Game Notes (PDF)
NCHC.tv: Friday | Saturday
Live Stats: Friday | Saturday
Live Audio: Friday | Saturday
Friday, Jan. 12 • 8:07 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 13 • 8:07 p.m.
Baxter Arena (7,500) • Omaha, Neb.
No. 20 Miami RedHawks (9-9-2, 4-5-1-0 NCHC) at No. 17 Omaha Mavericks (10-9-1, 3-7-0-0 NCHC)
Radio: Miami IMG Network/Tune In Radio (Greg Waddell-pbp)
Miami begins a stretch of four-straight road tilts when it opens a league series at Omaha this weekend.
THE SERIES: Miami went 0-3-1 against Omaha a year ago, though leads the all-time series against the Mavericks 20-15-6.
• Miami is 8-2-1 when scoring three or more goals this season, but 1-8-1 when netting two goals or fewer.
• The RedHawks are 7-3 on Friday nights this season, but have won just twice (2-6-2) on Saturdays.
• Miami has been outshot in six of its last seven games (227-156 overall) after outshooting opponents 384-304 in its first 13 games.
• Grant Hutton’s eight goals are tied for the most among NCAA defensemen while his six power play goals are tied for the fourth most of all players in the country.
• Ryan Larkin has started 53 of the RedHawks’ 56 games in net since the start of last season.
• RedHawk defensemen have scored a combined 17 goals, which is tied for the fourth most in the country.
• Gordie Green has notched 39 points (16g, 23a) in his last 39 games dating back to last season.
LAST TIME OUT
Playing its first regular season games since Dec. 9, Miami squared off with defending national champion Denver and pulled off a weekend split. Friday night saw Ryan Larkin stop 44 shots while Casey Gilling netted a pair of goals and an assist on the game-winner. Miami killed off all five Denver power plays and went 2-for-4 on the man advantage to hold off a third period rally after MU went ahead 2-0 in the second period. Gilling opened the scoring 1:10 into the contest while Rourke Russell made it 2-0 early in the second with his first career goal. After leading 2-1 after 40 minutes, Gilling struck on the power play to up the lead to 3-1 and with a 3-2 lead later on, the freshman won a key faceoff to set up a Louie Belpedio power play goal to hold on for the 4-3 win. MU fell behind 2-0 after 20 minutes on Saturday and could not get within two goals despite a 20-5 third period shot advantage, falling 4-1 in the finale.
Enrico Blasi (Miami ’94) is in his 19th season behind the RedHawk bench. He is a five-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 384-277-69 at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to 10 NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a trio of CCHA regular-season titles and two conference tournament titles (2011 CCHA & 2015 NCHC). Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.
ABOUT OMAHA: The Mavericks came out of North Dakota with a split over the weekend and are 10-9-1 overall with a 3-7 NCHC mark. Nine UNO players have double digit points for an offense that averages 3.4 goals per game. David Pope’s 24 points lead the Mavericks offensively. Omaha does struggle defensively, ranking 59th out of 60 teams in allowing 3.80 goals per game with Evan Wenninger (3.36 GAA; .890 save%) starting 15 of the team’s 20 games in net. This weekend is the lone series these teams will play this season.
SHOT SHORTAGE: While Miami has not generated a tremendous amount of shots this season, the RedHawks spent much of the first half limiting opposing shots on goal. At one point the Red & White allowed the fewest shots on goal per game (23.4) while outshooting opponents in nine of their first 13 games by an average of 6.1 shots on goal per game. Since then, MU has been outshot in six of seven games and is allowing 32.4 shots on goal per game and is getting outshot by 11 shots per contest. Thanks to strong goaltending by Ryan Larkin and a potent power play, the RedHawks are still .500 at 3-3-1 in that stretch.
BLUE LINE WITH A PUNCH: Miami has relied on its blue line to contribute offensively this season and they have come through to this point. The RedHawks’ defensemen have chipped in 17 goals this season, a total that’s tied for fourth most nationally. The RedHawks’ have also gotten 48 points from the blue line, which is tied 21st in the NCAA.
POSSIBLE DIFFERENCE MAKERS: One area that could help the Red & White take another step forward this season is a return to form for forwards Kiefer Sherwood and Carson Meyer. The duo combined for 14 points and three multi-point games in the first half of the season. Last year, Sherwood finished second on the team with 38 points (seventh in the NCHC) and his 14 multi-point games tied for the conference lead. Meyer tallied 26 points in 32 games as a freshman to add another scoring threat. The pair finished with three points (Sherwood 1-1-2; Meyer 0-1-1) in last weekend’s series split with Denver.
CAPTAIN’S CONTRIBUTIONS: Senior defenseman Louie Belpedio has been contributing at the offensive end of the ice on a consistent basis this season. After going scoreless in the opening series against Providence, the Skokie, Ill., native has recorded at least one point in 12 of 18 games and is third on the team with 18 points (7g, 11a), a total that is tied for sixth among NCAA defensemen. Belpedio put together a career-best six-game point streak from Nov. 11-Dec. 1.
MELNICK IN THE CLUTCH: Junior forward Josh Melnick has come through in big moments this season. The Annandale, N.J., native put the finishing touches on Miami’s 3-2 comeback win over Colorado College to open NCHC play on Nov. 3 and scored with 1:24 left in the Nov. 11 series finale at North Dakota to help Miami force a 3-3 tie in hostile Ralph Engelstad Arena. The junior also netted the game-winning goal in the third period of Miami’s 3-2 comeback win over Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 18. Four of Melnick’s seven goals have come in the third period or overtime. Melnick is no stranger to overtime heroics as he has netted the RedHawks’ last three overtime winners, scoring against St. Cloud State back on Jan. 6 and also topping Colorado College in overtime on Dec. 10, 2016. After a scoreless opening weekend, Melnick has all 19 of his points (7g, 12a) in the past 18 games, stringing together a five-game point streak from Oct. 20-Nov. 3.
HUTTON FOR GOALS: Grant Hutton has turned his breakout sophomore campaign into even bigger gains as a junior. After finishing with just five assists in his 2015-16 freshman season, he poured in a defense-leading nine goals and 18 points last season and leads the MU blue line eight goals and is second with 13 points this season. Hutton has four multi-point games, eclipsing his 2016-17 total and his eight goals are tied for the most among NCAA defensemen. Additionally, his six power play goals are tied for the fourth most in the nation.
GOING GREEN: Sophomore forward Gordie Green has kept his midseason improvement from last year going into this season. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native leads Miami with 23 points (9g, 14a), which surpasses his freshman total of 21 last year. The sophomore posted a five-game point streak that ran from Oct. 20 through Nov. 3, during which he recorded four multi-point games. In his last 39 games dating back to last season, Green has 39 points on 16 goals and 23 assists.
THE KIDS CAN PLAY: The RedHawks’ freshmen have wasted little time in acclimating themselves in the lineup as all six true freshmen skaters have contributed at least a point this season. Casey Gilling and Phil Knies lead the class of 2021 with 12 points on five goals and seven assists. Overall, Miami’s true freshmen have combined for 24 points on 12 goals and 22 assists.
BOUNCEBACK FROM BOTTOM: While there’s no talking around last season’s nine-win campaign, there is cause for optimism both in the form of the returning talent (17 letter winners back) and Miami’s history under Enrico Blasi. The last two times the RedHawks finished seventh or lower in the conference standings, they rebounded to nab some hardware as the 2005-06 squad won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular season crown after going 15-18-5 the year before. In 2014-15, the Red & White went from dead last in the NCHC standings to finish runner-up in the regular season and capture the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.
SHARK IN THE CREASE: The RedHawks have been reliant on Ryan Larkin in the crease since the start of last season, starting him in goal in 53 of 56 contests. As a freshman, Larkin consistently gave Miami a shot to win, making 30 saves or more 12 times and finishing with a 2.77 goals against average along with a .910 save percentage. Larkin’s 905 saves in 2016-17 were the third most made by a Miami goaltender in a single season. After a slow start to the season, he has picked things up the past 16 games, allowing two goals or fewer seven times and holding a 2.38 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
STARTS AT YOUR OWN END: Miami has been at its best when its played a stellar defensive game. When the RedHawks made eight-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2006-13, their worst rank in scoring defense was 17th as they finished in the top 10 in defense seven times with six top-five performances, including two seasons as the nation’s top defensive team. While joining the highly competitive NCHC has put the RedHawks up against more high-octane offenses, the fact remains that they have been at their best when keeping the puck out of their net consistently.
Season: Scoring Defense Rank (Figure; Record)
2005-06: 2nd (2.03; 26-9-4)
2006-07: 17th (2.55; 24-14-4)
2007-08: 1st (1.86; 33-8-1)
2008-09: 8th (2.17; 23-13-5)
2009-10: 1st (1.95; 29-8-7)
2010-11: 4th (2.18; 23-10-6)
2011-12: 3rd (2.10; 24-15-2)
2012-13: 2nd (1.74; 25-12-5)
2013-14: 41st (3.03; 15-20-3)
2014-15: 31st (2.50; 25-14-1)
2015-16: 29th (2.69; 15-18-3)
2016-17: t-41st (3.14; 9-20-7)
2017-18: 27th (2.85; 9-9-2)