Fledgling ‘Hawks have big skates to fill
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 23:10
After losing one of the greatest senior classes in Miami University hockey history, Head Coach Enrico Blasi and the rest of the coaching staff have brought in yet another impressive freshman class. This 11-person class will be counted on to help replace the departed seniors.
“It is first and foremost a good group,” Blasi said. “They are players that we recruited to a certain culture and they fit in real well. They’ve got some talent and some grit, all the things that you look for in a big class. The only thing they lack is experience and the only way to gain that is to play the game. All in all, I think it’s a pretty solid group.”
The RedHawks will need to replace two of the greatest goalies in Miami history with the departures of Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard. The Red and White will rely on a pair of talented freshman to do so.
Freshman Ryan McKay will likely be the No. 1 goalie to start the year, after performing extremely well in the United States Hockey League the past few years. However, the pressure of replacing a pair of greats does not worry McKay.
“As a goaltender, you worry about yourself and you get the job done yourself,” McKay said. “If you add extra pressure, you don’t get the results you want ultimately.”
Fellow freshman Jay Williams is also a talented goalie, and Blasi said he is just as good.
Freshman forward Sean Kuraly is arguably the gem of the class. Kuraly has the bloodlines every player dreams of and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. Kuraly is the son of Rick Kuraly, the RedHawks’ all-time leading scorer with 101 goals.
“We’ve got a young team, but we have high expectations for ourselves,” Kuraly said. “It’s a pretty top notch program here so we want to continue the tradition and be a top contender come the end of the year. For myself, I just want to contribute any way I can, offensively especially. Just do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Another big name to look for is Riley Barber, who was taken in the sixth night of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals.
Barber, Kuraly and several other talented freshmen will be counted on to fill the gap left by the likes of Reilly Smith and Will Weber.
“We lost a lot obviously,” Kuraly said. “We just have to move forward and work with what we have. There are a lot of good freshmen coming in and we’re excited for it. We’ll be fine.”
It is fair to expect some growing pains early in the year as the new class adjusts to the play in college hockey.
“The big difference is the guys being bigger, stronger and older,” Kuraly said. “The speed is a little bit faster. It has been a good transition so far, a long way to go but it has been a good start.”
According to McKay, the team is on its way to creating a brotherhood.
“I feel like we got a really good group of guys and are making a lot of strides towards being a true brotherhood,” McKay said. “A lot of guys know each really well already, a lot more so than any team I’ve been on and that speaks volumes about our group.”
The season opens 4 p.m. Sunday against Western Ontario in an exhibition game. Fans can listen to the game on www.redhawkradio.com.