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Hockey looks to turn season around after miserable series at St. Cloud

Junior forward Joe Cassetti reaches for the puck in Miami's 2-2 tie against Bowling Green.
Junior forward Joe Cassetti reaches for the puck in Miami's 2-2 tie against Bowling Green.

When the Atlanta Braves entered this August — the second-to-last month of Major League Baseball’s regular season — with a losing record, no one would have predicted that they’d be World Series Champions come November. But the Braves persisted, and a late July roster reshuffle helped the team go from mediocre to the top of the baseball world. 

In life and sports, when things aren’t going well we look for potential turning points. Lines of demarcation that separate bad from good and old from new. Chances for a new beginning. Sometimes — like in the Braves case — it happens.

Miami hockey has been looking for its own turning point all year. Success on the ice has been inconsistent and fleeting for the RedHawks this season. The team is 1-12-1 in National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) play, and careening toward a sixth consecutive bottom two NCHC finish. 

Sure, there have been good moments: a conference-slate opening win against Omaha, a victory going into the holiday break, a shocking upset of No. 7 Minnesota Duluth earlier this month. All of those events had RedHawk fans dreaming of better days ahead. But so far, the big turning point hasn’t come.

The RedHawks shouldn’t have to look farther than the results of last weekend’s games against No. 6 St. Cloud for their season changing moment (or at least the necessary motivation). Miami got outscored 19-1 in two games against the Huskies. The RedHawks only managed 27 shots to St Cloud’s 67 over 120 minutes of game time. 

It was a humiliating weekend for Miami — the worst they’ve lost a series since the NCHC was re-formed before the 2013-14 season.

“We just didn’t put up much of a fight,” Miami head coach Chris Bergeron said after Saturday’s game. 

If being handled like that can’t cause these RedHawks to turn it around — at least to some degree — it seems fair to say that there probably isn’t anything that will. 

Miami still has time to make this a successful season. All eight teams in the NCHC qualify for the conference’s postseason tournament, so right now it looks like Miami will play a best-of-three series against the number one seed for a chance to advance to the semi-finals. When that series rolls around, nothing that happened before it will matter. 

Miami has five regular season series left. The gauntlet that is an NCHC schedule continues — four of those series are against current top twenty teams and two feature top-five opponents. If nothing else, it’s the perfect opportunity for the ’Hawks to work on their craft before trying to shock the eventual regular season champ in the playoffs. 

Next, Miami plays No. 5 Denver at home. Puck drops on game one between the RedHawks and the Pioneers at Cady Arena Friday, January 28, at 7:05 p.m. Saturday’s game starts at 5:05 p.m.

SCOUTING REPORT

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GAME 1

Miami RedHawks vs. Denver Pioneers

Faceoff: 7:05 p.m. Friday, January 28, at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio

MIAMI REDHAWKS

Record: 4-18-2 (1-12-1 NCHC)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Player (position, class, key stats)

PJ Fletcher (forward, sophomore, 24 gp, 5 g, 10 a)

Derek Daschke (defenseman, senior, 24 gp, 2 g, 14 a)

Red Savage (center, freshman, 23 gp, 4 g, 8 a)

Matt Barbolini (forward, freshman, 24 gp, 8 g, 6 a)

Matt Barry (forward, senior, 24 gp, 5 g, 6 a)

Ludvig Persson (goaltender, sophomore, 2 gp, 1-0-0, .867 save percentage)

DENVER PIONEERS

Record: 16-5-1 (9-3-0 NCHC)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Player (position, class, key stats)

Bobby Brink (forward, junior, 22 gp, 8 g, 24 a)

Carter Savoie (forward, sophomore, 20 gp, 13 g, 16 a)

Sean Behrens (forward, freshman, 20 gp, 2 g, 16 a)

Brett Stapely (defenseman, senior, 22 gp, 10 g, 15 a

Magnus Chrona (goaltender, junior, 20 gp, 15-4-1, .916 save percentage)

GAME 2

Miami RedHawks vs. Denver Pioneers

Faceoff: 5:05 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio

@jackschmelzinger

schmelj2@miamioh.edu

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