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Looking ahead after another disappointing season for Miami hockey

<p>Miami hockey is hoping to build on its strong 3-1 start better than last year. In 2022-23 the RedHawks started 4-1-1 and finished with a record of 8-24-4</p>

Miami hockey is hoping to build on its strong 3-1 start better than last year. In 2022-23 the RedHawks started 4-1-1 and finished with a record of 8-24-4

The Miami University RedHawks concluded another disappointing season with a pair of losses to the University of Denver in the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) playoffs by a combined margin of 13-4.

The results were indicative of those throughout much of the season, with the team posting an 8-24-4 overall record and going a meager 3-18-3 in conference play.

Miami got off to a hot start in non-conference play, posting a 4-1-1 record through the first three weeks of the season. The stretch included an impressive win against a top-20 team in UMass Lowell and a sweep against Canisius, who would go on to win the Atlantic Hockey Association and compete in the NCAA tournament.

The ’Hawks posted a few more notable results throughout the year, including a dominant 5-0 win against NCHC opponent and then No. 5 St. Cloud State, another NCAA tournament team. Other wins on the season came against Ferris State, North Dakota, Niagara and Minnesota Duluth. 

However, the majority of the season was a much different story. The RedHawks gave up almost twice as many goals per game as they scored across the entire season. They also faced multiple lengthy stretches without a win, including a 12-game stretch from Dec. 31 until Feb. 24.

Miami particularly struggled on special teams. The team only converted on 16.1% of their power play opportunities, ranking 46th out of 60 Division I programs, and the results weren’t any better on the penalty kill. The RedHawks collected the sixth-most penalty minutes on the year and only posted a 76.3% success rate on the penalty kill, ranking 55th in the nation. 

In the wake of this season’s struggles, several players have entered the transfer portal.

Photo by Macey Chamberlin | The Miami Student

A total of eight players from this year’s roster have chosen to enter the portal. Three players have already announced commitments, including starting goaltender Ludvig Persson and Detroit Red Wings draft pick Red Savage.

Persson is heading to the University of North Dakota. Although his stats for the season — a 3.67 goals against average and a .891 save percentage — don’t jump off the page, the junior goaltender kept the RedHawks in many games throughout the year.

Logan Neaton, a fifth-round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2019, currently slots in as Miami’s starting goalie for next season. Neaton had five starts and appeared in nine total games across the 2022-2023 season, posting a 3.60 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. Neaton will be entering his third season with the RedHawks after starting his college career at UMass-Lowell; however, the goaltender has only played in 22 games across his college career. 

Red Savage is joining the Michigan State Spartans after two seasons at Miami. Savage was a fourth-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2021, and he collected 30 points in 67 games with the RedHawks. A product of the U.S. National Development Program, Savage has also represented Team USA across several international competitions, most notably as a member of the United States’ World Juniors team in both 2022 and 2023. 

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Despite these significant departures, Miami will hope to retool with its incoming recruiting class and with newcomers via the transfer portal. 

Miami RedHawks 2023-2024 Recruiting Class:

Forward Tanyon Bajzer, Odessa Jackalopes (NAHL)

Forward Micah Berger, Wenatchee Wild (BCHL)

Defenseman Brasen Boser, Fargo Force (USHL)

Goalie Bruno Bruveris, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)

Forward John Emmons, Minot Minotauros (NAHL)

Forward Braedon Ford, Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)

Defenseman Declan Ride, Wentworth Gryphins (ACH)

Forward Dominick Rivelli, Langley Rivermen (BCHL)

Forward Raimonds Vitolins, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

(Source, College Hockey Inc.)

Vitolins and Bruveris are two of the most notable additions. The pair each have years of experience representing Latvia in international competition, and each were members of Latvia’s U-20 World Junior team in 2021-2022.

Bruveris, a goaltender, only posted an .891 save percentage across 38 games with Cedar Rapids last season. However, he gathered an impressive record of 20-12-3. Vitolins has an interesting background, having played 2 seasons with the University of Vermont before returning to the USHL for a year. He collected 40 points (18 goals and 22 assists) across 47 games with Green Bay in 2022-2023.

According to The Rink Live, two players have announced their decision to join the RedHawks via the transfer portal as well, Spencer Cox and Ryan Sullivan. Cox, a sophomore defenseman, collected a goal and 12 assists in 34 games last season with Long Island University, while Sullivan gathered two goals and an assist as a junior forward with UMass. 

After seven consecutive seasons with a losing record, the RedHawks will be looking to take some steps forward with a revamped squad in the 2023-2024 season.