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.
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.
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.
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.
Grant Hutton is having one of the best offensive seasons for a defenseman in Miami history, and he added to his resume on Saturday.
Hutton netted a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, as the RedHawks pulled even with St. Cloud in their first-round NCHC Tournament series with a 3-2 win at the Herb Brooks Center on Saturday.
It was the 11th and 12th goals of the season for the junior, who moved into fourth in single-season blueliner goals. He is also tied for fifth in career markers by a RedHawks D-man, as he moved even with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez with 21.
The win snapped a four-game winless streak overall and an 0-7 skid in this building.
The championship game will be at 8:05 p.m. on Sunday.
RECAP: Miami led this game for over two-thirds of regulation.
Just 1:54 in, Josh Melnick redirected a slap pass from Alec Mahalak to open the scoring.
Miami made it 2-0 when Kiefer Sherwood pulled defenders into the corner on a 4-on-4 and dropped a pass to Hutton. Hutton deked a defender before whipping it into the far corner of the net with 2:27 left in the opening frame.
But with 12:40 left in the second period, Ryan Poehling poked home a one-timer from Mikey Eyssimont, who slid a pass through traffic into the slot.
St. Cloud State tied it in the opening minutes of the third period as Blake Winiecki tipped home a blue-line wrister by Jack Ahcan.
Both goals were scored on the power play.
The Huskies outshot Miami, 24-14 the last 40 minutes of regulation.
Hutton won it when he again faked out a defender at the blue line and penetrated, hitting the net from the high slot.
STATS: Hutton now has 12 goals, but he had not scored in 10 straight.
It was his fourth multi-goal game of the season, a team high.
— Sherwood extended his points streak to six games, and he has multiple points in each of his last three. He is 3-6-9 in his last six.
— It was the second multi-point game of Mahalak’s career, as he picked up two assists.
— Louie Belpedio earned an assist for the third straight game and passed Matthew Caito for eighth on the team’s all-time defenseman points leaderboard with 83.
— Miami snapped a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) and won its first postseason contest since March 21, 2015 when the RedHawks beat this same St. Cloud team in the NCHC championship game in Minneapolis.
— Titanic special teams update: Miami now 1-for-28 on the power play (3.6 percent) over its last 11 games and 16 of 24 on the penalty kill (66.7 percent) in its last six contests.
Opponents have also had 18 man-advantage opportunities over the past five games, while the RedHawks have had just eight.
— The last overtime playoff game for Miami was last season, and that one was 14 seconds longer than Saturday’s tilt, with the RedHawks coming up on the short side in 2016-17.
THOUGHTS: Miami battled back on Friday but fell short, and on Saturday it blew a two-goal lead but won in overtime.
The game had a bit of a North Dakota from a couple weeks ago feel, as the RedHawks were in control with a 2-0 lead but gave up the next goal and eventually the tying marker in the third period.
But in the regular season, teams only skate for five overtime minutes, while playoff OT is indefinite. That game against UND on Feb. 24 was ultimately a tie, while in this one Miami won in the eighth minute of the extra session.
— Miami deserves a lot of credit for not only winning but doing so in overtime after giving up a two-goal lead. Down 1-0 in the series, on the road vs. the top-ranked team in Division I on the road, many teams would’ve packed it in and called it a season.
— Ryan Larkin: 30-for-32. Great line, great game, just hope he doesn’t wear down playing three games in three days.
LINEUP CHANGES: Just one, but it was a bit surprising. Christian Mohs was in the lineup for just the second time in 24 games, and Carson Meyer was scratched.
It was the second time in four games Meyer did not dress.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Miami is 3-1 in conference tournaments in St. Cloud.
The RedHawks are 1-0 in clinching games here.
St. Cloud is already a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and Miami is a desperate team that must win to have a chance, so that could work in the RedHawks’ favor.
Three positives. The latter is the only one that matters.
We’ll find out if Miami is headed to St. Paul or if its season is over in the next 24 hours.
Miami’s next loss will be its last of 2017-18.
The RedHawks fell, 5-2 to No. 1 St. Cloud State in the opener of their best-of-3, first-round NCHC Tournament series at the Herb Brooks Center on Friday.
Miami needs to win out in the conference tournament to advance to the NCAAs.
The loss extended the RedHawks’ winless streak to four games, and they are 1-7-2 in their last 10 and 2-11-3 since Jan. 6. It was Miami’s seventh straight defeat in this building.
Game 2 is at 8:05 p.m. on Saturday, and if necessary, Game 3 would be played at 8:05 p.m. on Sunday.
RECAP: St. Cloud’s Jake Ahcan fired a slap shot past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin on the glove side after taking a feed from Blake Winiecki on a rush just 6:02 into the game.
The RedHawks tied it with 4:32 left in the first period, as Grant Hutton sent a pass all the way across the ice through traffic to the tape of Kiefer Sherwood, who buried a wrister.
Jimmy Schuldt put St. Cloud State back ahead, 2-1 on a stick side slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle on the power play 6:11 into the second period.
Blake Lizotte gave the Huskies a two-goal lead with 4:56 remaining in the middle stanza when he intercepted a clearing pass along the board, skated in and beat Larkin 1-on-1.
Sherwood beat two defenders down the right side to create a 2-on-1 and centered one to Gordie Green, who made a move and slid it in, cutting the deficit to one with 15:34 to play.
But Robby Jackson dropped a pass to Easton Brodzinski, who whipped it past Larkin on the glove side with 8:21 remaining and Mikey Eyssimont sealed it with an empty netter.
STATS: Sherwood led Miami with two points on a goal and a helper. He has points in a team-best five straight games, with three goals and four assists in that span.
Green scored in his second consecutive contest and leads the RedHawks with 15 goals and 32 points.
Louie Belpedio picked up an assist and tied Matthew Caito for eighth on the team’s all-time defenseman points leaderboard.
The RedHawks’ last win in this building was in the 2013-14 NCHC Tournament when they swept the Huskies. Miami was also a No. 8 seed that season, and St. Cloud State was the top seed.
Special teams have been anything but for the RedHawks. They allowed a power play goal for the fifth straight game and are just 14-for-20 on the PK their last five games (70.0 percent).
On the man advantage, Miami has just one goal its past 10 games, converting on 1 of 27 chances (3.7 percent).
THOUGHTS: We saw a lot of repeating themes in the St. Cloud goals.
Miami losing 50-50 battles, trailers jumping in on the rush uncontested and stoppable shots to the glove side getting by Larkin.
A tough road to the NCAA Tournament just got a lot tougher for the RedHawks, who need to win the final two here and run the table in the conference semifinal and title game.
Sherwood played some of his best hockey in this one, highlighted by his Jimmy Mullin-like acceleration past two defenders along the right wing boards for a 2-on-1 and goal by Green.
LINEUP CHANGES: Miami went with the same 19 it dressed in the final game of the regular season.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The RedHawks must win tomorrow to extend their season.
One positive stat: Miami is still 2-1 in St. Cloud in the NCHC Tournament.
Denver had three power play chances in the first period and scored on two of them.
The Pioneers added another goal early in the second period for a three-goal lead it would not relinquish in Friday’s 6-3 DU win over Miami at Magnuss Arena.
The RedHawks (11-18-4) did pull to within a goal in the closing minutes but No. 5 Denver punched in a pair of late markers to seal the win.
Miami has lost 10 straight March games and is 0-9 in this month the past three seasons. The RedHawks are 0-7-1 on the road since their last victory outside of Oxford on Dec. 8, and they have a 2-10-2 overall record in their last 14 games.
RECAP: It was the Dylan Gambrell show early.
The DU forward scored on the backhand from the slot to open the scoring, and his shot from the same area was tipped in by Jarid Lukosevicius to make it 2-0.
Rudy Junda extended the DU lead to three when he took a behind-the-net feed from Kolin Olischefski, was denied by Miami goalie Ryan Larkin and batted home the rebound.
The RedHawks cut the deficit to two when Kiefer Sherwood knocked home a one-time pass from Phil Knies on a 3-on-1.
With 10:14 left in the second period, Logan O’Connor centered a pass to Henrik Borgstrom, and the puck hit off Borgstrom’s skate and into the net, making it 4-1.
Miami trimmed the lead to two with five minutes remaining in regulation when Conor Lemirande penetrated the zone and had his pass into the slot hit a Denver player and carrom in.
The RedHawks’ Casey Gilling’s feed also hit a Pioneers defender, deflecting off a stick and into the net with 3:57 remaining.
But a seeing-eye shot from the blue line by Adam Plant found the cage with 2:23 left to make it 5-3, and Colin Staub capped the scoring with an empty netter.
STATS: Slow starts have been the norm for Miami in recent weeks, as the team has been outscored, 9-0 in the first period its last seven games.
The RedHawks also have not scored a power play goal in that seven-game span, going 0-for-22 on the man advantage.
Denver (18-8-7) had five power play chances, scoring on two of them. Miami was on the man advantage once.
— It was the first career multi-point game for Rourke Russell, who picked up two assists.
— Sherwood has scored in consecutive games for the second time this season and has a team-best three-game points streak.
— Gilling scored for the first time in seven games. Lemirande had not scored in his last 25 contests.
THOUGHTS: Did we mention the early power play goals for Denver?
An opponent just can’t give the Pioneers three chances in the first period and expect to win, especially on their home ice.
Then it was 3-0, and that pretty much sealed Miami’s fate for the night.
To the RedHawks’ credit, they battled until the end, trimming a 4-1 Denver lead to one before ultimately surrendering a fifth goal followed by an empty netter.
Being an early no-show has been a theme for Miami this season and is a tough way to make a living in the ultra-competitive NCHC.
— Both early goals were scored because Denver was allowed to control the slot. Gambrell skated laterally to get in there for his goal, and he did the same from the opposite direction on goal No. 2, which was tipped in by Lukosevicius – a player allowed to camp out at the top of the crease.
— It was a strange night for redirected pucks. Miami had one go in off a skate and another hit a stick, as both completely changed direction en route to the net.
One could argue the RedHawks got somewhat lucky in getting back into the game, since those consecutive goals took the score from 4-1 to 4-3.
To be fair, Denver also scored one – its fourth of the night – when a centering feed hit Borgstrom’s skate before finding its mark.
LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, Christian Mohs dressed for just the eighth time this year, and Zach LaValle was in the lineup for only the second time in eight contests.
Carson Meyer was the notable scratch, as the Columbus Blue Jackets draftee has struggled this season. It’s the second time he has not played this season. Willie Knierim was also out of the lineup.
No changes on defense.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Officially these games mean nothing for Miami, which has one clear route to the NCAA Tournament: Beat St. Cloud next week and win the NCHC Tournament.
But it would’ve been nice if there were more positives to be taken from this game.
The RedHawks did battle after falling behind by three, which is admirable in an essentially meaningless game, and Sherwood continues to shine after a sub-par first half.
That’s the boom from this one.
The negatives: Opponents didn’t pay a price in the slot – a recurring theme – the team got off to a slow start, etc.
Ideally, it would be nice to have momentum heading into the opening round of the conference tournament. Denver and SCSU are the elite of the elite in this conference, and Miami needs to show it can compete on the road against Division I’s best.
Unfortunately, this game did little to inspire confidence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OXFORD, Ohio – For the first time this season, Ryan Larkin was not the starting goalie for Miami.
And the RedHawks didn’t give their back-up netminder any offensive support, as No. 4 St. Cloud State completed the weekend sweep with a 4-0 win at Cady Arena on Saturday.
Larkin was in the starting slot on the lineup card and practiced sparingly in warm-ups, but he was battling an illness and did not return to the ice after the pre-game scrape.
Chase Munroe made his first start of 2017-18 and the fourth of his career.
Miami slipped to 1-7-1 in its last nine games and is 1-8-1 in February the past two seasons.
It was the second time this season the RedHawks (10-15-3) have been blanked.
RECAP: It was scoreless through one period, but St. Cloud State (19-7-3) broke though 3:48 into the second period when Nick Poehling beat Munroe low to the glove side.
Miami’s Carson Meyer had a penalty shot early in the third period but was unable to capitalize.
Patrick Newell made it 2-0 when a loose puck found him in the faceoff circle, and he fired it just under the far crossbar.
The final two SCSU goals were both empty netters, with Newell and Judd Peterson finding the net shorthanded.
STATS: Munroe had to be happy for the opportunity to lower his bloated goals-against average, which was 12.36 due to struggles in his lone outing this season. He stopped 17 of 19 shots, dropping it to 4.59 and raising his save percentage from .636 to .800.
— Gordie Green’s team-high four-game points streak was snapped.
— Scott Dornbrock blocked a Miami-best four shots, and RedHawks Rourke Russell added three, giving him a team high of 39.
— Carter Johnson was 9-3 on faceoffs as he continues to make his case for regular ice time.
— No power play goals were scored on the weekend. The teams each had eight chances in the two-game set. SCSU did score twice shorthanded, but both were empty netters.
THOUGHTS: This is the part where some expect a rant about how bad Miami was yet again.
While inflammatory speech may generate hits, it wouldn’t be fair to rip the team’s play on Saturday. The RedHawks played pretty well in this game.
They just couldn’t get the puck in the net.
The defense, perhaps inspired by their missing regular goalie, tightened up and held SCSU to just 21 shots. And very few good scoring chances.
One St. Cloud goal should’ve been stopped, one was on an exceptional shot and two were empty netters.
Huskies goalie David Hrenak deserves a lot of credit too, as he stopped all 30 Miami shots he faced.
Sometimes teams run into a hot goalie, and you just have to tip your hat.
The problem of course is that the 27 previous games this season have netted just 10 wins, the RedHawks have used up their allotment of acceptable losses, with plenty of unacceptable losses mixed in.
— He obviously didn’t pick up any points, but Kiefer Sherwood played his best hockey of the season this weekend. He seems to have gotten back that extra gear of skating speed, he backchecked relentlessly and dished out a couple of big hits, which has never been a major part of his game.
Sherwood had a slow start to this season and is still down overall in terms of points pace but seems to be over whatever held him back the first few months of 2017-18.
— The forwards took six minors penalties, with five leading to SCSU power plays. Conor Lemirande an Casey Gilling both were whistled for a pair of minors. Gilling leads the team in minors (17) and PIM (50), which isn’t going to cut it if he’s going to be a major part of this team the next three-plus years.
— Came away once again impressed by the A-through-Z Poehling contingent on the Huskies.
— Coach Enrico Blasi has been pulling the goalie radically early when trailing this season, even doing so with 17 minutes left in the third period earlier this calendar year. SCSU scored three empty netters this weekend as a result, but really, if it helps the team’s chance of winning just an iota and only drawback is a more lopsided final score, then go for it.
FORWARDS: D. Hot goalie or not, this group’s job is to score goals and they came up empty. And yeah, the penalties.
DEFENSEMEN: B. They seemed to make a conceded effort to tighten up with Munroe in net and were solid overall. This corps also stayed out of the penalty box. They helped hold a potent SCSU team to 21 shots, and very few high-quality chances.
GOALTENDING: C. Munroe definitely should’ve stopped the first goal. The second one was ticketed for the corner of the net. His rebound control was solid, although he didn’t see many difficult shots. He can thank his D-corps for stepping up. Munroe was also put in a difficult spot, as he likely didn’t know he was starting until minutes before the game.
LINEUP CHANGES: After three straight games going with the same 19, Austin Alger and Grant Frederic both dressed. Alger, a forward, replaced Willie Knierim, and blueliner Frederic was in for Chaz Switzer, who had played in 13 straight games.
FINAL THOUGHTS: All eight NCHC teams have six games left, and Miami can finish no better than third.
The RedHawks are last in the conference with 17 points, and UNO is seventh with 21. So it’s an uphill climb just to get out of the basement, especially considering Miami’s remaining schedule.
The ultimate goal of fourth would likely require Miami to run the table and hope the teams the RedHawks are chasing falter down the stretch. The RedHawks are 10 points down on both fourth-place North Dakota and fifth-place Duluth, and they would have to catch one of those teams and pass UNO and Colorado College.
Miami heads to Duluth next week, returns home to play North Dakota and finishes as Denver. Those teams are ninth, 12th and second in PairWise, respectively.
In other words, if you’ve already pre-paid for first-round NCHC playoff tickets at Cady Arena, a refund is extremely likely for the third straight year.
OXFORD, Ohio – Often a team can actually gain momentum after taking a penalty when it comes up with a critical kill.
That was the case on Friday when Miami turned a potentially disastrous start into a 4-2 win over Western Michigan at Cady Arena.
The RedHawks came out sluggish, getting outshot 4-1 in the opening minutes. Not the start to a four-game homestand they wanted after an 0-3-1 road trip.
Then they were whistled for a pair of penalties, setting up a two-minute two-man advantage for the Broncos.
But Miami killed the majority of the 5-on-3 and a WMU minor wiped out the rest. The RedHawks were a different team the balance of the game and ultimately snapped their five-game winless streak.
RECAP: The first period was scoreless, but Miami finally broke through when Kiefer Sherwood stole a pass in the offensive zone, threw a shot at the net that hit the end boards and caromed to a wide-open Ben Lown, who tapped it in 1:08 into the middle stanza.
The RedHawks made it 2-0 when Gordie Green batted in a bad-angle rebound off a shot from the blue line by Louie Belpedio at the 4:47 mark of that frame.
Western Michigan’s Corey Schueneman beat Miami goalie Ryan Larkin high on the glove side for a 5-on-3 goal with 10:18 left in the second period.
But Miami answered with a two-man advantage of its own when Grant Hutton wired a shot through from the top of the faceoff circle off a feed by Alec Mahalak with less than four minutes remaining in the middle frame, making it 3-1.
The RedHawks sealed it with 3:26 left in regulation on a Belpedio wrister from the center of the faceoff circle.
Ethan Frank capped the scoring with a blast that beat Miami’s Ryan Larkin directly off a faceoff in the closing seconds.
STATS: Belpedio finished with a goal and an assist, and Sherwood and Josh Melnick recorded two assists each.
It was the second straight multi-point game for Belpedio and the third in a row for Sherwood, who extended his team-best points streak to eight games.
Melnick has 10 points in his last nine games, and he was 12-6 on faceoffs.
Larkin stopped 20 shots to earn the win.
THOUGHTS: This win was obviously much needed and much appreciated, and Miami played well and deserved it.
That said, it also comes with a little frustration because the RedHawks showed how well they’re capable of playing, and if they did that more they wouldn’t be in such a dire spot.
Full disclosure on this win: WMU is seriously banged up, most notably missing stud Wade Allison who was 15-15-30 in 22 games. He’s likely lost for the season.
That definitely hurt the Broncos’ offensive attack, and they generated just two shots on five power plays that included multiple minutes of 5-on-3 action.
Still, this was the best overall home game Miami has played since beating Duluth on Nov. 18.
The RedHawks are capable of playing with these NCAA Tournament-bound teams, they just haven’t done it nearly enough, especially as of late.
— NCHC contests typically don’t feature a lot of 5-on-3s, but there were three in this game and would’ve been a fourth had Miami not possessed the puck through a delayed penalty until the power play expired.
Both teams scored once on the two-man advantage.
— The power play has been particularly explosive for Miami as of late, racking up 10 goals on the man-advantage the past five games. MU is converting at a 35.7 percent rate during that clip.
Unfortunately, that positive work during this stretch has been negated by a 54.5 PK percentage, as they are just 12-for-22 since the start of their road series at UNO.
FORWARDS: C+. As a group, RedHawks forwards only had 16 shots and nearly half came on the power play. They accounted for two of the goals (Green and Lown). Sherwood struggled in the first half but has regained that 2016-17 form, and he stepping up on defense as well. His steal led to the first Miami goal.
DEFENSEMEN: B+. Hutton and Belpedio both scored, and after the whole team struggled out of the game, the blueliners did a good job of limiting Western Michigan’s scoring chances. Hutton was exceptional in his own end and deserved first star, not third, as he won loose puck battles and muscled people off the puck all night. It was a physical game and this corps was up to the challenge.
GOALTENDING: B-. Like many starts this season, Larkin was solid, controlled his rebounds and stopped the routine shots but didn’t come up with either of his toughest chances.
LINEUP CHANGES: Thank heavens Grant Hutton missed last Saturday’s game due to illness and not something worse. He was back in the lineup after missing just the second game of his career last weekend.
His return sent Grant Frederic back to the scratch list.
Up front, Willie Knierim was back on the lineup card as Zach LaValle did not dress. Carter Johnson suited up for the third straight contest.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This win gets Miami to within three points of seventh place, and while home ice is still a longshot, the bottom half of the league is clumped together and the RedHawks still have a game in hand over most.
If the RedHawks play like they did on Friday, they could make a run at an NCAA berth. But consistency has not been MU’s MO in 2017-18.
It was just five seasons ago when Miami held its opponents to 1.74 goals per game.
One of the top defensive teams in Division I half a decade ago, the RedHawks have allowed 21 goals during their current three-game road set alone, including Friday’s 6-3 loss at Colorado College.
MU is surrendering goals at nearly twice the clip of 2013-14, as foes have lit the lamp 82 times in 23 games, an average of 3.39 goals against.
RECAP: Didn’t see the game, just the highlights. Those 9:37 p.m. starts are a little late for those of us with early hours.
It was never really a contest, as the Tigers scored 99 seconds in and ran out to a 5-1 lead. Miami scored twice to trim the deficit to two, but a CC empty netter sealed it.
STATS: Kiefer Sherwood tied a season high with three points, scoring once and setting up the other two MU goals.
— Freshman defenseman Alec Mahalak’s two points – both on helpers – were a career best.
— Grant Hutton also picked up two points on a goal and an assist, giving him points in three straight games (1-5-6).
— Colorado College was 3-for-3 on the power play, and Miami has now killed an absurd 5 of 13 chances during this road trip. That’s a 38.5 PK percentage.
THOUGHTS: So Miami’s defensive struggles last season were documented regularly here, but the RedHawks were doing a better job in their own zone the first three months of 2017-18.
But three games and 21 goals against into an 0-3 road trip later, it makes one wonder what the deuce is going on.
Opponents are getting way too good of looks and goaltending is underperforming. And Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado College are both near the bottom of the NCHC standings table.
Miami should’ve been past this, with Louie Belpedio playing the best hockey of his career in Games 1-20, Grant Hutton continuing to prove himself one of the best undrafted D-men in the conference. Chaz Switzer, Scott Dornbrock and Grant Frederic had all shown improvement.
Alec Mahalak has also displayed a lot of promise and his confidence level seems to rise each night.
Forwards Gordie Green, Josh Melnick and Casey Gilling all are outstanding defensively, but too often Miami’s centers and wings aren’t getting back or don’t pick up opponents as they cruise toward the Miami net.
Miami needs to tighten up, and quickly. Time is running out on the regular season, and drawing a low seed in the conference tournament is tantamount to a death sentence in the NCHC.
LINEUP CHANGES: Carter Johnson returned to the lineup for the first time since the Bowling Green series. Carson Meyer was also back after being scratched in the finale at UNO.
Zach LaValle and Ryan Siroky did not dress.
On defense, Dornbrock returned after missing the second game vs. the Mavericks. He replaced Frederic.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s a four-game losing streak for Miami, its longest of the season.
Now three games under .500, the RedHawks’ path the NCAAs gets a lot tougher. MU really needed to sweep these games to have a decent shot at home ice for the first round of the NCHC Tournament and the potential for an at-large berth.
Not that it’s mathematically impossible by any stretch, but the odds of Miami reeling off a bunch of wins in a row against its remaining opponents are not strong.
In a game that saw half of Nebraska-Omaha’s skaters find the net, it was only appropriate that the final tally was credited to goalie Evan Weninger.
That capped off the Mavericks’ 11-7 win over Miami at Baxter Arena on Friday, as UNO set a school record for goals and the RedHawks gave up their highest total in over two decades.
Down 4-1 early, Miami battled back to within one and continued to fight – at least offensively – until the final horn. But MU could never generate the equalizer.
This was certainly not the way the RedHawks wanted to start a stretch of four straight road games as they hang on the PairWise bubble.
RECAP: For a game that featured 18 goals, believe it or not none were scored in the first 10 minutes.
Grant Gallo and Jake Rudolph netted consecutive markers to make it 2-0, and after Miami’s Kiefer Sherwood scored on the power play, UNO potted two more in a 41-second window to close out the first period with a three-goal lead, with Tristan Keck and Joel Messner hitting the net.
The RedHawks (9-10-2) cut it to one on a blue-line blast by Louie Belpedio and a freshman-to-freshman connection of Phil Knies to Ben Lown.
But four more shots found their way in the final seven minutes of the middle stanza, with three coming by the Mavericks, sandwiching Knies’ second marker of the night.
Gordie Green scored off a Karch Bachman feed early in the third period, but it was the final gasp for Miami. Back-to-back UNO goals seven seconds apart made it a four-goal game, although Lown and Casey Gilling did record goals for the RedHawks in the final 11 minutes of regulation.
MU goalie Ryan Larkin was lifted after allowing six goals, and backup Chase Munroe was actually credited with the loss for giving up the final four, even though Miami never tied the score.
STATS: The RedHawks were actually the Redskins the last time they allowed this many goals in a game. MU lost, 13-0 at Michigan on Dec. 6, 1996, and had never surrendered double-digit goals under current coach Enrico Blasi.
– A pair of freshmen – Lown and Knies – set career bests with three points each. Knies scored twice and Lown went 1-2-3. Grant Hutton picked up three assists, also his high total as a RedHawk.
– Gilling and Sherwood both extended their points streaks to four games, tied for the longest on the team.
– Miami scored three times on the power play, reaching that mark for the fourth time this season.
– The flip side? The RedHawks had not given up more than two PPGs in any game in 2017-18. They allowed four on six chances in this game.
– Seven Miami players finished with multiple points. Ten picked up at least one point. Four Mavericks ended the night with at least four points.
– The three goalies’ combined save percentages were .707. Their goals-against averages were 8.76.
THOUGHTS: Where to start…
Oh I know, how about Miami’s complete lack of defense? Bill Clinton was in his first term as president the last time the RedHawks gave up this many goals in a game.
There’s plenty of blame to go around in this area. They won 46 percent of their faceoffs, losing some key ones in the offensive zone that led to goals. A common theme, too few UNO players paid any kind of price for setting up at the top of Miami’s crease.
One Nebraska-Omaha goal – forgive me for not being to recall which one of the 18 it was – saw a player carry the puck from behind the Miami net to the side of the cage and take a shot and a follow-up backhand that went in with no red jersey in sight.
Too many blown assignments, with UNO players not picked up in Miami’s offensive zone.
And there’s 22 of 32 shots saved by the netminders. Ryan Larkin had an off-night for sure, going just 15-for-21, but Chase Munroe looked rusty as well, stopping only 7 out of 11. It was Munroe’s first appearance of the regular season, although he did play in the exhibition vs. Team USA in mid-October.
Miami has built a reputation of defensive excellence under Blasi, but D definitely took the night off.
Want some positives?
– Freshmen combined for nine points, with Knies and Lown tallying three each, Gilling picking up two and Alec Mahalak notching an assist. All seem to be getting better as the season progresses.
– Sherwood’s four-game point streak is inspiring, as he seems to have shifted into a higher gear recently. He had picked up points in just three of Miami’s first 17 games and had seven overall after that span. Sherwood went 14-24-38 last season, tied for the team lead in goals and second in both assists and points.
LINEUP CHANGES: Two up front and one on defense.
Ryan Siroky sat for the first time since early October, as did Austin Alger, who had dressed for the last four. Willie Knierim was back on the ice after being scratched last Saturday, and Christian Mohs occupied the last forward spot, logging just his seventh game of 2017-18.
Rourke Russell was benched for just the third time this season. Grant Frederic, who had been out of the lineup three straight contests, took his place.
FINAL ANALYSIS: It would be tough to imagine the coaching staff being anything but irate after this effort.
Granted Miami did continue to fight after falling behind three early, but falling behind three early ultimately led to the RedHawks’ demise.
Grant Valentine didn’t exude confidence based on his relief appearance in net earlier this season, and Munroe, ditto.
That’s a problem, because if Larkin gets hurt or struggles in a game, Miami’s choices are limited.
Of course, we’d expect Valentine and/or Munroe to play better if either was called upon on more of a regular basis, but it’s pretty obvious that barring injury the odds are Larkin will start every regular season game.
Miami is now under .500 for the first time since late November, and its path to the NCAA Tournament will become smaller with each loss down the stretch.
OXFORD, Ohio – For a three-goal loss that was completely one-sided in the first two periods, Miami found a way to make the final 20 minutes interesting.
No. 5 Denver scored the first three goals in a 4-1 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday, as the teams split their weekend series.
The Pioneers (12-6-4) were a huge favorite, so winning one was a bit of a victory for the RedHawks. But since MU was .500 after the first half of the season, it needs to make up games somewhere, and this weekend wasn’t it.
This series was actually more of a reinforcement that, while the RedHawks (9-9-2) are improved over 2016-17, Miami’s overall talent does not match up with the NCAA’s elite.
RECAP: Denver scored twice in the first period and once more in the first minute of the final stanza to take a 3-0 lead.
The shots were 28-5 in favor of the Pioneers after 40 minutes.
But then it got interesting.
Miami pulled the goalie five minutes into the third period.
The RedHawks, who were anemic on the power play all night, thrived with the extra attacker.
Kiefer Sherwood broke after an extended 6-on-5 to make it 3-1.
And Miami drew a penalty on the goal, setting up a power play.
The crowd, comatose after the early domination, was suddenly into the game.
But the man-advantage fizzled and Denver eventually scored an empty netter to seal it.
Miami did outshoot Denver, 20-5 in the last 20 minutes.
STATS: Sherwood and Casey Gilling both extended points streaks to three games. Gilling is 2-3-5 in that stretch.
– Rare to see the starting/lone goalie of team log just 51:38.
– In the you’ll-see-something-new-every-time-you-go-to-the-rink department, Miami iced the puck twice while on a 6-on-5. The NCAA rule is that when a team ices the puck, no one on said team is allowed to leave, but apparently an exception is made for goalies. Both times the RedHawks did this they were able to pull one skater.
THOUGHTS: Not much to add from Friday’s game. Denver is more talented and came out aiming to prove that. Cudos to Miami for battling back in the third after an anemic first 40 minutes. And they were anemic.
FORWARDS: D. One goal only after the outcome had been decided. Gordie Green and Josh Melnick were both held without a shot.
DEFENSEMEN: D+. Too many high-percentage scoring chances for DU at this corps’ hands.
GOALTENDING: B. It was a shooting gallery for Ryan Larkin the first two periods. He made a couple of excellent saves and is certainly not accountable for the loss.
LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Zach LaValle was in at forward, replacing Willie Knierim. Knierim had dressed in the last nine games, and LaValle had sat for three in a row.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Splits against top-10 teams are nice, but when you’re .500 heading into the break, at some point you have to sweep someone.
Denver is an exceptional team, and Miami will have to gain ground against someone else.