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Miami blanks, sweeps UAH

OXFORD, Ohio – Ryan Larkin’s 2018-19 debut was worth the one-day wait.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

The junior stopped all 11 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over Alabama-Huntsville at Cady Arena on Sunday, earning his third career shutout.

Jordan Uhelski, expected to back up Larkin, started and won on Saturday while Larkin did not dress.

The win completes a series sweep for the RedHawks (2-0), who have won their first two games for the first time since 2013-14.

RECAP: The game was scoreless through the first period, but Brian Hawkinson teed up River Rymsha with a pass across the blue line, and Rymsha buried it just inside the post 5:39 into the second frame.

Less than three minutes later, a blast by Alec Mahalak tricked off the glove of goalie Mark Sinclair, and Karch Bachman was there to slam home the rebound.

Early in the third period, Josh Melnick whipped a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Sinclair. With 6:14 left in regulation, Ryan Siroky was denied on his initial attempt at the side of the net but batted one into the air, off Sinclair’s back and into the net.

STATS: Rymsha and Hawkinson led Miami with two points apiece. Rymsha scored once and set up another and Hawkinson earned a pair of helpers.

Larkin’s last shutout was Oct. 27, 2017 vs. Connecticut. All of his perfect sheets have been in October and at home.

Miami was 37-15 on faceoffs for a .714 win percentage. Casey Gilling was 14-3 on draws and Melnick 13-3 in the circle.

How about a strange one: Grant Hutton was the lone MU defenseman without a shot. The others combined for 15.

THOUGHTS: The first period was slow but once Rymsha’s shot went in, Miami dominated the balance of the game.

When it came to 50/50 pucks, the RedHawks won almost every physical battle and not only were faster but outhustled UAH as well.

By the third period the Chargers (0-2) were a beaten team. The final shot totals reflect that: 45 Miami, 11 UAH.

— Let’s give one of the stars of the game to the facility. This was a 3 p.m. game when the temperature is about its highest, and it was 90 degrees out for opening faceoff.

The ice certainly wasn’t January-Edmonton-in-the-1990s-caliber but it held in the near-record heat.

— Alabama-Huntsville captain Kurt Gosselin, who was booted for his hit on Carter Johnson in the opener, was absent from Sunday’s lineup. It’s unclear if the team or an outside entity made that call.

He should miss multiple games for that hit. It’s everything hockey is trying to take out of its game for the long-term well being of its players.

— Not to bore about a non-sexy subject, but Miami’s faceoff success is an area in which it has struggled for several years.

Gilling has been key in this realm since Day 1 and isn’t afraid to voice concerns to officials when he thinks draws are unfair.

Melnick’s numbers are outstanding early, as are those of Monte Graham, who won a team-best 11 draws on Saturday.

REALITY CHECKPOINT:

— While the 2-0 start is exciting, Miami has been above .500 early each of the four recent seasons in which it has finished below that mark.

The RedHawks started 2013-14 at 6-2-1, were 3-1-1 to open 2015-16, 3-1-2 in their first six of 2016-17 and reached 4-3 last season before their descent.

Miami’s problem in recent unsuccessful campaigns has been earning wins in those cold-weather months.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A. This was a solid effort by all. We saw some suspect passing on Saturday but this corps seemed to tighten that up in that game. Loved Siroky’s combination of persistence and athleticism on his goal. Thought Gruden was much better in this game than in the opener. Thought Bachman was as much as force as in the opener. In the second period he stole the puck and nearly scored despite having a defender draped on his during a shorthanded chance. As mentioned, MU dominated on faceoffs.

DEFENSEMEN: A. This corps actually outshot the opposition, firing 15 shots while the entire UAH team managed just 11. None of those chances were Grade-A. Rymsha went 1-1-2 including the first goal and eventual game winner, Hutton and Mahalak picked up assists. Granted UAH lacks a lot of elite offensive talent but Miami’s D-corps shut the Chargers down in this game.

GOALTENDING: A. Hard to slight Larkin for not facing a difficult shot. He was perfect, albeit on 11 non-high-quality chances. This has to be a confidence boost for Larkin after last season when he posted an .886 save percentage.

LINEUP CHANGES: Two key ones: Larkin started in net after Jordan Uhelski earned the win in the opener, and Carter Johnson was out up front after getting cheap-shotted on Saturday.

Zach LaValle also sat among the forward corps, and Noah Jordan and Christian Mohs took the ice in their place.

Coach Enrico Blasi stuck with his starting six on D for Game 2, which is even more interesting because it was 20 hours between starts instead of the normal 23:30, and often a coach will go with a rested player in such a situation, but Andrew Sinard, Grant Frederic and Chaz Switzer all sat out for the second straight night.

UP NEXT: Miami will play in Pennsylvania for the first time since Robert Morris hosted the RedHawks six years ago at the Penguins’ home rink.

MU faces Providence at 4 p.m. on Friday, and if it wins will face the Notre Dame-Mercyhurst winner in the championship at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday but would play in the consolation vs. the loser of the other game at 4 p.m. Saturday. All games will be played at Erie Insurance Arena, home of the OHL Erie Otters.

In late 2012, MU took second in Pittsburgh, beating Ohio State before losing to the hometown host. Both scores were 1-0.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This weekend will provide a much better indication of where Miami is in early-to-mid October.

A strong showing could earn the RedHawks some much-needed respect into a four-game homestand.

At least against UAH, the forwards, defensemen and goalies were all superior. Much tougher test against this weekend’s foes.

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2018-19 Miami preview Part II: Forwards

OUT (6): Conor Lemirande (graduated), Kiefer Sherwood (turned pro), Carson Meyer (transferred), Austin Alger, Alex Alger, Willie Knierim.

IN (5): Jonathan Gruden, Noah Jordan, Monte Graham, Brian Hawkinson, Scott Corbett.

RETURNING (10): Srs. – Josh Melnick, Ryan Siroky, Zach Lavalle; Jrs. – Gordie Green, Karch Bachman, Carter Johnson; Sos. – Casey Gilling, Ben Lown, Phil Knies, Christian Mohs.

NOTES: Gordie Green hit his stride midway through his freshman year and has gotten better seemingly every game since, as he led the team in goals (15) and points (33) as a sophomore.

Newly-named captain Josh Melnick makes everyone around him better and finished with nine goals and a team best-tying 21 assists for 30 points in 2017-18.

Phil Knies was last season’s freshman goals leader with 11, including six in a four-game road trip in January, he finished with 20 points, and fellow college rookie Casey Gilling added 19 and was one of the team’s best in the faceoff circle.

Ben Lown (4-11-15) was the other significant contributing freshman up front.

Speedster Karch Bachman nearly tripled his rookie points output, posting 16 points including seven goals after earning six as a freshman. The Florida Panthers draft pick netted three goals the final four games.

Senior Ryan Siroky is the only other returning regular starter from last season. He dressed for 33 games and was of the team’s best hitters and played solid defense, contributing two goals and a pair of assists.

Zach Lavalle, Carter Johnson and Christian Mohs logged a combined 46 games, and Johnson locked down a lineup spot the second half of the season with his energetic play.

Not counting Johnson, that’s only seven every-night forwards back, meaning five other slots would be open each night. Even if all 10 veterans start that leaves two openings for newcomers.

Miami forward Josh Melnick (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

“If you look at those guys, they took huge strides last year, especially toward the end,” Melnick said. Obviously those guys have to step into bigger roles now, and I think they’re ready for that. It’s easy for me to say they’ve been really good this preseason, but it’s 100 percent true. Also, the guys that are coming in are really exciting – you’ve got some really skilled and dynamic players all throughout the forward lineup.”

Of the freshmen, Jonathan Gruden is a near certainty to claim one of those lineup spots. Playing for the U.S. National Team the past two seasons, the Ottawa Senators’ fourth-round pick rolled up 34 points in 25 games vs. USHL competition last season as a 17-year-old while going plus-28.

Monte Graham has serious NHL pedigree, as he is the cousin of Wild center Charlie Coyle and former NHL forward Tony Amonte. A New Englander, the former Boston College commit boast plenty of juniors experience, as he has played two full USHL seasons.

Noah Jordan is 6-feet-5 and skated for North York in Ontario Juniors last season. He scored 18 goals in 2017-18, and the Toronto-area native led his team in playoff points.

Brian Hawkinson has three seasons of USHL experience and is known for his grit and leadership. He was the captain for Tri-City in 2017-18, where he notched 16 points.

Scott Corbett is another Carmel, Ind., product, the same hometown as former defensemen Cameron Schilling and Grant Hutton. He is known as more of a playmaker and has good size at 6-1 and 187.

“I think we’ve got like guys that are (solid), guys that need to take another step in terms of their production, and then we’ve got some guys that understand they’re playing a certain role, and they have to perform,” Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. “I like the depth we have, it’s going to be a struggle each weekend to see who’s going to play, and that’s a good thing – that breeds competition in practice, and everybody has to elevate their game.”

Though Miami was below average offensively last season, the RedHawks finished ninth in Division I on the power play (23.2 percent).

Then again, MU’s defensive duo accounted for 13 of those 35 PPGs and managed just two markers in last season’s final 11 games on the man-advantage.

Depth was an issue among centers and wings, as only eight forwards were able to generate seven or more points last season.

“When we came here in the summer just to work on stuff, we actually started to get a lot better then,” Melnick said.

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.

Miami loses late lead, ties NorDak

OXFORD, Ohio – On Friday, Miami battled back from three down to win.

One night later, No. 12 North Dakota was the team overcoming a multiple-goal deficit.

But unlike the RedHawks, the Fighting Hawks were only able to salvage a tie after evening the score on a pair of third-period goals for a 2-2 draw at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami (11-17-4) earned the extra point in 3-on-3 play after the game was officially ruled a tie, giving the RedHawks five of a possible six points on the weekend.

Despite the strong showing this weekend, Miami clinched last place in the NCHC. Three teams are tied for fifth, six points ahead of the RedHawks. All have two regular season games remaining.

So it is possible for MU to tie at least one of those three, but Miami cannot win a tiebreaker against any of them.

Melnick

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

After the completion of this game, St. Cloud clinched the conference title, so the RedHawks will travel there for their first-round NCHC Tournament series in two weeks.

RECAP: The teams were scoreless after the first period, but Miami’s Josh Melnick gave Miami the lead when he stole a puck at his defensive blue line and skated in for a breakaway, pounding the puck into the pads of North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson.

At first it appeared Johnson had made the save, but the referee by the net ruled it a goal, a shorthanded tally at the 4:23 mark of the middle stanza.

The RedHawks made it 2-0 just 26 seconds into the third period when Carter Johnson slid a pass through the slot that Kiefer Sherwood rifled home.

Miami forward Kiefer Sherwood (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

But at the 4:20 mark of the final frame, a shot by the Fighting Hawks’ Hayden Shaw from a bad angle hit the glove of Miami goalie Ryan Larkin and trickled in.

Exactly three minutes later, UND’s Nick Jones redirected a blue-line shot by Colton Poolman to tie the score.

After five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime, Sherwood found the net in the 3-on-3 to give Miami the extra league point.

STATS: It was the ninth goal of the season for Melnick, and Sherwood scored his seventh. Melnick led Miami with three points on the weekend.

— It was just the second time in 14 games the RedHawks allowed fewer than two goals.

— Make that six straight games with neither a power-play nor a first-period tally.

— And Miami still hasn’t won a Saturday game since Nov. 18.

— Both Melnick and Louie Belpedio reached 80 career points this weekend. Melnick has 27 goals and 53 assists, while Belpedio has scored 25 times and dished out 55 assists. Belpedio is a senior while Melnick is a junior.

That duo is tied for the team lead in active career points, and Sherwood is two back with 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points. He’s also a junior.

THOUGHTS: Torn again.

Happy with a 1-0-1 weekend against North Dakota? Of course. Is Jack Johnson still hated in Oxford?

For the most part it was a very well-played series by Miami in a down year against a national power.

Cady Arena was rocking and these were two extremely entertaining games to watch.

But it’s hard to be happy about yet another third-period collapse. Winning the 3-on-3 skills competition point does nothing to assuage that.

When the final chapter is written about RedHawks Version 2017-18, near the top of the list of what went wrong this regular season will be the inability to close out games.

And this has been a problem for a number of years.

Miami has shown glimpses of excellence this season, but it cannot afford to continue flipping wins to ties and losses.

— Not happy with the penalties in this game on multiple fronts. Karch Bachman was taken down in the second period by a player also committing interference and possible a felony or two and there was no call.

A too-many-men call was missed. Miami had one power play, North Dakota (14-11-9) three including a major. That’s a night after concurrent minors against the RedHawks resulted in the Fighting Hawks’ second goal on Friday.

Penalty minutes were 19-2 on Saturday.

— That said, Rourke Russell’s minor penalty was undisciplined, and Carson Meyer’s major was deserved.

Russell had just turned the puck over and took a blatant chop at the steal-ee. Meyer saw numbers on the back of jersey and barreled into his guy anyway.

That’s a major in the NCAA.

— Speaking of the Meyer hit, someone decided to make that the hit of the game on the scoreboard at Cady Arena. A dangerous hit from behind. A major penalty and ejection.

Wise up, Cady staff.

— Miami looked extremely tired in the third period. Second game in two nights, of course, but that’s true of every team in college hockey in the third period every Saturday.

It was unusually humid and warm for this area in February, but again, both teams had to deal with that.

— With this being the final home game, I think it’s time to lobby for some additional players’ numbers to be added to the Zamboni end walls.

Andy Greene has been out of Oxford for 12 years. It’s time his name goes up. Ryan Jones graduated in 2008. Same goes.

A decade plus on both. What in the world is everyone waiting for?

The first two are no-brainers, but I’d add Andy Miele to that list as well.

He won the Hobey Baker seven years ago. That’s long enough.

In two years, add Austin Czarnik. He’s already been gone since 2015 and he epitomized Miami hockey values both on and off the ice as much as anyone else on that wall.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C. Sherwood finished with seven shots and Green had six. It’s so nice to have Sherwood playing as well as he did in 2016-17. Melnick created his own goal with the steal in his own zone, and Sherwood’s came after Miami won board battles, so both markers came off of hard work.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. North Dakota controlled the puck more than Miami, so it’s sort of comme ci, comme ca to point out that Grant Hutton, Alec Mahalak and Chaz Switzer all blocked three shots, and Scott Dornbrock added two blocks. Russell took two penalties and one of those chances resulted in a North Dakota goal.

GOALTENDING: B. Hard to fault a guy for a tip-in from the slot, but the first one was all Ryan Larkin. He should’ve gloved the puck but it bounced out and into the net. But he was 28 of 30 and made some outstanding saves.

LINEUP CHANGES: None. This looks like the 19 that coach Enrico Blasi will ride into the NCHC Tournament.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It was senior night, and overall a 1-0-1 weekend vs. North Dakota is a great send-off for Louie Belpedio, Scott Dornbrock and Conor Lemirande in their final home series.

Unfortunately, this class made the NCAA Tournament just once, and that was their freshmen seasons.

Miami will finish last in the NCHC for the second time since the league’s inception in 2013-14 and will head to the road for the fourth time in five years to open the league tournament.

In the eight-team conference, the RedHawks have finished eighth, second, fifth, seventh and now eighth again since joining the league.

Next weekend, Miami heads to Denver for a series that means zilch to the RedHawks in terms of points/seeding/NCAA Tournament qualifying.

The focus now is all on their series at St. Cloud State in two weeks.

Miami goes down 3, wins in OT

OXFORD, Ohio – It was a bizarre night for Miami’s offense.

The RedHawks eclipsed the 240-minute scoreless mark – equivalent to four full games – for the first time in school record, and then scored four times to erase a three-goal deficit in a 4-3 overtime win over No. 12 North Dakota at Cady Arena on Friday.

Miami trailed, 3-0 eight minutes into the second period before netting four straight goals, capped off by Ben Lown’s game winner 59 seconds into the extra session.

That snapped a five-game losing streak for the RedHawks and a five-game winless stretch vs. the Fighting Hawks (0-4-1).

MU had not scored a goal since the first game of its home series vs. St. Cloud State on Feb. 9 and establishing the team record for the longest scoring drought at 240:24.

RECAP: Grant Mismash fired a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle that snuck inside the far post through a screen 13:54 into the first period.

Christian Wolanin made it 2-0 shortly into a two-minute 5-on-3 on a one-time blast off a feed by Colton Poolman at the 2:17 mark of the second period.

Five minutes later, North Dakota (14-11-8) extended its lead to three when Johnny Simonson tapped in a loose puck in the crease after Simonson was denied by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on a breakaway.

After making the save, Larkin was taken out by a pursuing teammate, leaving the net empty for the trailing Simonson.

But 48 seconds after that goal, Josh Melnick slid a pass through two defenders to Alec Mahalak in the slot, and Mahalak buried the first marker of his career just under the crossbar on the glove side.

The RedHawks (11-17-3) cut the deficit to one when Phil Knies took a feed from Kiefer Sherwood wrapped around the back of the net and tucked it past goalie Cam Johnson 1:42 into the third period.

Miami tied it just 2:18 later when Melnick threaded one to Gordie Green at the faceoff dot, and Green’s shot hit a body and popped over Johnson into the back of the net.

Grant Hutton stole a puck along the boards and in the same motion batted the puck ahead to Lown on the right wing, and Lown skated into the faceoff circle and went far post for the game winner 59 seconds into overtime.

STATS: Lown and Melnick both finished with two points, with Lown going 1-1-2 and Melnick picking up a pair of helpers.

It was Lown’s third career multi-point game, and Melnick – the team leader in assists – has recorded at least two five times this season.

Knies is now second on the RedHawks in goals with 11.

— Miami may have snapped out of its offensive funk, but its power play is still MIA. Despite six chances, this was the fifth straight game in which the RedHawks have not scored on the man advantage.

— But the PK has fared better, going 18-for-20 (90.0 percent) in that span.

— It was also the fifth consecutive contest in which Miami has failed to score in the first period.

THOUGHTS: This was one of those here-we-go-again-is-there-a-nearby-deep-frier-I-can-stick-my-head-in type of starts during which the RedHawks were down multiple goals 22 minutes in and behind three a few minutes after.

Larkin probably would’ve liked the first one back and the second was on a 5-on-3, so those weren’t exactly caused by poor skater play.

All-world forward Shane Gersich got behind the defense on the third goal, so yeah, that one is on that corps.

And Miami outshot North Dakota in the first period – all three and overtime in fact – so it’s not like the RedHawks didn’t show up.

That’s what makes this win so impressive. Three-goal leads can snowball, especially against teams like Miami that are struggling for wins.

With not much to play for, the RedHawks stunned a Fighting Hawks team that has tons to play for each night.

Miami’s fate is nearly sealed in the conference, and UND is fighting for home-ice advantage in the league tournament and is on the NCAA bubble.

The RedHawks may be fighting very long odds to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but at least they showed on Friday they are going to fight.

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

— North Dakota may be down a bit this season but this team still skates and moves the puck very well. The Fighting Hawks’ fans also numbered in triple digits. And they were vocal.

— Hutton’s play on the overtime winner shows why pro teams are salivating. He stole the puck along the boards and sent a perfect outlet pass to Knies in one motion. If he didn’t get the puck ahead that quickly, North Dakota would’ve had a player in Knies’ face as he penetrated the zone.

This guy has a great chance to play in the NHL in a couple of years.

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

— Melnick’s assist on Mahalak’s goal may have actually been intended for Green. Both were between the faceoff circles, and when it slid past Green, Mahalak stepped into it. Miami went back to that play for its third goal, as Melnick fed Green with both in nearly identical spots.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B. Melnick’s passing was at a peak level in this game, as both of his assists came from the corner along the goal line to the edge of the slot. Freshmen Lown and Knies both scored and have both improved drastically as the season has progressed. Knies also blocked four shots. Carter Johnson didn’t get a point but his steal ultimately led to the Melnick-to-Green goal that tied it. Overall this corps was solid defensively as well, especially on the penalty kill.

DEFENSEMEN: B+. Mahalak scored, Hutton’s play on the game-winner was amazing and Louie Belpedio picked up an assist on Mahalak’s goal. It was a good night for this group, as North Dakota finished with just 17 shots despite six power plays. The one blemish is that Rourke Russell did get beat on the third UND breakaway that led to a goal, and he also inadvertently took out his own goalie on that play.

GOALTENDING: C+. Yes, Larkin allowed three goals on 17 shots (.824), but he faced a handful of Grade-A chances and was taken out of the play on one of those goals. The first one was stoppable, but the second was a 5-on-3 missile from the high slot. He also held UND off the scoreboard the final 33 minutes, allowing Miami to come back.

LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: Carter Johnson was back in the lineup while Zach LaValle sat. Johnson contributed to Green’s goal.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is what the second half of the season in this league should be about: Thrilling, well-played games between teams ranging from good to top-ranked.

That’s how it was every weekend down the stretch three years ago when Miami won the NCHC Tournament.

As a fan, as soon as a game ended you couldn’t wait to get back to the rink the next night or weekend.

This season definitely hasn’t gone as planned, but this night was a reminder of how entertaining meaningful games in this league are in late winter.

From the RedHawks and their fans’ perspective, the only thing lacking was the standings relevance, as Miami is competing for neither a league title nor home-ice advantage.

Hopefully the full stretch-run experience will return to Cady Arena next season.

Miami falls behind early, loses again

We’re seeing a recurring theme in January: Miami falls behind big then falls short in its comeback attempt.

The RedHawks have trailed by at least three goals in three straight games – all losses – including a 4-3 defeat at Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday in which they trailed by four but scored three times in the third period to cut the final deficit to one.

All have involved unorthodox goalie-pulling that has led to extended extra-attacker situations for Miami.

RECAP: After these teams combined for 18 goals on Friday, this game was scoreless after the first period.

However, Nebraska-Omaha scored four times in a 10:53 window to essentially win it.

Zach Jordan, Jake Randolph, Grant Gallo and Tyler Vesel all recorded goals, and Miami was down four heading into the final 20 minutes.

The RedHawks cut the lead to three just 101 seconds into the final stanza, as Phil Knies slammed home a loose puck at the side of the net off a Kiefer Sherwood shot.

Josh Melnick made it a two-goal game five minutes later when he batted a puck out of the air and into the net from the slot.

With the extra attacker, Phil Knies deflected in a shot by Chaz Switzer, and Miami was within one.

But the RedHawks had just one more quality scoring chance with time running out before dropping its third straight.

STATS: Like in the Denver finale, Miami was dominated in shots the first two periods before reversing course in the last 20 minutes. It was 23-15 in favor of UNO heading into the final stanza, but the RedHawks led, 16-4 in that frame. Last Saturday MU trailed, 28-5 against the Pioneers after 40 minutes but fired off 20 SOG to DU’s five in the last period.

– It was the third straight game in which Miami has scored an extra-attacker goal. The RedHawks pulled the goalie with 15 minutes left in the Denver finale, and Kiefer Sherwood scored, Casey Gilling picked up a 6-on-5 goal late on Friday and Phil Knies cut MU’s deficit to one on Saturday.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Sherwood extended his points streak to five games, a current team best and a season long for the junior forward. He is 2-4-6 during his recent hot stretch.

– Phil Knies scored four goals and set up another this weekend. He had just three goals in the first 20 games of the season. Fellow freshman Ben Lown had six points entering this weekend but added four vs. UNO.

– Grant Hutton equaled his season output in assists prior to this weekend vs. UNO. He had four both before and during this series.

– G Ryan Larkin has allowed at least three goals in five straight outings.

– We’ve heard talk that officiating has gone against Miami too often. Through this game, Miami has had 99 power play chances. Its opponents: 100. The RedHawks have 28 special teams goals vs. their foes’ 21.

THOUGHTS: The obvious one is that Miami needs to show up for the first 40 minutes.

We get that this season’s team does not boast top-10 talent, but the RedHawks should not be hemorrhaging early goals at their recent rate in league games.

Enrico Blasi’s in-game coaching has definitely taken a step up this season, but even after multiple high-profile losses due to late goals against over the years, he has never been a fan of calling time-outs as a means of damage control.

UNO scored at the eight-minute mark of the second period to take a 1-0 lead, and the Mavericks added three more over a span of 5:14 that decided the game.

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

LINEUP CHANGES: The big one was Carson Meyer, who was scratched for the first time this season. Hopefully this sends a message to the talented Blue Jackets draftee, who has just seven points, is last on the team with a minus-10 rating and leads the team in penalty minutes.

Sometimes sitting a key player is an effective tool, and with Meyer recording just one point in his last nine games, his benching will hopefully serve as a wake-up call.

Christian Mohs also did not dress after playing on Friday. Ryan Siroky and Austin Alger returned to the lineup in their place.

On defense, Scott Dornbrock was scratched for the first time in five games. Rourke Russell, who sat Friday, skated in his place. These two and Grant Frederic have seemingly alternated in the five and six spots.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami can ill-afford a three-game losing streak, and now at 9-11-2 will have a tough road to the NCAAs.

The RedHawks are currently tied with Bowling Green for 17th in the PairWise (someone please explain how these two teams can be tied, since MU went 1-0-1 at BGSU earlier this season).

All of the eight NCHC teams have played in 12 of their 24 league games, and after Miami came away with zero of a possible six points, the RedHawks are in seventh place in the league, one point ahead of last-place Colorado College.

Barring a conference tournament win, the RedHawks now need to go at least four games over .500 down the stretch if it hopes to earn an at-large bid, and that means an 8-4 record to close out the regular season.

Miami wins tune-up vs. Windsor

OXFORD, Ohio – Starting goalie Ryan Larkin logged 20 scoreless minutes, the Green-Melnick-Bachman line is a quasi-permanent thing and no one got hurt.

Those are the headlines from Miami’s 8-2 exhibition win over the University of Windsor at Cady Arena on Saturday.

To address the relevance of this meeting first though: This game was a well-scheduled tune-up for the RedHawks, whose last game was three weeks ago.

That’s a long time to go between contests in any sport. Plus in recent years, Miami has struggled in the games immediately following Christmas break.

This way, the RedHawks could get its regulars ice time and allow others to earn experience by logging valuable minutes as well.

The downside to NCAA-CIS (Canada’s version of the NCAA) matchups is CIS teams play more of a pro style of hockey. Meaning half-shields instead of cages and more importantly, an increased tolerance of chippiness.

That addresses the final headline point: No one gets hurt, and additionally, no one gets suspended.

It can seem like there’s little upside to these exhibitions.

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

Anyway, on Larkin: He played the first period, presumably to knock off any down-time rust. Good call by the coaches to keep him sharp without overusing him during a season he’s clearly destined to log almost all of Miami’s minutes between the pipes.

Chase Munroe played the second period, Grant Valentine the third, as both of Windsor’s goals were scored under Valentine’s watch.

Then there’s the first line: Karch Bachman joined Josh Melnick and Gordie Green at the end of the Cornell series, and they were together at Western Michigan and again in this game.

They combined for three goals and five assists, with each tallying at least two points.

Melnick recorded a game-best four points on two markers and a pair of helpers.

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

Bachman has blazing speed and a super-quick shot release, so he provides another sniper on the first line, and he has also moved into a penalty killing role this season. He is 3-6-9 this season after racking up just six points his freshman season.

Green and Melnick – should we call them Grelnick? – clearly make this offense go, and being the third member of their line is a privilege.

Other thoughts…

– To catch up: Decembers are tough in this part-time writer’s full-time vocational field, thus the lack of content here, but Miami split its final two NCHC games at Western Michigan, winning 5-2 on Friday and dropping a 4-3 overtime decision in the finale.

Saturday’s loss was tough to accept, as the RedHawks led 3-1 in the second player before allowing a natural hat trick – with the latter coming in overtime.

That was the second time in three weekends Miami saw a Saturday outcome flipped. The RedHawks also ended up tying Bowling Green on Nov. 25 on an extra-attacker goal with 38 seconds left.

– Miami is currently sixth in the NCHC with a 3-4-1 league record, although the RedHawks have played two fewer games than all of the top five teams. MU has completed its non-conference schedule, as its remaining 16 regular season games are all against league opponents.

– Perhaps the best news is that Miami is 17th in the PairWise rankings, which ultimately determine which teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament. In a 16-team Division I tournament with at-large bids, typically a PairWise rank of 12 or 13 is considered safe.

– Love the toughness from Chaz Switzer, who blocked a slap shot in the leg and returned after a brief stint in the locker room, and Conor Lemirande, who needed facial sowing after scoring a goal but returned.

– Also love the game-to-game improvement by Ben Lown. The freshman scored and picked up an assist.

– Miami had 21 skaters for this game, three more than is allowed in NCAA play, and forwards Christian Mohs and Zach LaValle and defenseman Grant Frederic were listed as the extra bodies. F Carter Johnson, F Alex Alger, D Bryce Hatten and G Evan McCarthy were the only RedHawks who did not dress.

– Denver’s up next. The Pioneers are No. 5 in the PairWise and second in the USCHO poll. Big two games in Oxford this Friday and Saturday.

Analysis: Miami rallied with short bench

OXFORD, Ohio – Poll your average fan on what he or she thinks Miami’s odds of winning would be if the team was down a goal four minutes in, and two minutes later faced a five-minute penalty kill against the fifth-best team in the NCAA.

And for good measure, was without elite defenseman Grant Hutton for the balance of the game.

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

That was the RedHawks’ predicament early on Friday, and yet they rallied to a 2-1 victory over No. 5 Cornell at Cady Arena.

Like the UMD win sparked by Chaz Switzer’s fighting major, Miami’s emotions were tapped when Hutton was ejected for checking from behind.

The call, which for the record should’ve been a minor and no more, was initially read as a major and a game disqualification, which carries with it a compulsory suspension. It was announced at the first intermission Hutton actually received a game misconduct, which means he was done for the night but would be eligible on Saturday.

And if we take the player in question into account, Hutton had 50 penalty minutes in 86 career games entering this one. Zero major penalties.

Quite impressive considering this is a guy that logs more minutes than anyone on the team except possibly Louie Belpedio and defends opponents’ top forwards every night while playing a physical, punishing game.

Back to the game: Hutton out, five defensemen left. And oh yeah, Big Red were badly outplaying Miami to this point.

But instead of folding, Miami killed the penalty.

Seemingly galvanized by the Hutton incident and gaining momentum from the PK, the RedHawks took advantage of their first power play and tied it.

Then another confrontation: Six-three sophomore Willie Knierim ended up in a scrap with Morgan Barron, with both getting the boot in the closing minutes of the second period.

Miami netted the go-ahead goal with 54 seconds left in that frame.

The third period was excruciating, as the RedHawks went into late survival mode – a documented area of weakness for this team in recent years – and they turned the last 20 minutes into a giant penalty kill.

It was a gutsy win, an improbable win, and with team’s place in the Division I world still a bit of a question mark, Miami helped its resume royally by putting this one into the ‘W’ column.

Other thoughts…

– The chemistry evolution of Josh Melnick and Gordie Green has a delight to watch. These guys could probably complete passes to each other in the dark.

– Couldn’t believe Cornell, which played so well defensively, let Green skate in and score the go-ahead goal. He corralled a pass from Casey Gilling at the top of the faceoff circle and was unchallenged. So he penetrated and no one went to him. So he drove further and wired one home, lifting it over a sprawling defender.

– That was the second and third major penalties for Miami in its past four games, and its third and fourth 10-minute misconduct, three of which have been for the game. In that span the RedHawks have 91 penalty minutes.

– Melnick’s four-game point streak is the third-longest by anyone on the team. Melnick also had a five-game run earlier this season, and Green went five straight with at least one point as well.

– CU starting goalie Matthew Galadja was pulled after 40 minutes. He allowed two goals on 10 shots through two periods, and while the Gilling shot appeared stoppable, Green’s goal was point blank and ticketed for the corner. Backup Hayden Stewart only faced three shots in the final stanza but stopped them all.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C-. Definitely a case in which the results were much better than the process. Gilling and Green scored power play goals, but this corps was practically non-existent the rest of the game. Miami was down to 10 forwards for the final 24 minutes with Knierim booted and Austin Alger – in his first game back from injury – very limited in ice time. Kiefer Sherwood committed several turnovers in the first period, including one that ultimately led to the Cornell goal.

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

DEFENSEMEN: B. The Big Red finished with 30 shots, but not a ton were Grade-A chances. Cornell seemingly possessed the puck 80 percent of the game, especially early in the first period and the entire third, yet this corps playing with five – down a huge minutes eater in Hutton – did not seem to wear down. Scott Dornbrock didn’t dress for this one either, so this was an exceptionally young group post-Grant, with a senior (Louie Belpedio), two sophomores and two freshmen.

GOALTENDING: A-. Lots happened and that’s the only reason it takes this far down to reach the Ryan Larkin love-fest in this game. As mentioned, not a ton of exceptional chances but Larkin stopped all but one of the good ones, and the only Cornell shot that went in was on a wrister from the high slot through traffic. He stopped all 12 he faced in the third period and finished with 29 saves, which believe it or not ties a season high.

LINEUP CHANGES: For the second time in six games, Dornbrock was out. He had not missed a game since October of his sophomore year prior to the past month. Switzer returned to the ice after serving his two-game suspension. Grant Frederic remained in the lineup after taking Switzer’s place last weekend. F Zach LaValle also sat for the third time in five games after missing just three contests in all of 2016-17. Alger came back from an upper-body injury that cost him five starts.

Preview: Cornell at Miami

WHO: No. 5 Cornell Big Red (9-1-0) at Miami RedHawks (6-6-2).

WHEN: Friday, 7:35 p.m.; Saturday–7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

TV: None.

CORNELL RADIO: WHCU-AM (870, WHCU-FM (95.5), Ithaca, N.Y.

NOTES: Following a four-year run of mediocrity, Cornell is a rejuvenated hockey team.

The Big Red were a force the first few years of this century, advancing to the NCAA Tournament seven of 11 seasons starting in 2001.

But Following that run, Cornell won no more than 17 games four straight campaigns and did not compete on college hockey’s biggest stage.

That trend reversed quickly, as 23rd-year coach Mike Schafer’s squad won 21 games last season and after a 9-1 start this fall, it has has a .722 winning percentage since the start of 2016-17.

Cornell moved up two places after wins over Niagara and Boston University last week, and its lone loss this season was to then-No. 8 Clarkson on Nov. 18.

The Big Red have also beaten Quinnipiac and Harvard this season, so their early-season resume is legitimate.

And this is a team built to win for a while, as only one senior (Trevor Yates) has played all 10 games, and in addition to Yates, who is 7-4-11, a freshman and sophomore round out the top three in team scoring.

Yates leads the team in goals and points, and Morgan Barron and Jeff Malott both have three goals and six assists for nine points. Barron is the rookie, Malott the sophomore.

Anthony Angello and Mitch Vanderlaan have two goals and five assists each, and Beau Starett is 1-5-6. All are juniors.

Cornell’s defense corps has scored 11 goals but combined for just 13 assists. Alec McCrea leads Big Red blueliners with four goals, but he has just one assist.

Defensemen Brendan Smith (no relation to the former Miami F/D of the same name) and Yanni Kaldis have five points each.

This blue line corps may not rack up the points, but it has shut down its opponents in the shot column. Cornell allows just 23.6 shots per game.

Freshman Matthew Galajda has started all 10 games in net for the Big Red, going 8-1-0 with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Senior Hayden Stewart pitched 40 minutes of relief earlier this season and is 1-0, 1.50, .929.

Cornell is sixth in Division I scoring at 3.60 goals per game and third in goals against (2.00). The Big Red also rank in the top 20 on both the power play and penalty kill.

These teams have met six times, but none have come in Oxford. Each team has won three times.

Last season’s series vs. Cornell was less than memorable for the RedHawks. They gave up three unanswered third-period goals in a 4-3 loss in the opener and falling behind by two early in a 2-1 defeat in the finale.

Melnick

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

Miami’s other loss to the Big Red came in the opening round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

The RedHawks are riding a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) and are 4-2 in their last six home games.

Josh Melnick recorded three points vs. Cornell last season, and Carson Meyer scored once in each game.

This is the last non-conference series of 2017-18 for Miami and the team’s last home series of the calendar year. The RedHawks will host just one more series prior to February and have only eight home games on their slate after this weekend.