Like seemingly everything in the COVID era, roster turnover was anything but normal this past off-season.
Allowing universal fifth-year eligibility parlayed with a no-wait transfer rule has caused massive fluctuation on Division I rosters as well as a logjam of players staying at their respective schools an addition season.
The recruiting dead period was excruciatingly long, and while rebuilding-mode Miami may have fared worse than others the past 18 months because of limitations in wooing players that would improve the program, head coach Chris Bergeron and his staff instead focused on the transfer portal and was able to land a quality class of first-year RedHawks.
“I don’t look at is as, we got put behind the eight-ball because some of these recruiting restrictions,” Bergeron said. “Everybody’s dealing with the same thing. What I do think is a team like Duluth, a team like a team like Western (Michigan), a team like Omaha, when they’re returning everybody – so to me, it’s more about the extra COVID year…could be an advantage than the recruiting dead period. And I’m saying that as a compliment to those programs. Western returns everybody, Omaha basically returns everybody – they both had pretty good seasons last year. North Dakota is always North Dakota. St. Cloud State returns everybody from a Frozen Four team.”
For Miami, the abridged version of the off-season is: The RedHawks added 10 players and lost eight, giving them a total of 30 players.
That’s a lot of bodies vying for 20 slots each night.
But the five new additions up front – four transfers and a fourth-round draft pick freshman – definitely bolster an offense that averaged 1.92 goals per game in 2020-21.
The RedHawks also bring in three new defensemen as they continue to transform back to the hard-hitting, tough-to-play-against corps Miami was known for when it was hoisting banners into the rafters.
Additionally, MU brought in a pair of netminders to support and hopefully challenge incumbent Ludvig Persson through competition.
The RedHawks finished last season 5-18-2, and their .240 winning percentage was fourth-worst in program history.
But Miami may have added enough talent this off-season to help vault it back into relevancy.
In Parts II-IV VFTG breaks down the players that will be hitting the ice in the coming days by position.