RedHawks Open Regular Season Against Friars for Third-Straight Year

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Oct. 4, 2017

Series Notes (PDF)

Gametracker: Friday | Saturday
NCHC.tv (subscription required): Friday | Saturday

Miami RedHawks (0-0-0, 0-0-0 NCHC) vs. No. 5/11 Providence Friars (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East)
TV/Stream: NCHC.tv (Subscription Required)
Radio: Miami IMG Network/Tune In Radio

MATCHUP
Miami and Providence open up each other’s regular seasons for the third-straight year.
THE SERIES: Miami snapped a six-game winless streak against Providence with a 2-1 victory in the second game of last year’s series. The Friars hold a 7-5-3 all-time lead in the series.

Last 10 Meetings: W, 6-2 (11/25/11)*, T, 1-1 (10/19/12), W, 4-3 [OT] (10/20/12), L, 3-2 [OT] (10/23/13), T, 4-4 (10/24/13), L, 7-5 (3/28/15)*$, L, 7-3 (10/9/15), T, 2-2 (10/10/15), L, 4-3 (10/7/16), W, 2-1 (10/8/16)
Home games in Bold, * - Neutral site, $ - NCAA Tournament

PUCK POINTS
• Miami returns 17 letter winners, 82.4 percent of its goals (75 of 91), 81.7 percent of its points (210 of 257) and every second of goaltender play in the crease from last season.

• Junior forward Kiefer Sherwood notched a team-high 14 multi-point games and has 54 points (24g, 30a) in his last 59 games dating back to 2015-16.

• The last time two times Miami finished seventh or lower in the conference standings, it has bounced back to win either a regular season conference title (2005-06 CCHA) or the conference tournament (2015 NCHC).

• Junior blue liner Grant Hutton’s nine goals last season were the most by a RedHawk blue liner since Alec Martinez also netted nine in 2007-08.

• Senior captain Louie Belpedio (17 points in 24 games last year) was a Preseason All-NCHC pick after earning All-NCHC Honorable Mention in 2016-17.

• Twenty-six of Miami’s 36 games were decided by two goals or fewer (5-14-7) last season with 11 of those contests going to overtime (3-1-7).

• Sophomore goaltender Ryan Larkin started 33 of the RedHawks’ 36 games in net last year.

COACH BLASI
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 375-268-67 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 PROVIDENCE: Nineteen players return to a Providence team that went 22-12-5 and made its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016-17. The Friars were pegged to finish third in the Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Four of PC’s top five scorers are back in the fold in Brian Pinho (12-28-40), Erik Foley (15-19-34), Josh Wilkins (13-18-31) and Scott Conway (12-11-23) while Hayden Hawkey returns in net after starting all 39 games and posting a 2.19 goals against average with a .913 save percentage a year ago.

A WELCOME RETURN:
Having senior captain Louie Belpedio back in the fold could mean the world to Miami this season as the RedHawks were a completely different team when the blue liner was in the lineup instead of missing for the 12 games he was injured last year.

With Belpedio Without Belpedio
Record 9-11-4 0-9-3
G/Gm 2.5 2.6
GA/Gm 2.6 4.2
PP% 18.3% 15.7%
PK% 87.8% 75.4%
Shot Diff./Gm -2.4 -12.4

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.

‘SHER’HANDED PROGRESSION: A focal point of Miami’s attack is junior forward Kiefer Sherwood, who made tremendous growth last season by posting 38 points, a 20-point improvement from his freshman campaign. After starting his career with just two points in his first 11 collegiate games, Sherwood has been nearly a point a game player since November of his 2015-16 season, posting 54 points (24g, 30a) in the last 59 games he’s played. He also notched a team-high 14 multi-point games last season after doing so only once the year before.

HUTTON FOR GOALS: Grant Hutton is another junior who made tremendous strides last year. After steady play on the blue line as a freshman, the Carmel, Indiana native added some offense to his repertoire by pouring in 18 points on nine goals and nine assists, leading MU defensemen in goals and points. His nine goals were the most by a Miami blue liner since Alec Martinez also netted nine in the 2007-08 campaign. Hutton also led the RedHawks in plus/minus last season.

MEYER CATCHING EYES: Sophomore forward Carson Meyer was an instant hit jumping into the lineup as a freshman last year, posting 26 points (10g, 16a) in 32 games to gain attention from his hometown Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected him in the sixth round of last season’s draft. Meyer put up five multi-point games and his six-game point streak from Dec. 2-Jan. 6 tied for the longest point streak on the team a year ago.

SHARK IN THE CREASE: The RedHawks relied heavily on the steady play of Ryan Larkin in the crease last year, starting him in net in 33 of their 36 contests in his freshman campaign. While the results weren’t what the team would like from a record standpoint, 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 were the third most made by a Miami goaltender in a single season.

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 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.
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)

MELNICK DELIVERING: Junior forward Josh Melnick is a player who is looking to take the next step after back-to-back seasons with 25 or more points to start his career. The center is relied upon in all situations and has 12 multi-point games in his career, seven of which came last season. While not alone in struggling down the stretch, the team is looking for a stronger finish down the stretch as in his first 20 games (8-8-5) last year, he posted 19 points and a +7 rating before finishing with just eight more points and a -10 rating in his final 15 games as the team went 1-12-2.

GOING GREEN: Someone who enjoyed a similar arc to Kiefer Sherwood’s freshman season was Gordie Green last year. While proving his value in several situations all year, Green did struggle to finish at the start of the season, netting just one goal and five points in the first 17 games. Starting on New Year’s Eve at Ohio State with a goal and an assist, Green finished with 16 points (7g, 9a) in the RedHawks’ final 19 games. He was particularly potent around the net at the tail end of the season, finishing the year on a five-game point streak and recording three of his six multi-point games in that span.

DRIVING POSSESSION: A deep lineup made Miami one of the nation’s most dominant possession teams during its 2014-15 NCHC Tournament title run that culminated in earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, as only three teams in the country outdid its +7.1 average shot margin per game while MU’s 54.8 Corsi (percentage of total shot attempts) ranked sixth nationally. The RedHawks are looking to establish a puck possession game closer to those levels after struggling to play with the puck last year. Miami was outshot in 23 of its 36 contests a year ago and its 25.47 shots on goal per game ranked 57th among college hockey’s 60 teams. Additionally, its 45.7 Corsi (percentage of total shot attempts) ranked 49th in the country and seventh among the NCHC’s eight teams.
THE LAST MEETING
Miami2
No. 10/10 Providence1
October 8, 2016
Providence, R.I.
RedHawks' Special Teams Power Past Friars
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Kiefer Sherwood's one-timer with 8:25 remaining in regulation snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the Miami hockey team to a 2-1 victory over No. 10 Providence on Saturday night.