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Miami hockey looks to finish strong after disappointing start to season

<p>Freshman goaltender Ludvig Persson has done a good job replacing graduate Ryan Larkin </p>

Freshman goaltender Ludvig Persson has done a good job replacing graduate Ryan Larkin

After a discouraging beginning of the season, the Miami RedHawks hockey team has shown promise of late. 

The RedHawks lost their first five games of the year, scoring only seven goals over that span.

Since the squad’s fifth loss of the season, the team is a much more respectable 4-5-2. 

Miami’s first win came on Dec. 12, in a tight game against an Omaha team currently ranked 11th in the nation. The RedHawks beat the Mavericks behind a shutout performance in net by freshman goaltender Ludvig Persson.

Five days later, the team played eighth-ranked Denver and won 3-0, leaning on two points from senior forward Phil Knies and another shutout from Persson. 

Miami played its first 10 games of the season in Omaha, Neb., in a pod environment. Playing against its National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) foes, the team went 2-7-1 in the pod. 

Since then, the RedHawks have played Western Michigan four times — going 2-1-1 against the Broncos — and dropped both games last weekend against St. Cloud State.

The team has been plagued by offensive woes all season; its 1.93 goals per game average is only good enough for 45th (out of 51) nationally. No player has more than 3 goals on the season, and without explosive top line scoring — like the team got from now-graduates Gordie Green and Karch Bachman in 2019-20 — the RedHawks have struggled to score consistently. 

The scant offensive performance comes amid a defensive emergence. The team that allowed the fourth-most goals per game in the country in 2019-2020 has improved its scoring defense to the top 20 this year. Persson has been sensational all year; the Swedish netminder’s 94.8% save percentage is fifth in the nation. 

One of the bright spots from Miami’s 2019-2020 season was the team’s powerplay, which ranked 10th nationally with a 23.9% conversion rate. This year, the unit’s efficiency has fallen to 13.6%, which puts the RedHawks in the bottom 10 in the country. 

For the remainder of the season, the team will look for more consistency offensively and to continue their strong defensive play.

RedHawks fans should be excited about what they’ve seen from their emerging star Persson and should be encouraged by the team’s strong showings against nationally ranked teams like Denver and Omaha. 

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In the season’s stretch run, the RedHawks will play University of Minnesota Duluth four times, before hosting St. Cloud State and finishing off the season with a home-and-home series against Western Michigan. 

The puck drops for their next game at 7:05 p.m. on Jan. 29 at home against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.