By Steve Perkins, For The Miami Student
The No. 14/15 Miami University hockey team hits the road this weekend for its first away series of the year against No. 17 St. Lawrence University.
The RedHawks (2-1-1) head into the series after last weekend's sweep of in-state rival Ohio State University. The Saints enter the series 3-1-0.
Head coach Rico Blasi said the team is excited for the weekend.
"Well, I think everyone is looking forward to getting on the road and being together," Blasi said. "It's a series that's extremely important against a very, very good St. Lawrence team."
St. Lawrence scored 14 goals in its first four games, three more than Miami. Of those 14 goals, three have come from the stick of senior forward Christian Horn.
Horn's first NCAA goal was in his first game on his first shot against Miami last year in Oxford. The forward also has an assist this year, for a total of four points. He is a +4 this season.
On the RedHawks' side of things, almost half of the scoring comes from the young guns. Miami's freshmen have accounted for 15 of the 31 points tallied this year. Forwards Jack Roslovic and Josh Melnick each have five points.
Roslovic has three goals and two assists, including both game-winners against the Buckeyes last weekend, which earned him this week's National Collegiate Hockey Conference freshman of the week title.
Fourteen others have at least one point this season, leaving only five players on Miami's roster without a point through the first four games.
The RedHawks need that scoring this weekend, as they face Kyle Hayton, one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA. Through his first four starts, Hayton is 3-1 with 92 saves on 100 shots. He has given up eight goals in his four games for a 1.98 goals against average.
Blasi said the key to beating a good goaltender is a lot of shots.
"You've just got to continue to get pucks to the net. You've got to get traffic in front of him," Blasi said. "You've got to force him to make saves. He's one of the best goalies in the country. There's really no weakness to his game."
Miami has 123 shots in its first four games, which is 13 more than its opponents (107 shots). MU goaltenders have stood equal to the task 95 times. Senior Ryan Mckay has made 77 of the team's 95 saves, earning a .939 save percentage and a 1.53 goals against average.
But Blasi also gave credit to the defensemen.
"I think our guys are a little more determined right now,"
Blasi said. "As we go along here, hopefully we continue with that mentality, especially in the defensive zone, and it carries over into all three zones from there."
Another factor for the weekend may be Miami's power play, which had a slow start to the season. After scoring on their first attempt, the RedHawks were stifled on their next eleven tries before finding twine on two of the five-man advantages they received against the Buckeyes. The RedHawks may extend those positive results this weekend. St. Lawrence averages nearly five penalties a game and has taken 19 trips to the sin bin in only four games.
Miami holds a 7-6-1 lead in the all-time series after splitting a series in Oxford last season. This is MU's first trip to SLU since Nov. 24, 2006 (4-3 win).
Both games begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in Canton, New York.