely-freaking-out-blue-jackets-prospect-carson-meyer-and-the-parasite-that-ruined-his-season/)
Carson’s departure from Oxford brings the number of team defectors to six this off-season. Fellow Columbus-area native Kiefer Sherwood turned pro, and a story in March stated that four other players are not expected back.
Willie Knierim is one of them, as he annouced via Twitter he is returning to Dubuque of the USHL, and it became known that brothers Alex and Austin Alger would not return when they did not attend the team’s awards banquet last month.
The fourth was not an impact player in 2017-18.
The team has typically released its roster for the following season in late spring.
That leaves just 15 skaters from last season expected to take the ice for Miami this fall, and only three recruits have officially signed National Letters of Intent to join the team in 2018-19.
WHO: No. 5 Cornell Big Red (9-1-0) at Miami RedHawks (6-6-2).
WHEN: Friday, 7:35 p.m.; Saturday–7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
CORNELL RADIO: WHCU-AM (870, WHCU-FM (95.5), Ithaca, N.Y.
NOTES: Following a four-year run of mediocrity, Cornell is a rejuvenated hockey team.
The Big Red were a force the first few years of this century, advancing to the NCAA Tournament seven of 11 seasons starting in 2001.
But Following that run, Cornell won no more than 17 games four straight campaigns and did not compete on college hockey’s biggest stage.
That trend reversed quickly, as 23rd-year coach Mike Schafer’s squad won 21 games last season and after a 9-1 start this fall, it has has a .722 winning percentage since the start of 2016-17.
Cornell moved up two places after wins over Niagara and Boston University last week, and its lone loss this season was to then-No. 8 Clarkson on Nov. 18.
The Big Red have also beaten Quinnipiac and Harvard this season, so their early-season resume is legitimate.
And this is a team built to win for a while, as only one senior (Trevor Yates) has played all 10 games, and in addition to Yates, who is 7-4-11, a freshman and sophomore round out the top three in team scoring.
Yates leads the team in goals and points, and Morgan Barron and Jeff Malott both have three goals and six assists for nine points. Barron is the rookie, Malott the sophomore.
Anthony Angello and Mitch Vanderlaan have two goals and five assists each, and Beau Starett is 1-5-6. All are juniors.
Cornell’s defense corps has scored 11 goals but combined for just 13 assists. Alec McCrea leads Big Red blueliners with four goals, but he has just one assist.
Defensemen Brendan Smith (no relation to the former Miami F/D of the same name) and Yanni Kaldis have five points each.
This blue line corps may not rack up the points, but it has shut down its opponents in the shot column. Cornell allows just 23.6 shots per game.
Freshman Matthew Galajda has started all 10 games in net for the Big Red, going 8-1-0 with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Senior Hayden Stewart pitched 40 minutes of relief earlier this season and is 1-0, 1.50, .929.
Cornell is sixth in Division I scoring at 3.60 goals per game and third in goals against (2.00). The Big Red also rank in the top 20 on both the power play and penalty kill.
These teams have met six times, but none have come in Oxford. Each team has won three times.
Last season’s series vs. Cornell was less than memorable for the RedHawks. They gave up three unanswered third-period goals in a 4-3 loss in the opener and falling behind by two early in a 2-1 defeat in the finale.
Miami’s other loss to the Big Red came in the opening round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
The RedHawks are riding a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) and are 4-2 in their last six home games.
Josh Melnick recorded three points vs. Cornell last season, and Carson Meyer scored once in each game.
This is the last non-conference series of 2017-18 for Miami and the team’s last home series of the calendar year. The RedHawks will host just one more series prior to February and have only eight home games on their slate after this weekend.
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Ahh, 6-on-5 hockey.
Earlier this month it helped Miami tie that Colorado College home game in regulation, which eventually turned into a win.
But over the past eight years it has largely been RedHawk kryptonite, including Saturday’s 2-2 tie at the Slater Family Ice Arena in which Bowling Green scored the equalizer with 37.8 seconds left in the third period.
It was also the second time in 2017-18 Miami surrendered a decision-altering goal against in the final minute. Providence beat the RedHawks by scoring with 0.9 seconds left opening weekend.
An inability to close out wins is a legitimate criticism of Miami teams the past few years, but to the team’s credit it runs 6-on-5 drills all the time in practice.
Is it coaching? Is it heart? Is it just bad luck? Is it a statistical anomaly? Hard to say, but it’s definitely real.
On the flip side, there were 13 goals scored this weekend, and the RedHawks had eight of them in a road series against a team ranked in the top one-fourth of the PairWise.
They went 1-0-1 on Friday and Saturday, their best road series record since sweeping Nebraska-Omaha in late January of 2016. That was 22 months ago.
Overall Miami deserves a grade of ‘B’ for the weekend, but it would be tough to finish one or two spots out of the NCAA Tournament field because the RedHawks saw a win flipped to a tie because of yet another extra-attacker goal.
– Here were go with another edition of meaningless-3-on-3-exhibitions-suck. Regular readers have heard this rant before and can move on to the next long dash.
But seriously, can anyone please tell me why, for the love of God, we’re risking injury to some of the best Division I hockey athletes, for a demonstration between two non-conference opponents? It was 2-2 after the requisite five-minute overtime. So the game is officially a tie. Just leave it at that.
For whatever reason the teams played a five-minute 3-on-3 afterward, and while it was announced that the game had been completed, few on or off the ice got the memo. With a game story to complete on this end, following a mad ending to the actual game – which was highly entertaining, by the way – there was zero attention given to the skills competition on the deteriorating ice that was 30 minutes of game play old. Apparently BGSU won that, because the team and fans celebrated like they won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. In reality it meant absolutely nothing.
College hockey wants it both ways in this situation. It detests ties, so it creates “decisions” through artificial means like these. But the “wins” are utterly meaningless, and the process does a disservice to its fans.
We asked about going to a 4-on-4 for overtime like the NHL did, and the NCAA’s position – according to a conversation with NCHC commissioner and NCAA rules committee member Josh Fenton a couple years ago – is that college hockey believes overtime should be played by the same rules as regulation, and that means five players a side.
If conferences choose to alter rules beyond those five minutes, they may do so, but for NCAA purposes a game needs to be 5-on-5 for 65 minutes. After that, the league can hold an arm-wrestling competition at center ice to determine a “winner” from a points perspective if it so chooses.
OK. Respect that argument. Don’t agree, but respect it.
But the reality of that position is few games are resolved in five minutes of 5×5. It was 22 percent in the last sample studied on this end. In the NHL, which uses 4×4, that percentage jumps to between 40 and 50, depending on the season.
That leaves 78 percent of games that are tied through three periods, and the NCAA feels a compulsory need to generate a non-tie outcome at the expense of legitimacy.
Please, either break all ties by sane means or cut down the chance of ties and leave the occasional one alone.
– Love the weekend series at the in-state rival and hope these two can play four a year, since Ohio State has decided to bail on its annual home-and-home with Miami. The RedHawks and Bowling Green are less than three hours distance driving, and the teams can drive back on Saturday nights to cut out on the expense of a second game-night hotel stay.
– Staff at BGSU was top notch. Lots of Miami fans were in attendance, and the games got chippy, but never saw or heard about any problems.
– Ryan Larkin’s save percentage is not where he would want it, but he had a solid weekend. He faced a lot of high-percentage shots and stopped most.
– Grant Hutton and Louie Belpedio are giving the RedHawks a dominant defensive tandem it has not had in some time. One wonders if Belpedio was ever truly healthy in 2016-17 and Hutton seemingly gets better each shift.
– Didn’t think the penalty shot should’ve been awarded. It was close though. Kiefer Sherwood did all he could to prevent the goal and did commit a penalty, but it should’ve just been a two-minute power play.
FORWARDS: C-. Only two points from this entire corps: Josh Melnick’s goal for his tip-in and Gordie Green’s assist for an outlet pass that hit Belpedio in stride, as he crossed the blue line and blasted one home. Carson Meyer has to stop taking penalties – he had 12 more PIM in this one.
DEFENSEMEN: B. Belpedio fired the shots that resulted in both Miami goals. Hutton picked up an assist. Both were stellar defensively. This group was shaky in the first period but got better as the game progressed.
GOALTENDING: B+. Larkin faced a lot of quality chances as usual, and the only goals he allowed were on a penalty shot and a well-placed wrister from the high slot on a 6-on-5.
LINEUP CHANGES: There was only one: Casey Gilling was back in the lineup, sending Carter Johnson to the bench. It was the first game missed by Gilling all season.
OXFORD, Ohio – In team sports, sometimes an emotional spark is needed.
Miami, which was 0-9-2 vs. Minnesota-Duluth the past two-plus seasons, was losing again on Saturday when its galvanizing moment occurred.
The RedHawks scored the next three goals and eradicated their winless streak vs. the Bulldogs, holding on for a 3-2 win at Cady Arena.
A quick stage set: UMD is an excellent team that has a reputation for playing chippy hockey, playing on the edge, sometimes over the edge.
Remember that one of the first times these teams met in Oxford, Chris Joyaux squared off after the final whistle with three dozen skaters and a handful of goalies on the ice.
So on Saturday, Minnesota-Duluth took a late poke at Miami goalie Ryan Larkin after a puck was clearly frozen.
Chaz Switzer took exception and pushed another player behind the net, and the Bulldogs were not called.
Minutes later, UMD took a run at Larkin, and again it was Switzer coming to his goalie’s defense, using offender Avery Peterson as a human punching bag before officials intervened.
Switzer was given five minutes for fighting and a game disqualification penalty, which carries a one-game suspension. He left the ice to a standing ovation by fans that had little to cheer about to that point of the weekend.
And here’s where hockey and the attitudes of many its fans/players/coaches/etc., deviates from the majority of other team sports.
The hate mail may roll in from those in other sports’ camps and the college-hockey-is-pure-and-fighting-is-barbaric-crowd, and that’s OK. So here goes.
Not only is Switzer a stud for what he did, it’s the officials’ fault he’s going to be suspended.
Larkin is a RedHawks star. Anyone who knows anything about UMD hockey knows its players are old-school WCHA all the way. That means ultra-physical play, after-the-whistle confrontations and yes, the occasional fisticuffs.
If a dumb fan sitting at a word processor knows this, certainly NCHC officials do, right?
So when Larkin gets hit the first time, you assess a penalty. If you don’t really think it warrants a Miami power play, you penalize the violator and Switzer two minutes each.
That sends the message that we’re watching and goalie running will be punished.
You do that, the second incident and resulting fighting major/suspension almost certainly doesn’t happen.
Even if you blow that, there have been plenty of times when players in Switzer’s situation have just received a game misconduct than the DQ, which carries an automatic suspension.
The officials didn’t have Larkin’s back, so Switzer did.
Good for Switzer. If it wasn’t for players like Switzer, the NCAA would have 60 teams like Michigan who take out players’ knees and cross-check players in the head with relatively few repercussions.
Miami dressed seven defensemen for this game, so the team went in able to absorb the loss of a blueliner.
Switzer is a five or six defenseman who struggled at times last season and has stepped up his play significantly this fall. He had 294 penalty minutes in 121 games of juniors, so clearly he’s no stranger to extracurriculars.
Don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but it’s very, very likely Switzer earned ample respect from his teammates. He certainly made a lot of fans in his home rink.
The on-ice results were obvious in the final two periods.
Coach Enrico Blasi wasn’t asked about the incident (seriously, the event that changed the game never made it into the presser forum?), and while he wisely did not address the incident he acknowledged the team struggled in the first period but played much better the final 40 minutes.
Through the years, RedHawks teams rarely cross the line (think that was the first fighting major since Alden Hirschfeld seven years ago?), but they typically are prepared to defend themselves when their opponents do.
UMD took a couple of late shots at Miami’s goalie in an attempt to intimidate its southern Ohio rival, and it backfired.
– Now onto far less controversial topics. Despite the split, Miami was the better team this weekend and certainly didn’t seem overmatched by a ranked Bulldogs team.
Friday’s loss aside, it was a good weekend for Miami, which didn’t win its fifth game in 2016-17 until New Year’s Eve.
– Carson Meyer broke out with goals in both ends of the series after scoring just one the first 10 games. Meyer heating up means good things for the Miami offense.
– Same goes for Ryan Siroky, who scored on his only shot of the night for his second marker in three games. He had two more big hits on the weekend and has become a very solid third liner that no one wants to play against.
– Karch Bachman picked up another assist and has already matched his point total of 2016-17 with an identical 2-4-6 line. He was the only forward to finish plus-2 in this game.
– Despite those forwards stepping up, MU is averaging 1.8 goals over its last five games. Up next is Bowling Green, which is 11th in the NCAA in goals allowed per game.
– UMD had 10 skaters take faceoffs. That might be an NCAA record. Only two had winning records, so perhaps the Bulldogs are auditioning their forwards? But still, 10 skaters?
FORWARDS: B. With 11 forwards, there were a lot of different line combinations. Despite the odd number, the overall chemistry of this corps was good. Josh Melnick and Gordie Green put on a show with their goal, passing back and forth before Melnick buried a wrister for the eventual game winner. This group was solid defensively all weekend as well.
DEFENSEMEN: B. Believe it or not, 29 shots allowed is the fourth-highest opponent total of the season for Miami. As mentioned above, the forwards chipped in on D, and the D was strong on D, thus the ‘B’. Many of those 29 shots were right at Larkin, who swallowed them up for easy saves. Grant Frederic played just two of the first eight games but has dressed for three of the last four and has been pretty much mistake-free.
GOALTENDING: B. UMD’s first goal was a rapid-fire missile that Larkin had no chance on. Maybe Larkin could’ve gloved the Bulldogs’ second shot, but he stopped 27 shots and as usual allowed few second chances.
LINEUP CHANGES: With Frederic in as the seventh defenseman, F Christian Mohs was scratched. Zach LaValle sat for the second consecutive game, and Willie Knierim played in his third straight. Frederic should play at least the front end of the BGSU series with Switzer suspended.
OXFORD, Ohio – Of all the sounds at a hockey rink, the final horn was the sweetest for Miami.
The RedHawks led by two with under two minutes left but held on – literally by inches – for a 3-2 win over No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena on Saturday.
The teams split the weekend series, as Miami snapped an 11-game winless streak against the Bulldogs.
Miami led, 3-1, but a wrister by UMD’s Parker Mackay with 1:23 left in regulation beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the glove side, cutting the lead to one.
In the closing seconds, a loose puck in the Miami crease was poked toward the net but was turned aside just shy of the goal line.
Minnesota-Duluth (6-6-2) took the lead when a rebound kicked out to Nick Wolff, who slammed it just under the crossbar with 7:25 left in the first period.
Miami’s Willie Knierim slid a pass from the side of the net that hit a body and slid back to Ryan Siroky in the high slot. Siroky stepped into it, and his slap shot tied it at the 13:23 mark of the middle stanza.
The RedHawks (5-6-1) went ahead when Carson Meyer batted in a puck from the side of the net on the short side, as goalie Hunter Shepard was unable to hug the post. Scott Dornbrock had fed the puck to Meyer from the blue line with 1:39 left in the middle frame.
Miami’s Gordie Green and Josh Melnick played give-and-go at the blue line, as Melnick took the return pass from Green, skated in and buried a shot from the center of the faceoff circle three minutes into the third period, giving the RedHawks a 3-1 lead.
That set up the frantic final moments, as Shepard headed to the bench at the 18-minute mark.
Meyer scored for the second straight game. Siroky found net for the second time in three contests, and that makes four in seven for Melnick.
Louie Belpedio picked up an assist, extending his points streak to three games.
Knierim also earned a helper for his first point of 2017-18.
The RedHawks were 0-9-2 in their last 11 games against the Bulldogs, as they snapped a 33-month winless drought vs. UMD.
Miami is now 2-3-1 in NCHC play and is in sixth place in the league. The RedHawks improved to 40th in the PairWise rankings.
MU heads to Bowling Green for a weekend series Nov. 24-25. Game times are 7:37 p.m. on Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
OXFORD, Ohio – Puck luck played a major role in Friday’s outcome.
And Miami had none.
The RedHawks hit four posts and were unable to convert several other close chances as they fell, 3-1 to No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth at Cady Arena.
The Bulldogs extended their unbeaten streak against MU to 11.
Miami (4-6-1) controlled play during the first 14 minutes, but after a defensive-zone turnover, a wrister from the high slot by the Bulldogs’ Jared Thomas was partially deflected by RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin, popped over the netminder and rolled across the goal line to give UMD the lead.
A pane of glass broke in the corner of the rink, causing a 15-minute delay and killing any energy remaining from MU’s surge.
Miami tied it less than four minutes into the third period when Louie Belpedio connected on a pass from along the boards to Carson Meyer, who was in the slot. Meyer whipped an off-balance shot that found twine with seven seconds left on a power play.
But Minnesota-Duluth (6-5-2) regained the lead on a man-advantage of its own. With 5:09 left in regulation, Thomas blasted a one-timer past Larkin from the center of the faceoff circle after a long shift in the offensive zone.
Thomas had not scored this season entering Friday.
Again, MU had dictated play prior to that decisive power play.
The Bulldogs sealed it 76 seconds later on a slap shot by Scott Perunovich from just inside the blue line, as his shot slipped through Larkin’s pads.
Miami had rang the puck off posts twice in the same shift earlier in the period and finished with 15 shots on goal in that frame.
The RedHawks outshot UMD, 29-19 and have led on the shot counter in eight of their 11 contests this season.
Meyer snapped a six-game scoreless streak. Belpedio picked up a point for the second streak tilt, and Karch Bachman picked up the other helper, his second point in three games.
Miami’s power play goal was its first in five games.
The RedHawks are now 0-9-2 in their last 11 games against Minnesota-Duluth. MU’s last win against the Bulldogs came on Feb. 21, 2015.
Miami falls to 1-3-1 in the NCHC and is winless in its last four, going 0-3-1.
The teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
OXFORD, Ohio – Arriving late for Miami’s inaugural game against Connecticut would have been ill-advised.
The RedHawks scored three goals in the first nine-plus minutes and Ryan Larkin stopped all 19 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Huskies at Cady Arena on Friday.
At the 3:52 mark of the first period, Miami’s Scott Dornbrock wristed a shot from the blue line that Carson Meyer redirected from the slot and into the net.
Just 1:36 later, Dornbrock lit the lamp from near the same spot off a drop pass by Casey Gilling, extending the RedHawks’ lead to two.
With 10:53 left in the opening stanza, Gordie Green buried a shot from the slot on a one-timer, as Josh Melnick fed him a pass from along the boards through traffic.
That was it for the scoring despite both teams having four power plays.
Huskies goalie Adam Huska left the game late in the third period after going down awkwardly, appearing to suffer some type of lower-body injury. He was replaced by Tanner Creel, who stopped both shots he faced.
Green now has eight points on the season, taking solo control of first place on the team.
Dornbrock finished with a goal and an assists, his third career two-point game and his first with a 1-1-2 line.
It was Larkin’s second career shutout, with his other coming against Maine on Oct. 22.
The teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. tonight.
WHO: Miami University RedHawks (0-2) at Maine Black Bears (1-1).
WHEN: Friday and Saturday–7 p.m.
WHERE: Harold Alfond Sports Arena, Orono, Maine.
NOTES: Maine visited Oxford last season, and the RedHawks went 1-0-1, tying the opener, 3-3 and winning the finale, 5-0.
A Division I force through the late 2000s, the Black Bears have won 20 games just one time in the past 10 seasons, and that 23-win season in 2011-12 represented Maine’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance in that span.
The past three seasons have been particularly brutal for the Black Bears, as they have failed to reach the .400 mark, averaging just 11 wins.
Amazingly, Maine didn’t win a single road game in all of 2016-17, salvaging just four ties including one at Miami.
The Black Bears lost their top two scorers from last season in Blaine Byron and Cam Brown. Nolan Vesey, a Toronto draft pick and brother of New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey, is the team’s top returning scorer with 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points.
Sophomore Chase Pearson, a Detroit selection, finished 14-8-22 in 2016-17 and has a pair of assists already this season.
The Black Bears have two other drafted players – G Jeremy Swayman and F Patrick Shea. Swayman is a freshman who gave up four goals in a losing effort in his debut. Shea, a sophomore, has dressed for both games this campaign.
Cedric Lacroix, Peter Housakos and Mitchell Fossier are all back this season, and each found the net vs. Miami last year.
Miami was swept at home by Providence two weeks ago and beat the U.S. Under-18 team, 7-5 in Plymouth, Mich., last Friday.
The RedHawks are looking for their first non-exhibition win since Jan. 28, having gone 0-11-1 in their last 12 games.
D Grant Hutton is 1-1-2, found the net nine times in 2016-17 and scored twice in Miami’s exhibition and has to be considered a credible threat to score from the blue line, which should create more space for his linemates.
The Gordie Green-Josh Melnick chemistry last week vs. the USNDT was undeniable, as Green scored twice – both times set up by Melnick, including a spectacular kick-pass-for-breakaway goal, and Melnick finished with three helpers.
These types of long trips early in the season can help teams bond, and Miami will have played just one exhibition in 13 days entering this series, so the RedHawks have reason to come out strong.
Miami and Maine have only played eight times, with the Black Bears leading the all-time series, 5-2-1.
Carson Meyer recorded four assists in last season’s series, and Louie Belpedio netted a pair of goals.
BoB grades forwards, defensemen and goalies after each home game.
So why not give preseason grades for each position?
Miami lost three players from 2016-17 but has added six – seven if you count reshirt freshman Christian Mohs – so BoB takes a look at each position heading into this season.
FORWARDS: C. The RedHawks were well below average in scoring last season, and they should be improved from 2016-17 overall. That said, depth beyond the team’s top two lines is still a question mark.
DEFENSEMEN: C-. Again, lots of question marks after the first pairing, and Louie Belpedio has been banged up multiple times. Grant Hutton is the best shut-down defenseman on the team, and the final four spots are all up for grabs with Jared Brandt transferring to Niagara.
GOALTENDING: A. Ryan Larkin was named team MVP by the team back in April, as he faced a Grade-A chance shooting gallery much of the season. His health is key in 2017-18. Larkin missed several games due to injury and was out for the end of the team’s playoff series vs. Minnesota-Duluth.
OVERALL PLACE OF FINISH: 4th. Miami finally earns a home series in the conference tournament after heading to the road back-to-back seasons. Both the offense and defense improve and Larkin is stellar in net.