Miami finished dead last in the NCHC in scoring and No. 48 in Division I, and only one returning forward from last season finished with more than 16 points.
A look at the RedHawks’ forwards for 2019-20:
RETURNING (11): Srs. – Gordie Green, Karch Bachman, Carter Johnson; Jrs. – Casey Gilling, Phil Knies, Ben Lown, Christian Mohs; Sos. – Brian Hawkinson, Scott Corbett, Monte Graham, Noah Jordan.
DEPARTURES (4): Josh Melnick, Ryan Siroky, Zach Lavalle, Jonathan Gruden.
NEW FACES (4): Ryan Savage, Matt Barry (transfer sophomore), Chase Pletzke, John Sladic.
NOTES: With Josh Melnick having graduated and Ottawa draftee Jonathan Gruden turning pro, the RedHawks will need to get more production from their returning corps as well as contributions from the newcomers if they hope to have success this season.
Three Miami skaters finished with double-digit scoring in 2018-19: Melnick, Gordie Green and Karch Bachman, the latter two of which are seniors.
Green, who was named team captain on Thursday, finished with a team-best 11 goals and racked up 14 assists for 25 points, one behind team leader Melnick.
Despite being 5-feet-8, Green plays excellent defense and isn’t afraid to compete with much bigger defenders at the top of the crease for scoring chances. He leads all returning players with 79 career points, with the next highest being Bachman at 38.
Bachman is one of the most unique skater in Division I, possessing NHL-caliber speed, a massive shot and high compete level. It has taken him three seasons to develop into a top-six forward but the Florida Panthers drafted him in 2015 and the talent is obviously there, so after taking a major step forward last season by going 10-6-16, he could take off on a Chris Bergeron-led team.
Sophomore Brian Hawkinson tied for fifth on the team in scoring with three goals and 13 assists for 16 points despite missing four games. Hawkinson is just 5-10 and 175 pounds, but his work ethic is top notch and he plays every shift like it’s his last.
Despite Miami’s struggles late last season, Hawkinson never took a shift off and somehow still seemed to get better as the tumultuous season wore on.
Junior Casey Gilling went 4-8-12 after scoring nine goals and assisting on 10 more as a freshman. He’s an excellent faceoff guy and brings a lot of talent and hockey IQ to the team, but he took a step back in 2018-19 following a solid rookie campaign.
Scott Corbett scored five goals and assisted on five more in 32 games as a freshman and established himself as a true grinder, playing a physical game, being solid defensively and still contributing offensively. He missed six games due to injury and was not 100 percent right away upon returning, so it will be interesting to see if he can make a points jump if fully healthy.
Those are the only five returning Miami forwards to record 10 or more points in 2018-19.
Junior Phil Knies slid from 20 points as a freshman to nine, and classmate Ben Lown also fell to nine points after racked up 15 in 2017-18.
Sophomore Monte Graham played all 38 games and went 1-6-7, Christian Mohs dressed 26 times, Carter Johnson skated in 19 contests and Noah Jordan six.
“I think we’ve got a top two (lines) that are going to be really good,” Green said. “We’ve had that the past few years, but I think the difference this year is going to be just scoring depth throughout. I think we’re going to have a good, overall scoring offense this year.”
Miami will have 15 forwards on its roster this season – the above 11 who are returning, sophomore transfer Matt Barry and freshmen Chase Pletzke, Ryan Savage and John Sladic.
“I like the way our freshman forwards plays, I think all of them have a knack for the net,” Green said. “Sladic looks really good, he’s kind of an older guy in that class, I like the way Pletzke can really fly and he’s got a good shot, Savage, he can really put the puck in the net if he gets it in the right areas. I think they all play, and I think they can all contribute right off the start.”
Barry was leading Holy Cross in points when he decided to come to Miami. He will be eligible to play in the second half of this season.
Savage, the son of former Miamian and NHLer Brian Savage, had a solid season at Muskegon and Omaha of the USHL, Sladic was a points machine at NAHL Aberdeen and Pletzke scored 13 goals in 43 games for Langley of the BCHL during that team’s playoff run.
“There’s an opportunity for everybody (who plays well) to jump in and play,” coach Chris Bergeron said. “The freshmen to me are no different than anybody else. The opportunity is there on a daily basis, what they do with the opportunity is on them. We’ve lost some key guys, but that’s college sports, right? You always lose guys from one year to the next.”
The RedHawks scored just 87 goals in 38 games, or just 2.29 per game, and they converted on just 15.6 percent of their power plays. Both of those stats must improve this season for Miami to have success.