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Analysis: Close doesn’t count in hockey

Having watched a lot of hockey at a lot of levels, it’s not hyperbole to say this is one of the most frustrating teams to watch in this lifetime.

Unfortunately, that cliché about “close” counting doesn’t refer to hockey and hand grenades, or else Miami would be in much better shape after its 3-3 tie at No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.

Because in many ways, close is what the RedHawks (9-16-7) are to being a successful team and not one mired seven games under .500, facing a brutal road series to advance in the NCHC Tournament in two weeks just to extend their season. And it’s frustrating that they’ve not been able to close teams out too many times this season.

Close – amazingly – is what Miami is to defaulting to home-ice advantage in that round despite a 5-12-5 league record, as the team is only six points out of that elusive fourth seed. Frustrating because with Duluth and Denver running away with the top two seeds, the points threshold for that seed is lower than in any of the four seasons of the NCHC.

Close in forward depth, as this team has true offensive stars in Anthony Louis, Kiefer Sherwood, Josh Melnick and Carson Meyer. Gordie Green’s stock has soared the past two months, and Willie Knierim seems to be figuring it out at a steady, big guy, 19-year-old-in-D-I pace. Frustrating because the other seven forwards on the roster have a combined total of seven goals.

Close at defense, an area BoB highlighted at the beginning of the season with half of its studly blue line from 2015-16 graduating, as Grant Hutton is becoming a leader among this group and youngsters like Chaz Switzer appear to be gaining confidence. Frustrating because that progress has been too slow for some, veterans are making too many unforced mistakes and opponents are still setting up shop in front of the Miami net far too often with over 90 percent of the regular season in the books.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Well past close to “arrived” status in net, as Ryan Larkin has been a savior for this team – pun intended – as he has faced far too many A-plus scoring chances this season but still owns a .912 save percentage. Even that area is frustrating because he appears to be either tiring or losing a bit of confidence and has allowed the occasional soft goal in recent weeks that never would’ve gone in during December or January.

Close because this team showed a flash of excellence when it ran off five straight wins around the holidays and outscored its opponents, 18-2 in the third period and overtime during that span, with Melnick netting a pair of highlight-reel OT winners. Frustrating because the RedHawks suffered through an 0-7-3 span – their longest winless stretch in a quarter century – and are currently 1-8-2 in their last 11 during their most important games when they were given every chance to move up both in PairWise and the NCHC standings to earn their way into the NCAAs. And oh yeah, they’ve been outscored, 16-4 in the third period in their last seven, giving up multiple goals in the final stanza in every one of those contests.

This weekend is a microcosm of close and frustrating. Miami came back from 2-0 on Thursday to tie the second-ranked team in college hockey on the road, then after the Bulldogs (20-5-7) surged ahead again, the RedHawks again evened the score at three. Finally UMD buried a power play chance with a minute and a half left. Miami salvaged a tie on Friday and earned the extra league point.

The RedHawks have played some of their best hockey against top-ranked opponents like Minnesota-Duluth. This was probably the toughest series on Miami’s entire season schedule, and even without its captain, MU hung with the Bulldogs both games.

But it’s the story of the season: the RedHawks couldn’t get the win either night. Close doesn’t count in hockey.

Very frustrating.

Other thoughts…

– Is this series an example, like we talked about last week, of a team that is playing loose because home ice and PairWise are no longer factors? At six games under .500 heading into this weekend, these outcomes really don’t matter except for NCHC Tournament seeding. That takes a lot of pressure off a team that was in a bad place after the recent St. Cloud series. The focus now is getting better next weekend and preparing for that all-important best-of-3 in two weeks.

– How much of an impact does the return of Justin Greenberg and the loss of Louie Belpedio have on this team? Greenberg’s injury hurt the team on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle, and Louie Belpedio missed this weekend after being kneed last weekend. Those changes can affect the chemistry of a team – positively or negatively – and based on where Miami was for the Denver series and where it was this weekend, it seems like the RedHawks got a boost from Greenberg and were more fired up after losing their captain.

– And on the latter, BoB wishes a speedy return to Belpedio, who is a team leader on and off the ice and a delight to talk to. He’s had some struggles this year with penalties and turnovers, but captaincy on this team is very difficult. We even saw it affect Austin Czarnik, one of the best Miamians in team history and a current NHLer who could play there for the next decade.

– In fairness to the above, injuries really have played a role with this team, as Meyer, Larkin, Belpedio, Greenberg and Jared Brandt have all missed time this season, and with just three extra skaters on the team, Miami doesn’t really have the depth to absorb personnel losses. Christian Mohs hurt his knee before the season even started and has been out for the season, which put the RedHawks shorthanded from Day 1.

– Miami was mathematically eliminated from home ice after failing to secure three points on Friday. Long story as short as possible, if the RedHawks won out and Nebraska-Omaha won on Saturday then was swept next weekend, and St. Cloud State was swept, that would be best albeit super-unlikely scenario, as Miami would finish in a three-way tie with whatever the Sioux are calling themselves these days and the Huskies. But the RedHawks would still be 3-4-1 against those two teams and would end up with a six seed. So much for the suspense.

– In the bizarre stats area, Hutton is now tied with Melnick for best shooting percentage on the team, as both have scored nine times on 49 shots (.184). Maybe Brandt’s first career goal in Oxford last Saturday instilled confidence in him, as he had 27 shots on goal all season entering this weekend and fired six times in these two games, finding the net twice.

– Tapping the old memory banks to recall a team that was more self-strangulation inducing, the 2000-01 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks come to mind. That team had to use 12 goalies during the regular season and lost player after player to Anaheim and Detroit, that team’s affiliates. They finished above .500 but took an early exit from the playoffs.

Miami ties, earns 2 points vs. Duluth

If only Miami was as good in the first 60 minutes as it has been in overtime and beyond.

The RedHawks and No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth tied, 3-3 at Amsoil Arena on Friday, and Miami came away with the second league point thanks to a 3-on-3 winner by Justin Greenberg.

MU (9-16-7) has played in 10 overtimes this season, winning three and tying seven. Of the five league ties that went to a 3-on-3, the RedHawks have picked up the extra point three times.

The two points gives Miami a razor-thin margin to earn home-ice advantage for the first round of the NCHC Tournament, but it would need a lot of outside help in addition to a sweep of North Dakota next week.

The Bulldogs (20-5-6) took the lead at the 13:00 mark of the first period when Alex Iafallo sprung Dominic Toninato down the left wing with a neutral-zone pass, and Toninato skated in and beat RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the short side from the center of the faceoff circle.

Miami defenseman Jared Brandt (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami defenseman Jared Brandt (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami tied it when Anthony Louis skated across the blue line and dropped a pass for Jared Brandt, who blasted a shot from the high slot that snuck through Hunter Miska and tricked in with 11:09 left in the second period.

With 1:02 left in the middle stanza, the RedHawks took their only lead of the weekend when Grant Hutton ripped a shot from the blue line that beat Miska.

UMD made it 2-2 on an Adam Johnson slap shot from along the boards, beating Larkin on the glove side.

Parker Mackay put the Bulldogs back on top when he snuck in front of the Miami net and batted home a pass from Jared Thomas with 11:48 remaining in regulation.

The RedHawks scored the equalizer when a shot by Gordie Green from the high slot eluded Miska with 3:25 left in the final frame.

It was Green finding the net again in the 3-on-3, taking a pass from Scott Dornbrock, firing a shot that was stopped by Miska, corralling the loose puck and burying the rebound.

Hutton has scored in three straight games and Brandt connected in his second consecutive contest. Green netted his sixth marker of the season, with five coming in the last 15 games.

Brandt and Green both finished with two points, giving Brandt his first career multi-point game. Green has recorded multiple points three times.

The tie extends Miami’s winless streak to six games but does end the team’s five-game losing streak. The RedHawks have just one win in their last 11 (1-8-2) and finish their regular-season road slate with just one conference win.

Miami wraps up its regular season with a two-game set vs. North Dakota at Cady Arena next weekend.

Fifth straight loss for reeling RedHawks

Yet another one got away from Miami late.

Avery Peterson scored on the power play with 1:21 left in regulation to lift Minnesota-Duluth to a 4-3 win over the RedHawks at Amsoil Arena on Thursday, sending Miami to its fifth straight loss.

The RedHawks have won just one of their last 10 games (1-8-1).

The Bulldogs struck first when a blue line blast by Nick Wolff was stopped by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin, but Adam Johnson was able to bat home the rebound from the side of the net 13:00 into the first period.

Minnesota-Duluth (20-5-6) made it 2-0 just 68 seconds into the second frame Dominic Toninato fired home a one-time pass from Karson Kuhlman after a RedHawks turnover.

Miami (9-16-6) cut the lead to one when Grant Hutton skated behind the UMD net and somehow found Jared Brandt in the slot, passing through a pair of bodies, and Brandt buried his shot stick side with 12:53 left in the middle stanza.

The RedHawks tied it on a power play blast by Hutton off a one-time feed by Kiefer Sherwood with 8:15 left in the second period.

Ninety-four seconds into the third period, the Bulldogs went ahead again, 3-2 on a Neal Pionk rip from the top of the faceoff circle.

But Miami again battled back, tying the score at three as Carson Meyer corralled a loose puck in the slot and shoveled it into the net with 10:45 to play in regulation.

Peterson whipped his game-winning shot in after taking a drop pass from Riley Tufte, who skated across the blue line and eluded a RedHawks defender.

Miami's Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Hutton finished with a goal and an assist, and Josh Melnick and Anthony Louis added two assists each in the losing effort.

It was the third career multi-point game for Louis and his second of the season, and Melnick tallied two helpers for the third time in 2016-17.

Louis now has 122 points for his career, tying him with Reilly Smith for 29th on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Friday. The RedHawks need a minimum of two points in that contest or they will be eliminated from the possibility of a home ice series to open the NCHC Tournament in two weeks.

They are currently in seventh place, and unless they move up would face either Denver or UMD to open the conference tournament.

Miami drops its fourth straight

OXFORD, Ohio – Game 2 of Miami’s home series vs. No. 2 Denver bore a striking resemblance to Game 1.

Fall behind, tie the score at two, allow the final three goals.

And ultimately, drop its fourth straight game by an identical 5-2 score as the Pioneers swept the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami (9-15-1) is now ensured a losing record in both the regular season and conference play.

MU’s night starting promisingly enough, as Carson Meyer opened the scoring with a bad-angle shot that eluded goalie Tanner Jaillet just 4:10 into the first period.

But in another similarity to the series opener, Denver (22-6-4) would net its first two goals less than 90 seconds apart.

Troy Terry penetrated the zone, skated in and beat goalie Ryan Larkin after toe-dragging the puck to tie the score on the power play with 7:04 left in the first period.

The Pioneers pulled ahead when a shot from the left faceoff circle snuck through Larkin’s pads with 6:22 remaining in the opening stanza.

In 42 seconds, Miami had gone from leading 1-0 to trailing, 2-1.

The RedHawks did tie the score on the man advantage when Grant Hutton blasted one by Jaillet 4:08 into the middle frame.

But Denver took the lead for good 2:22 later, as Terry skated across the slot and whipped one into the top corner of the net.

Romig made it 4-2 when he scored on a one-timer off a pass by Colin Staub from behind the Miami net with 14:55 left in regulation.

Exactly 10 minutes later, Tariq Hammond capped the scoring when he beat Larkin low to the stick side moments after a potential fifth Denver goal was waved off.

With time running out, RedHawks defenseman Louie Belpedio was kneed and left the game. He did put pressure on his leg but was still helped off the ice. The Pioneers’ Jarid Lukosevicius was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct.

Miami's Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Carson Meyer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Meyer snapped a six-game goal drought but has points in his last three. Hutton found the net for the second time in five contests.

Anthony Louis picked up an assist, becoming the 34th player in Miami history to rack up 120 career points. He is in a five-way tie for 30th with 45 goals and 75 helpers.

Miami remains in seventh place in the NCHC, five points out of both fifth and sixth, and dropped to 28th in the PairWise Rankings.

The RedHawks travel to Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game set next weekend.

Analysis: Why the sudden turnaround?

OXFORD, Ohio – One of the more captivating things about hockey is how teams that appear dead on the frozen water at one point of a season can quickly reverse that negative trend.

The Miami everyone wanted to play in November and early December has made a significant move in the conference and PairWise the past month, as it won its fourth straight game on Saturday, 4-1 over St. Cloud State at Cady Arena.

The RedHawks (7-8-5) were in last place in the NCHC after their 10th straight non-win on Dec. 9 and dipped as low as 42nd out of 60 teams in the all-important PairWise Rankings, which determine at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament and seeding.

Thirty days later, Miami has shifted into a tie for fifth in the conference and is a point away from fourth. In theory the RedHawks could move as high as third with a pair of wins next week.

MU is up to 28th in PairWise and has much work to do to warrant at-large consideration, but the team is still up 14 spots in a month with plenty of hockey remaining against high-quality opponents.

So what’s the difference? A quick summary…

Health. A young Miami team already lacking a ton of depth couldn’t catch a break in this department the first 16 games. Carson Meyer, Louie Belpedio, Ryan Larkin, Jared Brandt and Josh Melnick – all major contributors on RedHawks Version 2016-17 – missed a combined 15 games with various injuries and illnesses. All are currently healthy now and playing at a high level.

Third-period turnaround. As documented previously, Miami was outscored, 14-3 during its 0-7-3 run in the third period. During their winning streak, the RedHawks have netted 11 goals in the last frame. Opponents: 2. They’re finishing stronger and appear in better shape than earlier in the campaign. Miami found ways to lose games it led the first couple of months and now is pulling them out late.

Power play. With plenty of minutes under its belt as a unit, the Belpedio-Melnick-Anthony Louis-Kiefer Sherwood-Meyer group has impressed with its puck movement, and after going six straight games without a goal on the man-advantage (0-for-19), Miami is 4 of 13 (30.8 percent) in the three contests since.

Melnick on fire. The sophomore scored one time in the first 16 games but has found the net in four straight, netting five goals and setting up another in that span. That includes two overtime winners and the tying goal on Friday. He wins the hardest-to-figure-out-how-he-scored award, as after watching his Saturday goal live and several more times on replay it was still unclear how the redirected the puck in. Both OT goals were highlight-reel quality but also required slow-mo.

Confidence in other forwards. Forgive if anyone is left out, but among freshmen, Gordie Green is getting better every game, so is Willie Knierim. Alex Alger is a solid fourth-line pest, and Karch Bachman has a great shot and better speed, and he has huge upside.

Defense is a little more stable. Miami isn’t quite where it was last season, but that’s because Matthew Caito and Taylor Richart were about as steady as it gets in the NCAA in terms of shut-down D-men. With their departure the returning blueliners are higher in the depth chart consistently facing better forwards, and it’s a tough adjustment. But Grant Hutton, who was so strong as a freshman, is becoming more consistent, and Grant Frederic continues to improve and has been better about staying out of the box. The RedHawks allowed 90 shots in a weekend series in Denver – remarkably tying both games – but has surrendered an average of just 24.0 in the eight games since and had outshot opponents in seven straight before Saturday’s game.

Sherwood is taking over portions of games. There are times now when no one can take the puck away from Sherwood, and he’s exponentially tougher to defend with his passing game evolving. His double-clutch before sliding a pass through to Green for Miami’s second goal on Saturday is a prime example: Teams can no longer play for that lethal shot from the left faceoff circle. The NCHC clearly has the scouting report on Sherwood’s happy zone, but he is moving around on power plays and inflicting damage elsewhere, having adjusted to the conference’s adjustment. And he scored the RedHawks’ first shorthanded goal of the year to open the scoring.

And of course, a little puck luck. As everything seemed to be going wrong for Miami, that intangible made things worse at times, as the RedHawks hit posts and were victimized by bad bounces. The Hockey Gods appear to be balancing things out recently, as opponents are drawing iron and not getting breaks they were the first couple of months.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. This corps scored a goal shorthanded, at even strength and on the power play. The forwards really didn’t generate a ton of chances, but they cashed in on the Grade-A opportunities. And St. Cloud State always seemed to have sticks and bodies in the shooting lanes. If we had to nit-pick, the bottom two lines didn’t do a whole lot and haven’t scored much all season. We could also mention that 12 forwards managed just 17 shots and a few were weak one at an idle goalie.

DEFENSEMEN: B. It’s been a gradual process, but the blueliners are getting beaten less often than in weeks past. The Huskies entered this weekend averaging nearly 3½ goals per game but had limited chances and just one marker in this game, thanks largely to this group. This was one of Hutton’s better games, and he added the cherry on top with the ENG in the final minute after intercepting the puck at center ice. Scott Dornbrock blocked five shots.

Ryan Larkin makes one of his 28 saves on Saturday (Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Ryan Larkin makes one of his 28 saves on Saturday (Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

GOALTENDING: A. Notice how goaltending wasn’t mentioned before. The reason is that Larkin has been steady throughout, and without him Miami would not have seven wins. That said, he was even better than usual in this game, stopping 28 shots, with his lone blemish being a heat-seeking laser off a drop pass. Larkin faced some difficult shots but as is his MO allowed a very limited number of rebounds.

LINEUP CHANGES: Same six on D, same goalie, just one change up front. Carter Johnson was scratched for the first time this season in favor of Alger. With four straight wins and the team playing its best hockey of the season, the lineup card probably won’t change a whole lot.

Cornell sinks Miami with late goals

Another late breakdown by Miami helped extend the team’s winless streak reach its highest total in over two decades.

The RedHawks led by two late in the second period but gave up four straight tallies, including three over a five-minute span, as they fell, 4-3 at Cornell on Friday.

That makes eight straight games without a win for MU, which last went that long without a victory Oct. 20-Nov. 24, 1995. The last time the RedHawks went winless for a longer stretch was near the end of the 1990-91 season.

Miami (3-7-4) went ahead by two goals before its collapse.

Josh Melnick centered a pass through traffic to Carson Meyer, who buried a wrister from the slot to open the scoring 5:57 into the first period.

Miami's Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

With five minutes left in the second period, Ryan Siroky led a 3-on-2 and slid a pass to Grant Hutton, who buried a shot stick side from the high slot to make it 2-0.

But with 1:55 left in the middle stanza, Cornell’s Noah Bauld toe-dragged around Miami defenseman Grant Frederic and beat goalie Ryan Larkin to cut the RedHawks’ lead in half.

The Big Red tied it when Eric Freschi backhanded a pass to a streaking Beau Starrett, who slammed it home with 9:50 left in regulation.

Cornell (6-3-1) took the lead on another slam-dunk goal 73 seconds later, as uncontested Anthony Angello slammed home a centering feed from Mitch Vanderlaan at the top of the crease.

Trevor Yates tapped in a loose puck following a scramble in front of the crease to make it 4-2 with 5:02 to play.

Miami did trim the Big Red lead to one with 3:04 left as Karch Bachman chipped a backhand home off a feed by Hutton for his first collegiate goal.

The RedHawks’ last win was on Oct. 28 and their lone road victory was opening weekend in Providence, as they are 1-4-2 away from Cady Arena.

They have been outscored, 14-2 in the third period during their skid and have surrendered multiple goals in the final frame four times and three or more in three of those contests.

Hutton finished with a goal and an assist for his second career multi-point game and his first of 2016-17. He has points in three straight games.

Anthony Louis picked up an assist as he earned a point for the fifth consecutive contest.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: Tie is pleasant surprise

Blog of Brotherhood doesn’t make predictions on games, and Friday was Exhibit A as to why that’s the case.

After losing five straight games – three of which were at home – Miami skated to a 1-1 tie against No. 1 Denver at Magness Arena, which is at an altitude of over 5,000 feet.

When we last left the RedHawks, they were drubbed in their own building by Nebraska-Omaha, 6-2 a night after blowing a 4-1 lead in what was ultimately a 6-4 loss.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

In addition to proving that hockey is impossible to predict, we are reminded of another of the sport’s axioms, which is that goaltending is king and a dominant goalie can steal games. Miami was outshot, 39-21 including 15-3 in a first period that saw the RedHawks emerge with a 1-0 lead.

Granted Ryan Larkin didn’t pick up the win, but Miami had little chance if he didn’t stop 45 shots, 38 of which were official because they happened in regular and the legitimate overtime (the other seven were in five minutes of 3-on-3, which in itself is mind-blowing).

The RedHawks were still without captain Louie Belpedio on Friday and showed they are still capable of hanging with the best team in college hockey for 65 minutes.

That has to help this team’s confidence.

There was nowhere to go but up after the giant egg Miami laid last Saturday, and the RedHawks deserve a lot of credit for their significant ascension from six days earlier.

Other thoughts…

Miami's Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Louie Belpedio (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– It was hoped Belpedio would be back this week, but the lower-body injury that he is battling through cost him a fifth straight game. Miami is 0-4-1 without him. His return – whenever that is – will bolster the D-corps substantially and give coach Enrico Blasi more flexibility on his lineup card.

– Carson Meyer missed his third straight game. Hopefully with the off week for Thanksgiving next weekend, Miami will have both Meyer and Belpedio back when it resumes action at Cornell on Dec. 2. Meyer was starting to make a major impact, going 2-8-10 to lead all freshmen.

– There were three total power plays in this game – two for the RedHawks and one for Denver – and six combined penalty minutes assessed. No, really. Miami had averaged seven power plays and six penalty kills through its first 11 games. Neither team scored during the man-advantage, snapping a four-game stretch in which the RedHawks had allowed at least two PPGs. So that’s a positive.

– It was great to see Grant Hutton get a goal after an uncharacteristically poor showing last weekend. He did not register a goal his freshman year but has three in 12 games in 2016-17 and is arguably the top shut-down blueliner on the team.

Miami's Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– In the that-wouldn’t-have-happened-last-year department, how about Anthony Louis stripping a player to set up the Hutton goal? He’s always been a very good player but never was a major factor on D and along with Kiefer Sherwood has to be one of the top picks for most improved player.

– Believe it or not, this was just the third time this season Miami has blanked an opponent in the third period. Teams have outscored the RedHawks, 11-0 in the previous six third periods and Miami snapped a six-game streak in which it had been scored on in the final frame.

Miami ties top-ranked Denver

It’s a pretty safe bet to say that Miami was happy to have Ryan Larkin back.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Larkin was pulled from last Friday’s game with an injury and missed Saturday’s contest as a result, but returned to stop a career-high 38 shots as the RedHawks salvaged a 1-1 tie at No. 1 Denver on Friday.

Miami extended its winless streak to six games but it had lost its last five and was 0-4 against its first two NCHC opponents, neither of which were ranked.

The RedHawks (3-6-3), who received one point after DU won the sudden-death shootout, were outshot, 39-21.

Miami’s only goal came just 1:59 into the game when Anthony Louis stole the puck in the defensive zone, slid a pass to a streaking Grant Hutton, and the sophomore defenseman ripped one by goalie Tanner Jaillet on the stick side.

Denver (7-2-2) trailed by a goal after the first period despite leading on the shot counter, 15-3.

But the Pioneers tied it in the middle stanza. With 16:02 left in that frame, Troy Terry stole a Bryce Hatten defensive zone pass, went in alone and beat Larkin stick side to tie it.

The RedHawks generated 11 of their 21 shots in the second period.

After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game was officially ruled a tie. In the second OT for a conference point, Denver outshot Miami, 7-2 in the 3-on-3.

Henrik Borgstrom converted his sudden-death penalty shot but Kiefer Sherwood was denied.

Miami's Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Hutton’s goal was his third of the season after he did not record a marker in his first season with Miami.

Louis picked up the lone RedHawks assist, giving him helpers in three straight and points in nine of his last 10 games. He now has 102 career points, moving him into sole possession of 49th place on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

The RedHawks remain in last place in the NCHC, as they picked up their first league point of the season.

These teams wrap up their two-game weekend series at 9:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: MU growth a work in progress

OXFORD, Ohio – The French phrase “comme ci, comme ca” applies perfectly to Friday’s game.

Miami and Maine skated to a 3-3 tie in the series opener and first game played between these teams in Oxford, and like many ties, the overall performance and the outcome was neither good nor bad for the RedHawks.

Here are some of the pros and cons from this contest from Miami’s perspective:

PROS

Miami's Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Anthony Louis (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Anthony Louis has been a good player since setting foot in Oxford, but he appears to have taken a major step up this season. He is playing solid defense, attacking loose pucks and eluding defenders, things he had not done regularly his first three seasons, and that extra effort resulted in a two-goal performance. The second goal especially was the result of beating a defender, something we had not seen him do often previously. He generated nine shots on Friday, many coming because of his hard work.

– Any nervousness from Louis Belpedio was a distant memory. Belpedio struggled early vs. Ohio State, perhaps under the burden of his newly-earned captaincy, but he was fantastic on Friday. He especially stood out quarterbacking the power play, as he puck movement in that capacity was exceptional.

– The man advantage deserves its own bullet point. Miami was only 1-for-8 but the aforementioned puck movement was excellent from the top unit.

– Kiefer Sherwood had seven assists all of last season, but he picked up his third and fourth of the season in this game. He was a feared goal scorer and started to take off in the second half of last season, but he is turning into an all-around force now as he shifts from the wing to center. His brilliant pass to Grant Hutton led to Miami’s first goal, and he picked up the secondary helper in the tying goal on the power play as the RedHawks thanks to solid puck movement in the offensive zone.

– The third line was excellent at puck possession. A pair of sophomores, Ryan Siroky and Zach LaValle, plus senior Justin Greenberg, were arguably Miami’s top threesome in this one, playing a grind-it-out game.

– The wide bodies were solid on the fourth line. Conor Lemirande was a force vs. Ohio State and looks a lot better with the puck this season as well as physically stronger. At 6-feet-6, that’s a scary concept if he continues to improve. Freshman Willie Knierim looked a lot more confident in this game than last week. Patience will be key for fans with Knierim, who is the youngest player on the team and still learning to play with his huge frame. He won’t score 25 goals this season, but watching him develop should be fun the next four years.

CONS

– Topping the list is that Maine didn’t look as good as Ohio State, and Miami still couldn’t come away with the win. True, process counts more than wins and losses at this point, but even with a young team, the RedHawks need to win games on home ice, and they have a pair of ties to open their Cady Arena slate.

Miami's Grant Hutton scores on this second-period shot (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton scores on this second-period shot (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Turnovers were costly. Defenseman Chaz Switzer was stripped for Maine’s first goal and normally-solid fellow blueliner Grant Hutton couldn’t handle a deep puck in the third period, ultimately leading to the Black Bears’ final goal. Even reliable Josh Melnick couldn’t clear one in the second period and Maine scored later in the shift with tired Miami players caught on the ice.

– Too many long shifts in the D-zone. Kind of a corollary to the turnovers note, which were obviously a contributing factor, Maine possessed the puck in the offensive zone for extended periods far too often in this game.

Other thoughts…

– Overall this team is progressing well despite having half of its lineup consist of freshmen. The schedule will get tougher really soon, though, and Miami still has work to do if hopes to compete in the NCHC.

– Could’ve missed the memo, but the linesmen kicked players out of the faceoff circle at an alarming rate, and often it was difficult to see the cause.

– The faceoff thing was more noticeable because this game featured 72 faceoffs and largely lacked flow as a result. A lot of icing and off-sides, plus 13 penalties.

– Offensive zone faceoff, 1.0 seconds left in regulation, not sure why goalie Ryan Larkin wasn’t pulled. Almost every coach at this level or above puts a sixth attacker on in this situation.

GRADES

From left to right, Josh Melnick, Kiefer Sherwood and Anthony Louis celebrate a Louis goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

From left to right, Josh Melnick, Kiefer Sherwood and Anthony Louis celebrate a Louis goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

FORWARDS: B. This corps scored two of Miami’s goals and fired 29 shots, with Louis netting both markers and accounting for 9 SOG. Karch Bachman did take a bad penalty, firing an opponent’s stick down the ice. Overall the line chemistry seems to be improving.

DEFENSEMEN: C. Defensemen turnovers directly created two goals for Maine, which cannot be overlooked despite the blueliners’ overall solid play. Hutton scored a goal, balancing out him losing the puck, and Belpedio finished with six shots and picked up the primary assist on the tying goal.

GOALTENDING: B. Stopping 18 of 21 doesn’t look great on paper, but Larkin had zero chance on the second goal, the third was an absolute laser and the first was essentially a close-up breakaway. He controlled all of his rebounds and made a couple of high-quality saves.

LINEUP CHANGES: The only change was on defense: Grant Frederic played with Bryce Hatten sat. Frederic looks like he has potential, and his size is impressive, but he was a tough tentative in this one. That will hopefully go away with more playing time.

Miami stays hot on the road, tops BG

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Miami’s seven-game road losing streak seems like an eternity ago.

The RedHawks fell behind early before scoring the final four goals en route to a 4-1 win vs. Bowling Green at BGSU Ice Arena on Friday, extending their winning streak to three games away from Oxford.

MU’s last road loss came over two months ago at Colorado College.

Sean Kuraly.

Sean Kuraly.

Senior center Sean Kuraly netted the game-winning goal, the 12th of his career, as he moved into a tie for third place all-time on the Miami leaderboard, tying him with Andy Miele and Reilly Smith.

Kuraly finished with a goal and an assist, giving him four multi-point games in his last six contests and 12 points in his last eight (4-8-12).

In the first minute, Miami senior goalie Jay Williams was forced to stop a breakaway after a stretch pass.

With 8:18 left in the first period, BGSU (16-10-6) took the lead when Brent Tate tipped home a blue-line wrister from Sean Walker in the closing seconds of a power play.

But the second period was kind to the RedHawks once again.

Miami (12-13-3) tied it when junior forward Anthony Louis roofed a shot from the side of the net on a two-man advantage with 7:23 left in the frame.

Less than three minutes later, Kuraly tipped in a change-up wrister from the blue line by sophomore defenseman Scott Dornbrock to put the RedHawks ahead for good, 2-1.

That was the sixth goal in a row Miami had scored in the second period. Fortunately for the RedHawks, they bucked that trend in the final stanza.

Freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood banged home a loose puck with 6:09 left in regulation to give Miami a two-goal lead.

Senior defenseman Matthew Caito iced it with an empty netter in the closing minutes.

Kuraly has scored four times in his last six games, and Sherwood netted his fourth in seven. Louis has pumped in four in eight games.

Caito scored his 16th career goal, moving him into seventh on the school’s career leaderboard, tying him with 1996 graduate Pat Hanley.

Freshman defenseman Grant Hutton recorded his first multi-point game, tallying a pair of assists. He has four helpers in his last three games after picking up just one through 25 contests.

Freshman forward Josh Melnick has recorded a point in eight of nine games, finishing with one assist.

Senior goalie Jay Williams stopped 21 shots to earn the win, the 43rd of his career. He is three away from Connor Knapp for fourth place all-time at Miami.

The RedHawks jumped to a tie for 19th in the PairWise rankings with the win. They would likely need to be in the top 13 to be a safe bet for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Nebraska-Omaha won on Friday, moving into a tie with Miami for fifth place in the NCHC standings, and the Mavericks have a game in hand over the RedHawks.

Miami is off until next Friday, when they travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., for a series at Western Michigan.

MIAMI 0-2-2–4
at BGSU 1-0-0–1
First period–1. BGSU, Tate 4 (Walker, Bednard), ppg, 11:42.
Second period–2. Mia., Louis 7 (Melnick, Belpedio), ppg, 12:37; 3. Mia., Kuraly 6 (Dornbrock, Hutton) 15:15.
Third period–4. Mia., Sherwood 7 (Kuraly, Roslovic) 13:51; 5. Mia., Caito 4 (Hutton), eng, 18:13.
Power plays–Miami 1 for 7; Bowling Green 1 for 4. Shots on goal–Miami 16-14-19–49; Bowling Green 8-7-7–22. Goalies–Miami, Williams (21 of 22 shots saved); Bowling Green, Nell (45 of 49). Referees–Tommy Albindia, Brett Klosowski. Linesmen–Andrew Hempel, Frank Hempel. Attendance–4,025. Time–2:16.