Assistants, players out after 12-win season
Typically news for a college hockey team wanes after its season ends.
Miami’s postseason was halted in the first weekend, concluding with a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 3 of an NCHC Tournament opening-round series at St. Cloud State.
But just a week later, the RedHawks announced both of its assistant coaches – Nick Petraglia and Brent Brekke – will not return to the bench in 2018-19, and several of its players also won’t be back this fall.
Brekke has been a coach at Miami the past 10 seasons, and Petraglia has been an assistant for eight campaigns.
Director of hockey operations Tommy Hill is expected to take over the position of Petraglia, who will remain with Miami’s athletic program in a different role. The other position has already been listed online and applications are being accepted.
Four players from Miami’s 2017-18 roster have also reportedly been cut after the team finished 12-20-5.
A wild card in the coaching shake-up is Dean Stork, who took a volunteer assistant position for the RedHawks this past season. He has been wildly successful coaching in the ECHL, helping lead the Cincinnati Cyclones to multiple Kelly Cup championships.
For the third straight year, the RedHawks have failed to reach the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, the NCAA Tourament or even the .500 mark.
Miami finished last in the conference this season and dropped its first-round conference series, two games to one.
Part II: Q&A With Coach Petraglia
BoB continues with its interview with assistant coach Nick Petraglia. Part I can be found here:
BoB: Obviously you’ve got some big shoes to fill on defense, losing three solid starters in Matthew Caito, Chris Joyaux and Taylor Richart. Can you talk about the incoming group of defensemen?
Petraglia: Yeah, so we have four new guys on the blue line – that’s half our D-corps – so there will be a lot of opportunity back there.
Grant Frederic – Coming in from Green Bay, he was a leader and a captain there, plays a really sound game at both ends of the rink. He’s big, he’s physical, he has a good stick, he takes pride in playing defense and making the right play. Offensively, he has a really good shot and release, and I think that offensive confidence is coming with him where he can chip in down there as well. But he’s just a very well-rounded player that’s probably very ready to contribute right away, and he’s coming in with a pretty good track record. He’s a mature guy, so he’ll have a big impact.
Bryce Hatten – Is a kid that is big, he has good feet for a big guy, really good stick, rangy, solid, simple defender that’s tough to play against. Coming off a year where he missed much of the season with an injury, and he’s worked hard to get himself back to 100 percent. He’s probably going to need a little time to get back into hockey shape and just feeling comfortable out there when we get to contact and really get going. But a talented kid that really takes pride in defending and not giving much up. Excited to see him transition to college hockey.
Chaz Switzer – Played three years in the USHL, I think he’s been committed the longest among this group on the back end. A lot of edge, physical, tough, left-hand shot which we haven’t had too many of those guys, so that’s helpful. And again, he understands his game and his role and he really likes to just plays defense and shut guys down.
We like the compete level there and the balance between those guys.
Jared Brandt – Older kid that was a captain in Minot last season with Christian Mohs and had a very successful career. He skates really well, has good poise with the puck, makes solid plays, was very successful on the power play. Another left-handed shot and a guy that can play both ends of the rink and comes in as a seasoned guy with a lot of maturity.
A balanced group, a little bit older – actually I think the whole class is older, Willie (Knierim) is the only true freshman – so we have guys that even though they’re freshmen have played a lot of hockey and are a little bit older, and typically it’s a little bit easier for those guys to transition to college hockey as opposed to 18-year-old kids that have just graduated from high school.
BoB: Is it by design with how the NCHC is structured, with everyone seemingly 6-feet-3, 220 pounds, to bring in older, more physically developed players on the blue line?
Petraglia: Well, it’s a case by case basis. I think the thing for us is it’s not age but it’s bringing in kids that are ready to play right away. So if a kid’s ready at 18 and he’s ready to come in and make an impact – that’s harder to find – typically it takes a bit of seasoning because college hockey is older and the development path and just the structure of it allows for extra years of development with the junior hockey landscape. Taking advantage of that time is something that’s beneficial to almost everybody. I guess it’s partially by design but for the most part it’s just making sure that guys come in when they’re ready to contribute, because we don’t want anybody coming in, sitting in the stands and struggling.
BoB: So goaltending. You have nine minutes and 39 seconds of experience returning in net, so can you talk about your goaltending group?
Petraglia: We’ve been here before with the way our tandems have worked, the guys staying in the same class, and that’s not something that’s held us back in the past actually. The last few times this has happened we’ve won the CCHA championship (in 2013) and the time before that we went to the national championship game and the time before that it was Charlie Effinger and Jeff Zatkoff, and they ran with it right away, and that team won a championship as well. Not to compare anybody but just saying that the structure of that is not something we’re afraid of or nervous about. We’re excited about the group coming in.
Ryan Larkin – Has been committed for a while and didn’t play last year because of injury except for a couple of games. High IQ, great poise and demeanor in net, and just a well-accomplished high-end goalie. The biggest thing for him is he’s really not coming in as a freshman because he enrolled and was here in January because of his injury – he has a full semester of Miami underneath his belt. He knows his teammates and he knows what the program is all about because he’s already lived it. Even though he didn’t play, he’s coming into the fall comfortable with his surroundings and has the confidence in his health, so he’s going to be a guy who obviously plays an enormous roll on our team. And it’s nice that’s coming in as a freshman that has some understanding of what things are really like at this level. Excited about him.
Chase Munroe – Big kid from Chicago, again, has a real calm demeanor in net. Fills a ton of space, tracks the puck well, understands the game. He’s a kid that we got a little later in the process, but somebody that has a high ceiling and a lot of potential and had a real solid season for the Minnesota Wilderness (of the NAHL).
Andrew Masters – Evan McCarthy is still going through some injury problems that he’s dealing with in rehabbing, so he’ll not be available for us for a while, and that’s why we had to go out and recruit another goalie after the season so we had the proper depth. Andrew Masters is a kid that had a very successful season last year in Georgetown (Ont.), was the goalie of the year in his league and one of the top goalies in the Canadian Juniors system, so it will be exciting to see what he can come in and show us.
But at the end of day, we’re looking for these guys to all work together and great teammates, and whoever’s name is called on Friday and Saturday nights to get the job done and help us win games, whoever that’s going to be.
BoB: You and Coach Brent Brekke both do recruiting for Miami, but as a former RedHawks goalie, do you handle more of the goaltender recruiting?
Petraglia: No, I don’t think it matters. Obviously it’s a position I played and something I’m passionate about. We all work together as a staff to make those decisions, and we’re always involved in making choices for who would be best for our program. Can’t say I can take full credit for that – it’s something that we all work together on.
BoB: Miami’s success in net has been something we’ve seen continuously over the past decade, including seasons like this one when the RedHawks have had two freshmen goaltenders. Is that something the coaching staff takes pride in?
Petraglia: Yeah, we take a lot of pride in that. I think that’s not just credit to the goaltending, but just the whole team in general. It’s a situation where everybody’s got to be on the same page and buy into playing a team game, and I don’t care how good of a goalie you are, if you don’t have a team that’s playing well and buying in in front of you, it’s going to be hard to stop pucks. We do take pride in that, our team defense and especially our penalty kill, which has been very successful over the course of time – Coach Brekke does a great job with that – but just the buy in of everybody is a key part to our program. If we’re going to have a problem in that area, that’s not a good thing. Any good team is going to have good goaltending and good, solid team defense.
Part I: Q&A With Coach Petraglia
It’s one of the biggest classes of incoming freshmen ever for Miami.
The RedHawks have 14 freshman hitting the ice this fall, and assistant coach Nick Petraglia handles a large portion of Miami’s recruiting.
So for the third straight summer, we talked to Petraglia about the team and the newest members of the program.
BoB: So how is the off-season going for the coaching staff?
Petraglia: It’s been great. A lot of time planning, and we all had some time away, obviously. I can tell you that we’re excited to get going here. We’ve all had time with our families but I know this season’s been on our minds the whole time and we’re charged up and ready to go.
BoB: With 14 incoming freshmen, what kind of challenges does that create for a coaching staff?
Petraglia: It’s a fun challenge. I think the most important thing is that we set the standard right away and they learn what our expectations are so they can make as seamless of a transition as possible. Obviously it’s going to be a learning curve for everybody, but just setting that culture, and we’ll lean on our returning players to do that right away. But with 14 guys being half of our team, the example we set and how we operate from a work ethic standpoint, a character standpoint, habits – just everything we do – trying to operate at the highest level possible right away so it becomes the way and we can just focus on getting better every single day, one day at a time. That’s what we’re going to try to do.
BoB: You coaches are super-intense people and obviously bleed for the program, so do you feel even more pressure because this big class of freshmen is coming in – especially with how last season ended – because this group is half of your team for the next four years?
Petraglia: No, I don’t think pressure is the way we look at it. I think we’re really excited. I will say that we very much believe in what we have in that room and what our culture is. We believe we have the right people and all the pieces of the puzzle are there and we just have to make sure they’re put together properly and guys are in a position to be themselves and be successful. Like I said, we’re very excited. We really love the class that’s coming in. We’re really happy with all of the work that’s been put in by the returning guys who have spent all of spring and the early parts of summer really taking the next step. We had a great summer with those guys in the weight room and off the ice and hopefully everything comes together as soon as possible.
BoB: We’ve written briefly about the freshmen individually (NOTE: That story can be found here), but specifically, the forwards in general, it seems like you’ve got a good mix of smaller guys, bigger guys – obviously that’s what you want – so can you talk about that group?
Petraglia: There’s a little bit of everything, and obviously that’s by design. Offensively, we have some guys that have proven they can produce.
– Karch Bachman: Has elite speed, a really good shot, a scoring touch and is somebody who’s pretty electric. He missed a lot of last season because of injury and that’s why his numbers weren’t what you’d expect. But he’s a kid that has some high-end offensive ability and talent.
– Carson Meyer: Had an incredible rookie season (in the USHL) helping Tri-City win the Clark Cup. He’s a kid that knows how to score, plays the game the right way, great shot, he’s a complete player that can hopefully contribute right away.
A couple of kids coming from Dubuque that have been committed for a while.
– Gordie Green: A smaller guy who plays with a ton of passion and energy. He’s a rat out there – he’ll get under your skin and he’s not afraid of anything. His biggest strength is just his hockey sense and playmaking ability. So he’s a guy that can make a lot happen, and we expect him to be a major contributor.
– Willie Knierim: (Green’s) teammate last year, the youngest guy in the class. Big power forward. The best thing about Willie is he knows his game and he takes pride in it. He doesn’t try to be something that he’s not. He’s got a nice set of hands, he knows how to score. He’s really good around the net, he’s good in the corners and he’s one of those players that as a power forward can really complement skilled guys around him. Very excited about those two coming in.
– Carter Johnson: Is an older, mature player from the North American League. He’s one of our Canadians that we have coming in – first ones in a while from Canada – he’s a well-rounded centerman that I think is going to surprise a lot of people. He plays both ends of the ice sheet, he skates well, he has good skills. He’s produced a decent amount throughout his career, and he’s just a big body that understands the game and gets around well, so he should be able to fill in an important role on our team.
– Alex Alger: Is a guy that’s been committed for a long time. He plays with a lot of energy, he can skate, he’s not afraid to be physical, he’s got a good shot. He played a big role on his team up in Johnstown the last couple of years, so hopefully he can come in and make an impact.
– Christan Mohs: Is a guy that just plays with a relentless compete level. Really good on the forecheck, a ton of energy, produced in Minot in the North American League, had a very successful career. I think he’s coming in here as that program’s all-time leading scorer. But just the way he plays – he gets after it and he’s tough to play against and he adds that element.
Part II of our interview with Coach Petraglia will cover the defensemen and all-important three freshmen goalies. That will be posted on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Q&A with Miami’s Nick Petraglia, Part II
On Monday the Blog of Brotherhood published Part I of an interview with Miami assistant coach Nick Petraglia, which ran here:
Here is the conclusion of that conversation.
BoB: Another forward coming in is Ryan Siroky (Sir-OH-key). BoB saw him a couple of seasons ago with Green Bay and he looked like he had some talent but was 17 and raw at that point. He went 14-19-33 last year, including 1-7-8 in the playoffs after being traded to Muskegon.
PETRAGLIA: High-character kid, power forward, responsible. In the last year, year and a half, he has become very versatile in terms of being able to play different positions up front. He was recruited as a winger but was moved around in different teams’ lineups and learned how to play center, so that versatility is very important for us to be able to use him in different spots. He’s a kid that works hard, he has the ability to score goals – he has a little bit of offense to him, has a scoring touch in tight. He’s a complete player that is responsible and can contribute meaningful minutes to our team.
BoB: Next would be Zach LaValle (la-VAL). LaValle had a big year in the NAHL, going 20-41-61 for Janesville.
PETRAGLIA: He was a very successful three-sport, all-state athlete in Minnesota. I would say his strengths are his hockey sense and his playmaking. He had a really good year leading the team in scoring, and (Janesville) set a league record for wins and points and they ran away with the league, and he kind of league the way offensively. He’s a smart, playmaking forward, and he’s a guy that can probably play center and wing for us as well.
BoB: Another player who was a big points producer in juniors is Josh Melnick. At 5-feet-7 and with a line of 14-48-62 with Youngstown of the USHL, that looks like the scoring line of a playmaking center.
PETRAGLIA: Yes, that’s exactly what he is. He is one of the best passers that we could’ve found. He knows how to set the table, he knows how to run a power play, and again, hockey sense. Really, really smart, really smart and reliable, he can fly, he can make plays at high speed. He could probably shoot the puck a little bit more, but he really knows how to step guys up and make plays and produce offense, and he’ll be a guy that we think will transition very nicely into college hockey and make an immediate impact.
BoB: Kiefer Sherwood. Here’s a guy that absolutely blew up last season. He scored 29 goals and set up 27 more in his third season with Youngstown. What is your impression of him?
PETRAGLIA: He did (score a lot) in midgets and that’s where we recruited him from. Again, looking at what we’re replacing and what we’re bringing in, you lose a shot like Riley Barber – and by no means am I expecting Kiefer to come in and score 20 goals, it could happen but you don’t want to put that kind of pressure on a kid – this is a kid that can just shoot the puck and score goals. His one-timer is incredible. He’s got a really quick release, a hard and heavy shot, he can really skate. So when you look at the list of guys we’re bringing in, we’ve mentioned a few playmakers, this would be a goal scorer, a guy that can score and get up and down the ice and make a difference.
BoB: The final forward is a University of Maine transfer, Ryan Lomberg. He played two seasons with the Black Bears, going 18-14-32 in 66 games and sat out last season, joining Youngstown where he went 24-19-43. He will be a junior this year, and he did have an off-ice incident that led to his departure from Maine. Can you talk about bringing in a player with two years of collegiate experience on a team that lost a lot of forward talent?
NOTE: Lomberg pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge last summer stemming from a fight several months prior, for which he was originally charged with assault.
PETRAGLIA: He’s a kid very similar to Blake Coleman. Difficult to play against, can play in all situations. Very, very gritty and hard-nosed, can score, can make plays, but he’s a player that the other team notices and they don’t want him on the ice. And he’s an outstanding kid. Had a situation at Maine that was obviously tough for him to deal with but we can definitely speak to his character and say that he’s a really good person that’s learned from his mistakes and deserves a second chance. Still some eligibility issues with the NCAA in regards to his transfer, so we’re not quite sure if he’s going to be ready for us in the first half or if we’re going to have to wait until January. If we have to wait until January, we’ll get through it and he’ll be a big part of our team whenever the NCAA says that it’s OK.
BoB: So, worst-case scenario, he can come in this January as a junior and still play his entire senior season in 2016-17?
PETRAGLIA: That’s correct. Worst-case scenario…he can play (vs.) RPI, Jan. 2.
BoB: With all of the forward spots that are open from last season (7 – Czarik, Coleman, Murphy, Wideman, Mullin, Barber, Doherty), the spots are there for these incoming players to win starting jobs right away. Is that accurate?
PETRAGLIA: Yeah, and that’s how we’ve always recruited. We want to bring in guys to fill roles and we bring them in when they’re ready to contribute. No different than when Austin Czarnik came in, Austin Czarnik replaced Carter Camper…and Austin Czarnik was our leading scorer and No. 1 center for four years. And now Austin’s gone.
(At center), Sean (Kuraly) coming back, and what he brings to our team and the impact he’s going to have on the ice is huge. I don’t want to say who our No. 1 center is going to be, who knows? You could argue whomever. But Sean’s going to be a huge piece of our puzzle, and Jack replaces Austin and kind of fills that role. So you can see the different skill sets and the different elements that the (incoming) guys bring to the table. They’re brought here for a reason and hopefully they’re ready.
BoB: You mentioned Sean Kuraly a couple of times. He takes over the captaincy from Czarnik. Fans can see how hard he works and much of a force he’s become since coming to Oxford, but can you talk about the type of leader he is, which is something many people don’t see?
PETRAGLIA: He just gets it. First of all, he is the poster child of how to carry yourself, the perfect example of a human being in terms of humility, caring for other people, caring for his teammates, his selflessness. He’s so passionate and he works so hard. I think that’s one thing that people who don’t know Sean Kuraly that come to watch us play – I’m sure that if you’re watching that, oh, look at Sean Kuraly. Look how hard that kid works. He brings his best every single shift, and it’s not just on the ice. He brings his best in the classroom, he brings his best in terms of his attention span in a meeting, when he’s talking to his friends and his teammates. More than anything, he is respected by every single person in our program. If you were to take a poll, I’ll bet every single person in our program would vote him as our captain. It would probably be unanimous.
BoB: You have one defenseman coming in, who is Grant Hutton. He has bounced between the NAHL and the USHL and had an excellent playoff year with that tremendous Janesville team. He’s 6-feet-3, so can you talk about how he fits in to this team?
PETRAGLIA: Grant is a kid that’s built off of work ethic. He’s very strong, very well conditioned, great athlete. Obviously he has some size, and one thing about him – he can shoot the puck and he has a little bit of offense – but more than anything he takes great pride in playing D and shutting down the other team and keeping the puck out of his own net. He’s a player that hates to get scored on more than anybody I’ve ever met. It really bugs him, and obviously that’s a very important attribute to have on your team is a guy that really takes pride in taking care of his own end and defending, and that’s what Grant Hutton does. Another kid (with) great character from Indy, just down the road, so a semi-local kid that grew up loving Miami. (He’s) excited to be here and we’re excited to have him.
BoB: With Ben Paulides graduating and Colin Sullivan, who played very well when he was healthy last season, in the mix, it looks like there are going to be battles for those final couple of defenseman spots in the lineup each night.
PETRAGLIA: So with Mooney, you mentioned having a roster of 25, it gives us comfort knowing we have a guy like him that can play both positions as necessary based on the way things are going. But you mentioned the competition and that’s absolutely true, competition makes everybody better, it makes our team better, and we’re really happy with the makeup of our D-corps and the different elements and the competition that’s back there. We thought the guys did a real good job last year, playing both ends and taking care of the D-corps, so to have the majority of them back, and losing Ben Paulides, who did a good job for us. Grant comes in and has a similar skill set, defends in the same way that Benny did in terms of being a defensive defenseman, so we’re hoping for our D-corps to once again have a solid year, be a big part of our team.
BoB: Miami is bringing in another goalie in Evan McCarthy. He has been decent in the NAHL the past two seasons, so can you talk about him coming in with two other established goalies already with the RedHawks?
PETRAGLIA: So Evan’s coming into a situation where we obviously have two seniors who have played every minute for the last three years, and we’re going to expect a lot out of them, so he’s going to have an opportunity to compete and learn and be a part of that for a year. A year from now we’re going to expect Evan to step up and compete for a spot. We have a kid coming in who I’m not allowed to talk about until he signs his (Letter of Intent), but just having the competition that position, Evan’s going to have the opportunity to compete for playing time for four years. This year will be a little tougher for him because he’s got two seniors (in front of him), but after that it should be a good opportunity for him to battle it out. He’s a good that is extremely bright, very, very good student – he was valedictorian of his high school in Colorado – has a great work ethic. He has good size, he fills the net well, has a good skill set, so it will be a really good opportunity for him to learn the college game and adapt to this level of play and just get used to it before Ryan (McKay) and Jay (Williams) both graduate.
I’ve got one other thing to say, because it’s really important: Anthony Louis and Louie Belpedio. I would expect both of them to take huge steps this year. They were both great for us last year, but in terms of developing into elite college players, I think both of those guys are ready to take that step. When you talk about the guys that are leaving and trying to fill voids, both of those guys are totally capable of stepping up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Anthony Louis light it up.
John Lachmann writes for WCPO.com, the Northern Kentucky Tribune, Tristatefootball.com and GetSportsInfo.com. You can follow him at @rednblackhawks.
Q&A with Miami’s Nick Petraglia, Part I
Nick Petraglia is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach at Miami, but he has been around the program since he was 18.
He was a goalie for the RedHawks in 2000-01 and 2001-02 under current head coach Enrico Blasi, and was a volunteer assistant coach for three seasons before becoming the director of hockey operations at Miami.
Two of his main current responsibilities for the RedHawks are working with the goalies and serving as a recruiting co-coordinator.
Because he watches the incoming players extensively before they come to Oxford, the Blog of Brotherhood talked to him about how the newest crops of RedHawks and the state of the roster, as well as other off-season topics.
BoB: So what is the coaching staff doing at this point to prepare for this fall?
PETRAGLIA: Preparation started probably a couple of weeks after the Frozen Four last year. Really, just recapping last season, seeing what the makeup of our team was going to look like, establishing a new identity, leadership, addressing areas that we needed to improve. That all occurred at the end of last season, and then when the guys were around for summer session, they put in a lot of hard work, just getting off on the right foot in terms of training and their summer preparation. Right now, we’re just kind of recapping those topics that we covered in the spring, and then the next two weeks we’ll spend a lot of time meeting and planning our preseason in terms of what our practice is going to look like, what our schedule is going to look like, making sure we’re making the most of our time because we have to be pretty efficient with the NCAA restrictions that are in place in the preseason in terms of hours. So really at this point it’s just putting the plan in place and making sure we’re ready to go and we’re prepared to we can execute that plan when the guys are here.
BoB: Miami lost a lot of really good forwards from last season (Austin Czarnik, Blake Coleman, Riley Barber, Cody Murphy, Alex Wideman). Is the biggest concern heading into 2015-16 this team’s ability to put the puck in the net?
PETRAGLIA: I wouldn’t call it a concern, just part of our job in recruiting is to know what we’re losing and to replace it. So while obviously a few players that have those abilities have left, we feel like we’ve replaced it with guys who can fill those roles. Obviously with freshmen, there’s going to be a natural learning curve, but we’re really excited about what we have coming in with some of the new guys to carry to load. And then on top of that, as guys get older and new opportunities are available, you always look for some returning players to step up and take up their role and fill some of that void left by graduating seniors or in this case even Riley Barber, who left a year early. I think we have a lot of firepower, we have good balance – skill and speed – and hopefully that will translate to production. I wouldn’t say we’re concerned but it’s definitely something we’re going to have to find the right chemistry and work at, make sure we’re living up to the standards that we’ve set.
BoB: Is off-season at Miami easier for you and the other hockey coaches because you’ve been together so long? Coach Enrico Blasi is entering his 17th season, Coach Brekke has been there for almost a decade and you’ve been with the program since you were a teenager and are in your sixth season in your current role as an assistant.
PETRAGLIA: I think as a the years go on we become more and more cohesive as a staff, and I would also say that as a program, that includes our relationships between the staff and the players as well. Just having everybody on the same page, knowing what our standards are and buying in and working toward the same goal. So our summer discussions as a staff and the planning that’s in place: I think there’s a lot of chemistry in that area. We definitely have discussions where we’re trying to figure things out and think of new ways to do things, and we’re always trying to get better, but I would say that the quality of our relationships and where we’re all at personally really helps with that because we really are one big family, and it’s fun to show up every day and work with people that you care about and that you love and that you can really get along with and not only have a great relationship but a productive one where you can talk things out even when things are tough, and talk things out and come to an agreement as one.
BoB: In looking at your roster, last year at this time you had 28 players. Right now there are 25 listed, which is the smallest roster I can remember this team having. A couple of guys aren’t coming back that you probably expected to see here this fall, but how do you feel about having list 25 players on the roster right now?
PETRAGLIA: We feel OK with it. We were a little surprised about Jimmy Mullin moving on. Obviously he graduated, but (he) has an opportunity at Minnesota State…so that would’ve been 26. But 25, we feel good about. We feel really good about our senior class. Outstanding group of people that have been through a bunch of good times but some tough times as well, so they’ve seen both sides of it, and the leadership starting with Sean Kuraly, who’s going to be a tremendous captain for every reason you can list. Not only that but his support group is really, really good. The character that’s in that senior class is really going to lead the way for our team and sets the bar high for us. So we really couldn’t be more excited about that senior class taking charge of this team.
BoB: Two defensemen that were on the roster last year at this time, Matt Joyaux and Trevor Hamilton, decided mid-season to pursue opportunities with other teams. Nothing against them, they did what they had to do to further their hockey careers, but a player like Garrett Kennedy a few years ago was willing to not dress for two years before getting his shot on the ice and ended up being a solid contributor his final two seasons. With college hockey becoming more competitive and more of a business than ever, do you envision this current scenario is going to become more of a reality or do you feel last season was an aberration?
PETRAGLIA: I really hope that’s not the reality – that’s a really tough question to answer because everything is a case-by-case basis. In those situations, it was a tough situation for both players, they found themselves out of the lineup more than they would like and felt that they would have better opportunities to play more elsewhere, and that was the reason for leaving. I think they both really did love Miami and enjoyed the overall experience, but it came down to playing opportunity. It’s disappointing to see that happen because there are other examples where players find themselves in that situation and they work hard and they work themselves out of it and find themselves in the lineup every single game, and that’s what you would like to see because unfortunately someone’s got to sit out each night, not everybody can play. So I hope that’s not the reality, but it is the nature of the business when you’re trying to put yourself in a position to succeed and play as much as possible. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason and people move on. That was tough, in the middle of the season, for that to happen, but both kids handled it well, left on good terms in terms of not having any animosity, it was handled rather professionally, and we all got through it.
BoB: Overall, looking at the dynamic of the team, you lost a 5-feet-6 and a 5-feet-7 guy and are only bringing in one smaller player. The lone incoming defenseman is 6-feet-3. So it looks like you’re going to have a little more size this season.
PETRAGLIA: I know going back a year ago, after 2013-14, we felt like we needed to get bigger. We added Lemirande, Dornbrook, Sullivan. We felt like we needed that size and strength. And at this point we feel like we’ve got a pretty balanced lineup where I don’t think size is an issue. Naturally, we’re going to have some smaller players that bring certain skill sets to the table. The size of this year’s class is probably average to normal.
BoB: The incoming player who has commanded the most hype is forward Jack Roslovic. He was picked in the first round, 25th overall by the Winnipeg Jets this summer. In 25 games for the U.S. National Development Team, he had 11 goals and 27 assists, plus he went 6-5-11 in seven games for the U.S. Under-18 Team in its gold medal effort. He played in an exhibition at Cady Arena last season, and BoB saw him again in Ann Arbor last winter and his talent level looks off the charts. Especially with all of the key forward losses, the RedHawks are going to need someone who can jump in and contribute right away. Can you talk about him and what he brings to Miami?
PETRAGLIA: Jack is a special player. Obviously there’s going to be a lot of expectation and a lot of pressure just because of where he was drafted, where he’s coming from. He’s very highly touted. But the one thing I will say about Jack is he’s very, very grounded. For all that’s been through and what he experienced this summer, he’s got a really good head on his shoulders. He can do everything. He’s got decent size, he’s strong on his skates, his playmaking and offensive instincts are incredible. Very, very good hockey sense. He can do it all, and he’s one of those guys that we’re going to expect to be ready right away. Obviously there will be a little bit of a transition, but he’s already played in some college games (in exhibitions), he’s played in big-time environments, and we’re going to lean on him pretty heavily to produce right away, and we don’t see him having any big issues other than normal growing pains.
Check back on Wednesday for Part II and the conclusion of our conversation, as Petraglia dissects the rest of the incoming recruits and talks about the players he expects to take major steps forward this fall.
John Lachmann writes for WCPO.com, the Northern Kentucky Tribune, Tristatefootball.com and GetSportsInfo.com. You can follow him at @rednblackhawks.
Miami Sweeps, Moves Closer to Regular Season Crown
Light the Lantern! Miami sweeps Lake State
On the strength of 44 saves from freshman phenom Ryan McKay and goals from classmates Riley Barber and Matthew Caito, the #3 Miami RedHawks defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
In doing so, the RedHawks are now just one point away from clinching a share of the final CCHA regular season title and two points from an outright championship to close the league. Frankly, going into this season with so many new faces and young players, I would not have predicted a regular season title. But this team, coached so well by head man Enrico Blasi and his associates Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia have molded the 2012-13 RedHawks (21-8-5, 16-6-4-4 1st CCHA) into an intense, system-based and fast squad that is a nightmare to play against. The RedHawks lead the nation in team defense and are sixth in penalty killing despite an offense that has just one point-per-game player (Barber) and no skaters ranked higher than 14th (Barber) in the national scoring race.
Last night, the ‘Hawks were carried by their talented freshmen as they served up a hard-fought victory. Though frankly, you never really felt as if Lake would be able to get past the one-goal barrier with McKay back between the pipes and the Miami defense stinging a bit after allowing four Laker goals the night before. Read the rest of this entry