Analysis: When does the movie come out?
OXFORD, Ohio – A movie could be made about this season, and it could be better than most sports flicks in recent history.
Hey, they’re making one about John Scott, aren’t they?
Miami shut out Colorado College, 4-0 at Cady Arena on Saturday to complete a series sweep of the Tigers on Senior Night and the final regular season home game of a number of players’ careers.
Need a solid plot?
A team that didn’t have enough offensive weapons (at least at the beginning of the year) takes on one of the toughest schedules in Division I and fails early – almost catastrophically so – posting a 5-9-2 first half, with the final two games being a pair of losses against one of the worst teams in college hockey in the Tigers.
The team is in utter turmoil, both on and off the ice, heading into Christmas break.
Then it seemingly gets worse as senior goalie Ryan McKay, who has had a stellar career in Oxford, is suspended indefinitely for an outburst as he leaves the ice.
That leaves the netminding reins to Jay Williams, who couldn’t get a starting gig in the USHL and has had to share the cage with McKay for almost all of four years.
Including 2015-16, when Williams was left in to allow seven goals in the season opener and then benched for almost the remainder of the calendar year, not picking up his first win until Jan. 3.
Following the GoalieGate loss, the team was 6-11-3.
The team has gone 9-3 since and somehow gotten itself into NCAA Tournament contention, capping its home slate with a pair of wins over Colorado College, the same team that Miami couldn’t beat in December.
The finale is played in front of one of the best Cady Arena crowds in recent history.
How about Anthony Louis scoring with two seconds left to send Miami to a 2-1 win over Bowling Green?
Or a come-from-behind win against top-10 St. Cloud State in an action-packed 3-2 win at Cady Arena?
Or another key road win at BGSU after trailing 1-0 after the first period?
Or a beloved usher and huge Miami hockey fan suffering from Stage 4 cancer, coming back for that final home game in what was one of the most emotionally-powerful moments in recent memory in the northeast corner of Cady Arena?
We’ve got the characters too, most notably seniors playing their final games with the RedHawks, and all at the top of their game.
There’s Williams, who was never considered good enough to start for any of his juniors teams, posting a sub-2.00 goals-against average since taking over in net exclusively.
He set two school records in that home finale, one for being the first goalie to post a double shutout in a weekend, another for longest consecutive shutout streak at nearly 150 minutes.
And believe us, his story is actually even better than that.
Insert shameless self-promotion: BoB has a feature coming out about Williams in a couple of days.
How about Taylor Richart, the bust-your-hind-quarters defenseman you just can’t help but love? At 5-feet-9 he had earn a spot on an NAHL roster and then a USHL roster before coming to Miami, where he had to overtake several other more highly-touted blueliners to crack the lineup every night and gets beat up like a pinata on a game-by-game basis.
He can seeming do everything on the ice and has elevated his game more than just about anyone in his four years, but he simply hasn’t been a scorer in college.
Richart had one goal in 127 games prior to this weekend. All his did in his final two regular season home games is find the net in both and earn a first star in one contest and second in the other.
Rudy has nothing on Richart.
Or Sean Kuraly? The big power forward who is the son of Miami’s all-time leading sniper notched 19 goals last season but couldn’t find the net with a GPS the first half of 2015-16. After bearing the weight on the world on his shoulders, he had some of his captaincy duties whittled away so he could concentrate on making awesome happen on the ice again.
It’s safe to say he has, tallying 15 points in 12 games and anchoring the Columbus line comprised of the wily veteran and a pair of super-talented freshmen in Kiefer Sherwood and Jack Roslovic.
We can’t forget Alex Gacek who tore his patellar tendon off the bone prior to his Miami career, and how it took years for him to regain his confidence. It’s not even debatable that he is playing the best hockey of his career.
Same goes for Kevin Morris, the super-smart son of an AHL coach who has a 3.6 GPA and has posted six goals in 11 games after finding the net just eight times in his previous 96 contests.
Same goes for Chris Joyaux, who has been so steady on the blueline since joining the team in the fall of 2012.
Same goes for transfer Andrew Schmit, who has gotten to play with his cousin, Conor Lemirande, forming the Crash Cousins line. He is one of the team’s most punishing hitters in recent history but has just eight penalty minutes in 2015-16.
And there’s Michael Mooney, who works so hard when he does get in the lineup and has saved this team’s bacon when it had battled injury woes with his ability to move into any position.
Matthew Caito wasn’t able to play on senior night, coincidentally missing just the second and third games of his Miami career, making the double shutout even more impressive.
It’s unlikely his season is over, and one of the steadiest two-way defenseman to dress for this team since Andy Greene must return for the RedHawks to have any realistic chance at an NCAA run.
BoB won’t forget McKay, whose .917 career save percentage is the fourth-best in school history, and his 1.39 goals-against average as a freshman is easily the best of any goalie to don the pads in Oxford.
Don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes here and not trying to take a side for that reason or stir anything up, but it’s shame how his Miami career has likely ended, without the benefit of taking a victory lap for his final regular season home game.
Good luck topping that, Hollywood.
Kuraly said at intermission on Saturday that this class hopefully has a couple more memories to make before its players go their separate ways to pursue their dreams, both on and off the ice.
The way this big screen-worthy regular season has gone, fans have to feel like the script has several more scenes to be written.
Even if that’s not the case, it’s been an Oscar-worthy story that’s played out the past couple of months.
– For five periods this weekend, Miami played decent hockey, good enough to outscore CC. The RedHawks finally got it right in the sixth and final frame, scoring three unanswered goals on 22 shots, as the puck seemed to spend half of that stanza in the Colorado College goal crease. A plus-7 goal differential is great, but a more skilled team would’ve buried some of its ample chances this weekend.
– A night after racking up nearly 14 minutes of power play time vs. 93 seconds for Miami, it’s mind blowing that Colorado College took 14 minutes in first-period penalties for dust-ups with officials, including contact with a linesman.
– It was listed at 3,155, but the crowd at Cady Arena on Saturday seemed larger and was certainly rocking, despite, well…OK…enough with the music bashing – it’s gotten a little better. If Miami does get back to Cady for a series against Minnesota-Duluth, we will need loud fans at the game. Forget spring break…doesn’t having the campus and the Oxford bars to yourselves with a best-of-3 hockey series sound more appealing?
– Miami graduate Nick Brunker did play-by-play for this game and was fantastic, to the surprise of no one who has ever heard his broadcasts. Few have worked harder to advance their broadcast media careers, as Brunker actually got kicked out of the press box of a Cincinnati Mighty Ducks game as a high school student for trying to perfect his craft and record his own calls when there wasn’t ample room, and he later excelled as the PxP guy for the Cincinnati Cyclones.
FORWARDS: A. Zach Lavalle won a battle along the boards that ultimately led to Richart’s goal, opening the scoring. Roslovic’s beautiful centering pass led to Morris’ laser one-time finish. Not sure if Kuraly intentionally tipped a pass to Sherwood for Goal No. 3 or if it was inadvertent – we’ll call it deliberate, we’re feeling generous – but what a play. Freshman Josh Melnick (this deep into a write-up this is really Melnick’s first reference?) won a boards battle to get the puck to neutral ice then stole a pass and fed it to Louis for the ENG. Lots of offensive positive here.
DEFENSEMEN: A-. Good work without it two-way leader in Caito. If we had to nitpick, this group did turn it over a couple of times early but seemed to tighten up late, even as Colorado College started taking more chances in the third period (thus the 10 shots in the final 20 minutes for CC). Richart not only scored, he gloved a puck down and shuffled it ahead quickly to Roslovic, leading to the Sherwood goal. Apparently there’s nothing Richart can’t do right now.
GOALTENDING: A. Not as many difficult saves for Williams as on Friday, but this is a weekend the senior will likely tell his grandchildren about. Fifth-five shots, 55 saves in 120 minutes, including 24 of 24 in this one. His rebound control was excellent again, and the TV color guy mentioned that as well. It’s only the third time a Miami goalie has posted back-to-back shutouts and the first time one has blanked a team twice in a weekend. Williams’ shutout streak is now 148:52, the longest in team history. Cody Reichard held the previous mark at 141:41. David Burleigh also posted back-to-back zeroes and went 136:05 between goals against.
LINEUP CHANGES: It was the same 19 as Friday for the RedHawks. Caito, Schmit and Loe missed their second straight games, while Colin Sullivan, Mooney and Ryan Siroky dressed for the second consecutive night.
Analysis: Columbus line thriving
OXFORD, Ohio – In its second game since being assembled, the all-Columbus line accounted for a pair of goals.
That was the difference on Saturday in Miami’s 3-2 upset win over No. 3 St. Cloud State at Cady Arena.
It was a risky move by Coach Enrico Blasi, as the RedHawks’ offense was scoring at its best clip of the season.
It was senior center Sean Kuraly scoring the go-ahead goal that made it 2-1 midway through the second, and minutes later freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood banged home the third Miami tally.
Freshman forward Jack Roslovic set up the latter with an NHL-caliber pass through multiple defenders and the top of the SCSU crease.
Scoring has been an issue all season, and Miami was held to one goal on Friday but quietly there is cause for optimism.
The Columbus line lit the lamp twice in this game. The Garden Gnome line (Josh Melnick-Anthony Louis-Alex Gacek) netted the other two this weekend.
The combination of Kevin Morris and Zach LaValle have lit the lamp four times in the past seven games, and the Crash Cousins line accounted for three – all on Conor Lemirande’s hat trick – two weeks ago at UNO.
This team won’t make people forget about the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers, granted, but in a brutal six-game stretch that saw the RedHawks face UNO on the road and Denver and St. Cloud State at home, Miami averaged 3.3 goals.
The back-to-back losses were tough because they were at home and every game is so important now, but ultimately Miami went 4-2 during arguably its toughest three-week stretch of the season and played some very good hockey in the process.
These guys hung with the third-best team in Division I for most of the weekend.
Now the RedHawks will have to take that success to the road, where they play five of their final seven regular season games.
– The RedHawks did not get a PairWise boost from this win. In fact, they dropped a spot despite beating the second-ranked team in college hockey. That means it’s more likely Miami will have to win the NCHC Tournament to secure an NCAA berth. But the RedHawks have gone to the NCHC final both seasons of the league’s existence, winning one title and posting a 7-2 overall record in the conference tourney.
– Ryan McKay was still not with the team this weekend. He is still on an indefinite suspension, but he is still in Oxford. Not sure what’s going on behind the scenes, but while McKay’s actions when he left his last start were clearly wrong, it’s been four weeks and he’s a senior. Here’s hoping he and the coaching staff can make amends soon. It’s hard to watch a player’s final stretch run go down like this, especially somehow who has contributed so much to this team. The Brotherhood is more than just lip service, right?
– SCSU entered play with a power play north of 31 percent, the second-best clip in Division I, but Miami allowed just five man-advantage opportunities on the weekend and killed all of them. The RedHawks retain the title of college hockey’s top PK unit at 93.5 percent.
– Very disappointed that only 2,534 watched Miami’s biggest home win of the season. North Dakota isn’t coming to Oxford this season, so this is the best team that visits Cady Arena. Granted Miami isn’t ranked, but really? Less than 70 percent of capacity? Still, that almost doubled the attendance for the Miami-Bowling Green basketball game played a few blocks north hours earlier.
FORWARDS: B. It was a fantastic second period, especially by the newly-formed Columbus line. Melnick scored as well, but linemate Alex Gacek got beat 1-on-1 for the first SCSU goal. And yes, that fourth line was caught deep again on a St. Cloud goal. Freshmen Jack Roslovic, Melnick and Kiefer Sherwood have been three of the best Hawks in terms of offensive production recently, which bodes well for the next couple of seasons. Kuraly is the hottest with 10 points in seven games.
DEFENSEMEN: B. Speaking of freshmen, really liked the play of Grant Hutton this weekend. Beyond the two assists he played very well in his own end. Colin Sullivan had a rare start and did his typical solid thing. Louie Belpedio scared everyone in the first period when he went down the tunnel but he returned and picked up a key assist. Holding SCSU to 23 shots is an impressive body of work.
GOALTENDING: B+. Williams probably should’ve had the first goal with his glove, but as usual, he got better as the game went on. He stole the show in the third period with 11 saves, including several on excellent scoring chances. Williams had no chance on the tic-tac-toe second goal.
LINEUP CHANGES: Blasi went with Devin Loe over Andrew Schmit on the fourth line. Loe had sat eight straight games and is another player you’d like to see on the ice more, although he went minus-1. Sullivan had not dressed in six contests and replaced Chris Joyaux, who was a scratch for the first time since opening night.
Miami heads to Nebraska-Omaha
WHO: Miami RedHawks (7-11-3) at No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (15-6-1).
WHERE: Baxter Arena, Omaha, Neb..
WHEN: Friday–8:37 p.m.; Saturday–8:07 p.m.
TV: Friday–CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 221); Saturday–None.
NEBRASKA-OMAHA RADIO: KZOT-AM (1180), Omaha, Neb..
MIAMI RADIO: WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
NOTES: Despite its impressive record, Nebraska-Omaha has lost three of four games, earning a split in North Dakota after getting swept in Denver.
The Mavericks are averaging 3.2 goals per game, thanks largely to the tandem of juniors Austin Ortega and Jake Guentzel.
Ortega is tied for fifth in college hockey with 17 goals, including seven game winners, and Guentzel in tops in the NCHC with points (11-21-32) and has a plus-17 rating.
Justin Parizek and Jake Randolph have added ample secondary scoring, with 21 and 20 points, respectively.
Evan Weninger is having an outstanding year in net for UNO, posting a .942 save percentage to go along with a 1.99 goals-against average in 12 games.
However, Miami could catch a break, as his status is uncertain after suffering an ankle injury. He did not make the trip to North Dakota last weekend.
Kirk Thompson has a 2.93 GAA and a save percentage of .881.
Speaking of goalie issues, the RedHawks’ netminding situation is also unclear after senior Ryan McKay was scratched last weekend. Senior Jay Williams was very good last week in a win over Bowling Green and should play at least one game this weekend.
Miami enters this weekend six points behind the fifth-place Mavericks in the NCHC standings.
When these teams met earlier this season in Oxford, UNO went 1-0-1, thanks to some late heroics, including an overtime winner in the finale.
Analysis: Crucial win for RedHawks
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami was due to have a close one go its way in dramatic fashion.
In a season that has seen the RedHawks fall twice in overtime and several other times on third-period goals, they beat Bowling Green, 2-1 at Cady Arena on Saturday when senior forward Anthony Louis buried a shot with two seconds remaining in regulation.
For at least one night, a lot of good things happened for this program, but at four games below .500, much work must be done just to get to respectability.
Taking this one game, though, a win like this can do much to turn any negative attitudes around. Rejuvenate players who – especially at such a young age – may have subconsciously begun to give up on the season.
Students are coming back from their J-term as well, which means crowds should pick up, and the buzz from this contest can do nothing but help gate receipts the rest of this campaign.
This wasn’t the best game Miami has played this season, but the RedHawks were good enough to win.
With their lack of offensive firepower, they would need to win a lot games with scores like 2-1. We’ll find out in the coming weeks if they can make winning a habit or if they are a habitual tease.
Either way, it was fun to be at the rink for this one.
– And yes, while the finale made it all worth it, Saturday’s game was flat-out boring for the most part until Louis’ heroics. Choppy play, good defensive play, bad offensive play, linemen who thought they were paid by the hour that should’ve carried penalty flags with the number of false starts and illegal motions they delayed puck drops for. It happens. Not every game can be like, well, every one at the end of last regular season, especially when both teams average a little over two goals per game.
– After not returning to the bench for the third period last Saturday and not practicing on Monday, senior goalie Ryan McKay was scratched for this tilt. That means freshman third goalie Evan McCarthy was technically the backup. Following McKay’s fourth goal against vs. Minnesota-Duluth last week on a poor clear, McKay threw his stick down the hall after coming off the ice, and he yelled something to the team and/or coaches, which is presumably why he was not dressed. It’s unclear how long McKay will be scratched, but with Miami’s grueling upcoming stretch run, it needs both of its quality goaltenders.
– While Miami’s power play has been dreadful in recent weeks – 1-for-20 in its last eight games with two shorthanded goals allowed – the penalty kill is tops in the NCAA at 94.1 percent, leading Division I by over three points. RedHawks opponents have not scored on the man advantage in five straight games.
– Louis has been a second-half player his first two seasons, and with the offensive losses Miami has suffered – and its resulting 2.10 goals-per-game average – the RedHawks NEED him to have a strong second half. This game was a great start.
FORWARDS: C. Not a ton to see here. Outside of Alex Gacek’s slam-dunk goal and his set up of Louis’ game winner, this unit didn’t generate nearly enough offensive pressure. Much of this is due to Bowling Green’s defense, but Miami has created more chances against better teams this year. The line jumbling – which is justifiable in large part – didn’t help, as chemistry seemed to be off.
DEFENSEMEN: B-. Even though the Falcons only scored once, this corps made a few more mistakes than usual, especially early. Most memorably, Mark Cooper missed a completely open net after a breakdown deep in the defensive zone. It wasn’t one of senior Chris Joyaux’s best nights, although overall this season has been his best.
GOALTENDING: B+. Early on, it appeared Miami was in huge trouble, as senior Jay Williams struggled in net, and classmate Ryan McKay was not dressed, giving the team no safety valve. Williams allowed the first goal on a shot from beyond the top of the faceoff circle under his left arm and seemed to have trouble picking up the pick in the opening period. However, he was huge the final 40 minutes, making at least one huge save on a point-blank chance. His rebound control was outstanding, and he has now cut his 5.35 goals-against average from a couple of weeks ago – the result of being left in for seven goals opening night vs. Providence – nearly in half, ending the night at 2.83 for the season.
LINEUP CHANGES: Senior forward Michael Mooney was out up front after playing last Saturday, and junior Devin Loe sat for the second straight game. On defense, junior Colin Sullivan was a scratch after playing four of the past five games. Freshman Grant Hutton was out for the first time this season last Saturday but was back on the ice in this one. It’s unclear how long Williams will have the starting goalie joy uncontested, but McKay is smart and it’s likely he will right any wrongs within the team sooner than later.
Analysis: Loss follows Miami MO
OXFORD, Ohio – Just a microcosm of the season.
Miami was every bit as good as Minnesota-Duluth in the first period but found itself down two, then four in the middle frame as the Bulldogs eventually went on to win, 5-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday.
An unlucky bounce for Miami – or a lucky one for UMD, depending on your perspective – resulted in the Bulldogs’ first goal.
Poor coverage in the slot ended up in Nos. 2 and 3, and as has been the case so often this season, those were two of the only breakdowns in front of the net for Miami (6-11-3), and the puck ended up in the back of the cage.
A bad play by senior goalie Ryan McKay made it 4-0, and that was essentially the night.
With past teams, a four-goal deficit would be a huge uphill climb but not insurmountable, but this RedHawks team has scored four goals in a game once, and the final tally in that contest was into an empty net.
This loss was crucial because Miami had a chance to pull within two points of UMD (8-7-4), which is in third place in the NCHC. Now the RedHawks are eight behind the Bulldogs.
Miami is now at the halfway point of its league schedule and has just 10 points in conference play, and earning two of six points this weekend made any ascent of the NCHC standings significantly more difficult.
With three points awarded for each game, 1½ points per game should put a team in the 4-5 seed range. That’s 36 points.
Miami needs to win nine of its final 12 league contests to reach that mark, and the RedHawks would likely need more than that to catch the fourth-seeded team.
All that comes back to the same axiomatic point: Miami needs to win more.
– McKay was pulled after the fourth goal, and he was visibly angry while departing. He launched his goalie stick down the tunnel, and it hit the edge of the stands and almost made its way into the seats. He also yelled something while leaving the bench. McKay did not come out with the team for the third period, and he also was not on the ice for practice Monday. That almost certainly means Jay Williams will be in net this Saturday. Freshman Evan McCarthy is the team’s third goalie, so we’ll see on Saturday if he is elevated to backup status on the interim.
– Miami ended its six-game power play drought as sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio scored in the final second of a man advantage in the second period. The RedHawks were 0-for-16 in their previous six games with two shorthanded goals allowed.
– Let’s try to invoke some positives: For all of the problems Miami’s offense has had, senior forward Alex Gacek has one of the team’s best forwards in previous weeks. He is skating as well as he has his entire career and has been great in all three zones, although his points total doesn’t reflect that (it’s tough to pile up points when Miami scores three goals in a weekend).
– And classmate and captain Sean Kuraly looks like he is close to breaking out. Even with his struggles on offense, he has been solid on defense and in the faceoff circle, and he has been more active in the offensive zone in recent games as well.
FORWARDS: D. This corps managed just 10 shots on goal, and Miami had only six the final 40 minutes. Freshman Ryan Siroky, who is steadily improving, scored his first career goal on a laser from the outside of the faceoff circle, but that was one of the lone highlights for this group. Minnesota-Duluth did an excellent job of taking the Anthony Louis-Josh Melnick-Jack Roslovic line out of the game.
DEFENSEMEN: C. UMD was held to just 22 shots, more than a dozen fewer than on Friday, and Belpedio found the net. Players were left alone in front of the net on the Bulldogs’ second and third goals, but it’s unclear without replay ability whether that blame lies here or on the forwards.
GOALTENDING: C. McKay’s only real mistake was on the ENG after his bad clear on the fourth goal, and Williams was 6-for-6 in relief. With this team’s lack of offense, if the goalies’ grade isn’t a ‘B’ or better, Miami has little chance of winning.
LINEUP CHANGES: Up front, freshman Kiefer Sherwood was scratched in favor of senior Michael Mooney. It’s unclear why Sherwood sat, since he seemed pretty solid on Friday. On defense, freshman Grant Hutton did not dress for the first time this season, and junior Colin Sullivan returned to the ice. Hutton is having a solid rookie campaign but did struggled on Friday, and Sullivan continued to play well in limited action. He has to be one of the top seventh defensemen in all of college hockey.
Analysis: Turnaround needed soon
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami improved to 3-1-1 after a 1-0 win at St. Lawrence on Oct. 23.
The RedHawks have recorded two victories since, posting a 2-9-1 mark in the past 71 days, including a 3-2 loss to RPI at Cady Arena on Saturday that extended the team’s winless streak to seven games.
Although this weekend’s games are non-conference, Miami’s situation gets more dire with each loss. Now 5-10-2, the RedHawks’ PairWise ranking is 31st, a long way away from any kind of consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
On Saturday, Miami actually played pretty well. The team dominated the first few shifts, culminating in an early goal. The RedHawks were very good for large stretches of the second period as well.
They hit at least four posts.
It was the type of loss that, if Miami had played well overall the first three months, could be written off. Even the best college hockey teams don’t win every night.
But teams that are four games below .500 don’t have that luxury. Because of the deep hole the RedHawks have dug themselves, every game from here through March is paramount.
The tough schedule will give Miami leeway, but the team still has to win often against that tough schedule. The RedHawks play 14 conference games plus Sunday’s game against RPI (tied for 15th in the PairWise) and a home-and-home vs. Bowling Green (ranked 18th).
And losing repeatedly in dramatic fashion can’t help this team’s psyche.
Miami needs to finally score more than three goals, something it has yet to accomplish this season. Or win a game in the last minute.
Or get in a galvanizing skirmish. Nothing that would warrant mass suspensions, mind you, just something, ANYTHING, to help boost confidence and get this team on track.
The RedHawks lack offensive fire power this season, no doubt, but they don’t lack talent, and there’s no reason for them to have wins in fewer than one-third of their games thus far.
– Miami’s 6-on-5 in the closing minutes was disappointing. Once the players got set up in the offensive zone they stood there and passed the puck among themselves repeatedly. No movement anywhere. And then they wondered why there were no open shooting lanes.
– It’s frustrating to see RPI come in boasting one 10-goal scorer and have him net for the Engineers’ first two goals. It’s no secret Riley Bourbonnais is the team’s best offensive weapon, and Miami was unable to slow him down. One could say the same about RPI vs. Jack Roslovic, who scored once and set up the other Miami goal.
– Bourbonnais’ first goal came shorthanded and was a momentum killer for the RedHawks. Miami was up, 1-0 late in the first period with a chance to extend its lead via the power play, but Bourbonnais’ breakaway goal tied it and the RedHawks never led again.
– On a positive note, this was one of the best games Anthony Louis has played all season. His pass to Jack Roslovic for Miami’s slam-dunk second goal was a thing of beauty. Louis was better in the second half of both his freshman and sophomore seasons, and Miami needs his offense now more than ever.
– The listed attendance was 1,809 with the students out for the J-term, and that seems pretty generous. Unfortunately Miami has a lot of home games this month and won’t have a student section behind it. That figure could drop substantially on Sunday, going against the final week of the NFL’s regular season.
FORWARDS: B-. Louis and Roslovic were Miami’s best forwards and freshman Josh Melnick wasn’t far behind. This unit was very good at times and ineffective others. Same problem this team has faced all season: Miami has been unable to generate offense from its deeper lines.
DEFENSEMEN: A. RPI manged just 17 shots. Colin Sullivan has been the odd man out a lot this season, but he was very solid on D. Bad year overall for Miami or not, senior Matthew Caito has saved his best season for last, although he ended up in the penalty box twice. And this unit was without sophomore standout Louie Belpedio, who is at the World Juniors in Finland.
GOALTENDING: C-. Senior Ryan McKay just didn’t look like he seeing the puck that well all night. He made one spectacular save, stacking the pads on a point-blank shot, but he stopped just 14 of 17 overall. The first goal was a good shot on a shorthanded breakaway, but he still got beat. The second goal was pretty soft, hitting his glove and popping in, and the third he had no chance on.
LINEUP CHANGES: Freshman Zach LaValle was back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 13 with his upper-body injury. Freshman Ryan Siroky and junior Devin Loe were scratched, and Belpedio was obviously the missing D-man. Belpedio will miss Sunday’s game, and the smart money is on him being available next weekend.
Late PPG lifts Miami over W. Michigan
OXFORD, Ohio – It took Miami until the eight-minute mark of the third period to earn its first power play on Saturday.
But when the RedHawks finally went on the man advantage, they needed just seven seconds to score the game-winning goal.
A blast from junior forward Anthony Louis found the net with 8:32 remaining in regulation to lift Miami to a 2-1 win over Western Michigan in the weekend series finale at Cady Arena.
The RedHawks (5-4-1) won by the same score on Friday.
Alex Gacek gave Miami the lead with 7:53 left in the first period off a wrister from the high slot.
But Sheldon Dries tied the score for the Broncos (4-4-1) just 3:10 later after knocking down an attempted clearing pass by sophomore defenseman Scott Dornbrock, entering the offensive zone and beating RedHawks senior goalie Ryan McKay just inside the far post.
That set the stage for Louis’ game winner, which came off a short lateral pass by senior center Sean Kuraly and appeared to partially deflect off a Western Michigan player in front of the net before finding twine.
It was the first goal of the season for Louis and the second for Gacek on a team that is in desperate need of offense from sources other than its freshmen phenoms and defensemen.
Kuraly picked up two assists, and McKay stopped 19 shots to earn the win, the 34th of his career that ties him for eighth on the team’s all-time leaderboard with Trevor Prior.
Miami improved to 2-2 in the NCHC, moving into a six-way tie for first place in the conference with six points.
After losing on opening night on campus, the RedHawks have won three straight games at Cady Arena and are unbeaten in their last four (3-0-1).
Miami will head north for a series at North Dakota next weekend.
Analysis: Goaltending, D key Miami win
OXFORD, Ohio – Five minutes in, it looked like a bad Friday night was in store for Miami and its fans.
RedHawks senior goalie Ryan McKay allowed a weak shot from Western Michigan’s Paul Stokyewych to slip through his legs for the first goal of the game after Miami dominated play to that point.
But the RedHawks bounced back from the early deficit to beat the Broncos, 2-1 at Cady Arena.
McKay looked shaky through the first period and didn’t appear to see the puck well, but he was an absolute rock the final 40 minutes, especially the last 20 when the team needed him most.
And that’s exactly what Miami needs every night right now.
Including the two goals tonight, the RedHawks have scored three times in three games and are averaging just 2.00 markers per game. They have not netted more than three in any contest this season.
Right now it’s freshmen Jack Roslovic and Josh Melnick and the defense corps, believe it or not, scoring for Miami. That’s it.
Think that’s an exaggeration? Forwards not named Roslovic and Melnick have scored a total of four goals through the team’s first nine games and one in the last five.
This is not to doom-and-gloom a win, because the offense will get better. And the RedHawks have a highly-experienced defense corps and senior goaltending tandem who all knew what they were getting into this season with severe losses up front.
– For a game with only three goals scored, it was highly entertaining. Miami played great the first period, so well there was almost no need for the Zamboni to scrape the RedHawks’ end after the first intermission. MU played pretty well in the second as well and not as great in the final stanza, but overall deserved this win.
– Western Michigan is much better than in 2014-15. This was my first look at the Broncos this season after seeing them play Miami seven times last season, and they move the puck better, play even better defense and have better offensive weapons. The goaltending was also exemplary on Friday. The win for the RedHawks was quality, and a sweep will be difficult to accomplish but meaningful if they do.
– Miami coach Enrico Blasi is not only shaking up the forward lines but the defensive pairings as well. He broke up top pairing senior Matthew Caito and sophomore Louie Belpedio, possibly because Belpedio hasn’t stepped up from his freshman campaign as hoped and expected. The forward line of Andrew Schmit-Josh Melnick-Anthony Louis played well together, and the Ryan Siroky-Kiefer Sherwood-Conor Lemirande line was also solid despite the former two being freshmen and the latter being a sophomore.
– There were just seven total penalties called – two of which were coincidental – in a game that was very physical early with some plays bordering on illegal, so expect another hard-hitting game on Saturday with stickwork and hits that might cross the line at times.
– The crowd fell a hair short of 3,000, which is disappointing, but it was a loud group that created a solid home atmosphere.
– Friday was the first attempt at a fan tunnel down the hall where Miami’s players come onto the ice for introductions, and we were fortunate enough to participate. This was a very cool concept that is in its infancy and has room to evolve. Certain season ticket holders and some students were chosen to stand right next to red carpet on which the players walk to reach the ice. It appeared to go very well.
FORWARDS: B. The two goals scream “here we go again with little offense”, but some credit belongs to the WMU D-corps, which is relentless at getting sticks in lanes, and Broncos goalie Collin Olson, who was 36-for-38. As mentioned above, a couple of line combinations worked really well. Roslovic’s goal was just sick, as no goalie in the NHL would’ve stood a chance to stop it, and the Schmit-Melnick goal was a beautiful thing to watch. It felt like these guys were on the right track, at least for this game.
DEFENSEMEN: B+. Neither team had a clear-cut odd-man break until the third period, but Miami had a blueline breakdown on a power play that led to a breakaway (which McKay stopped). It was a makeshift man-advantage unit with Caito and senior Taylor Richart on defense. There was also a point in that frame in which a WMU forward was left completely alone in the slot and fortunately for the RedHawks missed the net with his ensuing shot. It looked like sophomore Scott Dornbrock left his post on that play. But that was it in terms of quality chances. Caito has made numerous obvious shut-down defensive plays recently, and with two seconds left in regulation he went down to block a centering feed that could’ve led to the tying goal. Chris Joyaux is off to a great start to his senior campaign as well and played with Belpedio in this game.
GOALTENDING: A-. The first goal was bad, no doubt. But McKay stopped the next 23, including a breakaway to pick up his 33rd career win. His first 20 minutes were a bit shaky, but when he saw more action he got better. It bears repeating: If this team is going to have success early this season it needs strong goaltending in addition to quality defense. For the most part it got both on Friday.
LINEUP CHANGES: Richart was out for both games last weekend (banged up?) but returned for this game. He’s become a staple on defense and his presence is missed when he doesn’t play. Colin Sullivan was the odd man out on D in this game. Forwards Michael Mooney and Devin Loe both sat for the second straight game. McKay returned to net after senior Jay Williams started the finale in St. Cloud. McKay has played in eight of Miami’s nine games.
Frosh goals key Miami win over WMU
OXFORD, Ohio – Miami’s freshmen helped lead the RedHawks to their first conference win of the season, 2-1 over Western Michigan at Cady Arena on Friday.
After Miami (4-4-1) fell behind by a goal early, forward Jack Roslovic tied the score and forward Josh Melnick put the RedHawks ahead, as the team made its one-goal lead stand up.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Miami, which improved to 1-2 in NCHC play.
RedHawks goalie Ryan McKay stopped 23 shots to earn the win, but the night didn’t start well for the senior. The first shot he faced from Paul Stokyewych at 4:46 of the first period slipped through McKay’s legs.
Just over three minutes later, Roslovic made it 1-1 when he rammed a one time pass from sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio through the slot just under the crossbar on the power play.
Melnick slammed home a short pass from senior Andrew Schmit on a rush midway through the second period to put Miami ahead.
After seeing just four shots in the first period and eight in the second, McKay was peppered with 12 shots on goal in the final stanza, including a breakaway that he denied by stacking the pads. The shot total was 16-4 RedHawks after one period and ended 38-24 in favor of MU.
The RedHawks killed both of WMU’s power plays and are now 97.0 percent on the penalty kill (32 of 33), the fifth-best rate in the country and second among teams that have faced at least 10 man-advantage opportunities.
Miami junior forward Anthony Louis earned assists on both goals. The goal for Roslovic was his team-high sixth of the season. He had the game winners in the first three RedHawks victories, and with Melnick earned the GWG in this game, freshman have game winners in all Miami wins.
With the victory, McKay moves into solo control of ninth place on the team’s all-time list with 33, including four this season. He is one away from Trevor Prior, who is eighth on the RedHawks’ career leaderboard with 34.
It was the first NCHC loss for Western Michigan (4-3-1), which is still winless on the road at 0-3-1.
Miami moved into a three-way tie with Denver and Nebraska-Omaha for fourth in the NCHC with three points.
The RedHawks and Broncos will wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Analysis: Expect more low-scoring games
After opening night, Miami’s last four games have been low scoring and close.
A suggestion for fans: Get used to it.
The RedHawks won its third straight game, 1-0 at St. Lawrence on Friday, thanks to 26 saves from goalie Ryan McKay and the fourth goal in five games for freshman forward Jack Roslovic.
Miami is averaging 2.40 goals per game, tied for 33rd out of 59 teams in the NCAA. While the RedHawks will develop better chemistry, and its offense should evolve, a brutal NCHC schedule – starting next week – will counter much of that progress.
Nothing against Miami at all. The freshmen forwards have been outstanding, and Sean Kuraly and Anthony Louis will hit their strides, hopefully sooner than later. But this team lost a ton of incredibly talented players up front, and its calling card this season will be its experienced defensemen and goaltenders.
Despite giving up seven goals in its opener, Miami is tied for 22nd in college hockey with 2.40 goals against per game. The forwards are playing solid defense. The defenseman, at least the last few games, are playing very well in their own end. McKay is in the zone and has the ability to steal games on his own.
This is a good team right now, and it could be a great team. RedHawks fans should be excited for the upcoming conference schedule.
But this team isn’t going to put up a lot of six-, seven- and eight-goal games. Not to worry: 3-1 wins count just as much as 5-3 victories.
– Holy cow was Friday a tightly-called game. The St. Lawrence PxP guy was complaining about calls against both teams. Seven power plays for both teams in a not-more-physical-than-usual game is a ton. Miami made the most of it: The RedHawks went 1-for-7 and SLU went 0-for-7, and the final was 1-0.
– Hard to tell from a computer screen, but the ice looked awful from 700 miles away. It looked like the puck was hopping all over the place. It bounced over sticks and it wouldn’t stay flat, squelching scoring chances for both teams. That would explain one total goal in the game.
– Miami did a great job of shutting down shooting lanes on the penalty kill. NCHC teams do this to the RedHawks all the time. There were a lot of reasons MU was perfect on the PK, and that was a big one. Penalty killing forwards Josh Melnick, Alex Gacek and Kevin Morris have been absolutely pests, and Justin Greenberg was put in that role as well in his first game of the season last night, so hopefully he can replicate the others’ success.
– Roslovic has been a stud since Game 1, but it’s really amazing how much better he’s gotten in just a couple of weeks. He looks more comfortable now and does so much more than just score goals. He was clearly the best skater for either team last night, and not just because he notched the lone marker.
– This game was called so tightly that defenseman Taylor Richart was actually whistled for a minor. The stay-at-home defense role is often overlooked in hockey, so some context on the senior: That is just his fifth minor since the beginning of his sophomore year, spanning 64 games. For someone who is in the trenches every night, that’s nearly unheard of.
– McKay has won three straight games for the first time since Miami’s NCHC Tournament run in 2013-14. It was his first shutout since the Frozen Faceoff semifinal vs. North Dakota on March 21, 2014. His save percentage is now .954. He deserves a lot of credit for stopping 14 shots in the third period, including some excellent scoring chances after seeing just two shots in the second frame.
– In the strange stats department: How about consistency in Miami’s shots allowed? In their five games, the RedHawks have allowed 26, 26, 27, 28 and 26 SOG.
LINEUP CHANGES: Greenberg, who was banged up the first two weeks, played in his first game of the season on Friday. Scratched up front were sophomore Conor Lemirande for the first time this season and senior Michael Mooney for the second time. The odd man out on defense was junior Colin Sullivan, who has now not dressed twice this campaign. It was the fourth straight start for McKay in net.