The highlights from Miami’s 6-1 win over Western Ontario in the RedHawks’ lone exhibition on Saturday were impressive.
And while, disappointingly, getting to this game was not a possibility on this end (Mrs. Rednblackhawks and I were vacationing in Alberta), there typically is not a ton to take out of preseason games.
But there are a few facts and observations from the highlights, box score and the embedded spies BoB sent to the game that are worthy of prose here as Miami heads into opening weekend.
– Fs Zach LaValle and Justin Greenberg did not play. Greenberg has played in 68 games the past two seasons and is turning into a solid penalty killer. LaValle went 20-41-61 with NAHL Janesville last season. The competition at forward will be great this season, and two forwards and one defenseman will have to sit each night, so we’ll see how coach Enrico Blasi handles his scratches moving forward. Third goalie Evan McCarthy didn’t get into the game either, but that’s not unexpected – the freshman will be a more of a factor for playing time in 2016-17.
– Defensemen scored three of the six goals, and another was by swingman Michael Mooney, who was playing forward at the time. The entire team generated just 17 goals from its blueline corps in 2014-15. Trend or the result of a weak opponent? Hopefully the former. Sophomore Scott Dornbrock found the net once and Louie Belpedio banged home the other two. Both had four shots and senior Matthew Caito tallied three. More shots by defensemen will keep opponents’ defenders honest, so it would be great if they continued to put the puck on net.
– By all accounts, the standouts from this game were junior Anthony Louis, sophomore Louie Belpedio and freshman Jack Roslovic. One Tweet I received from someone in attendance said simply “Roslovic is a monster”. This summer, assistant coach Nick Petraglia raved about the former two and the expectations on them this season, and they delivered in this game. Belpedio scored twice, Louis netted a goal and Roslovic set up a pair.
– Sean Kuraly finished with three assists. Again, trying not to read too much into an exhibition against a CIS school, but a lot of focus will be placed on Kuraly by opponents with Czarnik/Coleman/Barber et al out of the picture. Kuraly definitely brought his passing stick in this game after ended 2014-15 with just 10 helpers to complement his 19 goals. He can alleviate the defensive pressure on him by creating chances for others this season via the passing game.
– Freshman Josh Melnick scored. Maybe this is just a personal thing, but it makes me feel good to see a rookie score in the exhibition(s) because that has to help his confidence. D-I college, especially at an elite program like Miami, is a major step up from U.S. juniors, and scoring in a first game has to make life easier on a player moving forward.