Despite being 7-27-2 last year, there are many things to be hopeful for this hockey season. The Redhawks played half of their games against top-10 teams last season, and they were tied or ahead in 20 of those games by the time the third period rolled around.
The young core that carried the team last season still remains. Hopefully, with experience from last season, Miami University’s young guns will be able to get over that third-period hump and restore “The Brotherhood” back to its rightful place at the top.
Which young guns should you be watching this year?
Well, after watching many of Miami’s games up close last season, I believe these five players are going to make the biggest impact during the 2022-2023 hockey season.
5. Ludvig Persson
All Hail King Ludvig.
Last season Ludvig Persson set a school record for saves in a season, after shutting down a whopping 1,027 shots in 33 games. While his goals against average and save percentages were not stellar, he still managed to make key saves that kept our boys running with some of the best teams in the country.
Persson did let some goals trickle in last year that probably should have been saved, but there is not much you can do when your defense is allowing the shot count to tick into the 50s.
However, with another year of experience under his belt and a more seasoned defense in front of him, Persson is bound to be a red brick wall in front of the net this year.
4. Matthew Barbolini
In hockey, there are some games where the puck just seems to go exactly where you want it to go.
For Matthew Barbolini, it proved to be a common occurrence.
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Barbolini managed to have five multi-point games, including one against the No. 8 team in the country and 2019 National Champions, Minnesota Duluth. His hard work on the ice earned him an invite to the Nashville Predators Development Camp this past summer.
Furthermore, Barbolini managed to be the only Miami skater to have a positive plus/minus rating. He also successfully won just over half of his faceoffs. Pair Barbolini with teammates Red Savage and PJ Fletcher, and the Redhawks are bound to have a lethal first line for this upcoming season.
3. Hampus Rydqvist
Hampus Rydqvist is one of those players you wish you could have ten of, because when he is on the ice good things happen.
Of the players currently on the team, Rydqvist had the fourth-most shots on the team last season, despite being a defenseman. His style of play facilitates puck movement in the offensive zone.
Arguably, Rydqvist’s biggest contribution was his ability to block shots. He blocked 52 shots in his 28 games played. The Swede won the team award for most outstanding defensive player, likely due to his shot blocking efforts and his superb play against attacking foes.
You can expect big things on both sides of the puck from Hampus Rydqvist this season.
2. PJ Fletcher
I ran into PJ Fletcher the other day and he assured me that the team will be a lot better this year. His offensive production and 24 points last year earned him the team's most outstanding offensive player award, and we should expect nothing less from him this year.
Hampus was one of four Miami Players invited to NHL developmental camps this past summer, where he faced off against other rising hockey stars. Knowing that he is an elite enough player to be invited to one of these camps boosts my confidence that Miami’s offense is in safe hands for this upcoming season
1. Red Savage
I would be remiss not to mention Savage on this list. Even if you don’t really follow the hockey team, you have likely heard about him. Savage burst onto the scene last season, tallying 16 points in 35 games. Due to his efforts he earned four NCHC Rookie of the Week Awards, an NCHC C0-Rookie of the Month in January and the team award for most outstanding rookie player.
Savage came into Miami already having been drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, and he did not fail to live up to the hype surrounding an NHL draftee. His shifty style of play enables him to get the puck deep into the offensive zone and create opportunities that you didn’t even know existed.
Keep an eye on Miami Hockey’s poster child this season. I believe that last season was just the beginning for this future NHL star.