Early UNH goals doom Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – Three New Hampshire goals in a four-minute span of the first period created too big of a hole for Miami to dig out of.

The RedHawks twice cut their deficit to two but could pull no closer as the Wildcats won easily, 6-2 at Cady Arena on Friday.

RECAP: At 9:47 of the first period, Eric MacAdams slid a pass across the ice to Kohei Sato, who beat the defense for an easy tap in on a 3-on-2.

Jackson Pierson extended the UNH lead to two when he scored on a breakaway just 66 seconds later.

At the 13:31 mark, Benton Maass ripped one timer from the slot past Miami goalie Ryan Larkin to make it 3-0.

With 19 seconds left in the opening stanza, Monte Graham had a slot from the side of the net blocked, but Phil Knies banged it home from the top of the crease to trim the Wildcats’ lead to two.

Nine minutes into the second period, Sato took advantage of a Miami miscue at the blue line, skated in alone and scored to give New Hampshire a 4-1 edge.

The RedHawks answered 36 seconds after that goal, as Karch Bachman skated behind the defense and fed a streaking Gordie Green at the side of the cage.

But the Wildcats (1-0) sealed it in the final second of the middle frame, as a Charlie Kelleher shot from the edge of the faceoff circle beat Larkin, ending his night.

Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Ben Kraws took over in net for Miami (0-2) in the third period, and Pierson batted a loose puck over Kraws to cap the scoring with 10 minutes left.

STATS: Green has scored three goals and five points in Miami’s first two games, and Bachman picked up his third point and first assist.

Knies, Graham and defenseman Rourke Russell notched third first points on 2019-20.

– The RedHawks finished 0-for-4 on the power play while UNH converted on 2 of 6 chances, outshooting Miami, 12-4 on the man advantage.

– MU has now lost nine straight games and has allowed at least five goals in each of its last seven.

THOUGHTS: Unlike Sunday when Miami battled back against Bowling Green in an exciting third period, there was little to cheer about for RedHawks fans in this one.

It was a three-goal game 14 minutes in and Miami never seriously challenged.

This was a disappointing result considering UNH finished in the bottom 10 of the PairWise last season and was recently picked to finished seventh in Hockey East.

But to the Wildcats’ credit, they created a lot of good scoring chances and took advantage of them. They played the better game and deserved to win.

Miami took too many penalties, allowed too many quality scoring chances and didn’t generate nearly enough offense. The RedHawks were shorthanded six times: Three on penalties by Bray Crowder, with two of those ending up in their net, and they ended the game killing a kneeing major on Carter Johnson.

Coach Chris Bergeron talked before the season about how he wanted his team to be “hard to play against”.

This night, Miami wasn’t.

– The shots were actually 3-1 in favor of the RedHawks early including a quality power play, but UNH generated the next 11 with three goals mixed in. The Wildcats definitely seemed to get their legs after that penalty kill.

– Damage control has been a Miami problem for years, and this game epitomized that. UNH was outplaying the RedHawks midway through the first period, and Miami broke instead of bending.

– Would have to do a decent amount a research, but 1,571 might be the lowest announced attendance in Cady Arena history. Having the students out on fall break didn’t help.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C-. The Bachman-to-Green goal was clearly the Miami highlight of the night. But no forward had more than three shots and six finished the night with zero. Casey Gilling, coming off a sub-par sophomore season, was 15-8 on faceoffs and has played much better these first two games. Graham was a bright spot among this corps as well with an assist, three blocks, three SOG and a solid defensive effort.

DEFENSEMEN: D-. As a whole on this night, this group wasn’t physical, didn’t get enough sticks in shooting lanes and left way too many UNH players wide open. Jack Clement was late getting back on the first goal (which is Sato was wide open), Crowder and Alec Capstick allowed Pierson to get behind them for a breakaway on the second, and Crowder lost the puck at his own blue line, resulting in the Wildcats’ fourth goal. Crowder, after a stellar first game, was benched in the third period.

GOALTENDING: D+. Yes, Larkin was peppered with high-quality scoring chances, but a quality goaltending shouldn’t get scored on almost every time an opponent has a Grade-A or A-plus chance. Kraws stopped 8 of 9 shots, with the lone goal coming from in close on a scramble in front of the net. It was a solid debut for the freshman, and it will be interesting to see if he gets the nod on Saturday.

LINEUP CHANGES: Bergeron went with 19 of the same 20 players that dressed in the opener. Johnson was in the lineup for Chase Pletzke. Miami is still banged up on the blueline, as Alec Mahalak was still walking around the concourse in a boot. Chaz Switzer is getting closer to 100 percent.

Kraws1
Ben Kraws (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

FINAL THOUGHTS: Kraws was one of the few bright spots for Miami in this game.

It seemed the perfect opportunity for Bergeron to insert him into live action, as the RedHawks were down three so it was definitely a low-leverage situation.

Other than that, there’s little to be positive about.

No one expected instant miracles with Bergeron taking over behind the bench, but this wasn’t a quality effort and more should be expected from the RedHawks in the series finale.

Miami releases 2019-20 schedule

People who believe there are no coincidences need look no further than Miami’s 2019-20 schedule to have that theory disproven.

Miami coach Chris Bergeron (John Lachmann/VFG).

The RedHawks’ slate for next season was recently released, and they open against Bowling Green at Cady Arena on Oct. 6.

Coach Chris Bergeron left BGSU for Miami two weeks ago after nine years at the helm of that program.

The teams will play a home-and-home series, with Miami reciprocating on Dec. 30.

The RedHawks’ other non-conference opponents are Ferris State, New Hampshire, Colgate and Connecticut. The former two will play their series in Oxford, and Miami will travel to Colgate and UConn.

Miami opens NCHC play at North Dakota on Nov. 7-8. Minnesota-Duluth comes to Oxford the following weekend for the RedHawks’ first home league series of the season.

It’s not a particularly difficult non-conference schedule for the RedHawks. Bowling Green is the only foe among that group to make the NCAA Tournament this season, and Ferris State and Colgate finished 2018-19 in the bottom 10 of the PairWise.

Connecticut was No. 45 and New Hampshire ended the season 33rd. Miami tied for 37th.

Bergeron welcomed back to Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – The weak need not apply.

That’s the message Chris Bergeron repeatedly delivered to a near-capacity group of alumni, players, fans and staff at Cady Arena on Monday after he was introduced as the next head coach of the Miami hockey team.

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

Embracing the word ‘Brotherhood’, Bergeron vowed to carry on those standards set by previous coach Enrico Blasi, with whom Bergeron played at Miami and later served as a RedHawks assistant coach under.

“And those expectations and standards and that responsibility is real, and it’s not for everybody,” Bergeron said. “If you jump in with both feet it will be the best four years of your life. And if that responsibility – of being the best version of you on the ice and off – sounds like too much, then don’t come here, because you won’t like it.”

Bergeron was officially welcomed as Miami’s sixth head hockey coach in a press conference in the club seating area at Cady Arena, where the man who last month led Bowling Green to its first NCAA Tournament berth in three decades passionately laid out his plan for returning Miami to Division I relevance.

“We’re going to draw a line in the sand and we’re going to ask (the players) to pick a side on that line,” Bergeron said. “And I’m not going to ask them to talk about it, I’m going to ask them to show, which means finishing out the semester in the classroom, doing what you’re supposed to do in the summer – if that means taking a class – and then getting to the weight room with a purpose.”

That tough talk starkly contrasted with the emotional responses Bergeron gave to questions asked about Blasi, whose name was certain to come up since he had coached Miami for the past 20 seasons.

He seemed humbled by his selection to coach the team he grew up playing for, and he was grateful to the point of nearly breaking down at times.

At the same time, he nailed home the point that hard work was ahead for his new team to right the ship that had been sinking for several seasons.

It was important that he got both of those things across.

Showing his appreciation for the opportunity to coach at his alma mater was easy and natural.

Showing his determination to turning things around was essential with the players, season ticket holders and other alums in attendance. The fan base hasn’t been watching winning hockey for some time and are making the program suffer with their wallets.

The way Bergeron handled an incredibly difficult balancing act of emotions was amazing. He went from the verge of tears to seconds later joking about what his players are going to do to opponents that get in their way.

And it was genuine. That’s been Bergeron’s reputation all along, and it was on display in full force as he officially stepped into the lead role behind the bench.

“I want to be part of the first national championship hockey team at Miami, and that’s going to motivate us every day,” Bergeron said.