It seems counterintuitive that Miami’s most geographically diverse incoming class in recent decades is seeming to bond quicker than most.

But with four of the incoming freshmen coming from the same USHL squad and others having ties to returning players, the 2022-23 RedHawks already appear to have the jelling thing covered despite not having played a game together.

Barry Schutte (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

“There’s bridges already built there, so I think it speeds that process up a little bit, and then they can trust and lean on each other to go through it together on those hard days,” Miami associate head coach Barry Schutte said.

Of the ten Miami newcomers, four are international – two Swedes, a Slovakian and a Canadian from the GTA. Three of the six Americans are Michiganders, two are from Chicago and another grew up in Minnesota.

Yet the relationship matrix between veteran and newbie is surprisingly elaborate.

“Even (Slovakian Artur) Turansky played with P.J. Fletcher at Select Academy and Alex Murray was at Select Academy during the time that Turansky was there, so they kind of knew each other back in the day as well. And (BCHL standout Max) Dukovac came from the (USHL Chicago) Mission and he knows Robbie Drazner and Nick Donato a little bit because they would skate together in the summer. The Michigan guys – (Zane) Demsey, for example, he trains with in the summer with some of our guys. It’s a tight, tight fraternity when it comes to hockey, now more than ever. I think it speeds the culture building along with some of those relationships already built, for sure.”

VFTG takes an in-depth look at each of the members of the incoming 2022-23 class in Part II of our Incoming Class Analysis series:

(Part I can be found here):

FORWARDS

FRANKIE CAROGIOIELLO

DOB: 6-21-2002 (age 20). Height: 5-10. Weight: 173. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Woodbridge, Ont.

2021-22 STATS: 27 GP, 11-13-24. Team: Chilliwack (BCHL).

Scouting report: Carogioiello is due to catch a break. The BCHL forward did not play at all in 2020-21 due to COVID, and at the last minute he joined USHL Muskegon but was logjammed and tallied just four points in 25 games. The BCHL opened up last season and the playmaking speedster finally started thriving with Chilliwack – going 11-13-24 in 27 games – but he was shut down for the season with a major injury and is still rehabbing.

Outlook: It’s tough to dominate right away in this league as a smaller skater, especially coming off long-term injury, but he’s a rink rat that always brings positive energy and is committed to the program. He averaged nearly a point a game last season and has tons of potential, but it may take a season for Carogioiello to adjust to the NCHC. The GTA native is the lone Canadian expected to join the RedHawks in 2022-23.

Schutte quote: He’s an undersized forward who has high-end stick skills and can really, really skate, and he’s ultra-competitive. So for an undersized player player, he can really get involved because of his skating, because he can arrive on pucks first, he can create separation with his speed and he can make plays at that top speed as well – he doesn’t have to stop moving his feet to make a play.

MAX DUKOVAC

DOB: 2-19-2002 (age 20). Height: 6-2. Weight: 182. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Aurora, Ill.

2021-22 STATS: 51 GP, 17-42-59. Team: Langley (BCHL).

Scouting: Like Carogioiello, Dukovac (pronounced Do-KOE-vac) was stuck in the BCHL in 2020-21, and that league did not play a single game because of COVID. Despite sitting out a crucial developmental year, Dukovac rolled up 59 points in 51 games with Langley last season and added 14 more in 15 playoff games. Miami has been scouting him since his Chicago Mission days, and he has ties to Oxford – his mother is a Miami alum.

Outlook: Coming off a missed season through no fault of his own, Dukovac put up 73 points in 66 games including the playoffs, and his points-per-game pace was even better after the holidays. At 6-2 with speed and history of producing offense, Dukovac could make an immediate impact on a team in need of steady top-9 forwards.

Schutte quote: Max is like a bigger version of Frankie (Carogioiello) – between the two of them we’ve really added some team speed. He’s got some higher-end stick skills. I would compare him to a P.J. Fletcher-type, for those who watched Fletcher last year. Really fast feet, can make plays, not necessarily and aggressor, but he’ll compete for pucks.

WILLIAM HALLEN

DOB: 4-15-2002 (age 20). Height: 6-1. Weight: 187. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden.

2021-22 STATS: 49 GP, 11-10-21. Team: Dubuque (USHL).

William Hallen (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Scouting: Hallen’s first season in North America was less than ideal, but he still showed plenty of promise. The Swedish-born forward struggled with a non-COVID illness and visa issues early and was buried on the depth chart on a high-scoring Dubuque team. He defends well and doesn’t mind battling for the puck in his own end. Offensively he definitely shows potential – Hallen netted 11 goals in 49 games with Dubuque with four coming in the Fighting Saints’ final eight regular season games – and it will be interesting to see how he adapts in his second year on this continent.

Outlook: Quality centermen beyond the top line have been in short supply at Miami since Pat Cannone, and Hallen will hopefully help the RedHawks build much-needed depth up the middle. He’s still a little raw, but even as he adjusts to the NCHC he can help with his versatility, defense and size.

Schutte quote: I would compare him a little bit to what Sean Kuraly was for Miami. He can go up and down your lineup, play on your first line, play on your third line, play second line. He can play center, he can play wing. He’s got a high, high hockey IQ and a really good skill set. What struck me and us about William in the recruiting process is the layers and depth to him as a human being. He looks at things a little differently and is wise beyond his years. He’s just getting started, we believe, as far as the type of player that he can be.

BLAKE MESENBURG

DOB: 6-5-2002 (age 20). Height: 5-11. Weight: 183. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Orono, Minn.

2021-22 STATS: 59 GP, 27-35-62. Team: St. Cloud (NAHL).

Scouting: In 2020-21, Mesenburg notched just 20 points in 53 games with St. Cloud. But last season, he finished second on a very-good Norsemen team in goals (27), assists (35) and points (62). He can play the wing but appears more comfortable at center, always a need for Miami. He skates well. Despite having played last season in the NAHL, he thrived with prep power Shattuck as a teen and was called up to the USHL by Omaha while he was still 17.

Outlook: NAHL players taking the NCHC by force freshman year isn’t a regular occurrence, but Schutte envisions him as one of the top three forwards on the ice with the game on the line as well as on the power play and penalty kill by the time he graduates. His future presence on special teams makes a lot of sense since Mesenburg led the NAHL in shorthanded goals with six, and his 11 power-play tallies tied him for fifth in the league.

Schutte quote: Blake’s strength is he plays the game 100 percent the right way in all three zones. He doesn’t cheat the game, he doesn’t cut corners, he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played, and he’s competitive as hell. He’s the kid that will go to the hard areas and get to the inside, and when the team’s not getting it and not hitting its stride, he’s the guy that will get it going for you.

ARTUR TURANSKY

DOB: 7-12-2001 (age 21). Height: 5-11. Weight: 176. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Bratislava, Slovakia.

2021-22 STATS: 60 GP, 28-38-66. Team: Lone Star (NAHL).

Scouting: Turansky may be European-born, but he is not new to the North American game. He joined Selects Academy in 2016 and played three seasons there, where he recorded 78 points his final season. Like some of the other incoming forwards, Turansky was largely grounded in 2020-21 but made the most of last season. He finished ninth in the NAHL in points and led his team with 38 assists. A little undersized and though he’s not a burner, Turansky is also an above-average skater.

Outlook: Turansky is a smart player whose plus-25 rating ranked second in the league, so he will definitely be competing for a starting job right away. A member of the Slovakian Under-20 team last season, Turansky will be the first Eastern European member of the RedHawks since Slovenian Gregor Krajnc graduated in 2001.

Schutte quote: He’s an offensive player for sure – I’m saying he can’t defend and can’t play defense, but that’s not his forte. He’s super, super intelligent. He sees the game at a level that most don’t. He can see the second layer, the third layer and can anticipate what’s coming and see it before it happens, and has an elite stick. Turansky and Mesenburg were top players on top teams in that league. I think with the body of work that they proved, they could’ve played in any league on any team and been a huge part of it with the quality of work they put in.

JOHN WALDRON

DOB: 11-13-2002 (age 19). Height: 6-1. Weight: 185. Shoots: R. Birthplace: Batavia, Ill.

2021-22 STATS: 51 GP, 15-30-45. Team: Waterloo (USHL).

Scouting: Waldron’s stock rose significantly last season. In parts of three previous USHL campaigns, Waldron scored two goals and picked up 13 assists in 59 games. But in 2021-22, Waldron finished second on the Black Hawks with 45 points in 51 games. He paid his dues in that league early on, playing limited minutes on the fourth line and regularly sitting in the stands, and he has also battled major injuries the past two seasons.

Outlook: Waldron led Waterloo in assists with 30 despite missing nine games on a team that was well below .500. Playing center is obviously much more difficult in the NCHC than the USHL, so we’ll have to see how long it takes Waldron to adjust to the position at this level. But he should definitely be able to help Miami immediately with his offensive ability.

Schutte quote: He’s a puck-possession, playmaking kind of guy. Probably a natural center from an IQ standpoint. Really crafty stick, a really likeable person and a hard worker and a competitive type of person who, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, he wants to come out on the winning side. If he’s working on one thing it’s that he needs to continue to work on his foot speed and pace of play, but similar to Artur (Turansky), his hockey IQ and his stick skills kind of make up for the pace of play at times.

DEFENSEMEN

ZANE DEMSEY

DOB: 11-4-2001 (age 20). Height: 6-2. Weight: 190. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Harrison Twp., Mich.

2021-22 STATS: 62 GP, 1-19-20. Team: Dubuque (USHL).

Scouting: Demsey led all Dubuque defensemen with a plus-34 rating largely because of his in-your-face, shut-down style. He can lay out the big hit and is also smart about his positioning and knowing when to pinch. Demsey also more than tripled his offensive output last season, racking up 20 points in 62 games after tallying just six in 2020-21.

Zane Demsey (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Outlook: Miami has lacked blueline physicality for half a decade, so Demsey should thrive in Oxford. He was trusted in the most high-leverage of roles in Dubuque and thrived, so Demsey should immediately boost the team’s penalty kill and will hopefully develop into a late-game, shut-down option. The offensive part of his game is underrated, as he is an excellent passer and has an accurate shot. Demsey recorded 20 points despite not logging any power play time on a loaded Fighting Saints roster.

Schutte quote: He was a focus for us when we were talked about getting pucks out of our end and keeping pucks out of our net. He’s a tireless worker, he does everything right, does everything really well and is unassuming. You’ll probably go the whole game without noticing him, and he’ll go plus-2 and maybe get an assist and help the team win. Play winning hockey.

MICHAEL FEENSTRA

DOB: 4-3-2001 (age 21). Height: 6-3. Weight: 195. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Grand Haven, Mich.

2021-22 STATS: 54 GP, 0-14-14. Team: Dubuque (USHL).

Scouting: Like Demsey, Feenstra is a left-handed shot who played the shut-down role on the left side for Dubuque. He logged 190 games with the Fighting Saints over the past five seasons, so he has plenty of experience in the highest U.S. Juniors’ league. At 6-3, his long stick is a major defensive weapon. He’s also smart about when to jump into the play – he didn’t score last season but picked up 14 assists despite logging almost no power play time.

Outlook: Also like Demsey, Feenstra is an effective left defenseman who logged a ton of ice time on a winning Dubuque team. The competition for the six of seven defenseman lineup shots should be intense every night, and given his ample juniors experience, hockey IQ and defensive prowess, Feenstra should be able to contribute right away.

Schutte quote: He’s a presence out there. He’s got a long stick, and our players are finding out (in practice) that he always seems to be in the way. He’s smart, and he’s long. He’s been here (a couple of) weeks and he’s a favorite in the locker room already. He’s that guy that people, that players gravitate to. He’s a relationship type of guy and just happy to be a part of it and the type of person that you want to be around every day. We felt like we needed his personality in our locker room as much as we needed his game on the ice when we recruited Michael Feenstra.

AXEL KUMLIN

DOB: 2-23-2002 (age 20). Height: 6-1. Weight: 195. Shoots: R. Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden.

2021-22 STATS: 58 GP, 5-17-22. Team: Dubuque (USHL).

Scouting: Last season was Kumlin’s first in North America, and he more than held his own, recording five goals and 17 assists in 58 games and finishing fourth on the team with a plus-24 rating. Prior to Dubuque, Kumlin spent three seasons in Swedish juniors and was teammates with Hallen, racking up 12 goals in 55 games his final two seasons there. He was a major asset to the Fighting Saints on the power play, as he can move the puck well and has a hard, accurate shot. Kumlin originally came to North America with the intention of turning pro rather than pursuing the college route, but he committed to Miami late last season with three of his Dubuque teammates already slated to start college in Oxford this fall, plus he played with both of the RedHawks’ returning Swedes back home.

Outlook: Kumlin is still working through eligibility issues and it’s still unclear if he will be able to dress for the start of the season. Miami is much in need of a two-way defender that can run a power play, so he could turn into quite an asset for a RedHawks team that has zero returning defenseman that tallied more than seven assists in 2021-22.

Schutte quote: He’s a big strong, athletic defenseman and he’s a presence, and he’s got a heaviness to his game. (Opponents) are going to know when they’re on the ice against him because he’s going lean on them and use his size and strength to his advantage. He does have some offensive instincts to him because of his brain and hockey IQ, and he has a heavy shot and he’s not afraid to use it.

GOALIE

CARTER McPHAIL

DOB: 12-4-1998 (age 23). Height: 5-10. Weight: 175. Shoots: L. Birthplace: Fenton, Mich.

2021-22 STATS: 2 GP, 44 Min., 0-0, 2.74 GAA, .920 SV%. Team: Ferris State (NCAA).

Scouting: McPhail excelled with NAHL Johnstown in 2018-19, posting a 2.12 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage, earning an appearance for the U.S. Under-17 team. He has spent the past three seasons at Ferris State, where he played 434 minutes as a freshman but just 96 since. In very limited action, his save percentage was .920 in 2021-22 in 44 minutes. McPhail joined the RedHawks late after expected third goalie Kirk Laursen unexpectedly transferred to Western Michigan.

Outlook: With Ludvig Persson expected to start the majority of games and backup Logan Neaton healthy after a knee injury shut him down midway through last season, McPhail may not see much ice time this season. But since 2019 he has held his own when called upon with the Bulldogs and is certainly capable to fill in for the RedHawks if necessary.

Schutte quote: Carter is an ultra-competitor. He’s an unreal teammate and he’s an unreal person. I think he believes in himself, he’s confident in himself, he can take advantage of an opportunity and earn his (ice) time. He’s proven to have success at Junior, in particular, and in limited opportunity at Ferris. He’s seen a lot of pucks and taken a lot of college reps, and he’s a locker-room guy, so he I think he helps our program on a lot of different levels…I think we’ve upgraded our depth.

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