By Steve Perkins, For The Miami Student
The No. 14/15 Miami University hockey team opens National Collegiate Hockey Conference play this weekend as they hit the road to face No. 13/14 St. Cloud State University. Miami enters the weekend 3-2-1, while the Huskies are 4-2-0.
Head coach Rico Blasi is focused on making sure his team is prepared for the tough conference play.
"You have to make sure you're prepared well and that you're doing things that will allow you an opportunity to be in the game," Blasi said. "When you go on the road in our league, it's tough sledding, and you have to be ready not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well."
The RedHawks are coming off a split against St. Lawrence University. The 'Hawks won 1-0 on Friday but fell short 5-3 Saturday. The loss ended a three-game winning streak.
The penalty kill was the story on Friday, as Miami killed off all seven opportunities the Saints received. Miami's penalty kill is 25 for 26 on the season, including a current streak of 18 successful kills.
St. Cloud opened the season with four straight wins before being swept by Providence College on the road last weekend. The two recent losses came with a hefty toll on junior goaltender Charlie Lindgren's stats.
Lindgren started the season with three straight shutouts before giving up nine goals in two games. He ranks 14th in the country in save percentage (.935) and goals against average (1.80).
Blasi said he respects this weekend's opponent and expects a tough competitor.
"They're very good at home," Blasi said. "They've got some veteran guys that have been to the Frozen Four and have played in the national tournament and some championship games. They're well-coached and we have a lot of respect for them."
RedHawk netminder Ryan McKay is 3-1-1 in six appearances with a .935 save percentage and a 1.71 goals against average. The senior has posted one shutout in his five starts.
Freshmen forwards Jack Roslovic and Josh Melnick lead the team in points, with seven and five, respectively. The two young guns account for nearly one third of the team's 43 points. The other four freshmen each have at least one point.
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While Miami has several bright spots, Blasi pointed to a few points of emphasis for the weekend.
"There's a lot of things that we have to get better at," Blasi said. "Our puck management needs to be better, our play away from the puck needs to be better, our awareness and details need to be better. These are all things you do on a daily basis, regardless of time of season."
Miami leads the series with St. Cloud 13-7-2 and has won three of the last five meetings. Miami's last win was the 2015 NCHC championship game, 3-2.
Both Friday's and Saturday's games begin at 7 p.m. in St. Cloud, Minnesota.