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Miami finally ends winless drought

OXFORD, Ohio – The longest Miami winless streak in over a quarter century is over.

The RedHawks snapped a 15-game, 0-11-4 skid with a 4-2 win over Nebraska-Omaha at Cady Arena, giving MU its first win in nearly three months.

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

It was the second-longest victory drought in team history, with its worst — just two games longer — coming at the end of the 1990-91 season.

Gordie Green racked up three assists in the Miami win, and Josh Melnick and Scott Corbett finished with a goal and a helper apiece.

RECAP: Miami scored first for the first time in 14 games when Josh Melnick kicked a pass to himself and swept a short pass to Derek Daschke at the faceoff dot for a one-timer that snuck in the short side 7:50 into the first period.

Phil Knies appeared to have scored seconds later, but the initial call of good goal was waved off because it was ruled UNO goalie Evan Weninger’s helmet had been dislodged.

But Knies found the net found the net again at 11:06, and this time it counted. Casey Gilling fired a shot from the high slot that Weninger couldn’t handle, and Knies poked the loose puck in to make it 2-0.

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

Knies had stolen the puck at the blue line, shielded the defense and dropped a pass to Gilling to set up his goal.

The RedHawks went up three when Green sent a cross-ice pass to Corbett, who trapped it with his skate and beat Weninger short side from the top of the faceoff circle midway through the second period.

The Mavericks cut the lead to one on a 2-on-1 goal by Chayse Primeau and a blue line blast by Jalen Schulz later that frame.

But Miami sealed it with just under four minutes left in regulation, as Green fed Melnick on a 3-on-2 for a rip from the center of the faceoff circle that snuck under the crossbar.

STATS: It was the second career three-assist game for Green, with the other coming earlier this season against Colgate on Oct. 27.

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

– Corbett recorded his first career multi-point game, and it was the first for Melnick since Miami’s last win, which came on Nov. 17 at Colorado College.

Andrew Sinard, whose outlet pass to Green resulted in Corbett’s eventual game winner, earned an assist for his first career point.

– Daschke is now tied with Grant Hutton for the team lead in defenseman goals with six, and Knies snapped a 13-game scoring drought.

THOUGHTS: What a relief for Miami.

In terms of standings, this win does little to help the RedHawks except increase the odds they don’t finish last in the NCHC.

But psychologically it had to do wonders.

The third period was the most entertaining frame MU had played in a while, with a high pace of play, plenty of physicality and tons of quality scoring chances for both teams with the score still close.

Miami will need the boost, as the remainder of its schedule is brutal, with all but two of its regular and postseason games almost certainly away from Cady Arena.

Not to take away from this sorely-needed win, but it’s fair to point out that Omaha is seventh in the eight-team league, and it took all Miami had just to split with the Mavericks in Oxford.

The RedHawks will need to play much, much better against much, much better teams, or they will be done by or on St. Patrick’s Day once again.

– Miami did not have a single healthy scratch in this game, as it had just 19 skaters and two goalies available. Bray Crowder, who was hurt on Friday, did not dress for the first time this season, leaving the team with 13 healthy forwards and six defensemen.

Fortunately for the RedHawks, they have a bye next weekend, giving their banged-up players additional time to heal.

– Not sure about the timing of the season ticket renewal offers. There was an announcement and accompanying note on the end zone monitors offering incentives and potential prizes for renewing this weekend.

As in now, as in over a month before this season ends.

One could smell the desperation in the air, and as of game time Saturday, apparently only a handful jumped on the early offer.

GRADES

FORWARDS: B-. The three goals by this corps were great, but they are still taking too many risks and getting out of position too often. For example, three times in the second period forwards played chicken with UNO skaters that had the puck, trying to strip them while they were on collision course to gain momentum the other way, and none succeeded. Miami wasn’t scored on during any of those occasions but each time the skater was taken out of position. That’s not smart hockey, especially with the lead. Only 15 total shots by 13 forwards against a team that allows 35 per game. Green was outstanding and was named first star but Knies was BoB’s choice, as he was all over the ice all night. Melnick and Corbett were also standouts, and Christian Mohs had good legs and gave the team much-needed energy.

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

DEFENSEMEN: B-. A pretty average game defensively by this group, and Daschke’s laser of a goal boosts its grade into the ‘B’ range. Grant Hutton was solid on D, but it’s rare he is held without a shot.

GOALTENDING: A-. Larkin turned 31 shots aside, including a 2-on-1 that he sprawled across the crease to kick out and multiple other stops on high-percentage chances. The second UNO goal was a shot from the blue line he probably should’ve stopped, but overall he was excellent.

LINEUP CHANGES: Just one: Noah Jordan dressed in place of the injured Crowder.

Coach Enrico Blasi has tended to go with seven defensemen this season, but he has no choice with just six healthy.

STANDINGS: With the split, Miami remained two points behind seventh-place Omaha and is three points back of sixth-place Colorado College.

Denver holds that all-important fourth spot and is 10 up on the RedHawks with three games in hand.

After all of Saturday’s games, Miami is No. 38 in the PairWise rankings.

FINAL THOUGHTS: So this series split comes heading into an off-week before a pair of tough road series.

Will the time off be helpful at this point or will that kill any momentum the RedHawks may have gained from this win?

Considering the locker room has been essentially converted to a triage unit the week off will probably benefit Miami more than it hurts.

The pressure that the RedHawks – players as well as coaches – had to be under during their 0-11-4 had to be enormous. This win will hopefully have a cathartic effect.

With Miami almost certainly pigeon holed into one of the lower seeds heading into the NCHC Tournament, it’s still all about getting better heading into that all-important best-of-3 postseason series.

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Miami winless streak now at 15

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami outshot Nebraska-Omaha by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, but none of the RedHawks’ 38 shots found the net.

Despite generating just 21 shots, the Mavericks shut out Miami, 3-0 at Cady Arena on Friday, handing MU its ninth straight loss, extending the RedHawks’ winless streak to 15 games and pushing UNO’s unbeaten streak vs. Miami to six.

It’s the second-longest winless streak in RedHawks history, with its worst skid of 17 games coming in 1991.

RECAP: The first period was scoreless, but UNO (9-16-2) opened the scoring six minutes into the second frame when Ryan Galt slid a pass through the slot to Teemu Pulkkinen for a one-timer on the power play.

At the 4:21 mark of the final stanza, John Schuldt wristed one in from along the boards that Miami goalie Ryan Larkin kicked out with his left pad, but the rebound came to Galt for a tap-in.

Mason Morelli sealed it with an empty netter in the closing seconds.

STATS: Miami (9-16-4) has been outscored, 36-10 during its losing streak and 29-5 in its last seven games.

– The RedHawks dropped to 1-24-6 when chasing their 10th win of the season the past three years.

– MU is killing penalties at just a 68.4 percent clip in its last four games and was 2-for-3 in this contest.

THOUGHTS: There was no jump in Miami’s game the first 13 minutes, during which the team posted just one shot on goal.

The RedHawks played better the balance of the first period and was OK the rest of the way.

Mavericks goalie Evan Weninger was very solid in net but Miami also had zero puck luck, hitting the post twice on a third-period power play and had multiple other quality chances that wouldn’t go in.

MU’s lack of recent scoring seemed to affect its skaters, some of whom got off their game trying to find the net.

The RedHawks’ postseason path is sealed: They must win the NCHC Tournament and will have to salvage a best-of-3 road series against one of Division I’s best just to advance to the semifinals in St. Paul.

Miami’s Bray Crowder (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami did nothing to show it is better equipped to tackle that task in this game.

– Scary moment in the third period when defenseman Bray Crowder tried to block a shot and had the puck deflect into his throat area. He went down the tunnel and did not return.

Karch Bachman finished with a game-high seven shots on goal in the loss. He is generating tons of chances, but he has to score more if he hopes to go from good player to great player in this league and beyond. This was his 12th straight game without a goal.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D-. Miami dropped to a 0.71 goals-per-game clip in its last seven, and the fault lies largely with this corps. In addition to Bachman’s slump, Casey Gilling has not scored in 11 games, Jonathan Gruden has one in his last 20, and sophomores Phil Knies and Ben Lown have been blanked for 13 and 14 games, respectively. Ryan Siroky – who had five tallies in the first 20 contests – has not scored since. When a team lacks scoring depth it can ill afford to have its top offensive players held off the scoresheet for those spans.

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

DEFENSEMEN: C+. This group was OK in its own end and did next to nothing offensively. Galt was left wide open at the top of the crease for UNO’s second goal. A pass got through both blueliners on the first one. On the up side, the Mavericks were limited to 21 shots and a number of them were fielded cleanly by Larkin.

GOALTENDING: B. Larkin probably would’ve liked that second goal back, as he kicked it out right to Galt for an easy score. That said, he had no chance on the first one, the third was an ENG and he was solid the rest of the night. This was the best game Larkin has turned in during this nine-game losing streak.

LINEUP CHANGES: Injuries are really piling up for Miami. The only change from last Saturday was Zach LaValle in for Carter Johnson up front.

That’s because Johnson is also banged up. Goalie Jordan Uhelski is as well, as he was scratched and Grant Valentine was listed as the backup.

Also hurt are D Chaz Switzer (lower body), D Grant Frederic (lower body) and F Brian Hawkinson (upper body).

Noah Jordan was the team’s lone healthy scratch.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Add the multitude of injuries to the list of things that have gone wrong for Miami in the second half of the season.

But UNO has had its own issues this season and won relatively easily despite entering play with a 1-10-1 road record.

The RedHawks were able to overcome adversity early in the season. They aren’t now.

Preview: Miami at Western Michigan

The two hottest teams in college hockey are Providence and Western Michigan.

Miami played PC last week, and this weekend the RedHawks face the Broncos.

WMU, riding an eight-game unbeaten streak that includes a 3-0-1 record vs. North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth, has vaulted into second place in the NCHC. However, the Broncos are only two points ahead of Miami, which is tied for fourth.

These teams meet again in Oxford to wrap up the regular season on March 8-9, so WMU will have a major hand in determining where the RedHawks finish in the conference standings.

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

WHO: No. 20 Miami RedHawks (9-7-4) at No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos (11-6-1).

WHERE: Lawson Arena (3,667), Kalamazoo, Mich.

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

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

WESTERN MICHIGAN RADIO: WZOX-FM (96.5), Kalamazoo, Mich.

TV: Friday – CBS College Sports.

NOTES: Over the past three seasons, Western Michigan has taken major strides offensively, an area in which the Broncos had previously struggled since the formation of the NCHC.

WMU has scored 67 times in 18 games for a 3.72-goal clip, the sixth-best rate in Division I.

Josh Passolt has been a breakout sophomore season for the Broncos, leading the team in goals (11) and plus-minus (plus-15) and is tied for the WMU points lead with 19. Four of his markers have been game winners.

Colton Conrad is tied with Passolt atop the team points leaderboard, as Conrad is pacing Western Michigan in assists with 13. He is also exceptional in the faceoff circle, having won 57.0 percent of his draws this season.

Like Passolt, Hugh McGing has also enjoying a statistical blow-up with 10 goals, including five on the power play. He has 18 points and 35 penalty minutes.

Ethen Frank has already eclipsed his rookie season goal mark, posting eight this season after notching seven freshman year, and Austin Rueschoff is another significant offensive threat with six goals and eight helpers.

Philadelphia Flyers second-round pick Wade Allison, one of the NCAA’s scoring leaders last season before he tore his ACL, is back on the ice for Western Michigan and could bolster its offense even more.

Allison has played eight games and is 2-2-4 after posting a 15-15-30 line in just 22 games in 2017-18.

Other regulars up front for WMU are Dawson DiPietro, Cole Gallant, Drew Worrad, Paul Washe, Jaden McMullen and Lawton Courtnall – son of former NHLer Russ Courtnall.

Cam Lee leads Broncos blueliners in goals (5), assists (10) and points (15) while notching a plus-10 rating.

Defenseman Corey Schueneman has recorded eight assists and nine points, and Buffalo Sabres second-rounder and Team USA product Matthias Samuelsson, who just returned from winning silver in the World Juniors, has scored three times and picked up five helpers.

Luke Bafia, Kale Bennett and Jared Kucharek are the other key cogs of WMU’s back end, and Michael Joyaux – younger brother of former RedHawks Chris and Matt Joyaux – has dressed for 10 games.

During their current eight-game unbeaten streak, the Broncos have allowed just 12 goals, and they have held their last three opponents to one goal apiece.

Goaltender Trevor Gorsuch is having a stellar senior season, going 9-2-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. He had six career wins and was sub-.900 entering this year.

Ben Blacker, who was dominant his freshman season, took a step back in 2017-18 and has made just two starts this year, posting just an .870 save percentage. He’s actually third on the team in goaltender minutes played behind Austin Cain.

Miami has started games slowly at times this season, and if that happens this weekend Western Michigan will make the RedHawks pay. The Broncos are tops in the NCHC in first-period goals with 27 – that’s 1.50 per game.

WMU has been best at even strength, as just 14 of its goals have come on the power play and another pair shorthanded.

The RedHawks are winless in their last six – they actually haven’t won since Nov. 17 – but they have four ties in that span, including one at now-No. 7 Providence and two at home against No. 1 St. Cloud State.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Josh Melnick is riding a seven-game point streak, with three goals and five assists in that span, and Ryan Siroky has four points in his last three contests.

The RedHawks are 16th in college hockey in defense, giving up 2.30 goals per game. Goalie Ryan Larkin is seventh in D-I save percentage at .931 and is tied for sixth in shutouts with three.

With 142 meetings, Miami has played Western Michigan more than any other foe except Ohio State and is 68-63-11 vs. the Broncos, but WMU holds a 35-25-7 edge in Kalamazoo.

The RedHawks have played OSU 151 times, and with that series currently dormant, Western Michigan will soon move into first place on MU’s most-played opponents list.

The Broncos have always played well at home and are 6-2-1 at Lawson Arena this season.

Major costly as UNO rallies past Miami

A major penalty was a key reason Miami’s four-game winning streak ended on Saturday.

The No. 20 RedHawks led by two goals early but lost, 6-3 to Nebraska-Omaha in the series finale at Baxter Arena, partly due to three power play goals scored during a Mavericks five-minute man advantage.

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

Miami went up, 2-0 in the first period but allowed a Mavericks goal with 61 seconds left in the opening frame.

RedHawks captain Josh Melnick was given a major and game misconduct for spearing midway through the second period and UNO scored three times on the ensuing power play to give the team a lead which it would not relinquish.

It was the first win of the season for the Mavericks and the most goals against for the RedHawks in 2018-19.

RECAP: Miami (7-3) took the lead on a 5-on-3 when Melnick slid a lateral pass across the top of the faceoff circles, and Grant Hutton one-timed a rip past goalie Evan Weninger.

With one UNO (1-6-1) skater back, Hutton had a shot blocked, but the puck trickled to Phil Knies in the right faceoff circle, and he whipped one just under the crossbar to make it 2-0 a minute later.

But Taylor Ward batted home a bad-angle shot off a rebound from a point-blank Mason Morelli chance with 61 seconds left in the opening frame.

Melnick’s penalty put Miami down two men, and UNO’s Fredrik Olofsson roofed one from the right faceoff dot to tie it.

Kevin Conley scored from nearly the same spot on a partly-deflected pass 96 seconds later, giving the Mavericks their first lead of the weekend, 3-2.

Another 1:57 passed before Chayse Primeau one-timed a backdoor pass from Conley at the side of the cage, giving UNO a two-goal lead.

Miami cut its deficit to one when Gordie Green knocked home a long rebound from the inside edge of the faceoff circle less than two minutes into the final stanza.

But UNO’s Tristan Keck extended his team’s lead to two late in the third period, and Morelli netted his second of the night when he poked home a centering feed from behind the net.

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

STATS: Green scored for the fourth straight game and extended his points streak to five games.

He has five goals and five assists during his hot streak.

— Melnick has a four-game points streak (2-6-8), and Hutton and Jonathan Gruden both picked up points for the third straight contest.

— After a slow start on the power play, Miami has scored on the man advantage five straight games, going 6-for-19 in that span.

THOUGHTS: The elephant on the ice in this game is the Melnick penalty. The ensuing power play was obviously critical.

There was no replay on the UNO feed on NCHC.tv, so here’s what I think after going reviewing that segment of the game on the site:

— It appears Melnick rammed his stick between the legs of an UNO skater after the two battled for the puck along the boards for an extended time.

— The case could be made that said skater interfered with Melnick as he attempted to vacate the area.

— The NCAA is tightening up in certain areas, and while I’ve certainly witnessed way worse hits in recent years that have not been called, college hockey is now replaying nefarious incidents and is obviously not afraid to dish out majors.

— All that said, a minor was certainly warranted. Considering what we’ve seen called majors the first four weekends, it’s not out of line that Melnick received a major.

The upgrade was extremely costly to Miami, as the Mavericks scored twice in the final three power play minutes that wouldn’t have happened had the call been a minor. Those three goals flipped a 2-1 Miami lead to a 4-2 UNO advantage.

— The Mavericks had already tilted the ice in their direction heading into their scoring barrage, having trimmed the RedHawks’ lead to one after Miami jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and the penalty provided UNO the fuel to seize control of the game.

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

LINEUP CHANGES: Forwards Zach LaValle and Carter Johnson did not dress.

Christian Mohs and defenseman Andrew Sinard did, giving Miami seven defensemen.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is the first disappointing loss of the season, not because UNO was winless but because Miami had the lead and let it get away.

To be fair, Nebraska-Omaha is definitely better than the 0-6-1 record it sported entering this contest, but good teams rarely lose when they take two-goal leads.

The series ends in a split and Miami finishes its first 10 games with a 7-3 record, and not to put words in anyone’s mouth but I’m guessing under the off-season circumstances the coaching staff is happy with a .700 winning percentage through the first weekend in November.

But the schedule gets a lot tougher the rest of the way, and the RedHawks can ill afford to have discipline lapses turn would-be wins into losses.

Miami wins first road game at UNO

Miami’s ninth game of the season was its first true road contest, but the No. 20 RedHawks kept up their MO of winning by wide margins.

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

Gordie Green found the net twice as MU scored the final three goals in a 4-1 win vs. Nebraska-Omaha at Baxter Arena on Friday, extending its winning streak to four games.

This was also the NCHC opener for the RedHawks (7-2), who played six of their first eight games this season in Oxford and the other two in Erie, Pa., in the Ice Breaker Tournament.

During their recent hot spell, the RedHawks have surrendered just three goals and none in the third period.

Forward Jonathan Gruden (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin won his fifth straight game, stopping 19 of 20.

RECAP: Jonathan Gruden scored his first career goal when he skated behind the UNO net and shot it off the back of goalie Evan Weninger on the power play just 79 seconds into the game.

The Mavericks (0-6-1) tied it with a Taylor Ward goal on a tic-tac-toe passing play as he swept in a pass from the top of the crease with 2:53 remaining in the first period. That tally was also scored on the man advantage

Miami regained the lead 66 seconds later on a blue line blast by Grant Hutton that was deflected in by Brian Hawkinson for his first career goal.

With 5:27 left in the middle stanza, Gordie Green jarred the puck from an UNO defender in the Miami zone, and Scott Corbett seized it and fired a shot off the crossbar. The puck skipped through the top of the crease and Green batted it out of the air as it dribbled into the back of the cage.

Green picked up his second marker of the night with an emphatic rip into the empty net from the outside edge of the faceoff circle with 22 seconds to play after controlling a Josh Melnick two-line outlet pass.

STATS: The Green-Melnick combo on Miami’s top line continues to dominate, as Green extended his multi-point game streak to four and Melnick picked up multiple points for the third consecutive contest.

Miami’s Brian Hawkinson (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Green has scored in three straight games and is 4-5-9 during his points streak. Melnick has scored twice and earned five assists in his last three.

— Hawkinson also has points in three straight, including his first career goal in this one.

— Larkin has allowed just three goals during his five-game win streak and has stopped 123 of 126 shots in that span (.976).

— This was the fourth straight game in which Miami did not allow a third-period goal, and the RedHawks have given up just three in nine contests this season.

In 2017-18 they surrendered 46 tallies in 37 games after the second intermission, including a pair in overtime.

THOUGHTS: Miami, once again, played a full 60 minutes against a team they were supposed to beat, and the RedHawks won for the seventh time, with six of those wins coming by three or more goals.

In other words, they’re beating teams they should beat and doing so in decisive fashion.

This was both the first true road game and the inaugural league contest for Miami, which passed both tests with high grades.

And UNO may be winless but it is not a bad team, or at least the Mavericks didn’t play that poorly. Their shot total of 20 is somewhat deceiving because they generated a lot of chances.

A road win in this league, regardless of the opponent’s status, is a major accomplishment, and in this game Miami pulled out the victory on hostile ice and looked good doing so.

— Great job answering the tying UNO goal late in the first period goal by regaining the lead before intermission. That was the Hawkinson deflection on the Hutton blast and eventual game winner.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

— Can’t say enough about how well Green is playing. He has nine points in four games and his defense is as good as his offense. He made his first goal happen with his forechecking, as he knocked the puck loose and scored on the rebound from Corbett’s ensuing shot.

— I’d been to all of the first eight games and this was the first one I’d seen on TV, but Derek Daschke looked even better on the tube than live. Twice a last-second desperation play prevented a slam-dunk goal, and he picked up two assists, giving him five points in his last four.

Daschke was probably even more amped to play against the school he was formerly committed to. Mentioned this last weekend but he continues to better every game.

— Prior to this game, only four Miami forwards had played every game but had not scored, and Hawkinson and Gruden both took their names off that list.

Gruden had been snakebitten, as the Ottawa Senators’ fourth rounder was expected to contribute right away.

Yet Hawkinson played three full USHL seasons – 164 games – and only scored 10 times with just 16 assists. Despite his lack of scoring in juniors Hawkinson has a 1-5-6 line in nine games with Miami.

Gruden has tons of raw talent and it should be fun to watch him develop, and Hawkinson has taken complete advantage of his opportunity in Miami’s lineup and has already become a regular on the penalty kill.

— Karch Bachman hit a post early and then a crossbar-and-post later in the game. He had three goals in the first four games this season and continues to get better in other aspects.

He is scoreless in five straight but has been pretty unlucky recently and it feels like he’s going to break out again soon.

— This game was broadcast nationally on one of the regional Fox Sports Channels, and UNO announcers Dave Ahlers and David Brisson did a fabulous job.

Both are very fair in their announcing – regularly complimenting Miami players for their play – and extremely knowledgeable.

Ahlers is a former AHL announcer and Brisson played briefly in the pros after graduating from UNO.

GRADES

FORWARDS: A-. A well-played game by this entire corps, up and down the lines. Green was the standout with Melnick not far behind. Gruden still makes too many high-risk passes but hopefully this goal will vault his game another level.

Rourke Russell (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

DEFENSEMEN: B+. Especially liked Daschke’s play although he did turn one over for a near-goal. Rourke Russell also stood out, and watching from a higher vantagepoint it was easier to appreciate his geometrical smarts in his usage of the boards on defensive-zone passes.

GOALTENDING: A. The goal against was on a magnificent passing play that was basically a 2-on-oh at the top of the crease. Larkin is a key reason for Miami’s hot start and his rebound control is as good as it’s ever been since he came to Oxford.

LINEUP CHANGES: Only one: Up front, Carter Johnson was back in the lineup after sitting last Saturday. He has now played three straight series openers but has sat in consecutive finales.

He replaced Andrew Sinard, who was the seventh defenseman in Game 2 vs. Colgate last weekend.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Winless or not, UNO played pretty well and Miami was better.

The Mavericks hurt themselves with undisciplined penalties early and the RedHawks took advantage with a power play goal.

Omaha is obviously in a down year but this was still a quality win for Miami.

Photos: Miami at Ice Breaker Tournament

Images from Miami’s games in the Ice Breaker Tournament played at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pa., on Oct. 12-13, 2018. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

Miami wins opener vs. UAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— There was a lot to like among the newcomers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRADES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Alabama-Huntsville

WHO: Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (12-23-2) at Miami RedHawks (12-20-5).

WHEN: Saturday – 7 p.m.; Sunday – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 8-1.

NOTES: Miami typically hosts a CIS (Canadian collegiate) team in an exhibition to open competitive play, but the RedHawks have no such luxury this season, heading straight into regular season action without a tune-up opportunity.

The last time these teams faced was in February 2012, when Miami swept UAH at Cady Arena. In 2010 these teams met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and the RedHawks prevailed, 2-1.

Alabama-Huntsville lost its only two 20-point producers from last season, and Christian Rajic is the Chargers’ leading veteran forward with 15 points, nine of which came on goals.

A pair of small forwards – Hans Gorowsky and Madison Dunn – netted five goals each and finished with double-digit points totals.

Kurt Gosselin leads the blueline after scoring five times – three of which came on the power play – and notching 11 assists. John Teets and Cam Knight also return for their senior seasons after combining for 20 points in 2017-18.

These teams have not met in six years and Miami is 2-0 vs. UAH at Cady Arena.

2018-19 Miami preview Part IV: Goalies

OUT (2): Chase Munroe, Evan McCarthy.

IN (1): Jordan Uhelski (graduate student).

RETURNING (2): Jr. – Ryan Larkin; So – Grant Valentine.

NOTES: Miami had four goaltenders on its roster last season but finished with a team save percentage of .874, its worst rate in Coach Enrico Blasi’s tenure.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Only four teams in Division I allowed more goals than the RedHawks, who surrendered 128 for a per-game average of 3.46.

It was a down year for Ryan Larkin, who stopped 91 percent of the shots he faced in 2016-17 but posted an .886 save percentage last season.

The junior faced a lot of A-plus shots last season but he also let in a number of soft ones from outside.

Larkin was on the ice for all but 85 of the RedHawks’ minutes, going 12-18-5 with a 3.12 goals-agaisnt average. His GAA was up 0.35 from his freshman season.

Jordan Uhelski completed his degree at Alabama-Huntsville and is joining Miami for his final year of eligibility. He has over 3,000 minutes of college experience and a career .906 save percentage.

Grant Valentine, now a sophomore, saw just nine minutes of action and allowed one goal on three shots. With Uhelski coming in as a senior, Valentine has a chance to prove worthy of more time in net the next couple of seasons.

“I expect to have results from our goaltending,” Blasi said. “Ryan has had a great summer, Jordan as an older guy has come in and, I guess I would say I’m impressed the way he’s pushed Larks yet still been very focused on his game, so he’s ready to go if called upon. The two of them have gotten along really well and Val, our third goalie is right there every day and pushing them as well. I think it’s been a good competition for all of them. When you get to know Jordan, he’s very charismatic and he’s always on – he doesn’t take any days off in terms of his attitude and the way he works.”

With all three goalies being different classes, the Zatkoff Effect officially ends, meaning Miami has broken its cycle of having a freshman duo between the pipes every four years.

That trend started in 2008 when primary starter Jeff Zatkoff left following his junior season the same off-season as Charlie Effinger, forcing the RedHawks to bring in both Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp the following fall.

Four years later it was Jay Williams and Ryan McKay, and four more after that Larkin and Chase Munroe were freshmen, but Munroe did not return to the team this season.

2018-19 Miami preview Part III: Defensemen

OUT (3): Louie Belpedio (graduated), Scott Dornbrock (graduated), Bryce Hatten.

IN (4): Derek Daschke, Andrew Sinard, Brayden Crowder, River Rymsha (graduate student).

RETURNING (5): Sr. – Grant Hutton; Jrs. – Grant Frederic, Chaz Switzer; Sos. – Alec Mahalak, Rourke Russell.

NOTES: Four of Miami’s starting six defensemen are back from last season, but the two who graduated were key contributors on the blue line.

Louie Belpedio was team captain for two seasons and Scott Dornbrock logged 139 career games, but Miami adds four to its blueline corps and will have nine D-men to battle for six starting slots each night.

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

“I think we’re a lot deeper, bigger, stronger,” Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. “I think whe you add some of the size that we did and just sheer bodies, it’s going to be equally hard to come up with six (starters) on a game-to-game basis.”

All-planet senior Grant Hutton will share the captaincy with Melnick after leading college hockey in defenseman goals with 13 and tying for the Division I lead in power play goals by a blueliner (8).

He has also been arguably the team’s best shutdown D-man the past three seasons.

Alec Mahalak dressed for 36 of 37 games as a freshman and seemed to gain confidence in every facet as last season progressed, finishing 1-8-9. His size (5-feet-9, 165 pounds) worked against him defensively at times but he proved he can make smart plays, carry and pass the puck.

Rourke Russell is a shutdown defenseman who was in the lineup 34 times his rookie season. He got tougher to play against later in the season, blocking 51 shots, and Chaz Switzer, who played 32 games, showed improvement in his second campaign with Miami and finished with 47 blocks.

Miami’s Grant Frederic (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Grant Frederic only saw the ice 15 times but also seemed more confident in his second go-around, using his big body to defend more. If Frederic continues to make the case for a lineup spot as well as the four other returning blueliners, that would leave just one spot for four freshmen.

And Derek Daschke is considered the defensive blue chipper of this incoming class. He has logged 232 USHL games in four seasons and went 8-21-29 in 2017-18. The 6-feet-2 blueliner played under associate head coach Peter Mannino in Chicago en route to a Clark Cup title two seasons ago.

At 6-feet-6, Brayden Crowder will join Michael Findorff and Brian Sipotz among the tallest Miami D-men.

Andrew Sinard will also join that list of trees on the RedHawks’ blue line, as he is also 6-6 and listed at 185 pounds. He did not score a goal in 96 NAHL games but did pick up 21 assists in that span.

Dartmouth graduate River Rymsha joins Miami for his senior season. He is also a big body at 6-3, 205 pounds, and dressed for 28 games and picked up a goal and two helpers at that Ivy League institution last year.

“So we obviously added some size with Sinard and Crowder, and those are two guys that are really difficult to play against, from what we’ve seen out of them in practice, and a guy in Daschke who can really move the puck,” Hutton said. “All of the guys that have come in on defense have made an impact and an impression so far in practice, and obviously we have our returners that we’re going to look to for experience and help show the younger guys the way. We’ve all had the privilege of having guys like that in our freshman years that we’ve looked up to and learned a lot from. I’m excited about the group.”

This corps helped Miami hold opponents to 27.2 shots per game in 2017-18, but too many were high quality. They also need to help tighten up a penalty kill unit that killed just 78.0 percent of its chances, ranking 46th in the NCAA.