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.
Miami, McKay shut out St. Lawrence
In its first four games, Miami’s goals against totals were seven, two, two and one. The natural progression was a shutout.
Senior Ryan McKay stopped 26 shots, including 14 in the third period as the RedHawks blanked St. Lawrence, 1-0 at Appleton Arena on Friday.
It was the third straight win for No. 15 Miami, and it extends the team’s unbeaten streak to four games.
After a scoreless first period, RedHawks freshman forward Jack Roslovic whipped a backhand pass from senior forward Sean Kuraly into the net 4:52 into the middle frame for the game’s only goal on the power play.
Miami (3-1-1) held the Saints (3-2) to just two shots in that stanza.
The RedHawks had to kill five penalties in the third period, including over a minute of 5-on-3 time.
The shutout for McKay was the ninth of his career, as he ranks fourth all-time at Miami for his career. He has allowed just five goals in four starts this season.
Roslovic has four goals in five games to open his tenure in Oxford, and he has all three of the RedHawks’ game winners. The assist for Kuraly was his first point of 2015-16.
Miami improves to 2-0 on the road this season, with both wins coming by a goal.
Both teams had seven power plays. The RedHawks were 1-for-7, giving them three goals on the man advantage in two games. St. Lawrence was 0-for-7, as Miami has gone three consecutive games without allowing a PPG.
The RedHawks have killed all 14 man-advantage chances during their winning streak and are 22 of 23 for the season.
The teams finish their two-game series at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
#10 Miami vs. St. Lawrence
Fresh off last weekend’s sweep of then #17 Ohio State, Miami (3-1) returns to action this evening in the first of a weekend non-conference series with the Saints of St. Lawrence University.
The Saints (2-2) hail from the state of New York along with other members of the ECAC including RPI, whom Miami will face in January, and Cornell whom Miami could face in the Florida College Hockey Classic at the end of December. So, this is the first of a possible five games against ECAC competition that should help Miami prepare for a return to the NCAA tournament at the completion of the regular season.
All-time, Miami has faced St. Lawrence just 12 times and holds a slim 6-5-1 advantage in the series. However, the last meeting came in November of 2006 so really the all-time series numbers mean next to nothing except to note that Miami head coach Enrico Blasi has had success behind the bench piloting the RedHawks to a 4-3 road victory eight years ago.
St. Lawrence head man Greg Carvel is an upstate New York native and played four seasons for the Saints in the early ‘90s. Carvel is in his third season behind the bench and has seen his share of tough times since replacing long time St. Lawrence coach, Joe Marsh, in the spring of 2012. The Saints finished a disappointing 8th in the competitive ECAC despite featuring a high-scoring offense led by “Hobey Baker Hat Tricker” Greg Carey who led the Saints with 18-39-57. Overall, Carvel is 35-37-8 at his alma mater and is desperately trying to jumpstart a program that has fallen behind the likes of Union, Colgate, Cornell and Quinnipiac as the lions of the ECAC.
The Saints enter the 2014-15 season with nine freshmen, including goaltender Kyle Hayton who recorded his first collegiate shutout last weekend as St. Lawrence split a series with then #4 Ferris State in Canton, N.Y. Hayton sports an impressive 2.49 GAA and .925 save percentage playing in the first four games for the Saints authoring two consecutive series splits.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi says the Saints are an aggressive speedy team with a mobile defense corps that likes to apply constant pressure. He made a point in this week’s press conference to stress that Miami must have their heads right and be ready to compete in all three zones avoiding turnovers that could lead to transition chances for St. Lawrence.
Up front, the Saints lost four of their top five scorers including brothers Greg and Matt Carey (18-19-37) who tied atop the goal scoring list for St. Lawrence. In fact, the top returning scorer is sophomore defenseman Gavin Bayreuther (9-27-36) who has started fast leading the team in shots on goal (14) and already having contributed 2-2-4 in the first four matches of the year. Currently, sophomore forward Drew Smolcynski leads the Saints with 1-7-8 and another defenseman, Ben Masella is tied for second on the team in scoring having exactly matched Bayreuther’s.
Though the Saints are currently averaging four goals per game, they really are struggling to score because 10 of the season’s 16 goals came in a blowout win over lowly Niagara two weeks ago. In the three other games this year, the Saints are averaging just two goals per game potting only four in last weekend’s home split with Ferris State. Conversely, the Saints are allowing 3.3 goals per game and lost three starters along the blueline from last year’s squad that was one of the worst defensive clubs in the ECAC.
Newcomers to watch include Minnesota transfer Christian Horn who played in the USHL last season after seeing no game action with the Gophers in the 2012-13 season. Also keep an eye on Ryan Lough, who head coach Greg Carvel calls a “quick two-way player.”
The Saints were predicted to finish 11th in the 12 team ECAC.
If the Miami team that played last weekend shows up again, I think it will be a very good weekend for the RedHawks. I just don’t see St. Lawrence being able to score enough to keep up with Miami, and defensively, I expect the Saints to struggle against Miami’s size, tenacity and speed. I’ll pick a Miami sweep.
Both games will be streamed live on NCHC.tv and you can also catch Greg Waddell’s call at Miami All-Access. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:35 PM and Saturday’s series finale will get things started at 8:05 PM.