Miami RedHawks (9-13-6, 5-9-4-2 NCHC) vs. No. 2/2 Denver Pioneers (20-6-4, 12-3-3-2 NCHC) TV/Stream:ASN (Saturday)/NCHC.tv Fred Pletsch (PBP), Pat Micheletti (Color) Radio: TuneIn App/1490 WKBV-AM Play-by-Play: Greg Waddell Analyst: Drew Davis
THIS WEEKEND Miami returns home to wrap up its season series against first-place Denver this weekend. THE SERIES: The RedHawks and Pioneers recorded the first two ties of their all-time series during a Nov. 18-19 series in Denver and the teams are 10-10-2 all-time against each other. Since joining the NCHC, Miami and Denver are 6-6-2 in their 14 meetings.
PUCK POINTS Anthony Louis has put up at least one point in 21 of his last 26 games and leads the team with 32 points (13g, 19a) this season, surpassing last year's team-leading total (26).
After recording just one multi-point game last season, Kiefer Sherwood has a team-high 11 this year and has already passed last year's total of 18 points. Sherwood has 21 goals and 46 points in his last 51 games dating back to midway through last season.
The RedHawks have fallen behind at some point in 10 of their last 12 games (6-5-1).
Since getting pulled on Nov. 11, Ryan Larkin has a 2.29 goals against average and a .926 save percentage over his last 16 starts.
Since the start of January, Louie Belpedio is tied with Anthony Louis for the team scoring lead with 11 points (3g, 8a) in 10 games, which also ties for the NCHC defense lead.
Miami's 44 multi-point games in 28 contests already surpass its 36-game total last season of 39. MU's eight multi-goal performances are also more than its two from a year ago.
LAST TIME OUT The RedHawks fell in a pair of tight road contests at St. Cloud State over the weekend, entering the third period tied at 1-1 both nights before SCSU pulled it out. Gordie Green's power-play goal four minutes into the second period put MU on top in Friday's series opener, but the Huskies evened it up before intermission on a late power-play goal before scoring twice in a 1:11 span early in the third. A Kiefer Sherwood power-play goal in the final minute gave the RedHawks life, but that was ended by an empty netter in a 4-2 setback. On Saturday, Josh Melnick scored six minutes into the second period, but that lead lasted just over a minute as it was again 1-1 after 40 minutes. The Huskies pulled ahead with 2:37 remaining and sealed a 3-1 win on another empty netter. Ryan Larkin made 33 saves in the defeat.
COACH BLASI Enrico Blasi (Miami '94) is in his 18th 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 375-261-66 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 DENVER: The Pioneers used their games in hand on Minnesota Duluth well last weekend, sweeping Colorado College to nab a one-point lead atop the NCHC. Denver has won five in a row and boasts the second best defense in the country (1.93 goals against per game). Freshman Henrik Borgstrom has taken off of late and now leads the team with 27 points (15g, 12a), one ahead of defenseman Will Butcher, whose 26 points (5g, 21a) are second among NCHC blue liners. Tanner Jailet has manned the crease in 27 games and owns a 1.82 goals against average with a .932 save percentage. A YO-YO SEASON: This season has seen Miami post prolonged stretches of success and misfortune. After dropping their opening night game at Providence, the RedHawks went 3-0-2 in their next five games. A 4-1 loss to Bowling Green on Oct. 29 proved a tough harbinger as MU went winless in its next 10 games (0-7-3) before a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) moved it back to .500 overall at 8-8-5. Since then, Miami is 1-5-1.
CHASING THE GAME: While it pulled out four comeback victories during a previous six-game unbeaten streak, Miami has found itself needing heroics on a fairly regular basis lately. The Red and White have fallen behind at some point in 10 of their last 12 games, though they have posted a 6-5-1 record in that span.
GETTING BACK INTO IT: After missing the entire month of November due to injury, it took captain Louie Belpedio some time to get back in the swing of things. While he did play every December game, the junior blue liner went scoreless for the month. Since January, his offense has picked back up as he leads all NCHC blue liners with 11 points (3g, 8a) in 10 games. That point total is also tied with Anthony Louis for the Miami lead in that time frame.
KEEPING BUSY: The RedHawks have relied heavily on freshman goaltender Ryan Larkin in net and he has responded with solid play. Larkin has started 26 of Miami's 28 games in the crease and owns a 2.53 goals against average along with a .916 save percentage. Larkin has clocked 1564:03 of a possible 1715:02 in the crease (91.2 percent), the most one goalie has played at MU since David Burleigh saw 2333:39 of a possible 2481:54 manning the net (94 percent) during the 2002-03 season. Some of Larkin's highlights include a 33-save shutout against Maine on Oct. 22 and a 49-save performance in a 2-2 tie at then-No. 1 Denver on Nov. 19, the most saves a Miami goalie has made since Connor Knapp stopped 55 shots in a 3-2 double overtime win over Michigan in the NCAA Midwest Regional Final on March 28, 2010.
TIGHT GAMES: The RedHawks have gone down to the wire in the vast majority of their games as all but seven of their 28 contests have been decided by two goals or less (including ties). MU's contests have been progressively tighter since mid November as 15 of its last 17 games have been two goal games or less since Nov. 18.
WORKING EXTRA: Miami is well versed with playing in overtime this year as nine of its 28 games have gone to the extra session. The Red and White are 3-0-6 in the extra session and their three overtime victories are tied for the most in the country.
ONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Junior defenseman Louie Belpedio was named team captain for his leadership both on and off the ice this season. The RedHawks were without Belpedio for six games due to injury earlier this season and the difference was quite pronounced.
SHAKING IT OFF: Freshman goaltender Ryan Larkin endured a rough stretch that began with a 4-1 loss to Bowling Green and culminated in getting pulled against Omaha on Nov. 11 as Miami saw a 4-1 second period lead turn into a 6-4 defeat. Larkin has shown tremendous resilience since then, posting a 2.29 goals against average and a .926 save percentage in his past 16 starts.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: Senior forward Anthony Louis has shown tremendous offensive ability to post 119 points in his career and at times has put together incredible streaks of production. Louis has become known for his big second-half surges, but he enjoyed the best first half of a season in his Miami career this year. He leads the team with 32 points (13g, 19a).
16 GP, 4g, 4a, 8p
20 GP, 8g, 9a, 17p
16 GP, 3g, 11a, 14p
21 GP, 6g, 16a, 22p
16 GP, 3g, 7a, 10p
20 GP, 8g, 8a, 16p
18 GP, 10g, 11a, 21p
10 GP, 3g, 8a, 11p
66 GP, 20g, 33a, 53p
71 GP, 25g, 39a, 66p
COMEBACK KIDS: Third period deficits have posed no problem during Miami's resurgence. Four times this year, the RedHawks' have began the third period behind only to storm back for a victory. They turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 overtime win over Colorado College on Dec. 10, netted four goals in the third period to erase a 3-2 deficit and top Ohio State 6-3 on Dec. 31, came back from two separate deficits after trailing 1-0 when the third began to down St. Cloud State 3-2 in overtime and exploded for five unanswered goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 victory at North Dakota. Such performances have been historically rare for the Red and White as this is the first season they have won more than one game when trailing after two periods since they did it four times in the 2007-08 campaign (Nov. 3, 2007 at Northern Michigan, Dec. 15, 2007 at RPI, Dec. 29, 2007 vs. St. Cloud State and March 29, 2008 vs. Air Force).
BETTER ALREADY: While the RedHawks' 2.50 goals per game is only marginally ahead of their 2.43 figure from last year, the improvements have been noticeable at the top of the scoring charts. Last season, Anthony Louis and Kiefer Sherwood tied for the team lead with 11 goals while Louis tied Jack Roslovic in overall scoring with 26 points. This year, Louis already has 13 goals (career high) and 32 points while Sherwood has 11 goals and 30 points.
BREAKOUT PERFORMANCES: A part of Miami's scoring problems a year ago were due to a lack of big individual performances within its games. In 36 games in 2015-16, MU combined for just 39 multi-point games with only two multi-goal performances. That has not been the case this year as RedHawk skaters have already notched 44 multi-point and eight multi-goal games in 28 contests this year. Kiefer Sherwood leads the Red and White with 11 such performances after recording just one multi-point game last year.
SHOPPING AT MEYER: In his first half season on campus, Carson Meyer has already taken his scoring touch to the college game. The Powell, Ohio native is fourth on the team with 22 points (7g, 15a) in 24 games. Meyer has notched five multi-point games, posted at least one point in 16 of his 24 outings and strung together a six-game point streak after missing four games in November.
`SHER'HANDED PROGRESSION: While it took some time to get his feet wet, Kiefer Sherwood progressed well in his freshman season to become quite a weapon for the Red and White as the season wore on. After putting up just two points in his first 11 collegiate games, Sherwood has taken a step forward that has continued this year. With 11 goals and 19 assists this season, he has passed last year's total (18 points) with 30 points and now has 21 goals and 46 points in his last 51 games dating back to last year.