Miami 2019-20 preview: Goaltenders

Last season, graduate senior Jordan Uhelski joined the team for his final year of eligibility and helped push Ryan Larkin to a solid junior season.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

In 2019-20, Larkin has shifted into the mentor’s role in his senior campaign, as highly-touted freshman Ben Kraws prepares to make his Miami debut this fall.

“U-Haul was obviously great to have, and he had a lot of experience, so it was really cool for him to come in and it was really good for me to have him here to be able to kind of mentor me and lead me through the ups and downs of whatever the season brings,” Larkin said. “Now, I guess that’s kind of my role, so I’m trying to do the same thing that U-Haul did for me for Kraws. Kraws is a great kid and a really hard worker so I’ve got to work just as hard to show him how hard he needs to work and what it takes to play at this level.”

A look at the RedHawks’ goaltenders for 2019-20:

RETURNING (2): Sr. – Ryan Larkin; Jr. – Grant Valentine.

DEPARTURES (1): Jordan Uhelski.

NEW FACES (1): Ben Kraws.

NOTES: Larkin finished his junior season with a decent .907 save percentage in 29 games, which is a huge upgrade from the .886 mark he posted in 2017-18.

In three seasons at Miami, Larkin has logged 5,672 minutes of ice time and earned 30 wins including five shutouts, all on sub-par teams.

And he appears to be in the best shape of his career heading into his final campaign in Oxford.

“Ryan’s looked great – I’ve skated with him all summer, he’s looked great all summer,” defenseman Derek Daschke said. “He’s down some weight, he’s in a lot better shape, not that his shape was his problem last year, he was great last year too, but he’s looking really good and the boys have a lot of confidence in him.”

Also returning is Grant Valentine, a junior who appears to have elevated his game after playing just nine minutes in two seasons.

The wild card is Kraws, who was ranked among the top 50 North American-born goalies and has played the last two seasons with Sioux City of the USHL.

Coach Chris Bergeron said Larkin has been exemplary at transitioning into a mentor role.

“I do think (Larkin) is handling it great – he’s a great kid – and Ben Kraws is a young guy just looking to figure out this college game, and Grant Valentine’s had a really good training camp, a good September,” Bergeron said. “I think we’ve got some depth in goal. It obviously starts with Larkin, he’s somebody we’re going to need to have a good senior year and we have no reason to believe he won’t individually, and we’ll also look to him and Grant to help the young freshman figure out this college thing both on and off the ice.”

Kraws’ save percentage has been just .895 each of those campaigns with USHL Sioux City after putting up outstanding numbers in the OJHL.

But he is coming off an outstanding playoff year for the Musketeers, and hopefully he rides that confidence into this season.

Larkin has battled durability issues in his three years at Miami, and with Kraws potentially in line to take over starting duties in 2020-21, Kraws should see his share of ice time this season, especially since Bergeron said he favors using multiple goalies.

“My history going back to when I was an assistant coach where we had one guy play Friday and one guy play Saturday – I like that,” Bergeron said. “We took that to some pretty good success, and I would like to do that. I’d like to have depth at that position. The way you have depth at that position is getting guys into games. Now what those guys do with those opportunities, that’s on them, and that’s what’s ended up happening is one outplaying the other and then you start to play the guy who’s playing better more.”

When Bergeron was an assistant with the RedHawks, he oversaw the Jeff Zatkoff-Charlie Effinger tandem (“Jeff and Eff”) as well as the duo of Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp.

Both pairs largely split time with the exception of Zatkoff’s final season in 2007-08 when he recorded arguably the best single-season goaltending numbers in the history of the program.

“I like it where you go into a weekend and one goalie has to win one night and the other goalie has to win the other,” Bergeron said. “The weight of the world isn’t on their shoulders, they don’t need to put the team on their back, just you take care of Friday night and you take care of Saturday night. I don’t know if that’s where we are right now, but my comfort level is more there than handing the net to one guy and riding him.”

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Miami 2019-20 preview: Defensemen

Seven defensemen who dressed for Miami in 2018-19 are back this season, including five who played at least 25 games.

The RedHawks also gain a pair of freshmen coming off excellent juniors seasons, making this group a strength of the team heading into this campaign.

A look at the RedHawks’ defensemen for 2019-20:

RETURNING (7): Srs. – Chaz Switzer, Grant Frederic; Jrs. – Alec Mahalak, Rourke Russell; So. – Derek Daschke, Brayden Crowder, Andrew Sinard.

DEPARTURES (2): Grant Hutton, River Rymsha.

NEW FACES (2): Jack Clement, Alec Capstick.

NOTES: The RedHawks’ returning class of blueliners includes Derek Daschke, who tied for the team lead in assists with 16 and was tops on the team in defenseman points (22).

Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Daschke, a sophomore, scored twice on the power play and seems the natural successor to Grant Hutton as the team’s power play quarterback.

Junior Alec Mahalak has also been a solid offensive contributor, picking up 12 assists while – like Daschke – being responsible in his own end.

The remaining five blueliner veterans combined for eight points in 2018-19, with physical junior Rourke Russell accounting for five.

Sophomore Bray Crowder logged 36 games and went 0-2-2, and Andrew Sinard dressed 27 times and registered one assist. Both are 6-feet-6.

“Guys like Crowder, Sinard are really coming into (own), using their sticks really well,” forward and captain Gordie Green said. “They kind of know what it takes to be successful since they both had some success last year at this level. I think we’re going to have a big, strong and hard-to-play-against D-corps which is what you need to be successful in our league.”

Seniors Grant Frederic and Chaz Switzer return for their final seasons after injuries limited the tandem to a combined total of four games played. Switzer is reportedly banged up again heading into this season.

“On paper if you had to say, what is the strength, I think the depth of the D-corps would be right there at the top of that list,” coach Chris Bergeron said. “We’re starting to get to know them a little bit, we’re a little bit banged up back there heading into the season, I think there’s enough depth that we can have some good internal competition and lean on some guys that have played some games over the past few years.”

Jack Clement, a 6-feet-4 freshman who is originally an UNO commit, took a step up from the NAHL to the USHL last season and went 2-12-14 with Des Moines. He could become another big, shutdown D-man for Miami.

Alec Capstick notched 31 points with Langley of the BCHL, where the freshman lives and has played the past five seasons.

At 6-feet-2 he adds even more height to a Miami team that features five blueliners that are at least 6-3.

“The back end should be a strength for us this year,” Daschke said. “We’ve got a couple of young freshmen that are good additions for us, and the guys we have coming back should take the next step in their games as well.”

Bergeron said he expects more of this corps offensively this season.

“The days of it just being a forward’s responsibility to create 5-on-5 offense is over,” Bergeron said. “You need your defensemen involved in that. I think we have some D that can be more involved than they have in the past, but we will have a foundation of defending first. When we don’t have the puck, let’s earn it, and when we do, let’s have a plan, and it’s going to be a five-man plan.”

No doubt the RedHawks have the height on the back end, but this corps needs to generate more points and needs to cut down the shots and quality scoring chances allowed.

Senior goalie Ryan Larkin has watched this group in front of him every practice and likes what he’s seen from them so far.

“I’m excited about the D-corps this year,” Larkin said. “I think they’re going to be really good – obviously we’ll have to see on Sunday, but they’ve been great so far in practice in limiting scoring chances in game-like scenarios. They’ve been fun to have in front of me so far.”

Miami 2019-20 preview: Forwards

Miami finished dead last in the NCHC in scoring and No. 48 in Division I, and only one returning forward from last season finished with more than 16 points.

A look at the RedHawks’ forwards for 2019-20:

RETURNING (11): Srs. – Gordie Green, Karch Bachman, Carter Johnson; Jrs. – Casey Gilling, Phil Knies, Ben Lown, Christian Mohs; Sos. – Brian Hawkinson, Scott Corbett, Monte Graham, Noah Jordan.

DEPARTURES (4): Josh Melnick, Ryan Siroky, Zach Lavalle, Jonathan Gruden.

NEW FACES (4): Ryan Savage, Matt Barry (transfer sophomore), Chase Pletzke, John Sladic.

NOTES: With Josh Melnick having graduated and Ottawa draftee Jonathan Gruden turning pro, the RedHawks will need to get more production from their returning corps as well as contributions from the newcomers if they hope to have success this season.

Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Three Miami skaters finished with double-digit scoring in 2018-19: Melnick, Gordie Green and Karch Bachman, the latter two of which are seniors.

Green, who was named team captain on Thursday, finished with a team-best 11 goals and racked up 14 assists for 25 points, one behind team leader Melnick.

Despite being 5-feet-8, Green plays excellent defense and isn’t afraid to compete with much bigger defenders at the top of the crease for scoring chances. He leads all returning players with 79 career points, with the next highest being Bachman at 38.

Bachman is one of the most unique skater in Division I, possessing NHL-caliber speed, a massive shot and high compete level. It has taken him three seasons to develop into a top-six forward but the Florida Panthers drafted him in 2015 and the talent is obviously there, so after taking a major step forward last season by going 10-6-16, he could take off on a Chris Bergeron-led team.

Sophomore Brian Hawkinson tied for fifth on the team in scoring with three goals and 13 assists for 16 points despite missing four games. Hawkinson is just 5-10 and 175 pounds, but his work ethic is top notch and he plays every shift like it’s his last.

Despite Miami’s struggles late last season, Hawkinson never took a shift off and somehow still seemed to get better as the tumultuous season wore on.

Junior Casey Gilling went 4-8-12 after scoring nine goals and assisting on 10 more as a freshman. He’s an excellent faceoff guy and brings a lot of talent and hockey IQ to the team, but he took a step back in 2018-19 following a solid rookie campaign.

Scott Corbett scored five goals and assisted on five more in 32 games as a freshman and established himself as a true grinder, playing a physical game, being solid defensively and still contributing offensively. He missed six games due to injury and was not 100 percent right away upon returning, so it will be interesting to see if he can make a points jump if fully healthy.

Those are the only five returning Miami forwards to record 10 or more points in 2018-19.

Junior Phil Knies slid from 20 points as a freshman to nine, and classmate Ben Lown also fell to nine points after racked up 15 in 2017-18.

Sophomore Monte Graham played all 38 games and went 1-6-7, Christian Mohs dressed 26 times, Carter Johnson skated in 19 contests and Noah Jordan six.

“I think we’ve got a top two (lines) that are going to be really good,” Green said. “We’ve had that the past few years, but I think the difference this year is going to be just scoring depth throughout. I think we’re going to have a good, overall scoring offense this year.”

Miami will have 15 forwards on its roster this season – the above 11 who are returning, sophomore transfer Matt Barry and freshmen Chase Pletzke, Ryan Savage and John Sladic.

“I like the way our freshman forwards plays, I think all of them have a knack for the net,” Green said. “Sladic looks really good, he’s kind of an older guy in that class, I like the way Pletzke can really fly and he’s got a good shot, Savage, he can really put the puck in the net if he gets it in the right areas. I think they all play, and I think they can all contribute right off the start.”

Barry was leading Holy Cross in points when he decided to come to Miami. He will be eligible to play in the second half of this season.

Savage, the son of former Miamian and NHLer Brian Savage, had a solid season at Muskegon and Omaha of the USHL, Sladic was a points machine at NAHL Aberdeen and Pletzke scored 13 goals in 43 games for Langley of the BCHL during that team’s playoff run.

“There’s an opportunity for everybody (who plays well) to jump in and play,” coach Chris Bergeron said. “The freshmen to me are no different than anybody else. The opportunity is there on a daily basis, what they do with the opportunity is on them. We’ve lost some key guys, but that’s college sports, right? You always lose guys from one year to the next.”

The RedHawks scored just 87 goals in 38 games, or just 2.29 per game, and they converted on just 15.6 percent of their power plays. Both of those stats must improve this season for Miami to have success.

Miami 2019-20 Preview: Part I

The Chris Bergeron era officially begins on Sunday.

Bergeron being introduced as Miami’s next head coach (John Lachmann/VFTG).

That’s when the new Miami head coach and his staff start their journey to rejuvenate a program that has averaged fewer than 11 wins the past three seasons.

And the MU alum and former RedHawks assistant can’t wait to wait for the games to begin.

“For anybody that coaches it’s the reason you’re in the business – it’s to get around the game, get around the players, start coaching, and when the games start it makes it a little more real,” Bergeron said. “This time of the year in college hockey, everybody’s excited. It’s a long month of September after four long months in the summer and everybody wants to just play games and getting going, and we’re no different.”

Bergeron’s hire this spring means for the first time this millennium, someone not named Enrico Blasi will be at the helm of the RedHawks. Blasi was relieved of duty this off-season after 20 years behind the Miami bench.

The RedHawks replaced their assistants after 2017-18, and those replacements leaving the program as well as Blasi this spring, Miami has relieved five coaches the past two off-seasons.

Despite the extreme turnover behind the MU bench the past two years, Bergeron is happy with how the team has responded to him and his staff this fall.

“If something has stood out, it’s been the resiliency of this group to go through the changes they’ve gone through over the last couple of years and be still willing to work – that’s what I’ve seen,” Bergeron said. “We’re going to have a foundation of being hard to play against, which starts with defending, but we’re going to let our guys play offense and play the game north and make hockey plays and so on.”

Since 2013, the last time Miami won an NCAA Tournament game, the program has been in free fall. Th e RedHawks have posted sub-.500 records in five of six seasons including the last four.

They’ve piled up 20 losses or more each season since 2016 and have just 32 wins in that span with a high-water mark of 12 in 2017-18.

Prior to 2013, MU had earned eight consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, primarily when Bergeron was an assistant for the RedHawks.

Bergeron brought on two associate coaches this spring: Barry Schutte and Eric Rud.

Schutte played at Miami in 1993-97, scoring 25 goals and earning 33 assists in 131 games. He has been an assistant for all nine years of Bergeron’s tenure at Bowling Green.

“First and foremost, he brings personality, he brings an energy and an intensity with him,” Bergeron said. “He brings a love for Miami. I think what Barry brings is something you can’t teach, you either have that or you don’t. It’s definitely an intangibles – it’s people skills, he’s good at developing relationships and developing trust, whether it be coach to coach or player to coach. And then from the hockey he’s just one that’s getting more and more experience with his eye in terms of recruiting and more and more experience with teaching, specifically the forward position. He’s somebody that whoever has him is lucky to have him, and I’ve been lucky to have him for the last nine years heading into year 10 here.”

A Colorado College graduate who played parts of five seasons, Rud has been an assistant at CC as well as St. Cloud State, and most recently he had been the head coach of the SCSU women’s team since 2014.

Rud and Bergeron have known each other for a long time, and a couple of mutual friends told Bergeron that Rud would be a good fit at Miami.

“Most recently he comes from the women’s game, but his resume as good as anybody,” Bergeron said. “He’s been a coach at the junior level, he’s been a coach at the college level, he’s recruited. He’s sat in that head coach’s chair, doesn’t matter to me, men’s game, women’s game, he’s sat in that coaching chair, which is really difficult.”

Bergeron said that Rud coming from a somewhat different background will be an advantage, as it will give he and Schutte a different perspective on issues.

“I think (Rud) is a huge part of this, and for Barry and I, he’s somebody that can bring a little different angle, whether it be recruiting, systems, and that’s what he’s told is that we need him to do that,” Bergeron said. “So to this point, the chemistry with the coaching staff has been really good, and that’s all I’ve known. The better part of my coaching experience, the chemistry between the coaching staffs that I’ve been on have been outstanding. I don’t know if I want it any other way. Everybody has a say, and it’s a required that we have hard conversations and we handle ourselves like adults and properly and that we trust one another, and I think that this staff is no different.”

Collectively, Bergeron said he hopes his assistants will provide him a voice of reason.

“They’ll be the voice of reason, they’ll help me be the best version of me,” Bergeron said. “That’s going to mean they’re going to come in and say, what’s going on with you today? And that, to me, is a good thing. That’s a healthy staff, it’s a healthy working environment. I can’t have it any other way because I know I don’t have the answers and I need people around me that can help me with that.”

Like last season, Miami has 26 players on its roster – 15 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies.

The RedHawks have added six freshmen and a transfer sophomore, Matt Barry, who will be eligible to play in January.

“They’re good boys,” Bergeron. “They care, it matters to them how they do in the classroom and it matters to them how they do on the ice. They obviously just want to fit in with the boys as any freshman would want to fit in. The freshmen to me have been like anybody else: They’ve worked, they’ve done what they’ve been asked to do and they’re showing up on a daily basis to try to be the best versions of themselves and that’s all we ask.”

Having not seen a live Miami hockey game since the RedHawks played a home-and-home vs. Bowling Green in 2017-18, Bergeron said there’s still a lot he and his staff need to learn about the roster they’ve inherited.

With five home games the next three weekends, the coaches will be able to evaluate their players on friendly ice before heading to hostile venues.

“The one thing that I have no idea at this point is how this group will deal with adversity,” Bergeron said. “They’ve been working and doing exactly what’s been asked of them, but one of the things that you can’t simulate is when adversity comes, whether that’s to an individual or to the collective. Will we be able to work through adversity? I don’t know that. That’s something that unfortunately you can’t figure out until you live through it. And that will start on Sunday.”

Check back soon for Parts II-IV of our Miami preview series as the opening puck drop approaches.

NCHC snapshot: Western Michigan

Western Michigan jumped from seventh in the NCHC to third in 2018-19, but Colorado College won a best-of-3 series over the Broncos in the opening round of the conference tournament, ending WMU’s season.

But the main core of that team remains intact for this campaign, and the Broncos have added quality talent as they look to again earn one of home-ice spots first that all-important semifinal series of the league tournament.

View From the Glass takes a look at Western Michigan in final of its seven-part 2019-20 preview series.

Here are the first six installments: Colorado College | Denver | Minnesota-Duluth | Nebraska-Omaha | North Dakota | St. Cloud State

WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS

NCAA TITLES: None.

COACH: Andy Murray (ninth season, 139-131-35, .513 winning percentage).

2018-19 RECORD: 21-14-6 (13-10-1 NCHC).

2019 POSTSEASON: Lost to Colorado College in a best-of-3 first-round NCHC Tournament series.

RINK (capacity): Lawson Arena (3,667).

MIAMI VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN LAST SEASON: 0-4.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 68-67-11.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Feb. 14-15 – at Miami; March 6-7 – at Western Michigan.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: F Josh Passolt, F Hugh McGing, F Austin Rueschhoff, F Ethen Frank, F Wade Allison, D Cam Lee, D Mattias Samuelsson, G Ben Blacker.

KEY NEW FACES: G Brandon Bussi, F Jason Polin, D Scooter Brickey, F Ronnie Attard.

KEY LOSSES: F Colt Conrad, F Jade McMullen, D Corey Schueneman, G Trevor Gorsuch.

NOTES: Western Michigan returns six of its top seven scorers from 2018-19, and all four incoming freshmen posted quality stats in the USHL last season, so the Broncos appear in line for a successful season.

WMU had four forwards finish with at least 25 points last season, and four are back – Josh Passolt, Hugh McGing, Austin Rueschhoff and Ethen Frank.

Passolt and McGing tied for the team lead in goals with 16. Passolt is the top returning points producer with 34 and was tops on the Broncos with a plus-14 rating, and McGing – a St. Louis draftee – ended the year with 30 and a team-best six power play goals.

Rueschhoff went 13-14-27 and Frank netted 15 goals including four game winners.

Senior Dawson DiPietro took a major step forward, picking up 23 points in 33 games after logging just 37 games his first two years combined, and often-injured Wade Allison is a wildcard, as the Philadelphia draft pick has undeniable talent but has been limited to 80 games in three seasons.

Cam Lee led all defensemen in goals (7), assists (19) and points (26), as the senior has dressed 111 times in his career.

Fellow classmate Luke Bafia has logged 98 career games, notching five goals and 30 assists.

Senior Kale Bennett and sophomore Jared Kucharek played in a combined 71 contests, racking up 14 assists between them.

In net, Ben Blacker has never returned to that freshman form, as he was between the pipes for just 230 minutes of action last season and stopped just 88.0 percent of the shots he faced.

Neither of WMU’s other returning goalies – Austin Cain and Will Massey – were particularly impressive in 2018-19, which may open the door for freshman Brandon Bussi.

Bussi posted a 2.44 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with USHL Muskegon.

Goaltending appears to the only question mark for Western Michigan, which should certainly has the talent to finish in one of the top few spots in the league standings.

Having journeyman NHL coach Andy Murray behind the bench for his ninth season can only help the Broncos.

NCHC Snapshot: St. Cloud State

Two seasons in a row, St. Cloud State has entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed only to lose in the first round.

Air Force ended the Huskies’ season in 2017-18 and American International took SCSU down this spring in the regional semifinal round.

St. Cloud State is looking to avenge those back-to-back first-round upset defeats in the NCAAs, but the Huskies suffered some major losses.

View From the Glass takes a look at SCSU in Part VI of its seven-part 2019-20 preview series.

Here are the first five installments: Colorado College | Denver | Minnesota-Duluth | Nebraska-Omaha | St. Cloud State

ST. CLOUD STATE HUSKIES

NCAA TITLES: None.

COACH: Brett Larson (second season, 30-6-3, .808).

2018-19 RECORD: 30-6-3 (19-2-3 NCHC).

2019 POSTSEASON: Lost to American International, 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

RINK (capacity): Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (5,159).

MIAMI VS. ST. CLOUD STATE LAST SEASON: 0-4-2.

ALL-TIME SERIES: St. Cloud State leads, 20-17-4.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 15-16 – at Miami; Jan. 31-Feb. 1 – at St. Cloud State.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: D Jack Ahcan, F Nick Poehling, F Jack Poehling, F Easton Brodzinski, F Sam Hentges, F Nick Perbix, F Nolan Walker.

KEY NEW FACES: D Ondrej Trejbal, F Chase Brand, G Joey Lamoreaux, F Jami Krannila.

KEY LOSSES: F Patrick Newell, F Blake Lizotte, F Robby Jackson, F Ryan Poehling, D Jimmy Schult, D Jon Lizotte, G Jeff Smith.

NOTES: Bob Motzko moved downstate to take the head coaching job at Minnesota prior to 2018-19, and all new coach Brett Larson did was win 30 games in his first season at the helm of St. Cloud State.

The Huskies averaged exactly four goals per game in 2018-19. They lost their top four scoring forwards but have Nos 5-9 all back this fall.

Easton Brodzinski is SCSU’s top returning points-producing forwards, having scored 16 times and earned 13 assists. Nolan Walker also eclipsed the 25-point mark in 2018-19, going 8-19-27 as a freshman while taking just two minor penalties.

Two more sophomore forwards notched 10 goals their rookie seasons – Wild draftee Sam Hentges, who also notched 10 helpers for 20 points, and Kevin Fitzgerald who added eight assists.

Two Poehlings remain at St. Cloud State, as Jack and Nick finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively and they enter their senior seasons.

The Huskies’ 10-player freshman class includes six forwards, and they have three members of each of the remaining classes up front.

St. Cloud State’s defense corps that helped hold opponents to fewer than 25 shots per game is led by Jack Ahcan, who recorded 34 points and has 78 for his career, going plus-30 last season.

Luke Jaycox is the lone returning multi-season regular on the blueline, having logged 78 games in his first two campaigns.

Freshman Nick Perbix, a Tampa Bay draft pick, impressed as a freshman with a 5-15-20 line and plus-24 rating.

Sophomores Spencer Meier and Brendan Bushy both logged 38 games in their rookie seasons.

David Hrenak returns in net following a 23-5-2 campaign in which he posted a 2.18 goals-against average despite finishing with a pedestrian .906 save percentage.

Despite the Huskies’ key losses, with a remarkable 50-15-9 record the past two seasons, this team will still be a major threat to win the Penrose in 2019-20.

Of its 10 incoming freshmen, none are NHL draftees and only two played in the USHL, the top-tier juniors league in the U.S., which is suprising considering the success this program has had the past few years.

SCSU is taking on a more European flare, adding Finnish forward Jami Krannila and Czech defenseman Ondrej Trejbal.

Miami has struggled against the Huskies in recent seasons, going just 1-10-2 vs. St. Cloud State since early 2017.

These teams played six times in 2018-19, with a pair of ties in Oxford and St. Cloud State winning all four contests on its home ice.

NCHC snapshot: North Dakota

That first-year national championship for Brad Berry in 2016 is a distant memory, as North Dakota has taken a step back each season since.

In 2018-19 the Fighting Hawks failed to advance past the opening round of the NCHC Tournament and saw their winning percentage slide to an 18-season low of .514.

UND has an incoming class of six, including three NHL draftees, as the Fighting Hawks attempt to reverse their recent slide.

View From the Glass takes a look at UND in Part V of its seven-part 2019-20 preview series.

Here are the first four installments: Colorado College | Denver | Minnesota-Duluth | Nebraska-Omaha

NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS

NCAA TITLES: 8 (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000, 2016).

COACH: Brad Berry (fifth season, 90-52-19, .618).

2018-19 RECORD: 18-17-2 (12-11-1 NCHC).

2019 POSTSEASON: Swept by Denver in the NCHC quarterfinal round.

RINK (capacity): Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634).

MIAMI VS. NORTH DAKOTA LAST SEASON: 1-1.

ALL-TIME SERIES: North Dakota leads, 14-7-3.

SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: Nov. 8-9 – at North Dakota; Jan. 17-18 – at Miami.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: D Colton Poolman, D Matt Kierstad, F Jordan Kawaguchi, G Peter Thome, G Adam Scheel.

KEY NEW FACES: F Westin Michaud, F Harrison Blaisdell, F Shane Pinto, F Judd Caulfield, G Harrison Feeney.

KEY LOSSES: F Nick Jones, F Rhett Gardner, D Hayden Shaw.

NOTES: Scoring was a major issue for North Dakota in 2018-19, as the Fighting Hawks found the net just 93 times in 37 games, a clip of just 2.51 which ranked No. 41 in the NCAA.

Jordan Kawaguchi was the lone UND skater to record over 20 points, finishing with 10 goals and 16 assists.

The addition of Westin Michaud, a graduate senior who posted 30 points at Colorado College, should add a major boost to the North Dakota offense.

But no other returning forward tallied more than 16 points last season. Cole Smith went 5-11-16 and Mark Senden finished 6-8-14.

Four other returning Fighting Hawks forwards have been drafted, but none ended up with more than 10 points in 2018-19.

North Dakota does have a solid returning D-corps, led by senior Colton Poolman who has played 115 games and notched 58 points.

Matt Kierstad was tops on the team in defenseman points with 18 last season, including seven goals, best among UND blueliners.

Ottawa draftee Jacob Bernard-Docker scored five goals and added 12 assists as a freshman, and junior Gabe Bast equaled that point output after posting 10 assists his rookie season.

Undrafted Adam Scheel drew the majority of work in net as a freshman, going 13-10-2 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 26 games.

Junior Peter Thome, a Columbus selection, struggled to an .880 save percentage after posting excellent numbers as a freshman.

Add in Harrison Feeney, a redshirt freshman, and UND should have plenty of competition between the pipes.

North Dakota converted just 14.2 percent of its power play chances last season, the ninth-worst rate in all of Division I, and will need to turn that around in 2019-20 if it hopes to return to the top echelon of the NCHC.

The Fighting Hawks will also need to improve on the road, as they finished 5-11-1 away from Grand Forks.