Blog Archives

Analysis: Forward thinking

OXFORD, Ohio – It’s funny how quickly things can change in hockey.

Three weeks ago, Miami was a one-line team, and the star of that forward combination was even fading.

Looking at the RedHawks’ past three games, including Friday’s 3-1 win over Denver at Cady Arena, it’s hard to rank their lines, as all are contributing in that all-important goal column.

And when they aren’t, they’re at least creating scoring chances or playing responsibly on defense.

Kevin Morris knocks home the clinching empty-net goal on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Kevin Morris knocks home the clinching empty-net goal on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Forwards Kevin Morris and Anthony Louis have been major reasons for Miami’s rejuvenated offense. Yes, they accounted for three points on Friday, including two of the team’s three goals, but as usual with hockey, there’s much more beyond the surface.

Morris’ pass to Roslovic for the eventual game-winner was as impressive as the goal itself, and his two-way play has made him one of the best forwards on the team in recent weeks.

Louis played well on D vs. No. 13 Denver (12-8-5) and was a pest all of Friday as he continues his annual second-half surge for Miami (10-11-3).

And yes, Roslovic was better as well, as he seemed more involved than he has been in the past few games, which is scary for opponents, especially with so many other forwards playing at a high level that opponents need to account for defensively.

Also, the fourth line didn’t account for any goals on Friday, but that Crash Cousins-plus-Ryan-Siroky unit played well in its grinding role after Conor Lemirande recorded a hat trick last Saturday.

Not to discount the defense corps, with the exception of a turnover-turned-goal, and the goaltending in this game in the least. But most that follow this team knew those areas weren’t going to be an issue this season.

Need a stat to back up blueliner play: Senior Taylor Richart blocked eight shots on Friday.

Other thoughts…

– Justin Greenberg made an incredibly selfless play on the PK in the first period, throwing his body at the puck near his defensive blue line to get the puck down the ice when Miami really needed a clear. Greenberg’s play hasn’t been mentioned above, but holy cow, talk about a candidate for most-improved player at this season’s awards banquet.

– Another player not mentioned to this point: Alex Gacek. It’s mind blowing that someone his size is able to lay out players twice his size, which he did multiple times on Friday. Yet another senior that is playing some of his best hockey in his final stretch run.

– It was Week 3 in GoalieGate for the RedHawks. Freshman Evan McCarthy was again the backup, as senior Ryan McKay was scratched. The reason for his suspension, or whatever we’re calling it, has been discussed ad nauseum, and BoB has no idea what the aftermath has been between McKay and the coaching staff, but here’s hoping it ends soon. McKay has been an exemplary player for 3½ years, and it’s tough to see this happen to a senior during his final stretch run. That said, even when McKay is reinstated, Jay Williams has been a wall in his absence, posting a .947 save percentage, so it may be tough for him to get into games with an .867 mark since the North Dakota series.

– As far as who outplayed whom between Denver and Miami, the first period was pretty even. MU generated a scoring chance in the opening seconds, but there were few of those in the opening stanza and both teams buried theirs. The RedHawks dominated the second period, and Denver was very strong in the final stanza, although Miami played well also. Very well-played game, the type we’ll likely see more of in the second half of the NCHC season.

– Well, the students were back for the first time since, well, before Thanksgiving, and it seemed to be an enthusiastic crowd. But the attendance for this game was still south of 3,000, which was disappointing, especially considering the magnitude and quality of this game.

And unfortunately for some fans that meant the return to non-rock for the entire game and not just the first and third periods plus most of the second. Apparently there was no reason to stop at bringing back four-decades-old Village Idiots steamer YMCA and band favorite from the same Musak era Sweet Caroline – a pro-Boston fossil, which…hey wait…doesn’t Miami dislike Boston after all of those BC and BU losses in the NCAAs? Fortunately we also added in 1950s great “Shout” to its almost exclusively dance club repertoire, as opposed to the rock selections every other rink in North America touts. Hey, let’s not stop there: Let’s break out some Irving Berlin and then work ourselves back to Beethoven and eventually the Baroque era for some Bach and Vivaldi. Worth repeating: Having been to hockey games in over a dozen states and now six Canadian provinces, beautiful Cady Arena has easily the worst music selections of any rink I’ve ever attended. Not even close.

– Sean Kuraly took two minors on the same shift at the end of the second period. The first one could’ve been debated. The second one for charging was un-captain-like. He has played so much better in recent weeks but he can’t let his emotions get the better of him.

– Were Taylor Richart’s eight blocks mentioned above? They were, but let’s mention them again.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A-. Two goals plus the empty netter, but still a great effort against a hot team with two solid goalies. Lots of standouts in this one: Morris for one, but also Roslovic, Louis, Greenberg – liked Zach LaValle in this one too as he continues to gain confidence.

DEFENSEMEN: B. Denver is a bit of a one-line team, and this corps was pretty good for the most part. Grant Hutton did turn the puck over for the Pioneers’ first goal, but he came back and played well after that. Amazing to see how much better Scott Dornbrock has gotten from Game 1 to Game 24. Richart had eight blocks. In case that wasn’t mentioned above.

GOALTENDING: A. To say Williams stole this game might be an overstatement, but Miami certainly doesn’t win without his effort. He looked a little vulnerable early, which is not uncommon with Williams, but he was a rock the final 40 minutes. A great pass and backhand resulted in Denver’s lone goal, and Williams made two unbelievable saves in the third period to preserve the 2-1 lead. Williams has allowed just six goals in his four-game winning streak and has a goals-against average of 1.33 since taking over in net.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. As mentioned previously, Coach Enrico Blasi typically likes to stick with a starting 18 by this point in the season, and it looks like this is the group. Hard to blame him, as it would be difficult to pick a weak link, but it’s always tough to see quality players sit in the stands, like Colin Sullivan and Devin Loe. The goaltending situation has been discussed at length, and it’s unclear if/when McKay will be re-instated.

Miami wins fourth straight vs. Denver

OXFORD, Ohio – The .500 mark is finally just a win away.

After a 6-11-3 start capped off by a seven-game winless streak, Miami has won four straight games, including a 3-1 win over No. 13 Denver at Cady Arena on Friday, to put itself back in NCAA contention.

Miami's Jack Roslovic celebrates his go-ahead goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic celebrates his go-ahead goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Freshman forward Jack Roslovic broke out of a mini-funk, scoring for just the second time in 11 games, while senior forward Kevin Morris and junior forward Anthony Louis stayed hot.

Morris found the net for the third straight game and Louis has recorded a goal in three of his last four contests.

The Pioneers (12-8-5) took the early lead, as Troy Terry slid a pass to Danton Heinen through the slot, and Heinen went to his backhand to slip the puck past RedHawks senior goalie Jay Williams just 7:06 into the first period.

But 90 seconds later, Louis dug a puck out of the corner, skated around the back of the net and stuffed it past goalie Evan Cowley on the far side to tie the score.

Roslovic gave Miami (10-11-3) the lead when he hammered a centering pass from Morris home on the power play with 2:14 remaining in the second period.

With just over a minute remaining in that period, senior forward Sean Kuraly was assessed two minor penalties, and Miami was forced to kill off four minutes of power play time.

Williams made eight saves in the final period – two in spectacular fashion – and 20 overall to pick up the win, his fourth in a row and 41st of his career. That moves him into solo control of fifth place all-time on the team’s career leaderboard, ahead of Richard Shulmistra and five behind Connor Knapp.

Morris skated in and tapped home an empty netter with 23 seconds to play, sealing the RedHawks’ win. He finished with a goal and an assist, and sophomore defenseman Scott Dornbrock picked up a pair of helpers.

Louis and freshman forward Josh Melnick extended their points streaks to five games. Louis has three goals and three assists in that span, and Melnick has five helpers.

Morris has a three-game goal streak, going 3-2-5 after picking up five points the first 21 games this season.

Senior defenseman Matthew Caito has also recorded points in three consecutive tilts (1-3-4). Dornbrock, who had one assist the first 22 games, has three in the last two games.

Miami vaulted Nebraska-Omaha and moved into a tie with Minnesota-Duluth for fourth place in the NCHC standings. UNO fell, 5-1 to Colorado College and UMD played an out-of-conference game.

The RedHawks have a game in hand vs. Minn.-Duluth, against whom they finish the regular season on the road.

Miami surged into a tie for 18th in the PairWise rankings, which determine the teams that make the NCAA Tournament.

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

Analysis: Still hope for home ice

OXFORD, Ohio – Last Sunday, hopes were that Miami’s win over RPI was a momentum builder, as it scored three times in the third period for a boost heading into the heart of league play.

But it was business as usual for the RedHawks, Version 2015-16 on Friday, as once again they failed to hold a late lead and ended up tying Minnesota-Duluth, 1-1 at Cady Arena.

This time it was an equalizer by Tony Camenaresi with 5:38 left on a laser from the right faceoff circle.

It was the sixth straight NCHC game that Miami has given away valuable league point/points in the third period.

That bears repeating: In its last six conference games, the RedHawks have squandered at least one league point in the third period, many of which were lost late in the final stanza.

Let’s assume for a second that Miami had six more points. The team has given away two and three points in some of these contests (Friday it was just one, as the RedHawks won the 3-on-3), but add six points to its total.

That would give it a total of 16, good enough for third place in the NCHC. Plus instead of 6-10-3 – the RedHawks’ current record – it would be closer to 8-8-3, which would put Miami on the PairWise bubble with its brutal strength of schedule.

Instead the RedHawks have 10 and are mired in seventh place.

And yet, with all of the bad things that have happened to Miami this season, the team is just five points out of that No. 3 seed.

The team that holds that spot? UMD. So a win on Saturday would pull the RedHawks within two of the Bulldogs.

The top two seeds are off the board, as North Dakota and St. Cloud State are both 12 points ahead of the field. But home ice? Even at 2-7-2 in league play, Miami has every chance to get back into the race and earn home-ice advantage in the NCHC Tournament.

And unless the team’s record improves dramatically and quickly, home ice will be critical as the RedHawks hope to make the NCAA Tournament.

But none of these good things will happen for Miami if it can’t figure out how to maintain third-period leads.

Other thoughts…

– The RedHawks’ power play continues to have zero to do with power. Miami is 0-for-16 in its last six games and has allowed two shorthanded goals in that span for a net of minus-2 goals on the man advantage. That’s a special kind of bad. Not coincidentally, MU has scored two goals or fewer in five of those six games.

– Actually, the power play was so bad that Minn.-Duluth gained momentum on Miami’s first chance. The RedHawks were dominating early in the second period, but after doing zip on that opportunity, the Bulldogs controlled the pace the rest of that stanza and were the better team the rest of the way. Play was pretty even in the first period.

– Some perspective: UMD has a good team with excellent goaltending and talented forwards. It’s head-scratching that the team is 7-7-4, especially with so many key players back from last season. This team is poised for a second-half run, making Saturday’s game even more important for both squads.

– The attendance for this game was 1,743. When does this J-term end again?

– Was that actual rock music we heard in the second period? No kidding: An assortment of mostly standard rock selections was played in that frame before the powers-that-be returned to the same miserable crap fans have become accustomed to hearing. Hey, at least there was no Village Idiots or Neil Diamond in this game that normally makes hockey traditionalists want to jam ice picks through their ear drums.

– Per the NCHC, it looks like Miami will don its red jerseys for home games the rest of the season. Not sure what the point of changing that up is.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D. This corps combined for one point (assist by senior Andrew Schmit) and managed a whopping 20 shots in 65 minutes. Freshman Jack Roslovic looked either disinterested or tired late, and with few offensive weapons this team needs him to be focused at all times. The Crash Cousins line, with Ryan Siroky, played well together, with sophomore Conor Lemirande also playing a role in Miami’s lone goal. The Zach LaValle-Kiefer Sherwood duo appears to be building chemistry, and the pair of freshmen will hopefully evolve together for the next three-plus years.

DEFENSEMEN: C-. Too many odd-man rushes, too many unnecessary icings. Not a typical shut-down effort from this group, although Coach Enrico Blasi did shake up the pairings as Louie Belpedio returned, which may have affected chemistry. Senior Matthew Caito took a 4-on-4 shot from the faceoff circle that whistled wide, and that’s how UMD scored its lone goal. That shot has to be on net, and he’d probably be the first to admit that, although he was his typical solid self otherwise. Grant Hutton has been a defensive staple in his freshman year but struggled in this game. He looks like a natural right D-man and was a little awkward on the left side. Chris Joyaux did score the team’s lone goal, which elevates this group out into the ‘D’ range.

Jay Williams stopped 36 shots for Miami on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams stopped 36 shots for Miami on Friday (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDING: A. There’s the hockey cliché of stealing a win, but can a goalie steal a tie? Jay Williams stopped 36 shots, and it was practically a shooting gallery his way the final 25 of regulation. There wasn’t one signature save on the night, but he was strong the whole game and was excellent at controlling his rebounds. His best effort of the season by far. The one goal was an absolute rip ticketed for the corner of the net. Without Williams, this game goes in the loss column for Miami.

LINEUP CHANGES: Up front it was Devin Loe out and Conor Lemirande in on Friday, perhaps because of the ultra-physical nature of UMD. With Belpedio returning from the World Juniors, he was back on the blue line after playing in Finland this week. His presence relegated fellow defenseman Colin Sullivan to the scratch column despite his strong play last weekend. Williams was in net for the second straight game, and he certainly has earned at least a split of playing time with Ryan McKay, who will probably start on Saturday.

Analysis: Turnaround needed soon

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami improved to 3-1-1 after a 1-0 win at St. Lawrence on Oct. 23.

The RedHawks have recorded two victories since, posting a 2-9-1 mark in the past 71 days, including a 3-2 loss to RPI at Cady Arena on Saturday that extended the team’s winless streak to seven games.

Although this weekend’s games are non-conference, Miami’s situation gets more dire with each loss. Now 5-10-2, the RedHawks’ PairWise ranking is 31st, a long way away from any kind of consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

On Saturday, Miami actually played pretty well. The team dominated the first few shifts, culminating in an early goal. The RedHawks were very good for large stretches of the second period as well.

They hit at least four posts.

It was the type of loss that, if Miami had played well overall the first three months, could be written off. Even the best college hockey teams don’t win every night.

But teams that are four games below .500 don’t have that luxury. Because of the deep hole the RedHawks have dug themselves, every game from here through March is paramount.

The tough schedule will give Miami leeway, but the team still has to win often against that tough schedule. The RedHawks play 14 conference games plus Sunday’s game against RPI (tied for 15th in the PairWise) and a home-and-home vs. Bowling Green (ranked 18th).

And losing repeatedly in dramatic fashion can’t help this team’s psyche.

Miami needs to finally score more than three goals, something it has yet to accomplish this season. Or win a game in the last minute.

Or get in a galvanizing skirmish. Nothing that would warrant mass suspensions, mind you, just something, ANYTHING, to help boost confidence and get this team on track.

The RedHawks lack offensive fire power this season, no doubt, but they don’t lack talent, and there’s no reason for them to have wins in fewer than one-third of their games thus far.

Other thoughts…

– Miami’s 6-on-5 in the closing minutes was disappointing. Once the players got set up in the offensive zone they stood there and passed the puck among themselves repeatedly. No movement anywhere. And then they wondered why there were no open shooting lanes.

– It’s frustrating to see RPI come in boasting one 10-goal scorer and have him net for the Engineers’ first two goals. It’s no secret Riley Bourbonnais is the team’s best offensive weapon, and Miami was unable to slow him down. One could say the same about RPI vs. Jack Roslovic, who scored once and set up the other Miami goal.

– Bourbonnais’ first goal came shorthanded and was a momentum killer for the RedHawks. Miami was up, 1-0 late in the first period with a chance to extend its lead via the power play, but Bourbonnais’ breakaway goal tied it and the RedHawks never led again.

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

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

– On a positive note, this was one of the best games Anthony Louis has played all season. His pass to Jack Roslovic for Miami’s slam-dunk second goal was a thing of beauty. Louis was better in the second half of both his freshman and sophomore seasons, and Miami needs his offense now more than ever.

– The listed attendance was 1,809 with the students out for the J-term, and that seems pretty generous. Unfortunately Miami has a lot of home games this month and won’t have a student section behind it. That figure could drop substantially on Sunday, going against the final week of the NFL’s regular season.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B-. Louis and Roslovic were Miami’s best forwards and freshman Josh Melnick wasn’t far behind. This unit was very good at times and ineffective others. Same problem this team has faced all season: Miami has been unable to generate offense from its deeper lines.

DEFENSEMEN: A. RPI manged just 17 shots. Colin Sullivan has been the odd man out a lot this season, but he was very solid on D. Bad year overall for Miami or not, senior Matthew Caito has saved his best season for last, although he ended up in the penalty box twice. And this unit was without sophomore standout Louie Belpedio, who is at the World Juniors in Finland.

GOALTENDING: C-. Senior Ryan McKay just didn’t look like he seeing the puck that well all night. He made one spectacular save, stacking the pads on a point-blank shot, but he stopped just 14 of 17 overall. The first goal was a good shot on a shorthanded breakaway, but he still got beat. The second goal was pretty soft, hitting his glove and popping in, and the third he had no chance on.

LINEUP CHANGES: Freshman Zach LaValle was back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 13 with his upper-body injury. Freshman Ryan Siroky and junior Devin Loe were scratched, and Belpedio was obviously the missing D-man. Belpedio will miss Sunday’s game, and the smart money is on him being available next weekend.

Miami loses by 1 goal again

OXFORD, Ohio – Having gone winless in its final six games of 2015, Miami had to welcome the new calendar year.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, 2016 started the way last year ended.

RPI edged Miami, 3-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday, handing the RedHawks their fourth straight loss, with all of them coming by one goal. Miami’s last five losses overall have been by that margin.

The start was promising enough for the RedHawks (5-10-2), as freshman forward Josh Melnick buried a shot from the slot off a feed from freshman Jack Roslovic at the 1:20 mark of the first period.

But the Engineers’ Riley Bourbonnais went in alone on a shorthanded breakaway and buried a shot top shelf to tie it with 1:24 left in the opening period.

Bourbonnais scored again with 14:47 left in the middle frame when a shot from the left side of the net deflected off the glove of Miami senior goalie Ryan McKay and into the net, giving RPI a 2-1 lead.

Miami tied it later in the stanza as junior forward Anthony Louis slid a pass across the slot to Roslovic, who ripped it home with 7:07 left.

RPI took the lead for good when Kenny Gillespie banged home a loose puck from the side of the net just 2:19 later.

Bourbonnais is the Engineers’ top goal scorer, as his two markers in this game gave him 12 for the season.

Miami's Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Roslovic finished with a goal and an assist, as he leads the RedHawks in tallies with nine and is tied with Louis in assists with a Miami-best nine for 18 points.

The RedHawks are 56th out of 60 teams in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 2.06 goals per game. They have yet to net more than three goals in any game.

With Miami’s current 0-5-2 skid, the team has not won since Nov. 7.

The teams wrap up the weekend series at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Miami allows late goal, ties UNO

OXFORD, Ohio – For the second straight game, Miami held a late lead but was unable to close out a win.

At least this time the RedHawks salvaged a tie.

Miami and No. 6 Nebraska-Omaha skated to a 3-3 tie at Cady Arena on Friday, as the Mavericks’ Austin Ortega scored the decisive goal with 10:10 remaining to force overtime and the eventual stalemate.

RedHawks sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio scored early in the second overtime which earned Miami a second point out of a possible three in the NCHC standings.

In its last game, MU squandered a 3-2 lead in the closing minutes and ended up collecting zero points after allowing the winning goal in overtime at North Dakota.

The game was scoreless after one period, but five of the game’s six goals were netted in the middle frame.

A rebound shot by Fredrik Olofsson opened the scoring 47 seconds into the second stanza, giving the Mavericks the lead.

Miami freshman forward Josh Melnick centered a pass from behind the boards to junior forward Anthony Louis, who beat goalie Kirk Thompson 3:22 into the period.

Tyler Vesel put UNO ahead shorthanded just two minutes later, and RedHawks senior defenseman Matthew Caito wired a shot through traffic from the blue line on the same Miami power play 27 seconds after the Mavericks’ go-ahead goal to tie it at two.

Miami's Jack Roslovic celebrates his go-ahead goal late in the second period (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic celebrates his go-ahead goal late in the second period (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

RedHawks freshman forward Jack Roslovic slammed home a bad-angle shot from the side of the net to give Miami its only lead of the game, 3-2 at the end of a power play with 2:35 remaining in the middle period.

But Ortega’s equalizer extended the RedHawks’ winless streak to three games.

Miami did end up with several excellent scoring chances in overtime, but Thompson shut the door each time.

Roslovic ended up with a goal and an assist, his third straight two-point game, and freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood picked up a pair of helpers. Melnick has also recorded points in three consecutive contests (2-2-4).

The RedHawks are in fourth place in the NCHC with eight points but has logged more conference games than any other team in the league (7). Miami did extend its home unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2).

The series finale is at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday as the RedHawks play their final home game of 2015.

Frosh goals key Miami win over WMU

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami’s freshmen helped lead the RedHawks to their first conference win of the season, 2-1 over Western Michigan at Cady Arena on Friday.

After Miami (4-4-1) fell behind by a goal early, forward Jack Roslovic tied the score and forward Josh Melnick put the RedHawks ahead, as the team made its one-goal lead stand up.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Miami, which improved to 1-2 in NCHC play.

RedHawks goalie Ryan McKay stopped 23 shots to earn the win, but the night didn’t start well for the senior. The first shot he faced from Paul Stokyewych at 4:46 of the first period slipped through McKay’s legs.

Just over three minutes later, Roslovic made it 1-1 when he rammed a one time pass from sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio through the slot just under the crossbar on the power play.

Miami's Josh Melnick (right) scores the game-winning goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Josh Melnick (right) scores the game-winning goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Melnick slammed home a short pass from senior Andrew Schmit on a rush midway through the second period to put Miami ahead.

After seeing just four shots in the first period and eight in the second, McKay was peppered with 12 shots on goal in the final stanza, including a breakaway that he denied by stacking the pads. The shot total was 16-4 RedHawks after one period and ended 38-24 in favor of MU.

The RedHawks killed both of WMU’s power plays and are now 97.0 percent on the penalty kill (32 of 33), the fifth-best rate in the country and second among teams that have faced at least 10 man-advantage opportunities.

Miami junior forward Anthony Louis earned assists on both goals. The goal for Roslovic was his team-high sixth of the season. He had the game winners in the first three RedHawks victories, and with Melnick earned the GWG in this game, freshman have game winners in all Miami wins.

With the victory, McKay moves into solo control of ninth place on the team’s all-time list with 33, including four this season. He is one away from Trevor Prior, who is eighth on the RedHawks’ career leaderboard with 34.

It was the first NCHC loss for Western Michigan (4-3-1), which is still winless on the road at 0-3-1.

Miami moved into a three-way tie with Denver and Nebraska-Omaha for fourth in the NCHC with three points.

The RedHawks and Broncos will wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: Expect more low-scoring games

After opening night, Miami’s last four games have been low scoring and close.

A suggestion for fans: Get used to it.

The RedHawks won its third straight game, 1-0 at St. Lawrence on Friday, thanks to 26 saves from goalie Ryan McKay and the fourth goal in five games for freshman forward Jack Roslovic.

Miami is averaging 2.40 goals per game, tied for 33rd out of 59 teams in the NCAA. While the RedHawks will develop better chemistry, and its offense should evolve, a brutal NCHC schedule – starting next week – will counter much of that progress.

Nothing against Miami at all. The freshmen forwards have been outstanding, and Sean Kuraly and Anthony Louis will hit their strides, hopefully sooner than later. But this team lost a ton of incredibly talented players up front, and its calling card this season will be its experienced defensemen and goaltenders.

Despite giving up seven goals in its opener, Miami is tied for 22nd in college hockey with 2.40 goals against per game. The forwards are playing solid defense. The defenseman, at least the last few games, are playing very well in their own end. McKay is in the zone and has the ability to steal games on his own.

This is a good team right now, and it could be a great team. RedHawks fans should be excited for the upcoming conference schedule.

But this team isn’t going to put up a lot of six-, seven- and eight-goal games. Not to worry: 3-1 wins count just as much as 5-3 victories.

Other thoughts:

– Holy cow was Friday a tightly-called game. The St. Lawrence PxP guy was complaining about calls against both teams. Seven power plays for both teams in a not-more-physical-than-usual game is a ton. Miami made the most of it: The RedHawks went 1-for-7 and SLU went 0-for-7, and the final was 1-0.

– Hard to tell from a computer screen, but the ice looked awful from 700 miles away. It looked like the puck was hopping all over the place. It bounced over sticks and it wouldn’t stay flat, squelching scoring chances for both teams. That would explain one total goal in the game.

– Miami did a great job of shutting down shooting lanes on the penalty kill. NCHC teams do this to the RedHawks all the time. There were a lot of reasons MU was perfect on the PK, and that was a big one. Penalty killing forwards Josh Melnick, Alex Gacek and Kevin Morris have been absolutely pests, and Justin Greenberg was put in that role as well in his first game of the season last night, so hopefully he can replicate the others’ success.

Miami's Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– Roslovic has been a stud since Game 1, but it’s really amazing how much better he’s gotten in just a couple of weeks. He looks more comfortable now and does so much more than just score goals. He was clearly the best skater for either team last night, and not just because he notched the lone marker.

Miami defenseman Taylor Richart (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami defenseman Taylor Richart (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– This game was called so tightly that defenseman Taylor Richart was actually whistled for a minor. The stay-at-home defense role is often overlooked in hockey, so some context on the senior: That is just his fifth minor since the beginning of his sophomore year, spanning 64 games. For someone who is in the trenches every night, that’s nearly unheard of.

– McKay has won three straight games for the first time since Miami’s NCHC Tournament run in 2013-14. It was his first shutout since the Frozen Faceoff semifinal vs. North Dakota on March 21, 2014. His save percentage is now .954. He deserves a lot of credit for stopping 14 shots in the third period, including some excellent scoring chances after seeing just two shots in the second frame.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

– In the strange stats department: How about consistency in Miami’s shots allowed? In their five games, the RedHawks have allowed 26, 26, 27, 28 and 26 SOG.

LINEUP CHANGES: Greenberg, who was banged up the first two weeks, played in his first game of the season on Friday. Scratched up front were sophomore Conor Lemirande for the first time this season and senior Michael Mooney for the second time. The odd man out on defense was junior Colin Sullivan, who has now not dressed twice this campaign. It was the fourth straight start for McKay in net.

Miami, McKay shut out St. Lawrence

In its first four games, Miami’s goals against totals were seven, two, two and one. The natural progression was a shutout.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Senior Ryan McKay stopped 26 shots, including 14 in the third period as the RedHawks blanked St. Lawrence, 1-0 at Appleton Arena on Friday.

It was the third straight win for No. 15 Miami, and it extends the team’s unbeaten streak to four games.

After a scoreless first period, RedHawks freshman forward Jack Roslovic whipped a backhand pass from senior forward Sean Kuraly into the net 4:52 into the middle frame for the game’s only goal on the power play.

Miami (3-1-1) held the Saints (3-2) to just two shots in that stanza.

The RedHawks had to kill five penalties in the third period, including over a minute of 5-on-3 time.

The shutout for McKay was the ninth of his career, as he ranks fourth all-time at Miami for his career. He has allowed just five goals in four starts this season.

Roslovic has four goals in five games to open his tenure in Oxford, and he has all three of the RedHawks’ game winners. The assist for Kuraly was his first point of 2015-16.

Miami improves to 2-0 on the road this season, with both wins coming by a goal.

Both teams had seven power plays. The RedHawks were 1-for-7, giving them three goals on the man advantage in two games. St. Lawrence was 0-for-7, as Miami has gone three consecutive games without allowing a PPG.

The RedHawks have killed all 14 man-advantage chances during their winning streak and are 22 of 23 for the season.

The teams finish their two-game series at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: MU succeeding without vet scoring

OXFORD, Ohio – A 2-1-1 record to start the season with one point from Anthony Louis and Sean Kuraly you say?

As Miami fans, yeah, we’ll take it.

The RedHawks’ two top returning scorers are off to slow starts offensively, but the RedHawks (2-1-1) swept Ohio State this weekend, 3-2 in Columbus and 3-1 in Oxford the following night with five of its goals coming by freshmen.

Rookies have potted seven of 11 Miami goals for the season. Four of the five freshmen forwards have found the net in the team’s first four games.

Miami's Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Beyond Jack Roslovic, it was unclear entering the season how much newbies would contribute offensively to a forward corps that had lost Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber and Blake Coleman among others. But at least for two weekends, the answer is significantly.

Overall, Miami hasn’t set the world on fire from a scoring perspective, averaging 2.75 goals per game. But the RedHawks missed several Grade A scoring chances in the first period alone on Friday and had multiple chances on Saturday it should’ve cashed in.

MU finished the finale with 41 shots on goal and missed the net a number of times.

There is cause for optimism regarding this team’s offensive potential. The RedHawks are holding their own during what most knew would be a transition process with numerous new faces taking over the jobs of established studs.

If they have been able to hold their own during their growing pains without contributions from Kuraly or Louis, just wait until those two hit their strides.

And they will hit their strides, hopefully very soon.

Other thoughts on Saturday:

– This was the best all-around game Roslovic has played. He engaged in battles along the boards and was generally more of a presence on the ice than in the previous games. Roslovic also showed more of ability to make defenders look silly as he can seemingly skate around them at will, a feat made even more amazing considering he is still just 18. That won’t fly at higher levels, or even against better college opponents, but he is certainly showing everyone why he was a first-round pick this summer.

– Sherwood seems to get better every game. He blew up in the USHL last season, scoring 29 goals after netting 13 the previous season, so hopefully that will translate at this level – it certainly did on Friday when he picked the top corner on his first college goal. And it looks like he could do more, as he engages physically and appears capable of playing both ways. Josh Melnick and Roslovic have been the obvious standouts early, but Sherwood looks like he may develop into a very good player for Miami as well.

– The power play was 1,000 percent better on Saturday than Friday. Yes, Miami went 2-for-5, but beyond that, the puck movement was outstanding and the communication appeared much improved. The first unit could be devastating to opponents this season with Roslovic-Melnick-Louis-Kuraly-Belpedio, and its makeshift second unit scored the final goal on Saturday, with Zach LaValle finding the net.

– Miami’s four-game road stand will be difficult but should provide a bonding opportunity and could make the team better overall. At least the RedHawks get their feet wet on a real road trip – not like Ohio State, which was an up-and-back drive with more Miami fans than OSU fans in attendance – before opening conference play in two weeks.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B+. At this point of the season, improvement is more vital than results, and the improvement is there. The freshmen are getting better. Louis played well but only had a point, and many more will follow. Kuraly has struggled at times early but appears ready to break out. If either Kevin Morris or Alex Gacek ever find the net they may be unstoppable – both have done everything right except finish in the first four games. Overall, this unit fired a ton of shots and missed the net a bunch more. They played pretty well defensively as well, but the competition will get a lot stiffer very soon.

DEFENSEMEN: A. This unit made mistakes the first three games, and many were costly. That really didn’t happen on Saturday. We mentioned Louis and Kuraly and how they will get going eventually, and Louie Belpedio belongs on that list as well. His best hockey is yet to come. Senior Matthew Caito was outstanding, as he shut down seemingly every OSU threat on his watch, and classmate Chris Joyaux is playing some of the best defense of his career right now. Like with the forwards, the process is in place, which is very encouraging, and the opponents will get better from this point forward.

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami goalie Ryan McKay (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

GOALTENDING: A. Senior Ryan McKay hasn’t played a lot of back-to-back nights, but he shined in this one. He appeared to be screened on the only goal against, and he had to shut down a couple of high-percentage chances, including a breakaway. McKay finished 27 of 28 (.964) on the night and 52-for-55 (.945) on the weekend. This team’s prospects are a lot higher if McKay can continue to play at this level.

LINEUP CHANGES: Senior Michael Mooney was back in at forward on Saturday, replacing junior Devin Loe, who did not have a point in his first three games. On defense, sophomore Scott Dornbrock was scratched for the second time this season, as junior Colin Sullivan returned to the lineup sheet. McKay started for the third straight game.