Miami racked up four wins and a tie in its first six games against non-conference opponents, but the RedHawks have been worked by NCHC foes the first two weeks of league play.
Western Michigan scored three straight goals midway through a 5-2 win over Miami at Lawson Arena on Saturday, dropping the RedHawks to 0-4 in the conference after a 4-1-1 start.
MU has been outscored, 20-5 during its current four-game losing streak.
Rather than follow our normal template which would involve recapping a loss that no one wants to read about, let’s look at the top five positive take-aways and areas of needed improvement from Miami’s first 10 games of 2022-23.
WHAT’S TO LIKE:
1. Ludvig Persson. Persson’s save percentage was .938 in non-conference play is down to .913 due to a brutal four-game stretch against two of college hockey’s top programs. He suffered from the proverbial sophomore slump in 2021-22, posting an .894 save percentage, but he has been exceptional with his glove, kept rebounds to an absolute minimum and has robbed several shooters with his post-to-post mobility. Hockey is the ultimate team sport so it seems counterintuitive to praise one player as the biggest difference-maker, but quality goaltending can elevate mediocre teams to elite status, and poor netminding can squelch high-skilled teams.
2. Freshmen success. The class of 2026 has shown tremendous promise. Max Dukovac and John Waldron have really stood out up front thus far, Artur Turansky and William Hallen have displayed substantial raw ability, and Blake Mesenburg and Frankie Carogioiello have made solid cases for playing time with their effort and blazing speed. The Dubuque Three on defense — Zane Demsey, Axel Kumlin and Michael Feenstra — have all shown promise in small doses and should all see their ice time increase as their careers progress.
3. Depth, both up front and on defense. Miami’s 2022-23 talent level is definitely higher than in any of coach Chris Bergeron’s previous three seasons. Three lines have solid scoring potential, and nine defensemen have dressed this season and all are fighting for lineup slots every weekend.
4. Physicality. It’s a complicated subject, but this team has knocked more opponents around per capita than in previous years, and that’s a good thing. A team with a reputation for hitting can intimidate weaker teams, and physical engagement wears down opponents over the course of a weekend. Checks can fire up your home fan base as well.
5. Putting teams away. With the exception of the first Denver game, Miami has done an exceptional job of holding — and expanding — late leads, which was a huge issue in 2021-22.
KEYS TO IMPROVEMENT:
1. For the love of God, please stop taking penalties. Miami has crossed the line from physical to illegal far too often and is now second-last only to first-year program Lindenwood in Division I in penalty minutes per game (17.2), including 40 last Friday. There’s still a talent gap between the RedHawks and their nationally-ranked NCHC opponents, and MU has been assessed five major penalties in 10 games. WMU was 4-for-10 on the power play Friday.
2. Turnovers/forced play. It seems like some freshmen are having difficulty gauging the cadence of the game, and others who have been with the program are also rushing the play, resulting in costly turnovers and in some cases, goals. Fortunately, this seems like a shortcoming that be overcome through experience.
3. Faceoffs. After an atrocious weekend on draws in Kalamazoo, Miami is tied for 55th out of 60 in Division I faceoff win percentage at 44.5. Those numbers were even worse on the bottom two lines.
4. Durability. The RedHawks scored in the third period of all six non-conference games but have been outscored, 9-1 in their first four league games.
5. Damage control. For years, Miami has struggled with applying the tourniquet to itself under duress, and 2022-23 has been no different. The RedHawks have allowed 16 of their 31 goals in the third period. That comes down to confidence, an issue Miami now has battled with for several years.
One thought on “Miami strengths, issues after 0-4 league start”
Spot on.Another good recruiting class and Miami can make some noise.(dressing 7-8 Freshmen per night is always interesting to say the least)