Miami ended what has been a tough calendar year in the win column.
The RedHawks beat Mercyhurst, 7-4 at Mercyhurst Ice Center on Sunday, concluding the 2021 portion of their schedule.
Jack Olmstead tallied a career-best two goals and three points, and four other skaters finished with two points in the Miami victory.
The RedHawks have played 17 games – exactly half of their 34-game slate – and will not hit the ice again until Jan. 4 against the same Lakers team, with that game occurring in Oxford.
STATS: This was the second time this season Miami (4-12-1) has scored seven goals. The RedHawks also found the net seven times vs. Ferris State in their season opener.
Olmstead not only had never recorded three points in a collegiate game, it was the senior’s first career multi-point contest. He had nine previous points in his three-plus seasons at Miami and Michigan.
Also picking up two points were Matt Barry, Monte Graham, Michael Regush and Matthew Barbolini. The latter ended the night with two assists, and the former three all went 1-1-2.
Barry and Barbolini both have five points in their last five games. Graham has four in six.
Regush is 1-2-3 between this game and the finale vs. Western Michigan.
THOUGHTS: For the first time in two years, I missed this game, but there were a lot of encouraging stats.
First was the shots on goal total of 35, one off Miami’s season best. Mercyhurst (4-9-4) is allowing 37 SOG per game, one of the highest clips in Division I, and the RedHawks entered the game hovering in the 22 range, so one trend had to give.
— Olmstead has played very well at times this season, especially on Graham’s line, and hopefully he will carry the momentum from this big offensive performance into 2022.
Same with Barbolini, Regush and Barry, who all seem to be trending better in terms of offensive production.
Graham’s forte is his fourth-line center grinder role, winning faceoffs, defending well and displaying physicality, and to see him exceling in that role and his points contribution is a nice bonus.
— Offense was a major concern entering 2021-22, and Miami is averaging exactly three goals (51 in 17 games).
But the RedHawks are allowing 4.18 per game.
LINEUP CHANGES: Coach Chris Bergeron swapped out a handful of skaters from Miami’s last game on Dec. 4.
Up front, Thomas Daskas and Red Savage were both scratched for the first time this season, and Scott Corbett also was not in the lineup after dressing for the last two games.
Savage is skating with USA Hockey as a candidate for the World Juniors Under-20 team.
Dressing in their place were Olmstead, Brian Silver and Michael Holland – who was in the lineup for the first time in 2021-22.
Silver earned his first career point, a secondary assist on Olmstead’s first goal midway through the third period. Holland logged 14 games last season and netted one goal.
On defense, Nick Donato dressed for the third time and replaced Alec Capstick. The pair have alternated lineup appearances five consecutive games.
FINAL JUST PLAIN WEIRD STATS: Miami won its opener, 7-4 as well.
In both that win at Ferris State and this one, the RedHawks were awarded just nine assists. The accepted average number of assists on a hockey goal is 1.7 (or 12 for seven goals).
It’s strange the number on both would be abnormally low.
Graham’s last goal? It was in that win in Big Rapids. His last two point game? Same contest.
And RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson was 26-for-30 against FSU. He posted the exact line in this game.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The first half of 2021-22 was rough, no doubt, but the RedHawks may have hit rock bottom with the LIU loss.
Miami finished the calendar year playing much better hockey in many facets than it did most of the first two months.
Long early-winter layoffs have not been historically beneficial for this program, so hopefully the rejuvenated RedHawks will carry their recently-found energy into the eye of their season schedule.