OXFORD, Ohio – In a press conference earlier this week, Miami coach Enrico Blasi was asked about his team’s strategy against Providence this weekend, and he joked that his team needed to not allow seven goals like it did in the NCAA Tournament in March.
The Friars scored seven times against the RedHawks again on Friday. Not surprisingly, the outcome was not good for Miami again, a 7-3 loss in the teams’ season opener at Cady Arena.
It was the first career goal for all three RedHawks scorers.
Miami took the lead just over five minutes into the game when freshman Jack Roslovic whipped home a centering feed from classmate Josh Melnick on the power play.
But that lead was short-lived, as Robbie Hennessey picked the top corner of the net seven-plus minutes later.
Trevor Mingoia put Providence ahead for good when he cut through the RedHawks’ defense and drew a penalty shot, which he converted by slipping the puck through the legs of Miami senior goalie Jay Williams.
Anthony Florentino found the top corner of the net to make it 3-1 with 4:40 left in the opening frame.
The RedHawks cut the lead to one early in the second period when junior defenseman Colin Sullivan skated through the high slot, juked around a defender and fired a shot into the corner of the net.
The Friars sealed it with four unanswered goals, giving them a 7-2 lead before Melnick tipped home a shot by senior defenseman Taylor Richart with 7:42 left in regulation.
It was the third time in six games Miami allowed seven goals. Providence beat the RedHawks, 7-5 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March, and Western Michigan won by the same score in the best-of-3 series on the NCHC Tournament earlier that month.
The last time Miami has allowed more than seven goals was Feb. 15, 2014 at North Dakota, which beat the RedHawks, 9-2.
Mingoia finished with two goals and two assists to lead the Friars.
Melnick tallied a goal and an assists, and senior forward Alex Gacek recorded a pair of helpers in Miami’s losing effort.
Williams’ seven goals against were a career high. He stopped 18 shots.
The series wraps up at Cady Arena at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday in Oxford.
This evening at 6:30 PM EDT the Miami RedHawks, champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, are set to mark their return to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.
The top seed in the East Region, the RedHawks (4th overall seed) will face fourth seeded Providence College (15th) of Hockey East in their hometown.
The Friars last played two weekends ago when they were ousted by New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East conference tournament. The two squads went the distance in the best-of-three weekend series in Providence playing three low-scoring 2-1 games.
We could end this post right here, because a low-scoring game is precisely what Miami should expect this weekend.
The Friars rank in the top 5 nationally in many defensive categories including goals allowed (3rd) and save percentage (4th) led by junior goaltender Jon Gillies, who’s .931 save percentage and 1.95 GAA each rank 6th best nationally. That said, Miami will run out junior Jay Williams, who’s numbers aren’t too shabby either. Williams actually has a better GAA (1.89, 5th nationally)) than Gillies and his .922 save percentage (29th nationally) ranks just a few spots lower.
Meanwhile, Miami is much more offensively inclined boasting three players with 18 or more goals (Blake Coleman and Riley Barber (20 each) and Sean Kuraly 18) but they will be without Coleman, and likely, Barber for the game against the Friars. In fact, the Friars leading goal scorers, Nick Saracino and Trevor Mingoia have just 13 goals each, but Providence does run out five players with 11 or more goals. Maybe not as dynamic as Miami’s top end forwards, but they certainly have depth. That could be a problem for a Miami team suddenly without a lot of it.
This is not the first time Miami has seen Gillies. The two schools have met four times over the last three seasons playing, amazingly, four consecutive overtime games. Last year, Miami traveled to Providence and put up a four-spot against Gillies on Saturday night scoring six goals on the weekend. Miami should have some confidence against one of the nation’s best.
With both Coleman and Barber likely missing this game, obviously the Crash Cousins, and their size, can play a larger than usual role. Like most Hockey East squads, Providence is relatively small. Miami should use their blend of size and speed to jump on the Friars right away. I’d love to see Rico have the guys throw the body around, but they’ll have to mindful of east coast refs. The NCHC is a big, physical league and the RedHawks are one of the most physical teams in the country. If the refs don’t let the boys play, Miami could find themselves killing far too many penalties despite the Friars woeful powerplay which is converting at a paltry 14.7% clip this year.
Ultimately, this game is Jay Williams’ to win. He has to step up and hold Miami in the game. The RedHawks should expect to have to win a 2-1 style game because, 1) we’re missing 40 goals from the lineup, and 2) it’s how the Friars play.
Despite missing huge parts of the lineup, this is not your father’s Miami. This is not the team from the CCHA that was hardly challenged over the past decade and then, at times, unprepared for the rigors of the NCAA tournament. But, these RedHawks are the champions of the NCHC, a conference that sent six of its eight teams to the Dance. A conference that is currently 3-0 in the 2015 tournament. After last year’s adjustment to life in the National and life on the road, Miami has figured out how to win in the most dominant college hockey conference in the land. That has to account for a lot.
The RedHawks, though missing some big-time talent, have guys that can step up. Miami’s depth will certainly be challenged.
As much as I want to pick Miami, overcoming the losses of Coleman and Barber, along with the need to win a tight 2-1 game just doesn’t seem to fit Miami’s run, gun and bang style.
But, there is just something different about this team. They’re more battle tested. They’re deep. I think Miami finds a way to get it done but the goal scoring will surprise you. Look for a Kevin Morris or Crash Cousin dirty goal to be the difference. Miami wins.
– Williams and the RedHawks’ defense will have to be big tonight because Miami cannot afford to fall behind the Friars and expect to be able to come-from-behind facing such an intensely defensive team.
– Unless Miami wins, we MAY have seen the last of Coleman and Barber in the red and white which would be an unbelievable shame considering how their Miami careers could end. Barber is just a junior, but could decide to sign with Washington. However, if his knee injury is severe, the Capitals could be inclined to see how he does in a comeback situation with Miami meaning, perhaps, Barber could also come back to finish his degree. Something I’d assume his family would be quite happy with given his father, Don Barber, collected his degree from Bowling Green before embarking on a successful pro career. When Miami’s season is finished, I’d expect the New Jersey Devils to sign Coleman (a senior) as quickly as possible.
– Gillies, Kuraly and Barber know each other well having played together on the US U20 team that won gold in 2013 and then again Barber and Gillies returned for the 2014 team when Barber was captain. Gillies was the main netminder that year for Team USA.
– Despite playing at “home,” the Friars have not played a game at the Dunkin Donuts Center since 2004. And, with Providence having a fairly small fan base, the advantage Providence will have shouldn’t really affect the RedHawks. Certainly, this team is road tested playing in hostile environments like the Ralph (UND), Amsoil (UMD) and Lawson (WMU) to say nothing of having made long road trips all year, twice in fact, to Colorado to play at altitude. In other words, Miami has seen and heard it all.
Earlier this morning, the Miami RedHawks, champions of the NCHC, learned their NCAA region and opponent. The RedHawks will travel to Providence, R.I. to take on Providence College of Hockey East in a first round East Region game. Miami is no stranger to going east to face HEA opponents as they have done so countless times taking on the likes of UMass-Lowell, UNH and BC over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the majority of those contests have turned out poorly for Miami as they have been skated out of the rink.
But, that’s what’s so intriguing about this draw.
Head coach Enrico Blasi built this team to compete against HEA teams. Smallish, fast forwards who can possess the puck, get out in transition and put pressure on the forecheck are hallmarks of this squad, and seemingly, what’s been done to Miami over the years. And, this year, Blasi added more size with the Crash Cousins and the addition of Scott Dornbrock on the blueline.
Simply put, this team is built to win against teams big and small. And, since you can’t do anything about the draw. Go east and win the region. If there was ever a year that Miami would get over this hump, it’s this year with this team of veterans.
Honestly, the bracket is pretty good for Miami.
Consider Providence. The #15 overall seed should be playing the #2 overall seed. Sure, we’re playing them in their town, but Providence doesn’t have any kind of fan base. The crowd will not be an issue and Miami has gotten used to traveling after two seasons in the NCHC. We should be playing the #13 overall seed, Yale, but at least on paper, may have gotten a break. Providence has great goaltending, but Miami faces great goaltenders each and every weekend in the NCHC. This team should be ready.
Also consider the other half of the bracket…BC and Denver. We know all about Denver and have beaten them 3-of-5 times this year. We’re a much faster team than the Pioneers and their goaltending is suspect. As for BC? It’s not a great BC team with average goaltending and not the teams of the past with guys like Gaudreau, Gerbe, Kreider and others that were elite college players.
This is a region that Miami can win, but the RedHawks are not without their faults.
Miami will be missing the services of NCHC tournament MVP, Blake Coleman, for the first round match against Providence. And, who knows the injury status of junior sniper Riley Barber, who’s play has been outstanding the last month of the season. Last we saw Barber, he was being helped on and off the ice with a large ice bag on his left knee. Clearly not a good sign, but let’s hope for the best. I’m sure we won’t know his status until very late in the week. If those two guys are out, it’s on the other leaders to step up. Also concerning is Miami’s goaltending. I’d say it’s been average of late. Clearly the RedHawks will ride Jay Williams, but if I had to take Williams or Providence’s Jon Gillies to win this game, all else notwithstanding, I’d have to say I’d take Gillies. He’s a proven stud in the Friars net.
So, Miami fans. A lot to celebrate this season. Let’s hope the boys have four more W’s in them.
Love and Honor!
More to come this week.
The RedHawks will face the Mavericks of Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Late last night, the Miami RedHawks (24-11-5) learned their NCAA tournament fate as they received an at-large bid to compete for a national championship in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. The RedHawks were seeded second in the Midwest Regional and will face third seeded Minnesota State of the WCHA on Saturday at 5pm EST. The game will be played in Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center, home of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. This is the eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Miami, and the 11th in school history. On the other hand, this is just the second appearance all-time for MSU in the national tournament, and first since 2003 when they lost a first round game to Cornell.
**DISCLAIMER: We suggest that you not play the
gut feelings informed predictions of three idiots fans who love Miami hockey way too much anywhere in Las Vegas. You’ve been warned.**
Frozen Four: Boston College, Minnesota, Miami, Michigan
Finals: Boston College v. Miami
National Champions: Boston College
Frozen Four: Boston College, Minnesota, Miami, Michigan
Finals: Minnesota vs. Miami
National Champions: Miami
Frozen Four: Boston College, North Dakota, Miami, Michigan
Finals: Boston College vs. Miami
National Champions: Boston College
Look out Bridgeport, here come the RedHawks! It was just announced on ESPNU that Miami will face the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks on Friday at 6:30pm. The other matchup in the East regional bracket features Union vs. Michigan State.
More to come from the Redskin Warriors today and over the next week. We’ll also “phone in” our predictions for the entire tournament and preview some of the matchups.
Here is the bracket at NCAA.com