Denver pulls away late, sweeps MU

OXFORD, Ohio – It was another fast start for Miami and a lot less energy as the game progressed.

That seems to be the team’s recent modus operandi, as the RedHawks were held to six shots in the final two periods as No. 5 Denver completed a weekend sweep of MU, 5-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami is winless in its last five (0-4-1) and is without a victory in its last seven on home ice (0-6-1), with its last ‘W’ in Oxford coming on Nov. 15 vs. Minnesota-Duluth.

The RedHawks are 2-9-2 at Cady Arena this season.

This wrapped up a four-game homestand for Miami, which earned 1 of a possible 12 league points, going 0-3-1 vs. Denver and North Dakota.

RECAP: Denver (17-4-5) scored at the 2:10 mark of the first period on the power play when an Ian Mitchell seeing-eye wrist shot from the right point snuck inside the far post.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Miami (6-14-4) tied it with 9:35 left in the opening frame when Derek Daschke whipped a one-timer from the blue line that beat goalie Devin Cooley.

But with 36 seconds remaining in the first stanza, Liam Finlay fed a pass from behind the net to Kohen Olischefski, who was streaking from the wall toward the net, and he stuffed the one-time feed home to give the Pioneers the lead for good.

Denver extended its lead to two when Olischefski intercepted a clearing pass and quickly slid a pass to Emilio Pettersen in the slot, and he went settled the puck down and fired it top shelf to make it 3-1 with 6:23 left in the second period.

The RedHawks trimmed their deficit to one with 2:49 left in the middle frame when Monte Graham took a neutral-ice give-and-go feed from Christian Mohs, skated into the slot through three defenders and wristed one inside the far post.

But DU regained its two-goal lead 4:11 into the third period on a 2-on-1, with Jaakko Heikkinen shoveling home a Bobby Brink feed into the net from the side of the net.

The Pioneers sealed it when Mitchell tried to center a pass, but it deflected off a Miami skate in the slot and into the RedHawks’ net with 11:17 to play.

STATS: Daschke’s goal was his eighth of the season, which leads all NCHC defensemen. He is tied for third in all of Division I in tallies and is tied for No. 18 in college hockey in points per game (0.79).

Miami’s Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

He has scored four times in the last six games.

It was the fourth marker of 2019-20 for Graham.

Karch Bachman picked up one assist, as he moved into a tie for the team lead with 17.

— Mohs and Brian Hawkinson both earned their second helpers of the season. Matt Barry notched the other helper, his fourth point in seven games.

— There were only 48 faceoffs in the game, and Miami won 27. Graham finished 5-0 on draws.

— The power plays were 4-2 Denver and 7-3 Pioneers for the weekend. The RedHawks generated just three shots on their power plays in the series.

THOUGHTS: The last three games, Miami took early 2-0 leads only to squander them and end up with 1 of a possible 9 points.

On Saturday, the RedHawks again played well enough in the first period to have the lead but found themselves down one at the end of 20 minutes.

Despite being outshot, 10-3, Miami hung with Denver for the of the second period, which featured a nine-minute span without a stoppage early in that frame.

The teams traded goals in that frame and it was 3-2 Pioneers heading into the third period.

But Denver put the lockdown on Miami’s offense, holding the RedHawks to three shots again in the final 20 minutes.

So for the weekend, MU’s shots by period were 25-10-9. Just 44 shots on goal for the series, and 19 the final 40 minutes of both Friday and Saturday’s games.

That means the RedHawks averaged fewer than five shots a period in the second and third periods both nights.

Coach Chris Bergeron talked about the reasons for the drop-off in his postgame presser.

“I’m not sure,” Bergerson said. “Probably (Denver), a little bit, maybe we wore down, which we’ll have to look at, but those are nothing but excuses. If we can do it in the first period there’s no reason we can’t do it in the second and third. Again, I think as a team transitions from where we are right now to where we’re going to be, they’ll underand that it has to be over the course of three periods. Again, when you’re playing teams like we played the last two weekends we have zero room for mistakes and we have zero room to take our foot off the gas, and that’s what we’ve done. When you play big-time teams, then you get the results that we’ve gotten.”

— Not helping Miami’s cause was a 10-minute misconduct captain Gordie Green took early in the RedHawks’ first power play.

He was bumped into the Denver net and said the magic word to the officials as he skated away, earning him the penalty. Though he came out of the box early in the third period, Bergeron benched Green for the balance of the game.

— Bergeron broke up the CKG line, dropping Bachman to the second line with Barry and John Sladic. The response: Bachman was arguably the best forward on the team, firing five shots and notching an assist.

— It was the second game back from injury for Scott Corbett. He has taken a minor in each game, with the puck ending up in Miami’s net both times. He has talent, smarts and a physically ability that few forwards on this team possess. But if he can’t stay out of the box, he’s going to hurt this team more than help.

Ben Kraws was in net, and he stopped just 23 of 28 shots (.821), but his team did him no favors.

“Our margin for error is so small, and way too many pucks are ending up in our net again,” Bergeron said. “I thought that we had kind of got that out of our game, but that seems to be back in our game.”

Kraws should’ve stopped the first goal, a wrister from the right point.

The Miami defense lost Olischefski as he streaked toward the net from along the boards, as he scored the second Denver goal.

A bad defensive-zone outlet pass by Alec Capstick was intercepted and immediately fired home for goal against No. 3.

Miami got caught pinching on the fourth, and the fifth hit a RedHawks skater at the top of the crease and caromed in.

MU is ranked No. 55 out of 60 in Division I in goals allowed per game (3.62).

GRADES

FORWARDS: D+. Not much energy the second half of the game, few shots, only one goal and costly penalties. Forwards whose last name was not Bachman combined for seven shots on goal.

DEFENSEMEN: B. A pretty good effort by this group, which helped hold a lightning-fast Denver team to 28 shots. Daschke also contributed offensively with the goal, as this corps finished with eight of Miami’s 21 SOG.

GOALTENDING: C-. Kraws should’ve had the first goal for sure and he never seemed to completely settle in, as he juggled the puck a lot on saves. He made one outstanding save and the rest of the A-plus chances found the net.

LINEUP CHANGES: Only one among skaters: Chase Pletzke sat for the first time since October, and Mohs dressed in his place.

It’s unclear if Pletzke was injured on Friday or if it was a coach’s decision. Pletzke has 11 points in his last 11 games.

Kraws was in net for Larkin, as the duo split the weekend for the second straight series.

STANDINGS: Western Michigan won again, so Miami is now 13 points out of the final home slot for the first round of the NCHC Tournament.

With 10 games remaining, catching the Broncos seems extremely unlikely, although they play each other four times down the stretch.

The RedHawks remain in seventh place, two ahead of last-place Colorado College and three behind St. Cloud State, which holds the sixth spot.

Miami remained No. 42 in the PairWise following the loss.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Following the nine-minute stretch without a stoppage in the second period, Miami was no longer able to hang with Denver as it had the first 4½ periods of the weekend.

This was a tough, tough homestand, no doubt, and the RedHawks played well for much of, although they absolutely are not as talented as North Dakota or the Pioneers.

But the last 25 or so minutes of this game is worrisome. It was far from a blowout, but Miami just kind of went through the motions that final period-plus.

Home ice for the NCHCs was within striking distance prior to this weekend. Now it’s not.

But just because the RedHawks will have to win a road series to advance to the conference championship, they can’t revert after making so much progress the first 3½ months of this season.

Bergeron showed on Saturday that he’ll bench his star player if he feels it’s warranted, so there’s no reason do believe he won’t do the same with others who aren’t meeting expectations.

N. Dakota tops Miami on late goal

OXFORD, Ohio – Scoringwise, Saturday’s game bore a striking resemblance to Friday.

Miami took an early 2-0 lead, was ahead by one after the first period, No. 1 North Dakota eventually tied it and scored the go-ahead goal in the closing moments of the final frame.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, unlike Friday when the teams ultimately skated to a tie as the Fighting Hawks’ last-minute tally was waved off, UND’s marker with 1:04 remaining in regulation of the series finale stood as the RedHawks fell, 5-3 at Cady Arena.

North Dakota (18-2-3) added an empty netter to clinch the win and take five of a possible six points from Miami (6-12-4) on the weekend.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

RECAP: The RedHawks jumped out early on a power play goal by Derek Daschke, which he scored on the power play on a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle off a feed from Casey Gilling.

Miami capitalized on another man-advantage exactly two minutes later, as Gilling’s initial shot from the right faceoff dot was denied, and after his follow-up shot was also stopped, Phil Knies swept home the loose puck to make it 2-0.

Just 43 seconds later, the Fighting Hawks got on the board, as Harrison Blaisdell saw his 3-on-2 shot turned aside by RedHawks goalie Ben Kraws but Judd Caulfield eventually jammed it in during a scramble at the top of the crease.

Twenty seconds into the second period, UND’s Shane Pinto – left all alone in the slot – ripped a one-timer past Kraws on the stick side off a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi to tie it at two.

Miami regained the lead on its third power play goal of night on a tic-tac-toe pasasing play, with Daschke at the point feeding Gordie Green down low and Green sending one through the crease to Karch Bachman for the one-timer to make it 3-2 with 50 seconds left in the middle stanza.

But the Fighting Hawks would run off the final three tallies.

They tied it at the 4:24 mark of the third period when Kawaguchi skated into the offensive zone along the boards, cut across to the slot uncontested and found twine with a wrister.

Cole Smith put North Dakota ahead on a backdoor cut with 64 seconds to play when Matt Kiersted sent a pass through traffic to Smith at the side of net, and Smith shoveled it in to make it 4-3.

Westin Michaud tacked on the empty netted with 27 seconds left.

STATS: Daschke, Green and Gilling all finished with two points, with Daschke going 1-1-2 and the latter two picking up a pair of assists.

Gilling ended the weekend with six points, and Daschke scored for the third time in four games, and it was his fifth multi-point game of the season.

Green extended his points streak to seven games and has points in 13 of his last 14 games.

He now has 106 points for his career, moving him into a tie with Randy Robitaille and Greg Dornbach for 47th on the Miami all-time leaderboard.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— Knies snapped a 13-game goal drought and picked up his third point in four games, Bachman found the net for the eighth time and has points in 10 of 11 contests.

— Miami scored three power play goals in a home game for the first time since Oct. 28, 2017 vs. Connecticut.

— Opponents have preferred the third period, as they have scored 27 times in that stanza in 2019-20, including 17 goals in the MU’s last 11 games.

— The RedHawks scored five first-period goals this weekend and have 10 in their last five games. The opening stanza has been their best in terms of scoring, as they have 28 tallies in that frame vs. 19 in the second and 20 in the third.

THOUGHTS: Miami, which almost lost on a late goal on Friday and did lose that way on Saturday, was out of gas by the end of this one.

Green and Gilling practically needed oxygen masks on the bench as they logged time on each penalty kill, and – of course – all of the power plays.

And there was a lot of special teams play this weekend.

The decisive goal was all too predictable, as Miami was on fumes the final few minutes of regulation, and Kraws was a key reason the score remained tied as long as it did.

North Dakota, like buzzards circling a carcass, swarmed the offensive zone the final couple of minutes, with an exhausted RedHawks corps unable to generate any offense of their own or even clear the zone, before the inevitable happened.

The hockey gods were fair in this one. The better team, the one with more skill, earned the win, but the team with less talent never gave up and salvaged a tie while making the better team earn every one of its five points.

— The power play has made a definite improvement, not just because the usual suspects have converted recently.

It’s not exactly newsworthy that Green-Bachman-Gilling-Daschke are man-advantage studs, but others are starting to chip in as well.

John Sladic scored the tying goal on Friday, Knies picked up a marker in this one, Chase Pletzke has been factor on 5-on-4s as well.

Defensemen Rourke Russell (0-2-2 on the weekend) and Bray Crowder are also thriving on power play time.

And defying any kind of statistical logic is Matt Barry, who was on the ice for all three Miami PPGs but somehow did not pick up a point.

— Speaking of statistical anomalies, Kraws’ last start was Nov. 30 vs. Connecticut, when he stopped 31 of 35 shots. Saturday? Sam exact line: Thirty-one saves, four goals against.

But Kraws was solid in this one. He juggled some pucks early, which is understandable since he had not seen live action in nearly two months, but settled down and made some huge saves on high-percentage shots.

— The RedHawks seemed to get away from their quest for the perfect pass and shot, and they were better for it, as they turned the puck over too much and ended up with a season-low 16 shots on Friday.

— Miami went 30-34 on faceoffs, which was better than Friday but still not great, as North Dakota seemed to win a higher percentage in its offensive zone, leading to sustained, high-pressure possessions.

— Miami led for 44:38 on this series and trailed for 2:38 (credit UND writer Brad Schlossman for this stat, which VFTG confirmed) but finished the weekend 0-1-1.

— Would’ve liked to have seen Miami’s penalty kill tighten up on the left wing after Pinto scored from the inside of the faceoff circle, but UND still had multiple Grade-A chances on subsequent power plays after skaters were left wide open in that area.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C+. The Gilling-Bachman-Green trio accounted for five points, but Knies was the only other forward to pick up a point. Carter Johnson, a healthy scratch on Friday, played with a ton of energy and generated three shots, the second-most of any forward. Bachman of course led the team with five. Monte Graham, normally a faceoff stud, won 2 of 11 draws and was kicked out of the circle numerous times this weekend.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. This corps was OK defensively, and Daschke and Russell accounted for three points. Alec Mahalak, recovering from an upper body injury, played arguably his best game of the season, and his deke and drive to the net drew a penalty that eventually led to a Miami goal. Grant Frederic was very solid in his own end and had one of his better nights of 2019-20.

Miami’s Ben Kraws (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

GOALTENDING: B. Kraws faced a ton of A-plus chances and stopped a few of those, showing off his ability to go post-to-post to shut down 2-on-1 chances. We mentioned above he appeared a little nervous early but settled down to play a very good game.

LINEUP CHANGES: Besides Kraws occupying the net for the first time in nearly two months – replacing Ryan Larkin – Johnson was the only other player to skate on Saturday who was not in the lineup for the opener.

Johnson replaced Noah Jordan.

STANDINGS: With St. Cloud State’s win over Duluth, giving the Huskies 15 points, Miami dropped into a tie for sixth place with Omaha, as both have 12 points.

Colorado College is in eighth with 10 points. Western Michigan holds the No. 4 position with 19 points.

Miami fell one spot to No. 42 in the PairWise.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Considering Miami had opportunities to win both nights, one point on the weekend is not optimal.

But with a first-year coach heading a totally inherited roster, this season is about improving, and the RedHawks led the No. 1 team in Division one for a good portion of the weekend and rarely trailed.

This team continues to battle against more talented opponents and have success.

Miami may have earned only one of a possible six points vs. North Dakota, but to hang with the top team in Division I all weekend shows that after just a half season under Bergeron, the RedHawks are already making progress.

Recapping Miami's turbulent first half

There were encouraging times and frustrating times, but ultimately Miami finished the first half of its first season of the millennium without Enrico Blasi at the helm with a record of 4-10-3.

Considering the turmoil surrounding this team the past couple of campaigns, that’s about on par with the expectation level for the first three months of the Chris Bergeron era.

The RedHawks opened 2019-20 with five straight home games and were pretty much awful. They went 1-3-1 during that stretch and allowed 23 goals, and no one seemed interested in playing defense.

Miami’s Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

The bar was set low at that point heading into a four-game road slate at Colgate and North Dakota, but Miami improved dramatically in its first away series of the series, going 1-0-1 in upstate New York including a 2-0 win in the finale, with Ryan Larkin stopping 29 shots.

Then UND slaughtered the RedHawks in Grand Forks, 7-1 in a Friday contest before a much more evenly-played, 5-4 Fighting Hawks win in the finale.

Seemingly gaining momentum from the latter game vs. NoDak, Miami played a quality home series against two-time defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, splitting the set and outscoring the Bulldogs, 5-4 on the weekend.

The RedHawks then traveled to Nebraska-Omaha, where they turned in their best performance of the 2019 calendar year. The teams skated to a 3-3 tie in the opener, but Miami dominated the Saturday game, winning 4-1.

That set up a final stretch of four games at Connecticut and at home vs. St. Cloud State. Both teams were ranked in the bottom quarter of the PairWise at the time.

Just two games under .500 at the time, it appeared the RedHawks had a legitimate shot at reaching that mark heading into 2020.

But MU went 0-4 against those teams both named the Huskies and seemingly reverted to its October version.

The biggest difference between the good times and the bad for Miami the first half of 2019-20 was its defensive play.

The RedHawks seemed utterly lost trying to defend their net the first three weeks. They chased the puck in their own zone far too often while frequently allowing defenders unabated, high-quality chances.

Miami really tightened up for its four-game stretch vs. Duluth and UNO, and while the RedHawks still allowed 33 shots per contest during that span, far fewer of those opportunities were of the Grade-A variety.

But MU seemed to revert for its most recent four games. A Connecticut team that entered play averaging 2½ goals managed 48 shots in the opener, with six finding net, and the Huskies tallied 35 more SOG and four markers in the finale.

Miami played well at times vs. St. Cloud State, but once again came up short, with defensive lapses again undermining decent efforts.

So this pregnant pause in the season may have come at a good time for the RedHawks, who open the second half of their season in Bowling Green, the program Bergeron headed the past nine seasons.

And while the end of the first half was less than encouraging, there are plenty of positives as Miami heads into the 2020 portion of its slate.

1. The debut of Matt Barry. Described as a top-six forward by Bergeron, Barry transferred from Holy Cross midway through 2018-19 and is eligible to dress at BGSU. Barry led his team in points upon his departure and will add much-needed offense to a Miami team that has been extremely top-heavy in its scoring the past few seasons.

2. Health. The injury bug made a tough situation tougher for the RedHawks the first three months, and a few weeks off could only help in their recuperation. Alec Mahalak, Ben Lown and Chaz Switzer all missed significant time with injuries.

Miami’s Ben Kraws (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG.com).

3. Goaltending depth. This was a big question mark for Miami heading into this season, with Larkin heading into his senior season with no proven depth behind him. But freshman Ben Kraws has been solid in limited action, and Grant Valentine has taken a huge step forward, giving MU three quality options in net for the stretch run.

4. Freshmen improvement. All of the members of the Class of 2023 have contributed and are continuing to get better. Up front, John Sladic and Chase Pletzke have scored four goals each, and Sladic and Ryan Savage have notched eight points apiece. Jack Clement is second in defensman scoring only to Derek Daschke with seven points, including three goals. And in five games, Kraws is tops on the RedHawks with an .893 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average.

Miami’s Karch Bachman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG.com).

5. Surges by returning players. It’s no surprise that senior captain Gordie Green is leading the team in goals, assists and points (7-12-19), but several other Miami veterans have elevated their games this season and will hopefully carry their improved play into the new year. Daschke seems to get better at both ends of the ice every night, and his 4-8-12 line in easily tops among the D-corps. With six goals and nine assists, Karch Bachman has tied his career high in helpers and is one off his Miami best in points. The early candidate for comeback player of the year goes to Casey Gilling, who has already surpassed his goals, assists and points totals from 2018-19 at 5-9-14. He played all 38 games last season. Monte Graham, Noah Jordan, Rourke Russell, Bray Crowder and Andrew Sinard are also better versions of themselves this campaign.

Preview: Miami at UConn

Connecticut and Miami meet for just the second time in the teams’ history, with the RedHawks sweeping the Huskies in Oxford two years ago.

These games will be played at the XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, formerly the home of the Hartford Whalers.

It will be the first time Miami has played on an NHL team’s (or in this case former NHL team’s) ice surface since its final CCHA Tournament in March of 2013.

A look at this weekend’s series:

WHO: Miami RedHawks (4-6-3) at Connecticut Huskies (3-6-3).

WHEN: Friday and Saturday – 4:05 p.m.

WHERE: XL Center (8,089), Hartford, Conn.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Miami leads, 2-0.

MIAMI RADIO: Both games – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.

CONNECTICUT RADIO: Both games – WUCS-FM (97.9), Hartford, Conn.; WILI-AM (1400) and WILI-FM (95.3), Willimantic, Conn.

TV: None.

STREAM: CBS Sports All-Access.

NOTES: Despite boasting a plethora of NHL draft picks on its teams the past couple of seasons, Connecticut has struggled mightily on the ice.

The Huskies dropped from 15 wins in 2017-18 to 12 last season, and they are off to a 3-6-3 start this campaign with just one win in their last seven contests.

Scoring has been an issue for UConn thus far in 2019-20, as the team is averaging just 2.33 goals per game and has only netted four or more once.

Through 12 games, no one on the Huskies has more than seven points.

Among forwards Jachym Kondelik, a Nashville selection, leads the team in goals with four and is tied for the team lead in points. Alexander Payusov also has seven points, including five assists.

Five forwards – Carter Turnbull, Kale Howarth, Ruslan Iskhakov, Benjamin Freeman and Vladimir Firstov all have six points, with the former two going 3-3-6 and the latter three having matching lines of two goals and four assists.

Freshman Yan Kuznetsov leads all defenders with seven points on a goal and a team-best six helpers.

Another rookie blueliner, Harrison Rees, has notched one goal and three assists.

Of the seven defensemen Connecticut has used this season, four are freshmen.

In net, Tomas Vomacka has played all but nine minutes for the Huskies. He has a 3.33 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.

Connecticut is very young with a European flare. The Huskies have seven freshmen and nine sophomores, and three of their players are Russian, three more are from the Czech Republic and another was born in England.

UConn has struggled on special teams, as its power play is clicking at just a 10.5 percent clip. Its penalty kill rate is 73.2 percent, ranking near the bottom of Hockey East.

Miami is 2-2-2 on the road after earning five points last weekend in Omaha.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Regular starting goalie Ryan Larkin was banged-up and missed that series, but back-ups Grant Valentine and Ben Kraws were both outstanding in his absence and are making the case for more time between the pipes.

Offensively, Gordie Green and Ryan Savage have been the hottest RedHawks with six points apiece in their last five games. Green has points in each of his last five games, including a two-goal performance last Saturday.

Kraws keys Miami win at UNO

With goalie Ryan Larkin out for the weekend, Miami had to rely on its other two netminders this weekend.

Miami’s Ben Kraws (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

The RedHawks earned a tie on Friday behind Grant Valentine, and in the series finale, freshman Ben Kraws turned aside 32 shots to earn his first career win in a 4-1 victory vs. No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha at Baxter Arena on Saturday.

It was the first time Miami (4-6-3) had earned at least five points in an NCHC road series in almost four years.

The RedHawks ran off the first three goals and never looked back as they improved to .500 on the road on the season at 2-2-2.

RECAP: Miami opened the scoring on the power play, as Ryan Savage slid a pass through the slot to Gordie Green, who buried a one-timer from the side of the net at the 6:32 mark of the first period.

The RedHawks extended their lead to two 6:39 into the second frame when John Sladic fired a shot from the slot that goalie Austin Roden couldn’t handle cleanly, and Green jammed it home from the same spot as his first goal.

Miami went up three on a crazy sequence with 6:02 left in the middle stanza. Karch Bachman stole the puck in his defensive zone, starting a 3-on-0, took two point-blank shots which were both denied before carrying the puck behind the net, centering one to Jack Clement in the slot, and Clement wristed it home.

Taylor Ward scored UNO’s lone goal with 2:50 left in that period when he carried the puck from behind the net to the faceoff dot and wired one into the far top corner to make it 3-1.

But 26 seconds later, the RedHawks answered as Noah Jordan’s pass along the boards through the neutral zone found Chase Pletzke, who eluded a defender, skated to center and stuffed it through Roden from the top of the crease.

The Mavericks fired 17 shots in the third period, but all were denied by Kraws.

Miami’s Gordie Green (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

STATS: It was the sixth two-goal game of Green’s career and his second this season.

He is currently the team leader in goals (6), assists (9) and points (15) and owns a five-game point streak which equals the longest of his career.

Green is just six points shy of becoming the 53rd RedHawk to tally 100 points.

— Kraws made his third start and his 32 saves were a season high and the third most by a Miami netminder in 2019-20.

— Clement tied a career high with two points (1-1-2) and Pletzke notched his third goal of the season.

— Savage picked up an assist, giving him six points in five games.

— After scoring just three power play goals the first eight games, the RedHawks have netted at least one in five consecutive contests, going 6-for-18 in that span (33.3 percent).

They were also perfect on the penalty kill in this game (4 of 4) and the weekend (6-for-6).

THOUGHTS: Earning five of a possible six points in this road series against the No. 18 team in Division I at this point is well beyond expectations, especially without Larkin.

Miami just seems to get better every night to the point where UNO’s announcers were gushing over how well the RedHawks were playing.

It’s hard to believe it was less than two months ago this team was skating around with no structure, allowing point-blank chances seemingly every shift.

On Saturday, the RedHawks had sticks in front of UNO (6-4-2) shots constantly and put on a clinic in shot blocking (25 overall). Although the Mavericks did finish with 33 shots on goal, most were relatively innocuous.

— Defense has been the biggest area of improvement for Miami by far since Game 1. Derek Daschke blocked six shots and Clement rejected four.

The goaltending, which is obviously a key component of the D, has been markedly better as well as of late. In Miami’s last four games, it has used all three netminders, and they have combined for a .939 save percentage.

— Kraws was fantastic, and thanks to his teammates, many of those 32 saves were on low-percentage chances. Early he appeared to overcommit while sliding to cover the net, but his positioning was textbook after that, which is partly why he didn’t have to make a ton of difficult saves.

His rebound control was excellent all night.

Miami’s Jack Clement (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— If you want to feel good about the future of Miami hockey, look no further than the effort of the freshman class. As documented above, Kraws was 32 of 33 in net and four rookie skaters combined to go 2-3-5.

Clement picked up a goal and an assist, Pletzke also scored and Savage and Sladic earned assists.

LINEUP CHANGES: Other than Kraws, only one other change was made to Friday’s lineup.

Defensemen Alec Capstick and Grant Frederic continued their rotation, as Capstick dressed and Frederic sat. This was the fifth straight game that duo has alternated.

STANDINGS: Miami vaulted into fourth place in the NCHC with the win with eight points.

The RedHawks also jumped two spots in the PairWise to No. 36. They were 40th entering the weekend.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It appears Miami’s days as NCHC doormat are over.

This team has made amazing strides in practically every aspect of its game since season’s beginning, and this five-point road weekend has to do wonders for its confidence.

With struggling Connecticut and St. Cloud State left on their first-half schedule, the RedHawks have a chance to improve to .500 or better before the New Year.

It seems surreal to be writing the above sentence considering how this team played in its first few games.

Preview: Ferris St. at Miami

Miami and Ferris State were annual foes when they were conference mates in the CCHA, but since that league dissolved and the teams joined different leagues they have not renewed their all-time series.

That ends this weekend, as the Bulldogs visit Oxford for the first time in 10 years, as their last overall meeting came in Big Rapids in 2012.

While Miami has already played three games – all at Cady Arena – Ferris State has faced two exhibition opponents and logged its lone regular season contest vs. Colgate last week, a 3-1 win.

A look at this weekend’s series:

WHO: Ferris State Bulldogs (1-0) at Miami RedHawks (0-2-1).

WHEN: Friday – 7:05 p.m.; Saturday – 8:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Ferris State leads, 45-43-16.

MIAMI RADIO: Both games – WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

TV: NCHC.tv.

NOTES: A 5-0 win over the U.S. National Development Team is impressive, exhibition or not.

After going 2-0 in preseason, Ferris State beat Colgate, 3-1 in its lone regular season game last weekend, thanks to a 28-save performance by goalie Roni Salmenkangas, as the Bulldogs have started 2019-20 on a positive note.

Salmenkangas, a sophomore, made logged 1,563 minutes for the Bulldogs last season, posting a 3.23 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.

Both of FSU’s other goalies are entering their first season with the team: Austin Shaw and Carter McPhail.

The Bulldogs have a bizarre combination of four seniors and five freshmen on defense.

Joe Rutkowski has played 110 games on the Ferris State blueline, and led his team with two points last weekend on a goal and an assist.

Senior Boston draftee Cameron Clarke picked up a helper in the win over Colgate, and classmate Nate Kallen has 14 career goals and 34 assists.

Ferris State used four seniors on D last weekend (Rutkowski, Clarke, Kallen and Zach Yoder) and three freshmen (Blake Evennou, Connor Ferorek and Jake Willets).

The only Bullog forward to record over 20 points last season graduated, leaving Coale Norris, who went 7-13-20 his sophomore season, as the team’s top returning points producer at that position.

Senior Jason Tackett found the net six times and tallied eight helpers but did not player last weekend.

Lucas Finner, Jake Transit and Hunter Wendt also return after finishing with double-digit points totals in 2018-19.

Coach Bob Daniels had major success in the first half of this decade, peaking at 29 wins in 2013-14, but Ferris State has not won more than 14 in the past three seasons and its 2018-19 total of 10 was its second-worst ever.

The Bulldogs, who have 10 freshmen overall on their roster, were picked to finish eighth in the 10-team WCHA by that conference’s coaches.

On paper, Ferris State appears about on par with New Hampshire. Both FSU and UNH scored 90 goals in 36 games in 2018-19, but the Bulldogs allowed 20 more tallies.

Green

For Miami, senior linemates Gordie Green and Karch Bachman are off to outstanding starts, with Green leading the team in goals (3) and points (5) while Bachman is 2-2-4.

A pair of freshmen – John Sladic and Chase Pletzke – accounted for three of the RedHawks’ four goals in their finale vs. New Hampshire last week, a welcome sign on a team that has struggled in scoring depth for years.

It’s unclear who will man the net for Miami this weekend, as Ryan Larkin has been the workhorse the past three-plus years and has posted quality numbers, but Larkin allowed 11 goals in five periods the first two games, and freshman Ben Kraws was decent in his starting debut Saturday.

The RedHawks have a team save percentage of .832, partly due to penalty killing clip of 61.1 percent that is among the worst in Division I.

This weekend wraps up a five-game homestand for Miami to open the season. After Saturday, the RedHawks will not play another regular season game at Cady Arena until Nov. 15 vs. Minnesota-Duluth.

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.