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Friday, Oct. 13 • 7:05 p.m.
USA Hockey Arena (3,807) • Plymouth, Mich.
Miami RedHawks at USA National Team Development Program
TV/Stream: HockeyTV.com (Subscription Required)
Radio: Miami IMG Network/Tune In Radio
Miami makes a quick trip to Michigan for an exhibition with the USA National Team Development Program on Friday night.
• Miami freshmen contributed to all three of its goals against Providence on opening weekend with the newcomers combining for two goals and three assists.
• Junior defenseman Grant Hutton posted his fifth career multi-point game in last Saturday’s series finale and has 10 goals from the blue line since the start of last season.
• 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).
• 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. He played on the USA National Team Development Program’s blue line in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
• Freshman forward Casey Gilling notched a point in each of his first two collegiate games, scoring his first career goal against Providence last Saturday.
• Sophomore goaltender Ryan Larkin started 35 of the RedHawks’ 38 games in net since the start of last season.
• The RedHawks look to get on track on the power play after going 1-for-14 against the Friars on opening weekend.
Miami faced tough sledding in opening up its 2017-18 season against nationally-ranked Providence. MU stood toe-to-toe with PC both nights, rallying back from early deficits to tie things up. After falling behind midway through the first on Friday, Austin Alger’s goal as a penalty expired saw the score even at 1-1. The RedHawks put on pressure and drew several power plays, but could not gain the lead in the second and a late Friar goal saw them down 2-1 after 40 minutes. Another PC goal 50 seconds into the third made it a 3-1 contest and Providence held on despite Miami holding a 14-6 shot advantage in the third by killing off nine power plays. On Saturday, a five-minute major penalty allowed the Friars to net two goals before the game was five minutes old, but a second period goal by Grant Hutton cut the gap in half entering the third, where Casey Gilling tied things up at 2-2 at the 6:57 mark. The RedHawks again put together quality chances and appeared poised to at least go to overtime, but PC managed to score with 0.9 seconds remaining to escape with a 3-2 win and series sweep.
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 375-270-67 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.
THE KIDS CAN PLAY: One area that became immediately apparent for the RedHawks in their opening weekend series against Providence was the quality of the freshman class. Miami played six true freshmen on the weekend and four of them put up at least one point in contributing to all three of its goals. Casey Gilling tied for the team lead in scoring with a goal and an assist, chipping in a point in both contests. Austin Alger also netted a goal while Phil Knies and Ben Lown each added an assist on the weekend.
NEEDS MORE POWER: Perhaps the biggest difference in Miami’s opening weekend series against Providence was its struggles with the man advantage. The RedHawks began the series going 0-for-9 and finished 1-for-14 on the weekend, which included not scoring on a five-minute power play early on in Saturday’s finale. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Miami is 37-24-5 when scoring at least one power play goal and 12-30-6 when it does not score with the man advantage.
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|
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 61 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. He showcased more of the same on opening weekend, blasting in a goal and an assist in last Saturday’s series finale against Providence.
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 35 of 38 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.
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)
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.