By Steve Perkins, For The Miami Student
The Miami University hockey team looks to bounce back this weekend at home after being swept in its first National Collegiate Hockey Conference series of the year. After falling short twice last weekend to St. Cloud State University, the RedHawks host NCHC rival Western Michigan University.
WMU enters the series with a 4-2-1 (2-0 NCHC) record, which includes a sweep of University of Nebraska Omaha. The Mustangs outscored the Mavericks at home 10-3 in two games, including six goals on 37 shots Saturday.
Head coach Rico Blasi said WMU's sweep would give the Mustangs confidence heading into this weekend.
"Any time you sweep in our conference, absolutely, you gain confidence," Blasi said. "After watching the games, Western looked extremely organized and competed hard, buried their chances."
Last Friday, the RedHawks were shutout for the first time this season after being outshot 40-15. MU fell 3-0 Friday and 3-1 Saturday.
"We'll move on. We move on," Blasi said. "We'll see them again in the new year, that's the beauty of conference play. We move on, we get back to work, we grow. Nobody in our locker room is concerned with what happened last week."
The 'Hawks had not struggled in scoring before last weekend, as they totaled 15 goals in the first six games. Freshman forward Jack Roslovic has scored five of Miami's 16 total goals and was named NCHC Rookie of the Month on Tuesday.
Senior goaltender Ryan McKay is off to a hot start with a 1.92 goals against average and a .933 save percentage after allowing 12 goals in seven games.
Freshman forward Colt Conrad leads WMU with seven points (one goal, six assists), while junior forward Sheldon Dries has a team-high four goals. Five Broncos have at least five points this year.
Coach Blasi said his team will be ready defensively for a strong Western offense.
"We have a lot of respect for Western," Blasi said. "You've got to be ready to go. That's the message we're sending to our guys. I like our team; I think we're getting better as we go."
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Miami leads the series all time with a record of 62-57-11. Five of those victories came last year, three during the NCHC playoffs. MU's last win was a 4-0 shutout at home on March 15.
Puck drop is 7:35 p.m. Friday in Oxford, Ohio. Saturday's game begins at 8 p.m.