OXFORD, Ohio – Miami will enter conference play on a high note.
The RedHawks beat the U.S. National Development Under-18 Team, 4-2 in an exhibition at Cady Arena on Friday a week after going 1-0-1 at Colgate in their first road trip of the season.
Miami (2-3-2) begins NCHC play this weekend, as the team will travel to North Dakota before heading home for a two-game set vs. Minnesota-Duluth on Nov. 15-16.
Some stats and thoughts on the past two weekends…
— The RedHawks’ 1-0-1 mark at Colgate represented their first winning weekend road series since Nov. 24-25, 2017 at (drum roll) Bowling Green.
That BGSU series two years ago was the only weekend road series the previous three seasons in which Miami posted a winning percentage over .500.
— Gordie Green notched three assists in the opener at Colgate, his second game of three or more points this season. That gives him 88 for his career as he looks to become the 53rd player in Miami history to reach triple digits.
— Jack Clement scored his first two career goals in that series, one in each game. He netted the first goal in the RedHawks’ 3-3 tie on Friday and the clincher in the 2-0 win on Saturday.
— It’s a rarity to see two teams not record a power play goal in a weekend series, but Miami and Colgate combined to go 0-for-14 in their set.
— Casey Gilling picked up three helpers at Colgate, giving him seven points this season. The early slam-dunk favorite for most-improved player on the RedHasks, Gilling finished with 13 points in 2018-19 and just three his final 20 games.
— Ryan Larkin earned his first shutout in a year in the finale of that series, stopping 29 shots. His last shutout victim? Colgate on Oct. 26, 2018. This game was on Oct. 27, and he turned aside one more shot than he did last season, finishing with 30 saves.
— Miami didn’t play its best hockey vs. the USNDT, giving up too many odd-man chances and turning the puck over way too often. Tied 2-2 after two periods, Gilling netted the eventual game winner with seven minutes left, and Karch Bachman sealed it by burying an empty netter.
This wasn’t a star-studded U.S. Juniors team, and it was less than encouraging to see the RedHawks struggle early against a much younger team of pro prospects.
— More bad news on the injury front: Forward Ben Lown was scratched, and it appears he will miss a significant amount of time with a lower body injury. Standout defenseman Alec Mahalak has already been out for the first seven games with a lower body injury and he may still miss a good amount of November’s contests.
— You want good news from Friday’s USNDT exhibition? Junior third goalie Grant Valentine patrolled the pipes for all 60 minutes, and he was a stud. Valentine stopped 26 of 28 shots, with the only two goals against coming on a loose puck in the crease and a breakaway.
In preseason interviews, both Green and Coach Chris Bergeron went out of their way to state that he had improved significantly over the off-season, and we saw evidence in this outing.
He has only logged nine career minutes, allowing a goal on three shots over two seasons ago vs. Maine as a freshman.
On Friday, Valentine turned aside a late breakaway and made some outstanding saves to earn the win, which had to give him confidence after not seeing the ice in a competitive game since 2017.