Having watched a lot of hockey at a lot of levels, it’s not hyperbole to say this is one of the most frustrating teams to watch in this lifetime.
Unfortunately, that cliché about “close” counting doesn’t refer to hockey and hand grenades, or else Miami would be in much better shape after its 3-3 tie at No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.
Because in many ways, close is what the RedHawks (9-16-7) are to being a successful team and not one mired seven games under .500, facing a brutal road series to advance in the NCHC Tournament in two weeks just to extend their season. And it’s frustrating that they’ve not been able to close teams out too many times this season.
Close – amazingly – is what Miami is to defaulting to home-ice advantage in that round despite a 5-12-5 league record, as the team is only six points out of that elusive fourth seed. Frustrating because with Duluth and Denver running away with the top two seeds, the points threshold for that seed is lower than in any of the four seasons of the NCHC.
Close in forward depth, as this team has true offensive stars in Anthony Louis, Kiefer Sherwood, Josh Melnick and Carson Meyer. Gordie Green’s stock has soared the past two months, and Willie Knierim seems to be figuring it out at a steady, big guy, 19-year-old-in-D-I pace. Frustrating because the other seven forwards on the roster have a combined total of seven goals.
Close at defense, an area BoB highlighted at the beginning of the season with half of its studly blue line from 2015-16 graduating, as Grant Hutton is becoming a leader among this group and youngsters like Chaz Switzer appear to be gaining confidence. Frustrating because that progress has been too slow for some, veterans are making too many unforced mistakes and opponents are still setting up shop in front of the Miami net far too often with over 90 percent of the regular season in the books.
Well past close to “arrived” status in net, as Ryan Larkin has been a savior for this team – pun intended – as he has faced far too many A-plus scoring chances this season but still owns a .912 save percentage. Even that area is frustrating because he appears to be either tiring or losing a bit of confidence and has allowed the occasional soft goal in recent weeks that never would’ve gone in during December or January.
Close because this team showed a flash of excellence when it ran off five straight wins around the holidays and outscored its opponents, 18-2 in the third period and overtime during that span, with Melnick netting a pair of highlight-reel OT winners. Frustrating because the RedHawks suffered through an 0-7-3 span – their longest winless stretch in a quarter century – and are currently 1-8-2 in their last 11 during their most important games when they were given every chance to move up both in PairWise and the NCHC standings to earn their way into the NCAAs. And oh yeah, they’ve been outscored, 16-4 in the third period in their last seven, giving up multiple goals in the final stanza in every one of those contests.
This weekend is a microcosm of close and frustrating. Miami came back from 2-0 on Thursday to tie the second-ranked team in college hockey on the road, then after the Bulldogs (20-5-7) surged ahead again, the RedHawks again evened the score at three. Finally UMD buried a power play chance with a minute and a half left. Miami salvaged a tie on Friday and earned the extra league point.
The RedHawks have played some of their best hockey against top-ranked opponents like Minnesota-Duluth. This was probably the toughest series on Miami’s entire season schedule, and even without its captain, MU hung with the Bulldogs both games.
But it’s the story of the season: the RedHawks couldn’t get the win either night. Close doesn’t count in hockey.
– Is this series an example, like we talked about last week, of a team that is playing loose because home ice and PairWise are no longer factors? At six games under .500 heading into this weekend, these outcomes really don’t matter except for NCHC Tournament seeding. That takes a lot of pressure off a team that was in a bad place after the recent St. Cloud series. The focus now is getting better next weekend and preparing for that all-important best-of-3 in two weeks.
– How much of an impact does the return of Justin Greenberg and the loss of Louie Belpedio have on this team? Greenberg’s injury hurt the team on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle, and Louie Belpedio missed this weekend after being kneed last weekend. Those changes can affect the chemistry of a team – positively or negatively – and based on where Miami was for the Denver series and where it was this weekend, it seems like the RedHawks got a boost from Greenberg and were more fired up after losing their captain.
– And on the latter, BoB wishes a speedy return to Belpedio, who is a team leader on and off the ice and a delight to talk to. He’s had some struggles this year with penalties and turnovers, but captaincy on this team is very difficult. We even saw it affect Austin Czarnik, one of the best Miamians in team history and a current NHLer who could play there for the next decade.
– In fairness to the above, injuries really have played a role with this team, as Meyer, Larkin, Belpedio, Greenberg and Jared Brandt have all missed time this season, and with just three extra skaters on the team, Miami doesn’t really have the depth to absorb personnel losses. Christian Mohs hurt his knee before the season even started and has been out for the season, which put the RedHawks shorthanded from Day 1.
– Miami was mathematically eliminated from home ice after failing to secure three points on Friday. Long story as short as possible, if the RedHawks won out and Nebraska-Omaha won on Saturday then was swept next weekend, and St. Cloud State was swept, that would be best albeit super-unlikely scenario, as Miami would finish in a three-way tie with whatever the Sioux are calling themselves these days and the Huskies. But the RedHawks would still be 3-4-1 against those two teams and would end up with a six seed. So much for the suspense.
– In the bizarre stats area, Hutton is now tied with Melnick for best shooting percentage on the team, as both have scored nine times on 49 shots (.184). Maybe Brandt’s first career goal in Oxford last Saturday instilled confidence in him, as he had 27 shots on goal all season entering this weekend and fired six times in these two games, finding the net twice.
– Tapping the old memory banks to recall a team that was more self-strangulation inducing, the 2000-01 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks come to mind. That team had to use 12 goalies during the regular season and lost player after player to Anaheim and Detroit, that team’s affiliates. They finished above .500 but took an early exit from the playoffs.
Miami has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the third period this season.
The final stanza was the RedHawks’ demise on Friday, as they allowed three crucial goals in the last 20 minutes and fell, 4-2 at St. Cloud State.
It was the fourth time this season Miami had surrendered three or more goals in the final period and the second straight contest in which an opponent tallied multiple markers after the second intermission.
After a scoreless first period, the RedHawks (9-12-6) took the lead on the game’s first penalty, as a shot by Louie Belpedio was tipped on net by Gordie Green, who seized the rebound and beat Jeff Smith for a power play goal 4:04 into the middle frame.
The Huskies (14-14-1) tied it with 2:59 left in that stanza when a wrister by Dennis Cholowski was redirected home by Ryan Poehling on the man advantage.
Mikey Eyssimont put St. Cloud State ahead 2:35 into the third period. A lateral offensive-zone pass by Patrick Newell was partially deflected to Eyssimont, who fired it just under the crossbar.
Just 71 seconds later, the Huskies went ahead by two on another tipped shot, as Jon Lizotte deflected a blue-line rip by Robby Jackson into the bottom corner of the net.
In the final minute, Miami did cut the deficit to one on a 6-on-4, as Anthony Louis slid a pass from the high slot to Kiefer Sherwood for a one-time blast that found the top of the cage.
But with 13 seconds remaining, SCSU sealed it for good on an empty netter by Jimmy Schuldt from his defensive zone.
The RedHawks have won just one of their last six (1-4-1) and are winless in their last four on the road.
Sherwood finished with a goal and an assist, extending his points streak to three games, and he snapped a six-game stretch without a goal.
Belpedio ended up with two helpers and also has a three-game point streak.
After scoring just once in his first 17 games, Green’s marker was his fourth in his last 10.
Miami entered this game in prime position to move up in the NCHC standings, as it was just one point back of the Huskies, who were in sixth place, but now MU is ensured of remaining in seventh after this weekend, as it is four points back of St. Cloud State.
The RedHawks slipped to 24th in the PairWise rankings, and would need to move up about 10 spots in the final weeks to warrant NCAA Tournament at-large consideration.
These teams wrap up their weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday. That game will be telecast on FSN North.
The comeback at Ohio State seemed impressive, but Miami topped that on Friday.
After falling behind by two, the RedHawks scored five unanswered goals to beat No. 7 North Dakota, 6-3 at Ralph Engelstad Arena, extending their winning streak to five games and their stretch of unbeaten contests to six.
Miami (8-8-5) was down, 3-1 entering the third period, with its lone goal coming by Gordie Green 3:30 into the game on a shot by Zach Lavelle that deflected off Green’s skate at the side of the net.
Anthony Louis cut the deficit to one just 55 seconds into the final stanza when he slammed a loose puck home from the top of the crease.
The RedHawks tied it 4:03 into that frame when Carson Meyer took a pass on the right wing, skated in alone and backhanded it home.
Thanks to a similar set-up, Karch Bachman got behind the defense at the same spot, took it in and scored on the forehard to make it 4-3 with 12:11 left in regulation.
After a North Dakota (12-7-3) goalie change, Ryan Siroky stickhandled at the top the crease and shoveled one through the five hole with 8:59, extending Miami’s lead to two.
Miami took advantage of a major power play, as Louie Belpedio ripped one from the blue line to cap off the scoring onslaught with 4:02 to play.
Belpedio ended the night with a game-high three points on a goal and two assists. Louis finished with a marker and a helper, with Kiefer Sherwood and Josh Melnick also adding two points on a pair of assists.
Several RedHawks extended points streaks. Louis and Sherwood have recorded points in six straight, with Louis going 3-6-9 and Sherwood recording a 4-6-10 line in that span.
Louis has three straight multi-point games and moved into a tie with Andy Greene and Andy Cozzi for 37th on the team’s all-time points leaderboard with 114.
Melnick has tallied points in five games in a row, scoring five times and picking up three helpers. Belpedio has six points in three games.
With the win, the RedHawks jumped eight spots in the PairWise to 20th. Miami remains tied for fifth in the NCHC but has two games in hand over St. Cloud State, as both teams have 16 points.
North Dakota and Western Michigan are just one point ahead of the pair.
Miami and UND wrap up the weekend series at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday.
OXFORD, Ohio – One of the more captivating things about hockey is how teams that appear dead on the frozen water at one point of a season can quickly reverse that negative trend.
The Miami everyone wanted to play in November and early December has made a significant move in the conference and PairWise the past month, as it won its fourth straight game on Saturday, 4-1 over St. Cloud State at Cady Arena.
The RedHawks (7-8-5) were in last place in the NCHC after their 10th straight non-win on Dec. 9 and dipped as low as 42nd out of 60 teams in the all-important PairWise Rankings, which determine at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament and seeding.
Thirty days later, Miami has shifted into a tie for fifth in the conference and is a point away from fourth. In theory the RedHawks could move as high as third with a pair of wins next week.
MU is up to 28th in PairWise and has much work to do to warrant at-large consideration, but the team is still up 14 spots in a month with plenty of hockey remaining against high-quality opponents.
So what’s the difference? A quick summary…
– Health. A young Miami team already lacking a ton of depth couldn’t catch a break in this department the first 16 games. Carson Meyer, Louie Belpedio, Ryan Larkin, Jared Brandt and Josh Melnick – all major contributors on RedHawks Version 2016-17 – missed a combined 15 games with various injuries and illnesses. All are currently healthy now and playing at a high level.
– Third-period turnaround. As documented previously, Miami was outscored, 14-3 during its 0-7-3 run in the third period. During their winning streak, the RedHawks have netted 11 goals in the last frame. Opponents: 2. They’re finishing stronger and appear in better shape than earlier in the campaign. Miami found ways to lose games it led the first couple of months and now is pulling them out late.
– Power play. With plenty of minutes under its belt as a unit, the Belpedio-Melnick-Anthony Louis-Kiefer Sherwood-Meyer group has impressed with its puck movement, and after going six straight games without a goal on the man-advantage (0-for-19), Miami is 4 of 13 (30.8 percent) in the three contests since.
– Melnick on fire. The sophomore scored one time in the first 16 games but has found the net in four straight, netting five goals and setting up another in that span. That includes two overtime winners and the tying goal on Friday. He wins the hardest-to-figure-out-how-he-scored award, as after watching his Saturday goal live and several more times on replay it was still unclear how the redirected the puck in. Both OT goals were highlight-reel quality but also required slow-mo.
– Confidence in other forwards. Forgive if anyone is left out, but among freshmen, Gordie Green is getting better every game, so is Willie Knierim. Alex Alger is a solid fourth-line pest, and Karch Bachman has a great shot and better speed, and he has huge upside.
– Defense is a little more stable. Miami isn’t quite where it was last season, but that’s because Matthew Caito and Taylor Richart were about as steady as it gets in the NCAA in terms of shut-down D-men. With their departure the returning blueliners are higher in the depth chart consistently facing better forwards, and it’s a tough adjustment. But Grant Hutton, who was so strong as a freshman, is becoming more consistent, and Grant Frederic continues to improve and has been better about staying out of the box. The RedHawks allowed 90 shots in a weekend series in Denver – remarkably tying both games – but has surrendered an average of just 24.0 in the eight games since and had outshot opponents in seven straight before Saturday’s game.
– Sherwood is taking over portions of games. There are times now when no one can take the puck away from Sherwood, and he’s exponentially tougher to defend with his passing game evolving. His double-clutch before sliding a pass through to Green for Miami’s second goal on Saturday is a prime example: Teams can no longer play for that lethal shot from the left faceoff circle. The NCHC clearly has the scouting report on Sherwood’s happy zone, but he is moving around on power plays and inflicting damage elsewhere, having adjusted to the conference’s adjustment. And he scored the RedHawks’ first shorthanded goal of the year to open the scoring.
– And of course, a little puck luck. As everything seemed to be going wrong for Miami, that intangible made things worse at times, as the RedHawks hit posts and were victimized by bad bounces. The Hockey Gods appear to be balancing things out recently, as opponents are drawing iron and not getting breaks they were the first couple of months.
FORWARDS: B. This corps scored a goal shorthanded, at even strength and on the power play. The forwards really didn’t generate a ton of chances, but they cashed in on the Grade-A opportunities. And St. Cloud State always seemed to have sticks and bodies in the shooting lanes. If we had to nit-pick, the bottom two lines didn’t do a whole lot and haven’t scored much all season. We could also mention that 12 forwards managed just 17 shots and a few were weak one at an idle goalie.
DEFENSEMEN: B. It’s been a gradual process, but the blueliners are getting beaten less often than in weeks past. The Huskies entered this weekend averaging nearly 3½ goals per game but had limited chances and just one marker in this game, thanks largely to this group. This was one of Hutton’s better games, and he added the cherry on top with the ENG in the final minute after intercepting the puck at center ice. Scott Dornbrock blocked five shots.
GOALTENDING: A. Notice how goaltending wasn’t mentioned before. The reason is that Larkin has been steady throughout, and without him Miami would not have seven wins. That said, he was even better than usual in this game, stopping 28 shots, with his lone blemish being a heat-seeking laser off a drop pass. Larkin faced some difficult shots but as is his MO allowed a very limited number of rebounds.
LINEUP CHANGES: Same six on D, same goalie, just one change up front. Carter Johnson was scratched for the first time this season in favor of Alger. With four straight wins and the team playing its best hockey of the season, the lineup card probably won’t change a whole lot.
OXFORD, Ohio – The third period that was the bane of Miami the first half of the season has become the team’s best friend.
The RedHawks scored three times in the final stanza to secure a 4-1 win over No. 20 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena on Saturday as Miami recorded its first weekend series sweep since last February.
MU also extended its winning streak to four games and is now unbeaten in its last five. The RedHawks had gone 0-7-3 prior to their winning streak.
Miami (7-8-5) tallied its first shorthanded goal of the season midway through the first period when Kiefer Sherwood stole the puck at center ice, skated in and buried a shot on the far side just under the crossbar.
The score remained 1-0 until the crucial third period. Sherwood double clutched before threading a pass through two defenders and onto the tape of Gordie Green, who scored from the side of the net with 18:58 left in regulation.
The Huskies (9-10-1) cut the MU lead in half with 6:02 to play when Jimmy Schuldt left a drop pass for Jake Wahlin, who wired one past RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin.
But Miami regained its two-goal lead 72 seconds later when a power-play blast from the blue line by Louie Belpedio was tipped home by Josh Melnick, making it 3-1.
Grant Hutton intercepted the puck, skated in uncontested and tapped home the RedHawks’ final goal with 43 seconds left.
Miami had scored nine third-period goals in its first 16 games but has netted 11 in its past four contests and at least two in each game during its winning streak.
Melnick extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with five in that span. Sherwood has four markers in his last four contests.
Sherwood finished with a goal and an assist, giving him points in five straight and eight during his streak. Anthony Louis picked up a season-high two helpers and also had a five-game point streak (2-5-7).
That gives Louis 112 points for his career, tying him for 39th on the team’s all-time career leaderboard with Pete Shipman and Rob Vanderydt.
Larkin stopped 28 shots to earn his third consecutive victory.
The win moved Miami into a tie for fifth with the Huskies in the NCHC standings with 13 points, and the RedHawks are just one behind fourth-place Western Michigan.
MU jumped one spot to 28th in the PairWise Rankings.
The RedHawks’ next four games will be on the road. They will travel to North Dakota next weekend for two games and head to Nebraska-Omaha the following weekend for a pair.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The last couple months of 2016 had not gone well for Miami.
But the RedHawks ended the calendar year with their first four-goal period of the season, with all of them coming in the final eight minutes of regulation in a 6-3 comeback win at Ohio State on Saturday.
Miami suffered through a 10-game winless streak earlier this season and entered play averaging just over two goals a game.
While this game’s final 20 minutes were memorable for the RedHawks, the first stanza did not go their way.
Nine seconds in, the Buckeyes’ Tommy Perran wristed a shot in from behind the red line that skipped past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin.
Ohio State made it 2-0 at the 9:17 mark of the opening period when Mason Jobst stripped Miami defenseman Louie Belpedio and backhanded one past Larkin.
But the RedHawks cut the lead in half with five seconds left in that frame when Josh Melnick whipped a shot from the blue line just under the crossbar.
Miami tied the score less than two minutes into the second period when Anthony Louis slid a pass from the slot to Carson Meyer for a one-time blast that hit net.
The Buckeyes regained the lead late in the second period when a RedHawks penalty kill clear attempt was corralled by David Gust, who skated across the crease and fired one home.
The score remained 3-2 Ohio State until the 12:03 mark of the third period, when Gordie Green ripped a one-time pass from Willie Knierim home on the power play.
Miami finally took the lead with 5:16 remaining, as Zach LaValle made a self-pass along the boards in the neutral zone, setting up a 2-on-1. He passed to Kiefer Sherwood, who buried one from the faceoff dot.
Fifty-three seconds later Sherwood extended the RedHawks’ lead to two, as he was left alone in the high slot and ripped a shot off a centering feed by LaValle.
RedHawks defenseman Scott Dornbrock capped the scoring with an empty netter 1:18 later.
Sherwood, Green, Meyer and LaValle finished with two points apiece. Sherwood scored twice, Green and Meyer ended the night with a goal and an assist each and LaValle picked up a pair of helpers.
Miami hosts St. Cloud State on Jan. 6-7.
OXFORD, Ohio – It took three late unanswered goals, including an overtime winner by Josh Melnick, but Miami’s winless streak is finally over.
The RedHawks rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and ultimately topped Colorado College, 3-2 in the extra session at Cady Arena on Saturday.
That snapped a string of 10 straight games without a win for Miami, its longest such span since 1991. It was also the RedHawks’ first NCHC victory of the season.
The Tigers (3-12-1) took the lead 4:47 into the game when Alex Berardinelli went in on a breakaway and beat Miami goalie Chase Munroe.
Midway through the second period, Nick Halloran and Berardinelli had a 2-on-0, and Berardinelli was initially denied by Munroe but recovered the puck, skated behind the net and centered to Mason Bergh in the slot for a one-time goal, making it 2-0.
Miami (4-8-5) had been held scoreless for 111 minutes until the 10:02 mark of the third period, when Karch Bachman dumped a self-pass into the corner, skated behind the net and centered to Willie Knierim, who poked it past goalie Alex Leclerc to cut the lead in half.
The RedHawks tied it less than four minutes later. Anthony Louis whipped a wrister on net that was blocked at the top of the crease, and the puck bounced to Josh Melnick. Leclerc made a spectacular toe save to deny Josh Melnick, but the puck slid to the side of the net, where Kiefer Sherwood slammed it home on a delayed penalty.
Ninety-four seconds into overtime, Carson Meyer threw one toward the net, and it hit off Melnick, who batted it into the net on the short side to win it.
Melnick and Sherwood both finished with two points on a goal and an assist apiece. Melnick has five points in his last four games and Sherwood recorded three points on the weekend.
Meyer picked up a helper and owns a team-best four-game point streak. Louis notched his 107th career point and moved into a tie for 44th with Blake Coleman on the RedHawks’ all-time scoring leaderboard.
Goalie Chase Munroe turned 18 shots aside to earn his first collegiate victory.
It was the first win for Miami since Oct. 28 – which also came in overtime. The RedHawks moved into solo control of seventh place in the conference.
Miami is off the next two weekends and resumes play at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 at Ohio State in the back end of a home-and-home series. The teams tied when they met in Oxford on Oct. 15.
OXFORD, Ohio – At least Miami won the shootout.
Although the RedHawks officially tied Colorado College, 1-1 at Cady Arena on Friday, MU picked up the extra league point by topping the Tigers in sudden-death penalty shots.
Despite earning two of a possible three points, Miami (3-8-5) saw its winless streak extended to 10 games and has yet to win an NCHC game, as its league record is now 0-4-3.
The RedHawks’ last three conference games have ended in ties.
Miami (3-8-5) took the lead early, as Anthony Louis netted his team-leading 10th goal. Kiefer Sherwood slid a short pass to Carson Meyer before being hit the blue line, and Meyer eluded a defender before connecting with a streaking Louis, and Louis buried the one-timer 3:16 into the first period.
Colorado College (3-11-1) evened the score with 3:36 left in the second period as Luc Gerdes stole a puck deep in the offensive zone and threw the puck in from a bad angle along the goal line.
The RedHawks outshot the Tigers, 28-18 over the final two periods and overtime but could not regain the lead, going scoreless over the final 61:44.
Miami is now 0-7-3 during its skid, the team’s longest winless stretch since 1991.
Despite leading the RedHawks in goals, Louis’ was his first in six games. He has picked up points in 12 of his last 14 contests.
Sherwood earned his first point in four games, and Meyer has now tallied a point in all three games since returning from an illness, going 2-2-4.
RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin stopped 25 shots.
Miami moved into a tie for seventh with the Tigers in the NCHC by winning the shootout, however the RedHawks fell further in the PairWise, slipping to a tie for 43rd.
The teams wrap up their series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
OXFORD, Ohio – In a 1:50 span of the first period, Miami erased a two-goal deficit on two blasts by Kiefer Sherwood.
But over the final 40 minutes, Nebraska-Omaha netted four unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday, spoiling MU goalie Chase Munroe’s first collegiate start and extending Miami’s losing streak to five games.
The RedHawks (3-6-2) have allowed 23 goals in their last four games.
Only two of the eight goals were scored at even strength.
UNO (6-3-1) opened the scoring on the power play, as the Mavericks won the draw and a pass found Teemu Pulkkinen in the high slot. Pukkinen backhanded one on net, got his own rebound and slid across to Mason Morelli for a slam-dunk goal 6:15 into the first period.
Nebraska-Omaha extended its lead shorthanded less than seven minutes later when RedHawks defenseman Grant Hutton had a defensive zone pass intercepted, and David Pope and Austin Ortega played give-and-go for a tap-in goal by Ortega.
Miami responded with 4:58 left in the opening period on the power play when a shot by Anthony Louis hit a body in the slot and ricocheted to Sherwood, who fired it into the top corner from the left faceoff circle.
Sherwood scored from nearly the same spot 110 seconds later, again on the man advantage, on a set-up pass from the point by Josh Melnick, tying the score.
But after that the game got away from the RedHawks.
Ian Brady centered a pass to Luc Snuggerud, who skated around Miami goalie Chase Munroe and deposited the puck in the net to give UNO a 3-2 lead 7:20 into the second period.
The Mavericks again took a two-goal lead just over two minutes later on a 5-on-3 slap shot by David Pope from the center of the faceoff circle.
Tristan Keck sprung Ortega loose for a breakaway, and Ortega pulled up and slid the puck under Munroe to make it 5-2 with 15:12 left in regulation.
Snuggerud capped off the scoring when he pitchforked one through Munroe three minutes later.
Sherwood has scored four goals in his last four games, and Melnick, Louis and Brandt all picked up assists for the second straight contest.
Carter Johnson recorded the other helper.
Ortega and Snuggerud both ended the night with two goals and an assist.
In addition to struggling on the ice, Miami’s injuries are also piling up. Goalie Ryan Larkin, who had started the first 10 games, was out with an upper-body injury, and it is unclear when he will return.
Forward Carson Meyer, the RedHawks’ freshman points leader with 10, missed the entire weekend with an illness and could be out multiple weeks. And defenseman and captain Louie Belpedio missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury and had a noticeable limp when he walked around the concourse, but he is expected back next weekend.
Miami is now 0-4 in NCHC play.
The RedHawks’ next four games will be on the road, with their first two coming at Denver on Nov. 18-19.
OXFORD, Ohio – The French phrase “comme ci, comme ca” applies perfectly to Friday’s game.
Miami and Maine skated to a 3-3 tie in the series opener and first game played between these teams in Oxford, and like many ties, the overall performance and the outcome was neither good nor bad for the RedHawks.
Here are some of the pros and cons from this contest from Miami’s perspective:
– Anthony Louis has been a good player since setting foot in Oxford, but he appears to have taken a major step up this season. He is playing solid defense, attacking loose pucks and eluding defenders, things he had not done regularly his first three seasons, and that extra effort resulted in a two-goal performance. The second goal especially was the result of beating a defender, something we had not seen him do often previously. He generated nine shots on Friday, many coming because of his hard work.
– Any nervousness from Louis Belpedio was a distant memory. Belpedio struggled early vs. Ohio State, perhaps under the burden of his newly-earned captaincy, but he was fantastic on Friday. He especially stood out quarterbacking the power play, as he puck movement in that capacity was exceptional.
– The man advantage deserves its own bullet point. Miami was only 1-for-8 but the aforementioned puck movement was excellent from the top unit.
– Kiefer Sherwood had seven assists all of last season, but he picked up his third and fourth of the season in this game. He was a feared goal scorer and started to take off in the second half of last season, but he is turning into an all-around force now as he shifts from the wing to center. His brilliant pass to Grant Hutton led to Miami’s first goal, and he picked up the secondary helper in the tying goal on the power play as the RedHawks thanks to solid puck movement in the offensive zone.
– The third line was excellent at puck possession. A pair of sophomores, Ryan Siroky and Zach LaValle, plus senior Justin Greenberg, were arguably Miami’s top threesome in this one, playing a grind-it-out game.
– The wide bodies were solid on the fourth line. Conor Lemirande was a force vs. Ohio State and looks a lot better with the puck this season as well as physically stronger. At 6-feet-6, that’s a scary concept if he continues to improve. Freshman Willie Knierim looked a lot more confident in this game than last week. Patience will be key for fans with Knierim, who is the youngest player on the team and still learning to play with his huge frame. He won’t score 25 goals this season, but watching him develop should be fun the next four years.
– Topping the list is that Maine didn’t look as good as Ohio State, and Miami still couldn’t come away with the win. True, process counts more than wins and losses at this point, but even with a young team, the RedHawks need to win games on home ice, and they have a pair of ties to open their Cady Arena slate.
– Turnovers were costly. Defenseman Chaz Switzer was stripped for Maine’s first goal and normally-solid fellow blueliner Grant Hutton couldn’t handle a deep puck in the third period, ultimately leading to the Black Bears’ final goal. Even reliable Josh Melnick couldn’t clear one in the second period and Maine scored later in the shift with tired Miami players caught on the ice.
– Too many long shifts in the D-zone. Kind of a corollary to the turnovers note, which were obviously a contributing factor, Maine possessed the puck in the offensive zone for extended periods far too often in this game.
– Overall this team is progressing well despite having half of its lineup consist of freshmen. The schedule will get tougher really soon, though, and Miami still has work to do if hopes to compete in the NCHC.
– Could’ve missed the memo, but the linesmen kicked players out of the faceoff circle at an alarming rate, and often it was difficult to see the cause.
– The faceoff thing was more noticeable because this game featured 72 faceoffs and largely lacked flow as a result. A lot of icing and off-sides, plus 13 penalties.
– Offensive zone faceoff, 1.0 seconds left in regulation, not sure why goalie Ryan Larkin wasn’t pulled. Almost every coach at this level or above puts a sixth attacker on in this situation.
FORWARDS: B. This corps scored two of Miami’s goals and fired 29 shots, with Louis netting both markers and accounting for 9 SOG. Karch Bachman did take a bad penalty, firing an opponent’s stick down the ice. Overall the line chemistry seems to be improving.
DEFENSEMEN: C. Defensemen turnovers directly created two goals for Maine, which cannot be overlooked despite the blueliners’ overall solid play. Hutton scored a goal, balancing out him losing the puck, and Belpedio finished with six shots and picked up the primary assist on the tying goal.
GOALTENDING: B. Stopping 18 of 21 doesn’t look great on paper, but Larkin had zero chance on the second goal, the third was an absolute laser and the first was essentially a close-up breakaway. He controlled all of his rebounds and made a couple of high-quality saves.
LINEUP CHANGES: The only change was on defense: Grant Frederic played with Bryce Hatten sat. Frederic looks like he has potential, and his size is impressive, but he was a tough tentative in this one. That will hopefully go away with more playing time.