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2014-15 Preview: The new guys

Yesterday, we provided our review of the returning letterwinners from last year’s Miami club that finished dead last in the inaugural NCHC regular season but just a goal away from a Frozen Faceoff championship. Now, let’s take a look at the new guys who will be called upon to do two specific things.

  1. Shore up the defensive corps that were so poor a year ago. Remember, despite having the top two scorers in the league

    A goal, a helmet-less Ryan McKay and no defenseman in sight. (photo: Bradley K. Olson)

    (senior captain Austin Czarnik and junior Riley Barber), Miami won just six league games and continually hung junior goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams out to dry.

  2. Add “Miami size” back into the lineup.

Defense

To address the defense, welcome 7th round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston College transfer, junior Colin Sullivan and highly regarded 3rd round pick of the Minnesota Wild, freshman Louie Belpedio.

Boston College transfer, Colin Sullivan, should contribute immediately on Miami’s blue line. (photo: Getty Images)

Colin Sullivan’s journey to Oxford is an interesting one. As you may know, Miami is the third collegiate program to which Sullivan has committed since his initial declaration to play at Yale beginning in the fall of 2013. However, the New Haven Register has reported that Sullivan agreed to play a season of junior hockey before enrolling at Yale and that Sullivan decided against it wanting to play college hockey immediately at the beginning of the 2012 season. With Yale’s incoming class having been filled, Sullivan re-opened his recruitment landing at Boston College. After scoring just one point in 32 games as a freshman with the Eagles in 2012-13, Sullivan who according to the Register had fallen out of BC’s top six, left the school just before the season started in October 2013 and played for Green Bay of the USHL last season. There, Sullivan had two goals and six assists in 41 games for the Gamblers. Sullivan brings size (6’1″ 205) and an impressive resume of prep hockey starring in the northeast. Here’s hoping Colin can recapture his game and elevate Miami’s top six back to where we are accustomed to seeing them.

Louie Belpedio (5’10” 193) is a “can’t miss” college prospect who last season led all USNTDP defensemen with five goals and was the second-leading scorer from the blue line with 15 points playing in all 26 games for the red, white and blue. Belpedio,

Freshman Louie Belpedio is a highly regarded defenseman from Illinois. (photo: Tom Sorensen)

who is just the latest highly regarded Chicago-area prospect to commit to Miami, captained Team USA to a gold medal in the Under-18 World Junior Championship in Finland in April notching two assists and a +3 rating in seven games. We expect big things from Belpedio over the course of his Miami career.

Size

Cue the music!

The 2013-14 season might best be remembered by the phrase, “they’re small, but Rico is trying to match up better against Hockey East schools.”

Well, if that was indeed true, it backfired big time.

The smallish RedHawks were routinely pushed around by the bigger squads of the NCHC, and even when matching against smaller, faster teams, deficiencies in physicality were apparent. Yet, there’s no question the current roster is probably the fastest group Miami has ever put on the ice, but with the addition of 6’5″ Nebraska-Omaha transfer, junior forward Andrew

At 6’6″, freshman forward Conor Lemirande is the tallest RedHawk since Justin Vaive.

Schmit and his “crash cousin” (I’m trademarking that one right now), 6’6″ freshman forward Conor Lemirande and the addition of 6’3″ freshman defenseman Scott Dornbrock, Miami returns to the days of Will Weber, Justin Vaive and Joe Hartman. I’m sure you’ll remember that size has always been a Miami hallmark throughout head coach Enrico Blasi’s tenure.

And, while I’m suggesting this new size means more physical play, I’m not going to negate the impact these three will make in other ways though Schmit has just one collegiate goal and 30 penalty minutes in 38 career games (but another 19 goals and 188 PIM in 105 games in the USHL) and Lemirande had 7 goals and a whopping 139 penalty minutes in 58 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL last season. As for Dornbrock, he had a more “typical” line with the NAHL’s Minot Minotaurs notching 7-17-24 and 41 PIM in 59 games from the blue line.

With Miami’s depth, it will be interesting to see if these three are in the lineup on a nightly basis. Of the three, I think Schmit will see the most ice time given his familiarity with the program as he was in the press box with the team all of last year sitting out following his transfer. I think Schmit will add size, toughness and leadership to a club that last year at times seemed to lack all three. Because, if it means anything based on our Twitter (@schmittythedog) interactions with him, he seems like a quality guy

Something's fishy here.

Something’s fishy here.

that we’re rooting for. We also believe he secretly loves “The Bachelor,” or perhaps something even better, but that has not been confirmed. We expect full disclosure soon.

Projected Lineup

Having not seen the team practice this season, and having not even played an exhibition yet, here’s our guess at how Miami will lineup when the puck drops for real on October 10 at Bowling Green.

Offense

Coleman – Czarnik – Murphy

Louis – Kuraly – Barber

Wideman – Morris – Doherty

Schmit/Mooney – Greenberg – Gacek

Other forward possibilities: Devin Loe, Lemirande – Actually, when you look at the roster like this, Jimmy Mullin’s injury really hurts the depth at forward. While I do not think we’ll be seeing Conor Lemirande on opening night, it’s completely reasonable to expect to see him soon, especially if there is any other injury concern. With the depth at defense, and the lack of it at forward, Michael Mooney’s move to forward makes even more sense now.

Defense

C. Joyaux – Caito

M. Joyaux – Sullivan

Belpedio – Hamilton

Other defense possibilities: Taylor Richart, Dornbrock, Ben Paulides – Rico will have his work cut out getting ice time for everyone but the depth here is dramatically better than last year when you figured his best play was to shift Matt Caito for 60 minutes and and take his chances.

So, there you are. The new guys. Welcome all to The Brotherhood and best of luck this year!

What do you think the opening night lineup will look like?

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The Puck Drops…in 9 Days!

Time to get things started!

 

Friday’s Highlights

Here are the highlights from Friday’s 6-0 victory over Michigan State.

Camper nets first career NHL goal

It wasn’t a pretty wrister that we saw time after time at Miami, but rather, former RedHawk captain Carter Camper went to the hard area of the ice and capitalized on a rebound while fighting off an Ottawa defenseman to net his first career goal in just his second NHL game, a 5-3 Boston winner. Camper was the Bruins’ best faceoff man in his first outing, a 4-2 win over the Blues, and got his first goal in last night’s win over the Senators despite going 0-for-4 on draws.

Congratulations, Carter!

Wingels drops gloves for 1st time in NHL

Former Miami captain Tommy Wingels dropped the gloves for the first time in his NHL career tonight and came away with the decision in the Sharks’ bad 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. What was extra satisfying about the fight is that he decisioned former Ohio State hack Buckeye, R.J. Umberger.

Miami > duhOSU. Always.

20 Questions (or so) with Alden Hirschfeld

 

As we ramp up our preseason coverage, Miami senior co-captain Alden Hirschfeld was kind enough to sit down with Redskin Warriors to provide his insight into the upcoming year. Hirschfeld (Sylvania, Ohio) enters his senior season with a career line of 24-22-46 in 93 career games for the RedHawks. But last season, he set career highs in goals (12), assists (14) and points (26) in just 34 games as he helped lead Miami to its first ever Mason Cup championship.

Hirschfeld, who is no stranger to scoring big goals for the RedHawks (think 2009 National Semifinal against Bemidji State and 2010 Midwest Region Final against Michigan), is taking on an ever bigger responsibility for Miami as he ascends to take the reins as a co-captain for the 2011-12 season.

So, thanks again Alden for your time. And, here’s our interview with Miami co-captain Alden Hirschfeld.

 

Redskin Warriors (RW): What are the team’s expectations heading into the season?

Alden Hirschfeld (AH): Obviously our ultimate goal is a National Championship, but we also want to win the Championships for our league.  The CCHA regular season and CCHA playoff Championships.  It is important for us to get off to a good start and be consistent throughout the entire season.

RW: What’s been different this off-season versus past years?

AH: We changed a little bit of our training routine.  Our strength coach did a good job building workouts that are going to benefit us on the ice.  Everyone came back in great shape and looking very lean, which is good to see.  The numbers guys are putting up in the weight room are great and really shows the hard work everyone put in this offseason.

RW: Clearly, the incoming freshmen are highly regarded. To this point, who has stood out in your mind?

AH: All of the freshman have been outstanding.  They are a big class in numbers, but not necessarily size.  The smaller ones A. (Alex) Wideman, (Austin) Czarnik and (Jimmy) Mullin make up for their size with their skills.  (Tyler) Biggs, (Blake) Coleman, (Cody) Murphy and (Ben) Paulides are bigger guys who are going to fit in great with our style of play.  But overall everyone looks great and they are going to be expected to be step in and make a difference right away.

RW: What returning player do you expect to see the largest improvement from?

AH: I think it’s important that we all improve not just any certain individual.  Each day you want to get better.  That is a mentality that a lot of our guys have, if not everyone, and it will be important for us all to be doing everything we can to be our best.

RW: What are your individual goals this year? How does being named a co-captain impact how you go about your daily business?

AH: I just want to focus on being the best I can each day.  Really being consistent and playing great every day.  It’s important for me as a captain to make sure I take care of myself as well as the team.  There is a little bit more going on when you take the role of captain, but its nice to have Webs (senior co-captain Will Weber) there too so we can help each other out.  Obviously there are more people watching you too so its important to always be professional and one of the best on the ice each day.

RW: Describe your leadership style. How are you and Will Weber similar? Different?

AH: I’m a pretty vocal leader.  I communicate a lot with the guys.  I also try and lead by example.  I feel like I have a good work ethic and people respect me for that.  I am also a very personable person and am open to the guys to come and talk to about anything.  Me and Webs both have good work ethics and compete at a high level.  We both try and set good examples and put the team before ourselves.  I think that I am a little more vocal than Webs, but he makes up for that in how he leads by example.  His demeanor and intensity level are unbelievable.

RW: What’s it been like having former captain Brian Kaufmann back around the program and what does he add to the coaching staff? Has he given you any advice on how to handle the captaincy?

AH: It’s great to have him back.  He was the captain my freshman year and I learned a lot from him.  Having him around is great because he has great advice about things and is willing to help with anything.  He has talked with me and Webs and given us support and ideas that have been very helpful.  He will be a great asset to the program this season and we are excited to have him back.

RW: Who do you consider Miami’s key rival in the CCHA?

AH: I think our key rivals are Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State.  They are all huge games for us and always ones we key in on as “rivals.”  Ohio State obviously being close by is a good in-state rival that has developed over the years.

RW: Though you won’t play in the NCHC, what was your reaction to the announcement? Is realignment good for college hockey?

AH: It’s exciting. I would have loved the opportunity to play in it for a year, but I think its great for the program and everyone seems excited.  The CCHA  has been awesome though and so no complaints there.

RW: What does “The Brotherhood” mean to you? How has it affected your daily life?

AH: “The Brotherhood” is what our team is all about.  It’s extremely important to everyone involved with our program.  It is what we live by.  It’s our document that we created as a program and developed.  It’s a way of life and in a basic sentence it means being the best you can be each day in everything that you do.  It really helps you hold yourself accountable and make good decisions.  It builds relationships that are trustworthy and meaningful as well as a Championship Culture.

RW: We’ve heard the team is getting new uniforms this year. In fact, we’ve heard the Friday jerseys will say “Miami” but the Saturday jerseys will feature the Hawk Head for the first time in years. What else can you tell us about them? Home only? New roadies too? And, is the program finally migrating to adidas like the rest of the athletic department?

AH: I’m not exactly sure. I do know we will have the ones saying Miami and the ones with the Hawk.  I have not seen them and don’t know when we will wear which.  I’m not sure about the road jerseys either.  I suppose it will be a surprise for us all and just kind of see what we decide to wear when.  I’m excited to see them though.

RW: What is your major and how close are you to achieving your Miami degree?

AH: I am majoring in Business Management with a focus on organization and leadership, and minoring in coaching.  I believe I am about three classes away from the degree after the fall semester.

RW: What does your future after college look like? What are you hoping to do?

AH: My goal is to continue playing hockey.  Hopefully, I can have a good year and achieve the dream and goal of playing professional hockey.

RW: What’s been the best part of playing college hockey at Miami?

AH: I would say the Championships we have won and the relationships I have built with teammates and coaches since I have been here.  Also playing in the National Championship game was awesome.  And just being able to be apart of The Brotherhood is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The Brotherhood Video: 2011-2012

The start of the 2011-12 season is still a little over a month away, but if this video doesn’t get the blood flowing and tell the world that Miami hockey is special, well, nothing will.

Check it out.