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With new bench bosses, RedHawks look to bounce back

After a tumultuous offseason that produced a brand new coaching staff and added five new freshmen to the lineup, the Miami RedHawks hockey team is looking to bounce back after four straight losing seasons. 

“If we can remain even-keeled, not get too high or low, we’ll be able to get through a lot together,” senior forward Gordie Green said.

The offseason’s largest storyline is the RedHawks new coaching staff, led by incoming head coach and Miami graduate Chris Bergeron. The sixth head coach in Miami hockey history previously spent nine seasons at Bowling Green, leading the Falcons to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in more than a decade last season, while carrying a 171-154-44 record through his tenure there. 

Bergeron is also a former player at Miami and captained the RedHawks for two seasons in the early nineties, scoring a team-high 61 points his senior year while earning Central Collegiate Hockey Association Best Defensive Forward honors.

Rounding out the staff behind the bench, the RedHawks signed associate head coaches Barry Schutte and Eric Rud, both of whom were brought on after Bergeron’s hire. 

Schutte, a 1997 Miami graduate and former player, served as Bergeron’s assistant during his time at Bowling Green. 

Rud was head coach of the women’s program at St. Cloud State the past five seasons, leading the Huskies to 48 career wins. He also spent time as an assistant coach with the men’s hockey programs at St. Cloud State and Colorado College, both of which are in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. 

Up front, the RedHawks will return numerous weapons, including senior Gordie Green. Last season, Green led the team with 11 goals while tallying 25 points and appearing in all 38 games. Senior forward Karch Bachmann also comes back to the squad after posting four multi-point games last year. 

The RedHawks’ offense will get a boost from incoming freshman Ryan Savage, who totaled 36 points in 52 regular season games between United States Hockey League teams Omaha and Muskegon last season. 

“We have to score by committee,” Bergeron said. “We have a strong defensive foundation, so it's important to build offense around that.”

Miami will return its strong defensive core from last year — an attribute Bergeron calls an early strength of the team. Returning stars on the back end for Miami include junior defenseman Rourke Russell — who led the team in blocked shots last year with 77 — and sophomore defenseman Derek Daschke, who also adds offensive spice to the squad after finishing last season first on the team in rookie scoring. 

In the net, Miami will return senior Ryan Larkin, who recorded three shutouts while notching a .907 save percentage and a 3.05 goals against average last year. The Clarkston, Michigan, native started the 2018-19 campaign off strong, earning NCHC Goaltender of the Month Honors last October. Miami also returns junior goaltender Grant Valentine and added freshman Ben Kraws to round out the netminding squad. 

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Green is optimistic about the team’s season, saying the RedHawks are ready to jump into game mode following a long summer. 

“I think I’m most excited to be around this group of guys,” he said. “This is a really close group and we’re out here to work for each other.”

The puck drops to begin a new season at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, coincidentally against Bergeron’s former employer, the Bowling Green Falcons. It begins a stretch of five straight home games at the Steve ‘Coach’ Cady Arena to start the ’Hawks’ season.