The most bizarre season in NCAA hockey history was also Miami’s worst ever offensively.
The RedHawks finished 5-18-2 and averaged fewer than two goals a game for the first time ever, shattering their previous mark by an average of over a quarter of goal.
|MIAMI’S WORST OFFENSIVE SEASONS|
In 25 games this season, Miami netted just 48 goals, or 1.92 a game, breaking its previous record of 2.29 set in 2018-19.
The RedHawks’ .240 winning percentage was the program’s fourth-worst clip.
Injuries didn’t help. A 100 percent NCHC schedule didn’t help. Losing Gordie Green and Karch Bachman didn’t help.
Not having a substantial scorer among its incoming class certainly didn’t help, although multiple sophomores-to-be have shown promise.
The strangeness of the season opened — after a two-month delay — with all eight NCHC teams playing 10 games in a pod, with Omaha edging out Grand Forks as a host.
That lack of firepower was exposed immediately, as Miami was held to one goal in 120 minutes in losses to North Dakota and Omaha to open the bubble slate.
With seven goals in the first half of pod play, the RedHawks found themselves 0-5.
That’s when Ludvig Persson established put himself on the league map, as he seized the starting job by recording back-to-back shutouts over Omaha and Denver.
Those would be the only bubble wins for Miami, which returned home with a 2-7-1 record.
From there it was on the first true road series for the RedHawks, and they swept Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, 3-1 and 5-1, with Persson stopping 58 of 60 shots on the weekend and Matt Barry and Phil Knies racking up three points each in the set.
WMU headed to Oxford the following weekend with MU just three games under .500.
Those games – the first of seven played at Cady Arena in 2020-21 – were played without fans, but family members from both teams were permitted to attend. So about 100 people were in the stands.
It was a strange experience, especially for someone who attended every game during MU’s extended sell-out streak when Goggin Ice Center (II) first opened in 2006.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, the Broncos spoiled the Cady Arena home openers with a 4-1 win and 3-3 tie.
Turned out that was the beginning of Miami’s second-half freefall, as the RedHawks would go winless in nine (0-8-1) and finished the season 1-11-1, tied with Colorado College for last in the NCHC, and with the Tigers missing their final two games due to COVID, MU ended up in the cellar outright based on points percentage.
The RedHawks’ lone win in that span was a memorable one, as Casey Gilling scored with seven minutes left in regulation to key a 3-2 comeback win over St. Cloud State in Miami’s only home victory of the season
|MIAMI’S WORST WINNING PERCENTAGES|
That earned Miami a date with top seed North Dakota at The Ralph in the opening round of the NCHC Tournament, and to the surprise of no one, the Fighting Hawks won 6-2 on their home ice in this year’s one-and-done format, ending the RedHawks’ season.
Persson played in 18 games and finished with a .925 save percentage – fourth-best among NCAA freshman and No. 13 overall in Division I – and a goals-against average of 2.62.
Barry led the team in assists (15) and points (17), and Gilling wrapped up his RedHawks career with a 4-11-15 line, finishing second in points.
Freshman Matthew Barbolini led the team in goals with five, and he notching nine assists for 14 points, leading all first-year Miamians in all three categories.
No other RedHawk forward reached double digits in points.
That corps accounted for just 60 percent of Miami’s goals – or 29 of 48.
Or 1.16 per game. Yikes.
The D-corps netted the other 19 RedHawks markers.
Junior defenseman Derek Daschke led all defensemen in goals (4), assists (8) and points (12).
Also on the blue line, Robby Drazner had an extremely promising freshman year, going 3-4-7 and stepping up both offensively and defensively as the season progerssed.
Injuries decimated the Miami lineup, as lineup regulars Ryan Savage, Bray Crowder, Scott Corbett and Ben Lown all missed significant time.
Other than Persson, Barbolini and Drazner, several other freshmen showed promise in 2020-21. Joe Cassetti scored twice in a game after becoming eligible, and D-man Hampus Rydqvist played in 24 games and scored twice.
Michael Holland was banged up at the end of the season but he impressed with his grit and logged 14 games.
While by most metrics this was one of MU’s worst seasons ever, the RedHawks played hard every shift, and that work ethic – which had sometimes been lacking in previous years – should set a precident moving forward.
That combined with the play of some of the youngers and development of other underclassmen should give fans reason for optimism this fall.