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St. Cloud pulls away from Miami late

For two periods, Miami remained competitive with the top-ranked team in Division I on the road.

The RedHawks were down just one goal after 40 minutes, but No. 1 St. Cloud State ran off three straight markers in the final frame to seal Miami’s 5-1 loss at the Herb Brooks Center on Friday.

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

Ryan Poehling, the Montréal Canadiens’ first-round pick in 2017, scored twice and added a pair of assists for the Huskies.

Grant Hutton netted the lone goal for Miami, which lost its seventh straight game and extended its winless streak to 13 (0-9-4).

RECAP: Just 38 seconds in the game, Jack Poehling slammed home a one-time feed from brother Ryan Poehling on a 2-on-1 to give St. Cloud State (19-4-2) the early lead.

Miami (9-14-4) appeared to have tied it midway through the period when Gordie Green stuffed a wraparound just inside the post, but it was ruled no goal on the ice and no conclusive angle showed the puck completely across the goal line.

The RedHawks legitimately evened the score when Hutton wound up at the top of the faceoff circle, pump faked and aimed a modified slap shot into the far corner of the net at the 2:22 mark of the second period.

But just 53 seconds later, the Huskies went ahead for good when Jimmy Schuldt ripped a one-timer inside the near post from the blue line on the power play.

Ryan Poehling made it 3-1 four minutes in the final stanza, as he played give-and-go with Blake Lizotte, who sent a return pass through the crease where it was shoveled into the back of the net by Poehling.

Ryan Poehling extended the Huskies’ lead to three when he skated through the Miami defense, went in alone and beat RedHawks goalie Jordan Uhelski glove side with 12:15 remaining in regulation.

Patrick Newell capped off the scoring with a turnaround wrister from the faceoff dot that hit off the inside of the far crossbar 1:16 to play.

STATS: Hutton’s goal was his second in three games. That moved him into third place unofficially on Miami’s all-time defenseman scorers list with 28 goals.

— Green snapped a string of five games without a point, as he picked up the primary assist.

Josh Melnick, returning after a six-game injury absence, earned the secondary helper, giving him points in eight straight contests in which he has dressed.

It was career point No. 101 for Melnick, who tied Pat Leahy and Mitch Ganzak for 50th on the RedHawks’ career leaderboard.

THOUGHTS: Despite allowing a goal 38 seconds into the game, Miami played pretty well for 40 minutes, but St. Cloud State dominated the third.

The Huskies led for all but 91 seconds – the first 38 and 53 between Hutton’s goal and SCSU’s eventual game winner.

Defensively, the RedHawks have been sloppier lately, which has compounded the other woes that have culminated in this 2½-month winless streak.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

St. Cloud State may be the most skilled all-around teams in Division I, and in the final 20 minutes the Huskies played like it.

— Green’s non-goal is tough for Miami, but there really wasn’t a definitive camera angle showing the puck completely across the line.

One suspects that the puck was completely on white ice at the furthest point goalie David Hrenak extended his glove, but that isn’t proof.

Had it initially been ruled a goal it almost certainly wouldn’t have been disallowed, so the call on the ice was going to the be final one either way.

Things like that seem to happen to struggling teams. At least Green picked up a point on Hutton’s goal.

— Melnick’s return was a blessing, as he did not appear any worse for wear due to his lower-body injury. Hopefully Miami’s offense will be rejuvenated with him healthy.

LINEUP CHANGES: Scott Corbett was scratched for the second time this season, and Brian Hawkinson sat for the first time in his career.

Melnick took one of those forward spots, and Zach LaValle dressed in the other after not dressing last Saturday.

It was Uhelski in net, making his fourth start in six games. He has played in six straight, relieving Ryan Larkin in both of his starts in that span.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The game was closer than the final score indicated, but a great college hockey team played great hockey and pulled away from a lesser squad.

Not much more to be said about this one.

It’s an unforgiving league, and one of the things BoB said was paramount to a solid Miami second half was not letting a losing streak snowball, and that’s exactly what has happened to the RedHawks since the start of 2019.

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Four straight shutouts for UMD vs. Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – The last series Miami played against Minnesota-Duluth, the RedHawks were shut out on the road, 4-0 in the opener and 3-0 in the finale.

The No. 5 Bulldogs repeated that feat this weekend by identical scores.

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

After beating MU 4-0 on Friday, UMD reeled off its fourth straight shutout vs. Miami, 3-0 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

The RedHawks have not scored against UMD in 257:08.

Miami (9-11-4) played without both captains – Josh Melnick and Grant Hutton – and starting goalie Ryan Larkin watched the game from the bench.

The RedHawks’ winless streak has reached 10 games, with their last win coming over two months ago.

RECAP: Minnesota-Duluth (14-6-2) opened the scoring when Scott Perunovich tipped home a wrister from the blue line by Nick Swaney on the power play at the 17-minute mark of the first period.

Midway through the second frame, Miami was on a two-man advantage when the RedHawks’ Jonathan Gruden had a shot blocked and UMD’s Justin Richards went in for a breakaway but was hooked from behind by Derek Daschke, resulting in a penalty shot as one skater returned to the ice.

Richards scored, going backhand to the stick side to make it 2-0.

The Bulldogs sealed it 4:13 into the third period when Noah Cates stripped Casey Gilling, and the loose puck ended up on the stick of Swaney, who was all alone at the top of the crease for a slam-dunk goal.

STATS: Overall, Miami’s scoreless drought has reached 141:26. The RedHawks set a school record by being blanked for over 240 minutes in 2017-18, which included its shutout weekend at Duluth.

— The RedHawks finished with the same faceoff percentage both nights (.333). They went 18-36 in the circle in this game after struggled to a 20-40 mark on Friday.

— Miami slipped to 1-8-1 in January games dating back to last season and is 4-16-3 overall in the second half the past two campaigns.

— For over two months, the RedHawks have been in pursuit of win No. 10. They are 1-19-6 since 2016-17 going after that elusive 10th victory.

— MU dropped to 1-13-1 in its last 15 meetings with the Bulldogs.

THOUGHTS: Like Friday, Miami was buzzing in the first period despite its lack of star power, but once again a late first-period goal by Minnesota-Duluth completely deflated the RedHawks.

The two-man advantage-turned-shorthanded-rush-turned-penalty-shot also represented a major momentum swing in the game, since it was an excellent opportunity for Miami to tie the score that went horribly, horribly wrong.

From there, it was obvious that Bulldogs goalie Hunter Shepard wasn’t going to give up a pair of late goals, as he was outstanding in shutting Miami out for the fourth straight time.

— Hutton was given a game misconduct and not a disqualification on Friday, so the decision to sit him was on Miami’s coaching staff.

It was a bad penalty for sure and I have no problem scratching him for a game, especially with the team mired in a deep slump.

Hutton is an exceptional talent and a wonderful young man, but as a senior he hasn’t taken that step forward that we’ve seen elite NHLers-to-be often take their final season.

One pro scout said he hasn’t seen an urgency in his game this year. Sometimes even elite players need a wake-up call, and hopefully a night in the stands will rejuvenate Hutton.

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

No Hutton, no Melnick and no Larkin against the No. 5 team was a tall order for the RedHawks, but sometimes a shake-up is needed when a team is struggling.

— Melnick is battling a lower-body injury and Larkin was pulled after allowing four goals on 22 shots on Friday.

Hopefully Melnick will return next weekend.

— The current review process has to stop. It’s ruining games.

Everyone wants calls to be correct. But there has to be a limit.

A UMD player went down behind the play in this game. After the next whistle, the officials went under the headsets for several minutes to see if a penalty was warranted.

On Friday the officials went to the booth to decide Hutton’s penalty, even know everyone in the building knew he was getting 5-and-10.

Coach Enrico Blasi asked for a review on UMD’s goal, citing the puck might have gone out of play prior to it going in. The original no-call was upheld.

The best is when a goal is scored and there’s a review to see if the play was off-side a minute earlier.

You know, because in baseball when someone hits a home run, they go back to see if that ball one call really should’ve been a strike five pitches prior.

I give credit to college hockey for being open to rules changes to better the game (except shootouts, but that’s for another day), so I have one:

Give teams two timeouts instead of one. Challenge anything you want. If you’re wrong, you lose a timeout, as it is now.

But no other reviews except inside five minutes of the third period and overtime.

At all.

You hired a second ref for each game, let the officials do their jobs.

— It’s too bad the weather kept a large number of fans away on Saturday.

The roads were brutal after the game, and many smartly stayed home.

The attendance was listed as 2,018 but I suspect that includes season ticket holders who have paid for their seats. Actual attendance was closer to one thousand.

A large number at the rink were in town for the whole weekend anyway.

I can’t express how much I hate to name drop, especially when it’s someone I’ve never met with a name as prestigious and sensitive as his, but when conditions are poor I’ll always think of that series nine years ago when Brendan Burke was killed.

For those not in the know, Burke and his friend died in a car accident on horrible roads northwest of Oxford the day of a Friday game vs. Lake Superior State.

Burke, the team manager at the time and son of former NHL general manager Brian Burke, was a pioneer when he came out as openly gay months before the wreck, gaining national attention.

That weekend’s weather could’ve claimed any of us who traveled to Oxford for those games.

Burke died on a Friday, and the team didn’t find out until later that night, but its members did The Brotherhood proud by scoring seven goals the first 29 minutes of Saturday’s game against a ranked Lakers team in a 10-4 win.

Not a team on the planet, including the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, could’ve beaten Miami for that period and a half.

— Back to Friday for a second: Blasi was caught yelling at associate coach Peter Mannino on the bench early in the second period.

Miami’s Alec Mahalak (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

If there’s a disagreement between coaches, that’s something that needs to be handled in private at intermission, especially when a team is struggling as Miami clearly is.

LINEUP CHANGES: Andrew Sinard stepped in for Hutton, as the RedHawks are down to seven healthy defensemen.

Grant Frederic and Chaz Switzer are both out with lower body injuries.

Uhelski got the start for Larkin after the senior’s strong performance in the second half of Friday’s game and stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss.

His save percentage is now .922. Larkin is at .923.

Noah Jordan also started up front for the fourth time this season as Carter Johnson was scratched.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D-. An upgrade from ‘F’ on Friday only because they generated better shots and Shepard was outstanding, but seriously, 13 shots and zero goals?

DEFENSEMEN: C. Too many shots allowed and this corps did zilch offensively. But with Hutton out, Sinard seemed to thrive with more ice time and Alec Mahalak showcased his defensive talents more with the additional TOI available.

GOALTENDING: B+. Uhelski had zero chance on the first and third goals and the other was on a penalty shot.

STANDINGS: Miami has fallen to 29th in the PairWise and is in sixth place in the NCHC with a 3-7-2 record.

The RedHawks trail fifth-place North Dakota by six points and are seven out of fourth, which is the last home-ice spot for the league tournament.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s necessary to take a step back and realize that this was always going to be a rebuilding season.

After three straight sub-.500 seasons and a 7-2 start, this 0-6-4 skid feels like a Lucy-again-pulling-away-the-football moment, but it’s important to realize that success this season was always going to be a tall order.

With six non-seniors and both assistants leaving, the RedHawks pieced this team together in the summer, and still – still – at 9-11-4 have exceeded expectations.

It’s just frustrating to see Miami play so well against No. 1 St. Cloud for 120 minutes and then get manhandled by the fifth-ranked team seven weeks later.

What we’ve seen in four months of the 2018-19 is a major step ahead in the process toward being an NCAA contending team.

But as Minnesota-Duluth showed this weekend, the RedHawks still aren’t there. At least not right now.

Fortunately for Miami, there’s still plenty of season left to turn that around.

Preview: Minn.-Duluth at Miami

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.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

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.

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

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 ties PC on late goals

In hockey, ties tend to be regarded negatively, but considering Miami’s situation with six minutes left in regulation, the RedHawks had to be thrilled to end up in the ‘T’ column.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

No. 16 Miami scored twice late in the third period to salvage a 3-3 tie at No. 10 Providence’s Schneider Arena on Saturday.

And the tying goal, a snipe from the slot by Gordie Green, came 6-on-5 with just 42 seconds left in regulation. Green received the one-time feed from Josh Melnick, who earned his 100th career point with the assist.

Christian Mohs started the comeback by netting his first career goal with 5:21 left in regulation.

RECAP: Scott Conway gave Providence (12-4-4) the lead 5:35 into the first period when he batted a blue line pass from Spenser Young into the net on the power play.

The Friars extended their lead to two with another man-advantage goal, as a wrister by Ben Mirageas from just inside the blue line deflected off a Miami stick and in with 6:23 remaining in the middle stanza.

The RedHawks (9-7-4) trimmed the deficit to one when Jonathan Gruden threaded a pass through a pair of defenders across the slot to a wide-open Ryan Siroky at the side of the net, and he slammed it home with 14:02 to play in regulation.

That was also a power play goal, the sixth of the weekend for these teams.

Miami’s Christian Mohs (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Providence answered just 13 seconds later as Miami’s Bray Crowder tried to knock the puck away from Brandon Duhaime, but it ended up on the stick of Bryan Lemos in the slot for an easy score to make it 3-1, and it appeared that would wrap up a weekend sweep for the Friars.

But Mohs shot one from the top of the faceoff circle that hit a Providence sweater and found net with 5:21 left for his first career goal, and the RedHawks were again within one, 3-2.

With the extra attacker on, Melnick slid a pass from the wall through traffic to a wide-open Green in the slot, and his blast sent the game to overtime.

STATS: Lots to work with…

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

— Melnick. He’s the 52nd player in Miami history to reach 100 points, with the last being Anthony Louis in 2017.

He also extended his points streak to seven games, notching three goals and five assists in that span. That’s the longest stretch of consecutive games with at least one point by a Miamian this season.

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

— Siroky. He finished with a goal and an assist, setting three personal milestones. 1) It was the senior’s first career multi-point game, 2) it was the first time he had ever scored goals in consecutive contests, and 3) he is riding his first-ever three-game points streak, during which he is 2-2-4.

Grant Hutton. Hutton picked up two assists, giving him three points for the weekend. He had not notched a point in his previous eight games.

— Mohs. It was his first career goal, although he did create a nice build-up by scoring in the exhibition vs. Guelph last Sunday.

— Green. He had not scored in 10 games but is still tied with Melnick and Karch Bachman for the team lead with seven markers.

— Miami is actually winless in its last six games with an 0-4-2 record, but the RedHawks skated to draws vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State twice and adds this quality tie – if there is such a thing – to its 2018-19 resume.

Miami did not have any stalemates in its first 14 games but has tied four of its last six contests.

— Special teams. The good: Miami is 4-for-13 its last three games, or 30.8 percent. The bad: The RedHawks were 3 of 6 on the PK this weekend and are now just 57.1 percent dating back to the New Hampshire series.

THOUGHTS: This is yet another major step for this program in the ‘reenergize’ movement, as Coach Enrico Blasi called it before the season.

Though it wasn’t a win, this moved the needed significantly in the RedHawks’ desired direction.

Turning a two-goal deficit at a top-10 team into a tie with six minutes remaining is a rarity and speaks to how far Miami has come this season.

Flipping a team from a sub-.400 three-year winning percentage to a national contender in college sports is a long process that requires patience from coaches, student-athletes and fans.

Countless hours of work by the former two and others immediately surrounding the program are starting to pay tangible dividends, with this tie coming on the back of a pair of draws vs. the top-ranked program in Division I that saw Miami trail six times on the weekend and battle back to even the score on each occasion.

This is no last-place NCHC team, this is not a team deserving of zero votes in national polls. Now in the meat of their schedule, the RedHawks are proving the college hockey world wrong every night.

— Miami certainly can’t blame officiating for its 0-1-1 weekend. Power plays for the weekend were 11-7 in favor of the RedHawks, with PC assessed 40 penalty minutes compared to 20 for Miami.

— Despite having little room to operate against the super-tight Providence defense, wings Knies and Ben Lown seemed to pass across the width of the ice to each other at will.

A healthy Knies will hopefully result in more offensive production from that line.

— The cost to watch this series via the internet was $10, but it was a quality telecast.

The picture was actually a little better for the internet-only feed on Friday than on Saturday, which was broadcast on NBC Sports Boston.

Mike Logan is a veteran play-by-play man, extremely fair and gives excellent play descriptions.

He was solo on Friday and was joined by Sonny Watrous on Saturday, a PC women’s hockey standout last decade.

She is very knowledgeable about the game and the tandem work well together in the booth.

Both were very complimentary of the Miami program and agreed with the officials’ calls on almost every occasion, despite the penalty disparity.

— Didn’t know this, but Logan said on Friday that this is the last time these teams are scheduled to play each other for the foreseeable future.

Since 2011-12, Miami and Providence have faced each other every season, typically early in the season.

The only time during that span they didn’t meet in the regular season was 2014-15 when Miami was sent to the Providence bracket of the NCAA Tournament and lost, 7-5 in the first round just minutes from the PC campus.

Despite the travel and the Friars’ 8-1-3 record vs. the RedHawks in the last 12 meetings, this has been a great series over the years, as Providence is always a well-coached team with tons of skill.

Miami’s Andrew Sinard (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Hopefully Miami and PC renew the all-time series at some point.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. Blasi went the same 20 both nights and seems to like defenseman Andrew Sinard in that extra skater flex role.

UP NEXT: Sixteen games in nine weeks, all against NCHC foes.

Miami heads to Western Michigan next weekend, facing the Broncos for the first time this season.

WMU is second in the conference with 14 points and is ranked No. 17 in the USCHO poll, one spot below Miami.

Friday’s game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.

Then the RedHawks play four at Cady Arena – two vs. Minnesota-Duluth and a pair against Colorado College.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami Version 2018-19 further cemented its play-to-the-final-horn reputation, as the RedHawks have scored a tying goal in the third period in all of its recent QTs (quality ties).

Remember the comeback win against UMass-Lowell and the two clutch third-period goals against North Dakota that broke a tie.

One could see the RedHawks’ emotions as they gathered on the ice after the five-minute overtime, as this was certainly a bonding experience for the players.

That’s the type of experience that can only help Miami as it shifts back to conference play for the balance of the regular season.

Miami shuts out, sweeps Colgate

OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan Larkin had one shutout in his freshman season and one more as a sophomore.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Six starts into 2018-19, the Miami junior has already blanked more opponents than in his first two years combined.

On Saturday, he recorded his third clean sheet of 2018-19, a 30-save effort in a 6-0 win over Colgate at Cady Arena that wrapped up a weekend sweep for the RedHawks.

It was the fourth straight win for Miami in the all-time series, as the RedHawks have outscored the Raiders, 18-2 during their winning streak vs. CU and 40-17 overall.

MU wrapped up its four-game homestand with three consecutive victories and is 5-1 on its home ice this season.

RECAP: Just 2:48 into the first period, Josh Melnick backhanded a pass to Gordie Green at the blue line, and Grant Hutton received a drop pass from Green, skated into the high slot and wired one home on the stick side on a 4-on-4.

It remained 1-0 until the 7:49 mark of the middle frame, when Green fed a pass to Melnick from the point to the side of the cage, where Melnick rammed in a bad-angle one-timer on the power play.

With 3:14 left in that period, a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle by Alec Mahalak handcuffed goalie Andrew Farrier, and Scott Corbett was there to knock in the rebound on the opposite side for his first career goal, making it 3-0.

Melnick and Green connected again, as Melnick threaded a pass through two defenders from the inside edge of the faceoff circle to a wide-open Green, who fired it into the vacant half of the net with five seconds left in a second period that saw MU score three times.

Midway through the final stanza, Casey Gilling fed a one-time pass to River Rymsha, who was crossing the blue line, and Rymsha found the top corner of the net as he stepped into a slap shot.

Hutton wrapped up the scoring as he eluded three defenders while carrying the puck from the blue line to the slot before backhanding one in to the stick side with 5:03 left in regulation.

STATS: Larkin leads all of Division I in shutouts with three. His save percentage of .966 is second in the NCAA and he is third in goals-against average (0.83).

His five career clean slates moves Larkin into a tie with Dan Kodatsky for seventh all-time on the Miami leaderboard.

Green finished with a goal and three assists for four points, the second-highest total of his career only to his five-point effort vs. Maine on Oct. 20, 2017.

It was his second three-assist game as a RedHawk.

Hutton ended the night with two goals and a helper, becoming the first skater to score twice or more in a game this season. It was his fifth career multi-goal game and the fourth time he has picked up three points.

Melnick also notched three points – the third time he has done so in a Miami sweater – on a goal and two assists.

Green has seven points in his last three games including six this weekend and Melnick picked up five points this series.

It was the third career multi-point game for Mahalak, who tallied two assists and wrapped up the series with three points.

Miami scored in all six periods this weekend and has goals in seven consecutive frames overall.

THOUGHTS: Miami played with maximum effort from the opening faceoff to the final horn, as the RedHawks were still bombarding the offensive zone in the closing minutes trying to add another score.

Too many times for too many years Miami has had trouble closing out wins, but at least for the first month of this season, the RedHawks have wielded a killer instinct late in games.

Colgate didn’t play poorly on Friday but fell behind early in this one and sort of threw in the proverbial towel the final 20-25 minutes on Saturday, and rather than sit back and play not to lose, Miami absolutely took it to the Raiders in the sixth period of the weekend, punishing them physically and on the scoreboard.

At this point, the RedHawks are better than Colgate. They aren’t 6-0 better though, but both teams got the outcomes they deserved: Miami didn’t let up the entire game and the Raiders did.

And good teams take advantage when that happens. That’s the difference between the first eight games of 2018-19 and their 110 contests the previous three seasons.

And that’s what makes this such a big win heading into NCHC play.

— Corbett returned to the Green-Melnick line and all three ended up finding the net. They combined for eight points (Green 1-3-4, Melnick 1-2-3, Corbett 1-0-1).

We heaped praise on this line for its play on Friday but it was even better in this game at both ends.

— This is as locked in as Larkin has been since coming to Oxford. In his last four starts he is 4-0 with a .981 save percentage, stopping 104 of 106 shots.

He’s second in the NCAA in save percentage at .966 only to a Lake Superior goalie whose last name is Mitens (how do you compete with that)?

And that’s been a big difference in Miami’s start: It’s virtually impossible to have a successful season when your team save percentage is .883 and your starter finishes at .886, which was the case in 2017-18.

Quality goaltending can help a decent team become a great one, and while there’s no way Larkin maintains his current save rate, he has the ability to steal wins for the RedHawks.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A. The passing by this corps was so much crisper than in any other game this season. Yeah, Green and Melnick were studs, but their supporting cast was strong as well. Karch Bachman continues to generate chances with his speed. Gilling keeps winning key draws and impressing with his defense, plus he set up Rymsha’s goal. Sophs Ben Lown and Phil Knies continue to play above their size. Zach LaValle is earning playing time by stepping up. Corbett scored his first career goal and plays a high-energy, physical style. Etc., etc.

DEFENSEMEN: A. Hutton, Mahalak and Rymsha were the standouts among this group. This was Hutton’s best game at both ends, and probably the same could be said for Mahalak, who picked up two assists and earned some power play time. Rymsha’s goal was an absolute blast with pinpoint accuracy.

GOALTENDING: A+. About as perfect of a game as a goalie could play. He turned 30 shots aside and faced some Grade-A chances. He seemed more comfortable going side to side this weekend and gave up almost zero second chances.

LINEUP CHANGES: Corbett replaced Johnson, both on the first line and in the lineup, as Johnson was a scratch.

Defenseman Andrew Sinard dressed for the second time this season as Christian Mohs sat out.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Percentagewise, this equals Miami’s best start through eight games since 2010-11.

The locker room is much more unified than in recent seasons.

Goaltending has been phenomenal. Defense has been solid. The RedHawks are starting to score goals.

Even those in the stands are having a lot more fun, and hopefully more will show up as we enter the cold-weather months and super-skilled league opponents come to town.

Miami has a lot going for it, but the RedHawks also haven’t played a true road game yet, suiting up for six at home and two on neutral ice. They also haven’t started league play.

MU will tackle both of those obstacles next week in its NCHC-opening series at Omaha.

Maybe Miami, picked to finish last in the conference, ends up being the biggest surprise in the NCAA. Maybe the RedHawks do struggle in league play as was predicted.

But if they keep up the kind of effort they put forth this weekend, the dividends will eventually come for this program.

At least by playing the game the right way the foundation is now being laid for future success.

Miami wins opener vs. UAH

OXFORD, Ohio – It started off shaky but ended up a successful start in net for Jordan Uhelski.

The senior stopped 17 shots to earn the win in his Miami debut, a 5-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville at Cady Arena on Saturday.

The fact Uhelski earned his undergraduate degree at UAH had to make the outcome that much sweeter. He is working on his Master’s degree and had one year of eligibility remaining, which is why he was able to join the RedHawks without sitting out a season.

RECAP: Miami junior Carter Johnson drove the net and went top shelf to open the scoring 4:48 into the first period.

Miami forward Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

But exactly one minute later, an outside shot by the Chargers’ Austin Beaulieu beat Uhelski on the stick side on the team’s first shot of the game, tying the score.

The RedHawks (1-0) answered 42 seconds after that marker, as Karch Bachman skated across the top of the crease and tucked one past sprawled out goalie Mark Sinclair.

Early in the second period, Johnson was driving the when UAH’s Kurt Gosselin delivered a head shot and was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct. Johnson eventually skated off under his own power but did not return.

Miami made the Chargers (0-1) pay on the power play, as Gordie Green slammed home a rebound off a Bachman shot with 15:18 left in the middle stanza.

The RedHawks made it 4-1 with 9:46 remaining in regulation as a Derek Daschke one-timer found the corner of the net off a feed by Green.

Miami capped off the scoring with 2:17 to play when Jonathan Gruden centered a pass from the side of the net to a wide open Grant Hutton in the slot, and Hutton buried it.

STATS: After allowing a goal on the first shot he faced, Uhelski stopped the next 17.

Hutton, Green, Bachman and Daschke all finished with two points on a goal and an assist apiece as 11 different RedHawks recorded at least one point.

Those were the first career points for Daschke, and Gruden, Brian Hawkinson and River Rymsha also picked up their inaugural Miami points, all on helpers.

THOUGHTS: One game is obviously a very small sample size, but there was an energy at the rink that had been recently lacking.

The attendance was 2,702 on a day when it was 90 degrees and the football team played at Akron in the afternoon.

‘Reenergize’ is a term Coach Enrico Blasi said the team is using a lot these days. That was an apt description of the Cady atmosphere as well, which is a welcome improvement.

— There was a lot to like among the newcomers.

After allowing a soft goal early, Uhelski settled in nicely and made a pair of high-quality saves, including one on a semi-breakaway.

Gruden’s pass to Hutton for the final goal was pretty sweet, Hawkinson played with a lot of grit, Rymsha dished out a couple of solid hits and for 6-feet-6, Brayden Crowder seems pretty cool handling and moving the puck.

We’re delve more into the newcomers after Sunday’s game.

– Gosselin’s hit on Johnson was everything that hockey is trying to get away and warrants a suspension. He was issued a game misconduct and not a disqualification, which would’ve carried an automatic suspension and is disappointing.

He had Johnson lined up and had ample time to target somewhere other than the head but did so anyway.

And Johnson has been a fantastic story, as his game surged the second half of last season and he scored in this game before getting hurt. Now who knows when he’ll get back on the ice?

Let’s keep in mind too: Gosselin is UAH’s captain. I always rooted for the Chargers when they wasn’t playing Miami, but it’ll be a little harder to do so now.

– On Tuesday, coach Enrico Blasi said Ryan Larkin was the starter, but he was in a suit on Saturday. He had no obvious sign of injury, so hopefully this is just a one-game thing that happens frequently the first game of a season.

— One thing about Coach Enrico Blasi: He’s totally unafraid of using freshmen in high-leverage spots, even in their first games. At one point three rookies manned the penalty kill.

— We saw a lot of line combinations, partly because of Johnson’s early injury. Definitely a feeling out process for all of the skaters, which is not unexpected considering the number of newcomers.

— Miami resisted the urge to pound Charger tail after the major on Johnson, and that resulted in a power play goal. It would’ve been tough to find fault with the RedHawks if they had gone after Gosselin though.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B+. Liked Bachman in this one and Johnson stood out until his injury. Both scored early goals. Green scored as well and was his typical solid self. Faceoff stats were excellent: Monte Graham finished 11-5 and Josh Melnick went 9-6 to lead this corps.

DEFENSEMEN: A-. Helped hold UAH to 17 shots while combining for 16 themselves. Very few Grade-A chances against. Hutton and Daschke both went 1-1-2 and Alec Mahalak and Rymsha both earned assists.

GOALTENDING: B. Definitely could’ve used a mulligan on the goal allowed, but Uhelski turned aside the next 17, including a pair of high-percentage chances. A good debut for the former-Charger-turned-RedHawk.

LINEUP: Uhelski was a surprise in net but Blasi said earlier this week that Larkin was the primary starter. On defense, 2017-18 regular Chaz Switzer was scratched, as was part-timer Grant Frederic. Freshman Andrew Sinard was the other blueliner who did not dress. Up front sophomore Christian Mohs and freshman Noah Jordan were casualties. That means eight Miami players made their RedHawks debuts – six freshmen and graduates Rymsha and Uhelski.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Alabama-Huntsville doesn’t look ready to challenge for an NCAA title but it was still a good win to open the season for MU.

And by the way, the RedHawks’ last win in their season debut was 2013.

With so many making their Miami debuts – both on the ice and the bench – getting victory under the belt has to provide a confidence boost.

UP NEXT: Miami plays in the Ice Breaker Tournament in Erie, Pa., next weekend. The RedHawks open with Providence at 4 p.m. on Friday and will face either Mercyhurst or Notre Dame on Saturday.

2018-19 Miami preview Part III: Defensemen

OUT (3): Louie Belpedio (graduated), Scott Dornbrock (graduated), Bryce Hatten.

IN (4): Derek Daschke, Andrew Sinard, Brayden Crowder, River Rymsha (graduate student).

RETURNING (5): Sr. – Grant Hutton; Jrs. – Grant Frederic, Chaz Switzer; Sos. – Alec Mahalak, Rourke Russell.

NOTES: Four of Miami’s starting six defensemen are back from last season, but the two who graduated were key contributors on the blue line.

Louie Belpedio was team captain for two seasons and Scott Dornbrock logged 139 career games, but Miami adds four to its blueline corps and will have nine D-men to battle for six starting slots each night.

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

“I think we’re a lot deeper, bigger, stronger,” Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. “I think whe you add some of the size that we did and just sheer bodies, it’s going to be equally hard to come up with six (starters) on a game-to-game basis.”

All-planet senior Grant Hutton will share the captaincy with Melnick after leading college hockey in defenseman goals with 13 and tying for the Division I lead in power play goals by a blueliner (8).

He has also been arguably the team’s best shutdown D-man the past three seasons.

Alec Mahalak dressed for 36 of 37 games as a freshman and seemed to gain confidence in every facet as last season progressed, finishing 1-8-9. His size (5-feet-9, 165 pounds) worked against him defensively at times but he proved he can make smart plays, carry and pass the puck.

Rourke Russell is a shutdown defenseman who was in the lineup 34 times his rookie season. He got tougher to play against later in the season, blocking 51 shots, and Chaz Switzer, who played 32 games, showed improvement in his second campaign with Miami and finished with 47 blocks.

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

Grant Frederic only saw the ice 15 times but also seemed more confident in his second go-around, using his big body to defend more. If Frederic continues to make the case for a lineup spot as well as the four other returning blueliners, that would leave just one spot for four freshmen.

And Derek Daschke is considered the defensive blue chipper of this incoming class. He has logged 232 USHL games in four seasons and went 8-21-29 in 2017-18. The 6-feet-2 blueliner played under associate head coach Peter Mannino in Chicago en route to a Clark Cup title two seasons ago.

At 6-feet-6, Brayden Crowder will join Michael Findorff and Brian Sipotz among the tallest Miami D-men.

Andrew Sinard will also join that list of trees on the RedHawks’ blue line, as he is also 6-6 and listed at 185 pounds. He did not score a goal in 96 NAHL games but did pick up 21 assists in that span.

Dartmouth graduate River Rymsha joins Miami for his senior season. He is also a big body at 6-3, 205 pounds, and dressed for 28 games and picked up a goal and two helpers at that Ivy League institution last year.

“So we obviously added some size with Sinard and Crowder, and those are two guys that are really difficult to play against, from what we’ve seen out of them in practice, and a guy in Daschke who can really move the puck,” Hutton said. “All of the guys that have come in on defense have made an impact and an impression so far in practice, and obviously we have our returners that we’re going to look to for experience and help show the younger guys the way. We’ve all had the privilege of having guys like that in our freshman years that we’ve looked up to and learned a lot from. I’m excited about the group.”

This corps helped Miami hold opponents to 27.2 shots per game in 2017-18, but too many were high quality. They also need to help tighten up a penalty kill unit that killed just 78.0 percent of its chances, ranking 46th in the NCAA.

2018-19 Miami preview Part I: Overview

Since 2014-15, Miami has won just 36 games, its lowest three-season total since 1989-92.

As a result, the RedHawks parted ways with two assistants and 11 players this off-season and they hope the influx of new talent – both on the ice and the bench – will vault them to more victories.

Coach Enrico Blasi (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

With all of the moving parts within the program, game-action anticipation has never been greater. Fortunately for the RedHawks, opening night is Saturday vs. Alabama-Huntsville.

“I think you’re always excited to start a new season,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “But I think with the last five months the way they played out, just focusing on games and getting better as a team and moving forward, I think everyone’s excited, I’m excited, we’re ready to go.”

Peter Mannino was hired as associate head coach at the end of March, and Joel Beal was named assistant in June.

Mannino, a former NHL goalie and NCAA Tournament champ with Denver, was an assistant at in-conference rival Nebraska-Omaha last season after winning a Clark Cup as the assistant of the USHL’s Chicago Steel.

Beal was an assistant at Sacred Heart the past five seasons and an associate head coach since 2016, and on the ice he starred at Union in the early 2000s.

“Peter is very outgoing, energetic, very positive, kind of throws a lot of things at you and makes you think about 10, 15 things at once, and Bealer is very systematic, very cerebral, thinks about things, makes sure that we’re not missing anything,” Blasi said. “Both are very positive – Bealer’s a very positive guy – both are hardworking guys, trustworthy guys you can count on. That’s what you want in a staff and that’s what you want out there recruiting for your program. The dynamics of the three of us – we all bring something different to the table and yet…we mesh together. With both of them, my conversations were very similar in the fact that I felt like we could connect right away and build from there. And I think we see the game the same way, I think we see the type of team we want to be, where the game is going, the way we want to develop our players and inspire our players and the process in which to do it. Those are all things that will continue to grow as we go through the days, and the games, and the practices, but we get along really well.”

Melnick

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

Senior co-captain Josh Melnick said the energy the duo has brought to the program has been contagious.

“They’re obviously two younger guys and they bring sort of a different perspective to the locker room,” Melnick said. “As a whole, they’ve settled in really well, and I think they’re getting a good feeling of what our program’s about and also helping re-establish the things that we want to work on to get the program back to where it was in the past.”

Miami’s roster, which was not completed until late July, features five new forwards, four on defense and two in net. Two of the 11 are graduate students completing their fourth years of hockey eligibility.

“I think we’ve brought in some guys that will know their role – they were recruited to it,” Blasi said. “I think they’re a little bit older, we’ve got some Clark Cup championship-caliber players who have been through it, understand how to win a championship, guys that have been captains on their teams, and we have one (Jonathan Gruden) that played on the U.S. Development Team, played in the Worlds, and played with (the forward) that’s probably going to be the first overall pick in this (2019’s) NHL draft (Jack Hughes) and played on the same line with him. These are all positive things, and then you add two postgrads to the new faces, and we’ve got guys that are real positive and a tight freshman group.”

Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Both Melnick and defenseman fellow co-captain Grant Hutton love what they’ve seen from the newest Hawks.

“I think it’s everything we’ve expected and more,” Hutton said. “A lot of these guys are a lot of key, role players that know they’re here for a reason. You see it a lot in college hockey where guys may be goal scorers or big points guys in juniors or whatever it may be, and they get to college and they’re kind of shell-shocked. Gruden is our only true freshman at 18 years old and a lot of older guys that are coming in are mature, and I think that’s the biggest thing. Usually you talk about college hockey being a place where players have the opportunity to mature and develop, but it’s a huge plus when you get players that come in and have some of that maturity, some of that development. We’re pretty lucky with the group we have coming in, and I think it adds more excitement.”

Said Melnick: “They all assimilated right into things quickly – they’re all great people off the ice, and I think a lot of the reason we have high energy is because those guys have a lot of energy. They came here ready to work, and they know what the program stands for and what it’s been like in the past, and they’re ready to help get it back to that point.”

During the summer before the new players arrived, the returning players reached out to the freshman class to welcome them to the program, Melnick said.

The off-season didn’t start well for Miami. Within days of the RedHawks’ final game, it was announced that assistant coaches Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia would not return as well as four players.

Two other prominent forwards also left the team early in the off-season, with one turning pro and the other transferring.

That’s on top of Miami not qualifying for the NCAA Tournament or even making it out of the NCHC quarterfinal round for the third straight season after qualifying for 10 of the previous 12 national championships.

“This is something that, I don’t look at this as a job, this is my life,” Blasi said. “When your life isn’t going the way you think it should go in terms of guys not playing up to their capabilities or even some of the things I might’ve done in the last couple of years that were wrong decisions. You assess, you evaluate, you try to be better – we all have opportunities to be better every day, we’re no different and I’m no different – and if I told you I wasn’t frustrated or disappointed in certain occasions, I’d be lying to you. But I can also tell you that I’m very proud of some of the things that have happened in the past couple of years. I believe in my heart that these are necessary steps that need to happen to move forward and become better. When we built the program, we went through some tough times, but nobody talks about those because nobody remembers those, everybody just remembers the wins and the Frozen Fours and the championships. I can tell you there were times where we had the same frustrations, the same disappointments, but they were necessary disappointments and necessary things that we needed to get through to get to the next level, and that’s what we’re going to do right now.”

Some positive things happened this off-season well. Multiple prior Omaha recruits switched to Miami following Mannino’s hiring, including defenseman Derek Daschke.

“Obviously at first it was a little difficult with having to (deal with) some difficult situations, to be honest with you,” Blasi said. “Once we started to kind of shape our team around the guys we have coming back, finishing off the recruiting and finishing off the staff, and getting together as a staff and kind of formulating our plan and getting to know each other on a different level, and then obviously have our team come back and work with them and kind of creating their identity. It’s been a lot of fun. ‘Reenergize’ is a work that we’ve been using a lot lately.”

Miami’s Ryan Siroky (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

And both Melnick and Hutton, both seniors and destined for lucrative professional careers, announced they were returning this fall.

“I give Hudson, Melly a lot of credit, them and the senior class – Lavs (Zach Lavalle) and (Ryan) Siroky – that helped shaped the spring and the summer to make sure when these new guys came in, that our program was in a good place and we were going to hit the ground running.”

Miami played some quality hockey down the stretch last season, and Blasi said his team will seize that momentum and carry it into this campaign.

“Those are some of the things we were really proud of,” Blasi said. “To stick with it and to keep fighting, that’s a character trait that you can’t teach. And that’s something that’s in our locker room, that’s something that’s in our culture. I was very, very proud of the team and the way they played. Now, do we want to win at the end? Of course. Everybody does. But at the same time, you have to take a step back and assess the situation, and I believe that how we played was really important for the guys coming back in the spring and the summer and for our recruits, to say hey, we’re not that far off. We just need to maybe work a little harder, improve one or two percent. If everybody can do that, then we have something. When you’re in the moment, it doesn’t seem like it, and I know it probably doesn’t seem like it to the general fan – and we have great fans and great supporters, some of which have expressed their support and some of them haven’t, and that’s OK too – but when you take a step back and you see all the developments that have happened over the past couple of years, I think you’ll look back and say, hey, maybe if we didn’t go through that we don’t get to that next level.”

He pointed out that Miami was ranked as high as No. 14 in the PairWise after its big January home win over powerhouse Denver.

“It just shows that we have a group that isn’t rolling over, we’re not going to quit,” Hutton said. “We’re here because we want to be here, we’re here because we love each other, we love Miami, and we want to be the best possible hockey team that we can be every single night and ultimately reach our goal of bringing a championship back to Oxford.”

Blasi said that he, as well as both assistants, have been actively involved in recruiting this off-season and has hit the road with one or both on several occasions as Miami tries to fortify its roster for the coming years.

“I think the culture of the program is still very strong in terms of what we believe in and the way we do our business from day to day,” Blasi said. “We may tweak some things here and there but I think The Brotherhood and the family and the relationships and the process is still something that we still focus on, it’s still all about developing these young men to play at the next level or develop them to be better people on a day-to-day perspective. But at the end of the day, recruiting is your bloodline – that’s never going to change – and so recruiting is very important, and our team is very important. We have to make sure we’re focused on both equally and we’re doing what we need to do to help these men that we have get to the next level and win games and play at a high level, maybe reach levels that they thought they couldn’t reach. That’s part of what we do as coaches is inspire them and push them in a good way to make them play better than even they think they can.”

Though the season doesn’t start until Saturday, Melnick he noticed a marked difference in the locker room already.

“A lot of the times when people ask what’s most exciting about this year and what’s different, I think it’s the energy, and it’s just coming from everyone,” Melnick said. “It’s honestly kind of crazy to be around, because everybody’s so positive and confident and we just can’t wait to get out there.”

Check back for a positional breakdown of the RedHawks.

The Miami off-season timeline

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.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

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.

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

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.

Miami assistant Nick Petraglia (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

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.

Hutton OT winner evens series

Grant Hutton is having one of the best offensive seasons for a defenseman in Miami history, and he added to his resume on Saturday.

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

Hutton netted a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, as the RedHawks pulled even with St. Cloud in their first-round NCHC Tournament series with a 3-2 win at the Herb Brooks Center on Saturday.

It was the 11th and 12th goals of the season for the junior, who moved into fourth in single-season blueliner goals. He is also tied for fifth in career markers by a RedHawks D-man, as he moved even with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez with 21.

The win snapped a four-game winless streak overall and an 0-7 skid in this building.

The championship game will be at 8:05 p.m. on Sunday.

RECAP: Miami led this game for over two-thirds of regulation.

Just 1:54 in, Josh Melnick redirected a slap pass from Alec Mahalak to open the scoring.

Miami made it 2-0 when Kiefer Sherwood pulled defenders into the corner on a 4-on-4 and dropped a pass to Hutton. Hutton deked a defender before whipping it into the far corner of the net with 2:27 left in the opening frame.

But with 12:40 left in the second period, Ryan Poehling poked home a one-timer from Mikey Eyssimont, who slid a pass through traffic into the slot.

St. Cloud State tied it in the opening minutes of the third period as Blake Winiecki tipped home a blue-line wrister by Jack Ahcan.

Both goals were scored on the power play.

The Huskies outshot Miami, 24-14 the last 40 minutes of regulation.

Hutton won it when he again faked out a defender at the blue line and penetrated, hitting the net from the high slot.

STATS: Hutton now has 12 goals, but he had not scored in 10 straight.

It was his fourth multi-goal game of the season, a team high.

— Sherwood extended his points streak to six games, and he has multiple points in each of his last three. He is 3-6-9 in his last six.

— It was the second multi-point game of Mahalak’s career, as he picked up two assists.

— Louie Belpedio earned an assist for the third straight game and passed Matthew Caito for eighth on the team’s all-time defenseman points leaderboard with 83.

— Miami snapped a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) and won its first postseason contest since March 21, 2015 when the RedHawks beat this same St. Cloud team in the NCHC championship game in Minneapolis.

— Titanic special teams update: Miami now 1-for-28 on the power play (3.6 percent) over its last 11 games and 16 of 24 on the penalty kill (66.7 percent) in its last six contests.

Opponents have also had 18 man-advantage opportunities over the past five games, while the RedHawks have had just eight.

— The last overtime playoff game for Miami was last season, and that one was 14 seconds longer than Saturday’s tilt, with the RedHawks coming up on the short side in 2016-17.

THOUGHTS: Miami battled back on Friday but fell short, and on Saturday it blew a two-goal lead but won in overtime.

The game had a bit of a North Dakota from a couple weeks ago feel, as the RedHawks were in control with a 2-0 lead but gave up the next goal and eventually the tying marker in the third period.

But in the regular season, teams only skate for five overtime minutes, while playoff OT is indefinite. That game against UND on Feb. 24 was ultimately a tie, while in this one Miami won in the eighth minute of the extra session.

— Miami deserves a lot of credit for not only winning but doing so in overtime after giving up a two-goal lead. Down 1-0 in the series, on the road vs. the top-ranked team in Division I on the road, many teams would’ve packed it in and called it a season.

— Ryan Larkin: 30-for-32. Great line, great game, just hope he doesn’t wear down playing three games in three days.

LINEUP CHANGES: Just one, but it was a bit surprising. Christian Mohs was in the lineup for just the second time in 24 games, and Carson Meyer was scratched.

It was the second time in four games Meyer did not dress.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami is 3-1 in conference tournaments in St. Cloud.

The RedHawks are 1-0 in clinching games here.

St. Cloud is already a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and Miami is a desperate team that must win to have a chance, so that could work in the RedHawks’ favor.

Three positives. The latter is the only one that matters.

We’ll find out if Miami is headed to St. Paul or if its season is over in the next 24 hours.