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Special teams doom Miami at WMU

Miami’s special teams were not very special on Friday.

No. 14 Western Michigan scored twice on the power play. No. 20 Miami had zero goals on the man-advantage despite a five-minute 5-on-4 at the beginning of the third period.

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

Those tallies were the difference as the Broncos edged the RedHawks, 4-3 at Lawson Arena in a weekend series opener.

Miami extended its winless streak to seven games (0-3-4) while WMU is now unbeaten in its last nine.

Josh Melnick missed just the second game of his RedHawks career. He was out with an apparent lower body injury.

RECAP: The Broncos’ Colt Conrad penetrated from the point and wristed one from the slot into the far corner of the net on the power play to open the scoring 10:27 into the first period.

Miami (9-8-4) tied it 91 seconds later when Gordie Green and Karch Bachman played give-and-go entering the offensive zone, and Bachman threaded a pass to Green at the side of the net for a tap-in.

WMU (12-6-1) jumped ahead again when Ethen Frank fielded a pass through the slot on his backhand, pivoted and threw it in at 1:36 of the second period.

Frank set up Hugh McGing off a break with 4:12 remaining in the middle stanza.

Miami deficit to one when Bachman slid a pass from along the end boards to Green, who shoveled it home, making it 3-2 with 12:15 left in regulation.

Passolt put WMU back up by two with his second goal of the night on a 4-on-3 with 8:17 remaining.

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

Just 82 seconds later, the RedHawks’ Scott Corbett stole the puck in the corner and centered to Brian Hawkinson, who capped off the scoring.

STATS: Green scored twice and has three goals in two games. He went through a nine-game stretch without finding the net prior to that, so his rejuvenated scoring is welcome for Miami.

Bachman also finished with two points, both on assists. It was his first career multi-assist game.

Grant Hutton had gone eight consecutive games without a point but he picked up a helper and has at least one in three straight, going 0-4-4.

— Miami was on the power play for 7:39 but generated just three shots.

— MU won just 21 of 69 faceoffs (30.4 percent).

— The RedHawks have allowed 12 power play goals in their last eight games and are just 63.6 percent on the penalty kill in that span.

— Opponents have scored against MU in 10 straight periods.

— Melnick missed his only other game on Oct. 29, 2016.

THOUGHTS: It’s always a learning experience when Miami plays on national TV and Dave Starman does color.

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

The CBS College Sports analyst said that Miami defenseman Alec Mahalak will win conference player of the year one day.

Mahalak did play one of his better games of the season on Friday.

— Starman was very complementary of a number of RedHawks players, including Bray Crowder, Carter Johnson and Derek Daschke.

— Starman also spoke highly of these programs’ futures, saying “the best days were ahead” for both Miami and Western Michigan.

Miami’s Scott Corbett (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Bachman’s speed once again resulted in a goal, as he won the race to his self-pass along the boards and eventually spooned one to Green for the marker.

— What a play by Corbett to set up Hawkinson’s goal. He stole the puck in seemingly in one motion thrust the puck to the edge of the crease where Hawkinson buried it.

— Yes, Melnick is one of Miami’s better faceoff men, but 21-48 in the circle? Really? Overall the RedHawks have been much better on draws than in recent seasons.

— The penalty kill has been brutal. On Thanksgiving, MU was 84.5 percent on the PK for the season. That number has plummeted to 76.5 since. Miami has allowed 10 power play goals in six games while scoring just four PPGs in that stretch.

LINEUP CHANGES: Melnick was the only player not in the lineup from Saturday’s game against Providence, and Johnson dressed in his place after sitting the last two.

He played on the line with Bachman and Green.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Another one that falls into the “near miss” category, Miami hurt itself with three offensive zone penalties (good catch, Starman) and finished 4-for-6 overall shorthanded.

It’s really tough to win on the road when you give a team six power plays including a 4-on-3.

Taking the second period off didn’t help. The RedHawks were outshot, 16-4 in that frame and allowed a pair of unanswered goals that put WMU ahead for good.

And yes, Melnick’s unexpected absence hurt Miami in multiple areas, but the Broncos were without one of their best as well in Wade Allison.

As has often been the case recently, the RedHawks were right there all night and didn’t give up.

But they didn’t quite do enough to win.

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Miami mid-season report

Especially considering the state of the Miami hockey program in mid-March, the first half of the 2018-19 season has to be considered a major success.

Following the RedHawks’ third straight first-round exit from the NCHC Tournament and subsequent dismissal of both assistant coaches, Miami received zero consideration as a preseason top 20 and was picked to finish last in its conference.

But the No. 16 RedHawks have stuck it to critics, as they enter the back half of their regular season schedule three games over .500, their best pre-January mark in four years.

The two coldest-weather months have been problematic for Miami in recent seasons, choc with top-10 in-conference matchups and long road trips.

Cold snaps
Miami by month

Season January February March/April 2nd half
2015-16 5-3-1 5-2-0 0-4-0 10-9-1
2016-17 4-3-1 0-5-1 0-4-0 4-12-2
2017-18 1-4-1 2-5-1 1-3-1 4-12-3
Totals 10-10-3 7-12-2 1-11-1 18-33-6

The RedHawks are 8-24-5 after New Year’s the past two seasons – a paltry .284 winning percentage – including 2-15-4 (.190) on the road.

BoB takes a look at five things Miami needs to do to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

1. Better special teams. The RedHawks are in the bottom half of the NCAA in both power play and penalty kills, with a 16.4 percent efficiency rate on the man advantage and a 79.4 percent PK clip. They have just four PPGs in their last eight games and are just 14 of 21 on penalty kills their last five contests (66.7 percent). Miami has tried pretty much every one of its skaters on the man-advantage and still needs to improve its chemistry.

2. Less time in the defensive zone. Teams have set up camp in Miami’s third of the ice at times and obviously it’s counterproductive to have your best players chasing the puck in their own zone for a minute or more.

3. Better road play. The RedHawks are a stellar 6-2-2 at Cady Arena but are 2-3-1 on opponents’ campuses and 1-1 on neutral ice. And with the exception of Providence, those road foes were not among college hockey’s elite – Colorado College, New Hampshire and Omaha plus Mercyhurst in its home city. Miami has scored just 18 goals in eight games away from Oxford. And we documented the RedHawks’ recent road struggles in the second half above.

4. Cut out the major penalties. The NCAA has made its point: The bar for five-and-a-game has dropped significantly, and three guys who are not cheap-shot artists in the least have all been booted from games this season.

5. Avoid major skids. Last season it was a 1-9-1 stretch. In 2016-17 Miami endured both 10- and 11-game winless streaks. An 0-6-1 span doomed 2015-16. Those types of streaks are season killers, so the RedHawks must have a thicker skin than in past seasons when facing adversity.

Now, five reasons to be optimistic about MU’s second half:

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

1. Effort. This team does not quit, and there’s no reason to believe it will during the stretch run of the regular season. That attribute was exemplified during Miami’s last series, a pair of ties vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State during which the RedHawks fell behind by one goal six times and rallied to even the score each time. Karch Bachman has been one of the leaders in this area, as he has parlayed his game-changing speed with a suburb compete level, resulting in him leading the team in goals with seven and generating multiple scoring chances almost every game.

2. Goaltending. Throw out last season’s numbers for Ryan Larkin. He was voted team MVP as a freshman and is even better in 2018-19, boasting a 1.89 goals-against average and .936 save percentage – which is five whole percent better than his sophomore year when he finished at .886. Part of the credit belongs to Jordan Uhelski, who has performed well when called upon and was a game saver in both ends of the St. Cloud State series. Uhelski has a .915 save percentage but as importantly the graduate senior has also helped push Larkin, who did not have a similar foil last season.

3. Freshmen are improving. Derek Daschke is clearly the freshman MVP of the first three months of the season, as he leads that class in points (3-9-12) and has been exceptional in his own end as well. And he continues to improve on seemingly a nightly basis. Scott Corbett is thriving in his grinding role while wielding a quality shot that has netted him three goals, and he stood out vs. SCSU. Same with Brian Hawkinson, who is 1-6-7 and has been a better forward than those stats indicate. Monte Graham is a faceoff stud and is starting to demonstrate skills in other areas. Big D-men Bray Crowder and Andrew Sinard also seem to be adapting to the college game. Jonathan Gruden (1-6-7) is raw but has tons of upside and could take off once the calendar flips.

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

4. A healthy Knies? Phil Knies suffered an upper body injury at Cady Arena on Nov. 10, so Knies should be nearing a return. The sophomore will have missed seven weeks by the time the second half starts with the puck drop in Providence. Knies has been a critical part of Miami’s offense, scoring 11 times as a freshman and posting three goals in 12 games this season.

5. The defense corps is deeper. Daschke’s presence is huge, and River Rymsha has been a pleasant surprise, forcing himself onto the lineup card each night with his impressive two-way play. Crowder has dressed for all 18 games, and Sinard has seen the ice six of the last seven games. With sophomores Rourke Russell and Alec Mahalak earning regular spots, that has severely curtailed the number of starts for Chaz Switzer and Grant Frederic, who were decent five and six defensemen last season. Of course, standout and captain Grant Hutton leads this corps with a skill set that will likely land him in the NHL within two years.

Now, the schedule…

After a Sunday exhibition vs. the University of Guelph (Ont.), Miami heads to No. 10 Providence. The RedHawks were already shut out by the Friars on neutral ice in October. Then it’s off the Kalamazoo to face No. 17 Western Michigan.

Back home for a pair against Colorado College and two vs. No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth.

Miami then heads to No. 1 St. Cloud State, followed by a home series vs. Omaha before its one off week of the second half.

The final three series? At No. 8 Denver, at No. 4 UMD, home vs. No. 17 WMU.

A look at the final 18 regular season games:

Date Opponent Time
Jan. 4 at Providence 7:00
Jan. 5 at Providence 7:00
Jan. 11 at W. Michigan 7:00
Jan. 12 at W. Michigan 7:00
Jan. 18 MINN.-DULUTH 7:35
Jan. 19 MINN.-DULUTH 7:05
Jan. 25 COLO. COLLEGE 7:35
Jan. 26 COLO. COLLEGE 7:05
Feb. 1 at St. Cloud State 8:07
Feb. 2 at St. Cloud State 7:07
Feb. 8 NEBRASKA-OMAHA 6:30
Feb. 9 NEBRASKA-OMAHA 7:05
Feb. 22 at Denver 9:07
Feb. 23 at Denver 9:07
March 1 at Minn.-Duluth 8:07
March 2 at Minn.-Duluth 8:07
March 8 W. MICHIGAN 7:35

The NCHC standings…

All eight teams have played eight out of 24 league games, or one-third of their conference slate, and Miami is currently tied with Denver for that all-important fourth spot.

The four spot is crucial because it’s the final home-ice slot for the NCHC Tournament. Miami has not hosted a league tournament series since 2015 but has a legitimate shot this winter.

Team GP W L T XP Pts.
St. Cloud State 8 6 0 2 1 21
Western Michigan 8 4 3 1 1 14
Minn.-Duluth 8 4 3 1 0 13
MIAMI 8 3 3 2 1 12
Denver 8 4 4 0 0 12
North Dakota 8 3 5 0 0 9
Omaha 8 2 5 1 1 8
Colo. College 8 2 5 1 0 7

Miami played well overall the first half of 2018-19, better than many expected.

The challenge of course is for the RedHawks to sustain that level of success during their annual murderer’s row of opponents in the winter months.

But heading into the pressure cooker three games over .500 and playing with the type of intensity Miami has exuded the first three months, returning to the NCAAs is now a real possibility.

Miami scores late to tie No. 1 St. Cloud

OXFORD, Ohio – Four times Miami fell behind by a goal, and each time the RedHawks generated the equalizer against the top-ranked team in Division I.

Miami’s Casey Gilling (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Casey Gilling netted the tying goal as MU salvaged a 4-4 draw vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena on Friday despite neither leading nor trailing by more than one.

The Huskies (11-1-1) did earn the extra conference point by winning the single-round shootout.

Making the tie even more impressive is goalie Ryan Larkin was injured midway through the first period and RedHawks (9-6-2) finished with backup Jordan Uhelski in net.

RECAP: It was an eventful first period, with both teams scoring three times including once each in the opening 77 seconds.

Miami’s Scott Corbett (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Robby Jackson put SCSU ahead at the 1:08 mark when he fired a shot from the slot that tricked through Larkin and across the goal line. Originally the call was no call, so play continued, but after the next whistle the play was reviewed a ruled a good goal.

Nine seconds later, Scott Corbett drove to the high slot and appeared to have his shot deflect off a defender’s stick and past goalie Jeff Smith on the glove side.

Josh Melnick won the center-ice draw and Gordie Green sprung Corbett loose by seizing the puck along the boards in traffic.

Jackson put St. Cloud ahead three minutes later when he ripped one from the high slot over the shoulder of Larkin on the power play.

An errant defensive-zone pass by the Huskies from the behind the net slid through the slot to a wide-open Monte Graham, who unloaded for the shorthanded tying goal to make it 2-2 just 80 seconds after St. Cloud State had regained the lead.

The Huskies ahead took a one-goal lead when Patrick Newell fed a pass through both Miami defensemen to Sam Hentges for a one-time rip from the inside edge of the faceoff circle with 6:26 left in the opening frame.

And once again Miami answered, as Gordie Green flipped a two-line pass that was chased by Karch Bachman, who took control of it at the blue line, took two strides and went top shelf just under the far crossbar from the left wing with 2:20 remaining in the first stanza.

The score remained 3-3 until late in the second period when Newell skated in along the left wing boards, cut to center ice – beating two Miami defenders in the process – and backhanding one in to give the Huskies the lead.

Gilling leveled it at four when he intercepted a clearing attempt, passed to himself on the near boards and whipped a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle with 7:06 remaining.

The remainder of regulation, the five-minute 5-on-5 overtime and the five-minute 3-on-3 session did not produce a goal for either side, and the Huskies picked up the third league point on a Jon Lizotte shootout goal after Gilling was denied on this attempt.

STATS: Green led Miami with two points, both on assists, giving him five multi-point games this season, and this was his second time with at least a pair of helpers.

Miami’s Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— It was the first career goal for Graham, and the third in six games for Gilling after he was held scoreless through the first 11.

— Bachman has four markers in his last six contests as he moved into solo control of first on the team with seven.

— Melnick extended his points streak to a team-high four games, and he is 2-3-5 in that stretch. That gives him 98 for his career, with 34 goals and 64 assists.

— Uhelski finished with a RedHawks career-high 31 saves despite coming on in relief. He had three previous starts for Miami but had never stopped more than 24.

— Miami ended the game 0-for-3 on the power play and killed off just one of three SCSU chances. However, the RedHawks did notch a shorthanded goal.

— Despite not winning, St. Cloud State dominated in a couple of key areas. The Huskies were 48-22 on faceoffs and led on the shot counter, 44-30 including 32-17 in the first 40 minutes.

Miami actually led in SOG the final 25 minutes, 13-12.

Here’s the difference in shots: SCSU blocked 22, the RedHawks just eight. Jimmy Schuldt of the Huskies rejected seven himself.

THOUGHTS: Although Miami fell short of a win, this is a huge boost for the program.

Although the process for a young hockey team is more important than the results, the result was a tie vs. the No. 1 team in college hockey three months after conference media slated the RedHawks the worst team in the league.

And the way Miami did it showed the process is working.

The RedHawks weren’t as talented as St. Cloud State, not as deep, not as fast, not as skilled at puck possession.

Miami was shorthanded three times in the first period and lost its starting goalie to an injury less than 10 minutes in. Yet every time the Huskies found the net, the RedHawks answered.

A minute in SCSU scored. Nine seconds later, tie game. Then a minute after the second goal, same. A third time later in the period, all while seemingly nothing was going the RedHawks’ way.

The process has put the team at the threshold of being a really good team just nine months after Miami Marchmageddon.

It’s not just that the RedHawks tied the No. 1 team in the NCAA, playing for the ninth straight weekend, it’s that they are playing the game the right way. Playing physical, battling for pucks along the boards, taking smart angles defensively, getting solid efforts from goaltenders every night.

Miami’s Jordan Uhelski (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Playing to the final whistle regardless of the score.

Miami is very close to becoming a power player in this league again.

— Uhelski. Had to come off the bench cold after Larkin’s injury, and all he did was turn 31 of 33 shots aside including back-to-back point-blank chances at the top of the crease and a handful of others on high-percentage shots.

He also shut down a third-period breakaway.

Even when he’s not playing, he’s contributing by pushing Larkin, who didn’t have tons of competition for the starting job in 2017-18.

Larkin’s save percentage last season was just .886. It’s now .935. Uhelski’s is .910.

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

— Bachman. It’s one of greatest pleasures of following a college hockey team for a number of years: Watching players improve.

Karch Bachman’s stock seems to rise by astounding intervals every night. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player visibly progress on a night-to-night basis at Bachman’s current rate.

On one shift, he gained the offensive zone with his speed, then when the puck ended up in his corner, he drove an opponent off of it by burying him along the boards, resulting in a sustained attack by the RedHawks.

He’s never been overly physical but it has seemed natural to him recently.

We’re watching the Florida Panthers draft pick develop into a serious force in the NCHC.

— This was one of Jonathan Gruden’s best games. Against the very best in D-I, he got the play started on the Bachman goal. His passing, which has resulted in a number of turnovers early, was extremely accurate and his stick handling was impressive.

— So how about Coach Enrico Blasi holding court with both referees at the beginning of the second period? It actually delayed the start, but the power plays were 3-0 SCSU, with St. Cloud scoring twice on the power play, and a couple of clear penalties against the Huskies were not whistled?

Fantastic move. The result: Zero power plays for St. Cloud the final 45 minutes, three for Miami.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A-. The top three lines all scored, and Graham added an SHG. And Graham was solid beyond his 4-on-5 goal. Liked the way the lower lines battled in this game. Negatives? Gilling had a chance to clear a puck that ultimately resulted in a St. Cloud goal. Faceoff rate of under .333 is unacceptable.

DEFENSEMEN: C+. The Huskies moved the puck extremely well and it seemed like this corps was slow to react at times. A pass on the third goal got through both Rourke Russell and Grant Hutton, and Bray Crowder was beaten at the blue line, helping the Huskies notch their final tally.

GOALTENDING: B+. Larkin should’ve stopped one of the first two St. Cloud goals but faced 11 shots in under 10 minutes, including a handful of high-quality chances. Uhelski had little chance on his two goals against and he was brilliant otherwise. As mentioned above, he denied a point-blank chance and the ensuing rebound plus shut down a late breakaway.

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

LINEUP CHANGES: D Andrew Sinard was back in for Chaz Switzer, and up front Christian Mohs took the place of Zach LaValle.

Mohs’ play has improved and he is making a case for regular playing time. He has dressed eight times in 17 games this season.

Sinard was the extra skater and has been in the lineup four of Miami’s last five games. Blasi has kept his ice time down.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a fun game to watch, hopefully one of many we’ll see at Cady Arena the balance of the season.

Seeing St. Cloud State live for the first time, it’s easy to understand why it’s No. 1 in the NCAA. But Miami deserved the tie as much as the Huskies did.

The RedHawks wouldn’t quit, which is becoming a theme with this team.

Win or lose, Miami plays hard for 60 minutes, or in this case 65. Or 70 counting the 3-on-3.

Regardless of the game length, the RedHawks Version 2018-19 certainly battle from start to finish.

That’s a major reason Miami is carrying an above-.500 record into December for the first time in four years, which was same season the RedHawks carried a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament.

Preview: St. Cloud State at Miami

The last time Miami faced St. Cloud State was the first round of the NCHC Tournament, and despite being outmanned and playing on the road, the RedHawks not only took the Huskies to Game 3 but forced overtime.

MU finished 1-4 vs. SCSU last season and the Huskies enter this weekend riding a six-game winning streak and No. 1 ranking.

BoB takes a look at the upcoming series between these teams:

WHO: No. 1 St. Cloud State Huskies (11-1) at Miami RedHawks (9-6-1).

WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.

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

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 17-16-2.

LAST SEASON: St. Cloud went 4-1. SCSU swept its two-game series in Oxford and won 2 of 3 in a home opening-round NCHC series.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

ST. CLOUD STATE RADIO: Both nights – KZRV-FM (96.7).

NOTES: St. Cloud State enters this weekend as the lone unbeaten team in conference play (4-0) as well as the NCHC leader in goals, goals allowed and winning percentage.

The Huskies average 4.25 goals, second-best in the NCAA, and they are tied for second in goals against average at 1.83.

Senior Patrick Newell leads the team in goals (8) and points (15) as he hones in on triple digits for his career.

Three Huskies are tied for second in points with 13, including Montreal draftee Ryan Poehling (3-10-13). Ryan Jackson has an identical line, and Robby Jackson is 5-8-13.

A pair of standout defensemen, Jack Ahcan and Jimmy Schuldt, have 12 points each, and Blake Lizotte has 11.

In net, Los Angeles draft pick Dave Hrenak has played eight games, going 7-0 with a 2.13 goals-against average despite a pedestrian .907 save percentage.

Jeff Smith has excelled in relief, posting a 1.26 GAA and .948 save percentage.

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

Miami has been limited to 12 goals in its last six games, with Josh Melnick and Karch Bachman accounting for three each.

Ryan Larkin is the favorite to start both games between the pipes for the RedHawks.

UNH scores in final minute to tie Miami

New Hampshire lived up to its MO, and Miami seems to be adopting it as well.

The Wildcats played in their sixth overtime game of the season and the No. 19 RedHawks – who had seen all of their first 13 games decided in regulation – went to an extra session for the second consecutive contest in a 3-3 tie at Whittemore Center on Friday.

Earning a tie for the fifth time in 11 games this season, New Hampshire (1-5-5) salvaged the draw thanks to a 6-on-5 backhander by Liam Blackburn off a feed by Eric Esposito with 33 seconds left in regulation.

Nine different players recorded points for Miami. The series finale is at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

RECAP: The first three goals of the game were scored in a 4:23 window.

New Hampshire took the lead at the eight-minute mark when Matt Dawson tipped in a bad-angle shot.

Just 71 seconds later, the RedHawks (9-5-1) tied it on a goal by Josh Melnick, who belted home a rebound which caromed off the end boards off a blast by River Rymsha.

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

The Wildcats regained the lead on the power play with 7:37 left to play in the opening stanza as Angus Crookshank cashed in on a rebound chance off a shot by Patrick Grasso.

Miami had a would-be tying goal waved off as it was ruled that Karch Bachman interfered with the goalie as Casey Gilling connected.

But Bachman tied it at two when he wired one from the inside of the faceoff circle over the shoulder of UNH goalie Ty Taylor 2:34 into the third period.

Ninety-four seconds later, Ben Lown deposited home a loose puck in the slot off a shot by Brian Hawkinson that was blocked as Miami took its first and only lead of the night.

But Blackburn’s pitch-fork backhander evened the score, and despite three shots by each team in overtime, the game ended in a tie.

STATS: Nine players picked up points for Miami, the maximum possible with a three-goal output.

Bachman has scored three goals in four games and leads the team with six overall. Melnick has picked up 12 points in his last nine contests.

— The RedHawks were outshot for the sixth straight game and have seen opponents pile up 62 more SOG in that span or nearly nine per game.

THOUGHTS: It’s always tough to see a win slip away in the final minute and that has happened to Miami far too often in recent years.

It makes it worse considering the RedHawks had rallied from one down to take the lead earlier in the third period.

In MU’s defense, this is the first time this season the team has seen a win slip away due to a late opponent’s goal, and the RedHawks won in overtime last weekend and pulled out a 2-1 win over UMass-Lowell late after trailing 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes.

— Overall, UNH had the better chances and finished with a 37-28 edge in shots on goal. This is the RedHawks’ eighth straight weekend of games, including four road trips and a flight to Colorado Springs last week.

One starts to wonder if Miami needs a weekend off. It gets several after St. Cloud visits Oxford next Friday and Saturday.

— Carter Johnson seems to be working his way back to his late 2017-18 form. The RedHawks can use all of the offensive weapons they can get.

— Amazing how much better Melnick is on the power play this season. He was 14-6 (.700) in the circle in this game.

Had never watched a game on YouTube before, but the picture was surprisingly clear. There was only one announcer who is clearly still learning his craft, and the replays were limited but another medium for college hockey games should be welcomed.

LINEUP CHANGES: Miami seems to like using seven defensemen, as Andrew Sinard dressed for the fourth straight game as the extra skater.

With Larkin a staple in net, the only changes the RedHawks have been making have been up front. Johnson was back after missing three games, and Zach LaValle was also back on the ice.

Noah Jordan and Christian Mohs, both of whom dressed last Saturday, were scratched.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Considering that scoring depth is not Miami’s strong suit this season, the RedHawks have not been afraid to play up-tempo, which has made for exciting games.

These teams both had a lot of high-quality chances and Ryan Larkin is better than most at keeping those out of the net.

The tie was not the desired outcome considering Miami had battled back to take the lead in the third period, but a Saturday win would give the RedHawks a 1-0-1 weekend and 10-5-1 mark heading into their final first-half series.

MU would have to consider five games over .500 a successful first two months.

Slow start dooms Miami at CC

Miami has not been a Friday team this season.

On this particular Friday, the No. 20 RedHawks struggled early, gave up the go-ahead goal late in the second period and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 in the final stanza, culminating in a 2-1 loss at Colorado College.

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

Miami is still 8-5 overall but fell to 2-4 on Friday, meaning the RedHawks are 6-1 on Saturday and Sunday.

Karch Bachman scored the lone goal for MU, tying the score eight minutes into the middle frame.

RECAP: The Tigers (5-5-1) dominated the first 20 minutes and came out of the first period ahead, 1-0.

Trey Bradley took a drop pass in the high slot and fired it on net, and though Miami’s Ryan Larkin kicked it aside, it caromed directly to the goalie’s right where waiting Mason Bergh whipped it in from the bad angle 7:45 into the contest.

The RedHawks (8-5) tied it with 11:56 left in the second period when Karch Bachman carried the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot around his defender and into the top left corner.

But Colorado College regained the lead eight minutes later when Erik Middendorf one-timed a pass home from Alex Berardinelli. Berardinelli had grabbed a loose puck at the blue line after Zach LaValle tried to pass up ice and had his stick shatter.

The Tigers were whistled for overlapping penalties early in the third, creating a 46-second two-man advantage for Miami, but the RedHawks were unable to generate the equalizer.

STATS: Bachman has scored in consecutive games for the second time this season and leads the team in goals with five.

— Gilling picked up his sixth point in his last six, as he is 1-5-6 in that stretch. Larkin earned his first point since Oct. 28, 2017 with his secondary assist.

— Larkin has allowed exactly two goals in each of his last three games, stopping 90 of 96 shots in that span (.938).

— Miami extended its winless streak vs. Colorado College to four games. The RedHawks are 0-3-1 against the Tigers dating back to Nov. 3, 2017.

— MU outshot its opponents in eight of its first nine games, but its foes have more shots than the RedHawks in their last four. Colorado College edged out Miami, 31-30 in this contest.

THOUGHTS: Like last weekend, the RedHawks weren’t ready for this one as they were dominated early.

That resulted in a 1-0 CC lead, and while Miami tied it, a bad-luck goal by the Tigers ultimately sealed it.

In six Friday games this season the RedHawks have only scored three first-period goals, so the slow series starts are becoming a concern. A poor start to the North Dakota series eliminated any chance of a Miami win last Friday.

— We’ve been saying it all season, but how about the improvement by Bachman? He was 1-on-1 entering the zone and still ripped it home for his goal. He’s now winning battles in the corners and regularly forcing turnovers.

— He was well defended in The decisive goal was pretty unlucky for Miami, as LaValle’s stick broke while he was trying to send the puck out of his zone, but instead it ended up in the RedHawks’ net.

— Gilling was limited to one point his first seven games but has six in his last six. He has really upped his game at every level in recent weeks.

— Interesting that Coach Enrico Blasi is playing the two huge freshmen D-men, Bray Crowder and Andrew Sinard, on the same pairing.

LINEUP CHANGES: Unfortunately, Phil Knies was not in the lineup for the first time in his career. He suffered an upper-body injury early in last Saturday’s win over North Dakota.

Sinard dressed in his second straight game for the first time this season, and Carter Johnson has now missed consecutive contests.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami has to realize that it can’t just show up for the final 40 minutes and hope to win.

The RedHawks spotted Colorado College the first 20 minutes and the teams were basically even the last two periods, but that 1-0 difference in the opening stanza was the difference.

Relatively speaking, Miami has had it pretty easy to open NCHC play – the RedHawks played UNO, which has won two games, and North Dakota before heading to Colorado Springs to face a team that was previously 0-4 in the league – and MU is just 2-3 in conference play.

Analysis: Good start considering turnover

ERIE, Pa. – Through four games, Miami has beaten the teams it should’ve beaten and lost to the team ranked in the top five of the national polls.

The RedHawks sit at 3-1 two weeks into the season, having swept Alabama-Huntsville twice at home and shut out Mercyhurst in the third-place game of the Ice Breaker on Saturday. Their blemish is a 4-0 loss to No. 5 Providence in Friday’s semifinal round here.

Miami outscored UAH and Mercyhurst, 12-1, an encouraging sign that the RedHawks have blown out those teams since MU has 11 new players on its roster.

And really Miami played better than the final score indicated in the loss to the Friars.

Considering how the RedHawks’ off-season began, this quote-unquote rebuild could’ve been a whole lot worse.

Miami will get plenty of true litmus tests against teams of its caliber, but its start has been encouraging.

— 6-feet-7 defenseman Andrew Sinard made his collegiate debut on Saturday, and he handled his start well. He was listed as the seventh defenseman on Miami’s lineup card and appeared cool when the puck ended up on his stick while holding his own on D.

He threaded a pass to Jonathan Gruden that nearly resulted in a goal as well.

“He handled himself pretty well,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “He’s a big boy, he’s got good reach and he made a nice play on the back door to Gruds that just kind of got away from Gruds a little bit, otherwise it was a tap-in, but he saw some limited ice but I thought he did a good job.”

Miami defenseman Chaz Switzer (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Sinard and Chaz Switzer made their 2018-19 debuts on Saturday as Miami dressed seven defensemen. River Rymsha sat for the first time this season. Switzer was banged up in preseason but logged 55 games his freshman and sophomore campaigns.

— After this weekend, eight blueliners have dressed in four games – Grant Hutton, Alec Mahalak, Rourke Russell, Brayden Crowder, Derek Daschke, Rymsha, Switzer and Sinard. The first five have skated in all four games, Rymsha has played in three games, Switzer and Sinard made their 2018-19 debuts on Saturday.

The fact Miami has trouble getting some of these guys in the lineup speaks to its depth.

“We’re pleased with that, and obviously we’ve got to keep going and keep pushing guys to get better,” Blasi said. “We want our guys to play their best every night, I think the depth and everyone buying into that helps.”

— Karch Bachman leads the team with three goals, including a breakaway tally and eventual game winner in the first minute on Saturday.

He forfeited some of his gold star when he took a spearing major and was assessed a game misconduct in the second period, but the Florida Panthers draftee has clearly found another gear early this season.

Finishing chances was an issue at times in 2017-18 but his shooting percentage is .200 in a small sample size this season.

Asked whether his improved play was a product of confidence, Blasi said “you let me know if you figure it out.”

— So playing the Canadian and U.S. anthems prior to games is apparently a thing for Mercyhurst, so we heard both each night at Erie Insurance Arena.

— Somehow missed this in the off-season but teams are allowed to dress a 19th skater this season. On Saturday it was Sinard, on Friday it was forward Noah Jordan. That was extremely helpful for Miami on Saturday since Bachman was sent to the dressing room early, and the RedHawks also benefitted in their opener when Carter Johnson was cheap-shotted.

— If there was a penalty killing first star for the weekend, it would go to Brian Hawkinson. The freshman is proving himself quite an agitator and is earning tons of PK time with his defensive ability.

— Attendance was listed at 2,387 for Saturday, but there were fewer than 500 for each of Miami’s games, including the third-place game against Mercyhurst, which is located in Erie. As many MU grads as there are living in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, there should’ve been more RedHawks fans in the seats.

Win lifts Miami to third at Ice Breaker

ERIE, Pa. – Miami couldn’t get a single shot past Providence on Friday.

But it took just 29 seconds for Karch Bachman to generate a goal for the RedHawks on Saturday as they beat Mercyhurst, 3-0 in the third-place game of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Erie Insurance Arena.

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

“That’s huge,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “You’ve got to score first – that’s one thing that you want to try to do in a game because all in the sudden now you’re playing on your toes and not your heels.”

Bachman accelerated through a pair of Lakers defenders, went in alone and buried a forehand shot on the glove side in the opening minute to open the scoring.

That was all the offense Miami (3-1) needed, as goalie Ryan Larkin turned 21 shots aside to earn his second shutout in three starts this season, which is already a career high. The junior now has four perfect sheets for his career, with one each his freshman and sophomore years.

Ahead by one, Ryan Siroky carried the puck around the back of the Mercyhurst net and stuffed the wraparound into the net to make it 2-0 with 13:51 left in the second period.

In the final minute of the middle stanza, Phil Knies stole the puck from a Mercyhurst (0-2-1) skater at center ice, went in alone and slid a backhander through the five hole of goalie Stefano Cantali.

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

“I would say maybe a little undisciplined today, so we had to kill some penalties, still trying to understand how to manage the game in certain areas,” Blasi said. “I think that comes with some youth – but I thought for the most part our effort and our structure was pretty good.”

Historically, Bachman and Siroky have not been huge goal scorers but both are off to hot starts.

Bachman, a junior, netted two goals as a freshman and six last season, but his breakaway tally was his team-leading third marker of 2018-19. Siroky is second on the team behind Bachman with two tallies in four games this campaign after the senior found the net just seven times his first three seasons.

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

Despite scoring three times, Miami was credited with just one assist, with Christian Mohs notching his first point of the season on Siroky’s goal. Bachman and Knies both scored unassisted.

Larkin has made 61 saves on 64 shots (.953), an encouraging sign after last season when his save percentage was just .886.

“I thought he struggled with a couple shots (vs. Providence) – or at least one for sure – but he made good saves today,” Blasi said. “Top of his crease was solid, and he played the puck well. It’s there, he just has to make sure he stays focused.”

The RedHawks were 0-for-4 on the power play and finished the weekend without a man-advantage goal despite 11 opportunities. After netting a pair of PPGs in its opener, MU has failed to cash on in 14 chances over the last three games.

Conversely, Miami’s penalty kill was 6-for-6 and has allowed just one power play goal this season. Bachman took a spearing major in the second period and was ejected.

“We had a lot of good chances on the power play, but right now it’s just not going in for us,” Blasi said. “But our PK did a great job and sometimes you’re going to have to play games like that.”

This is the first time the RedHawks have won three of their first four games since 2014-15, and Blasi said he is pleased with the start overall.

“You take four-game segments like that, they start to add up,” Blasi said.

Miami opens a four-game homestand with a two-game series vs. UMass-Lowell next weekend. Colgate comes to Oxford for a pair of contests on Oct. 26-27.

MIAMI U. 1-2-0 – 3
MERCYHURST 0-0-0 – 0

First period: 1. Mia., Bachman 3, uag, 0:29.

Second period: 2. Mia., Siroky 2 (Mohs), 6:09; 3. Mia., Knies 1, shg, 19:11.

Third period: None.

Shots on goal: Miami U. 8-18-5 – 31; Mercyhurst 7-6-8 – 21. Power plays: Miami U. 0-for-4; Mercyhurst 0-for-6. Goalies: Miami U., Larkin (21 of 21 saved); Mercyhurst, Cantali (28 of 31). Referees: Ryan Sweeney, Eugene Binda. Linesmen: Brendan Lewis, Joe Lewis. Time: 2:20. Attendance: 2,387.

Miami wins opener vs. UAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— There was a lot to like among the newcomers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRADES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018-19 Miami preview Part 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.