Photo by Angelo Gelfuso
By Justin Maskulinski, For The Miami Student
Another year of Miami University hockey is underway, and in many ways, this year is similar to last year. The 'Hawks begin the year highly ranked. Yeah, it's not No. 1 in the nation, but receiving a ranking is an honor and privilege nonetheless.
Another year goes by and junior captain Austin Czarnik is now senior captain Austin Czarnik. Another year of saucy passes and beautiful dangling on the ice from the likes of Czarnik, junior forward Riley Barber and sophomore forward Anthony Louis.
Another year passed, and the same win-Miami's-first-NCAA-title-or-bust expectation resonates. It's the expectation from people who attend the game, and likely the expectation within the locker room at the new and improved palace that is the Goggin Ice Center.
Another year gone, and somehow, the 'Hawks are better. In this case, bigger does mean better.
At many times last year the Brotherhood appeared to be the little brother in many outings as the team driven by finesse was driven into the ground. The 'Hawks were simply unable to physically hang with their new opponents in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Attendance began to shrink (as my friend Steven Perkins pointed out to all of you), and the 'Hawks were hopeless. The Red and White looked black and blue as injuries and a new league of competition made them drop eight of their last 10 regular season games. An empty Goggin is an ugly sight to see.
The few fans left at Goggin witnessed the fight against the University of Minnesota-Duluth at the home closer. It seemed to be a consolation prize for the fans that stuck around, but the 'Hawks had a fight brewing in them that was reminiscent of the Miami teams Oxford was accustomed to seeing.
The 'Hawks tournament push fell short, but they were not done working. Some key moves were made this offseason to increase the average height and weight of The Brotherhood.
The RedHawks added 24-feet, 8-inches and 838 pounds of hockey when counting freshmen defensemen Louie Belpedio and Scott Dornbrock, freshman forward Conor Lemirande and junior defenseman Colin Sullivan.
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Dornbrock, at 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, provides a combination of size and skill the RedHawks need to succeed in the NCHC. Though the 'Hawks first four games Dornbrock leads the 'Hawks in two statistics often led by defensemen: blocked shots (10) and penalty minutes (15).
The cliché saying is still relevant though "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Through the first four games, familiar names are lighting the lamp. Junior forward Sean Kuraly leads the 'Hawks with three goals and six points, while Barber, Louis and senior Blake Coleman all have four points on the season.
The 'Hawks fell to Bowling Green State University in the first game of the year, but after that game they began to soar. The RedHawks are riding a three-game winning streak heading into this weekend and things are beginning to look like they did before last year's uncharacteristic showing.
Another year is gone, and the 'Hawks can put their losing season behind them.
Another year is gone, and a new year with championship aspirations has begun.