The Miami University RedHawks host the Colorado College Tigers this weekend in what is sure to be some tenacious hockey.
Last season, the Tigers defeated the RedHawks twice in tight games, one of which went to a shootout.
“It's a team we feel like we owe a couple games against,” RedHawk goaltender Logan Neaton said. “So obviously there's a lot of motivation heading into the weekend, but overall just excitement.”
Neaton boasts the third highest save percentage in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) since taking over the starting position at the beginning of this season. Expect him to be hungry and play a huge role in keeping the game close for the ’Hawks.
The Winnipeg Jets’ prospect has spent the past four seasons as backup and is ready to prove he belongs.
“To be able to come to the rink and kind of have that pressure again and have those expectations on you is something I'm really grateful to have,” Neaton said.
The pressure will certainly be there for the ’Hawks. The Colorado College Tigers are in a similar spot as Miami Hockey: rebuilding and coming off a losing weekend.
“I expect a hungry team that's building off of what they've been doing the last couple of years,” Miami head coach Chris Bergeron said.
The Tigers did something last year that the RedHawks did not: make an NCHC Frozen Faceoff Finals appearance. Despite finishing seventh in the NCHC regular season last year, Colorado College was one game away from an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Momentum is the name of the game in hockey, as demonstrated by this Colorado College team. Teams can have a losing record, but still make a playoff run with momentum.
In a similar way, momentum will play a huge role for this Miami program looking to make a turnaround.
“Having that short memory and just like we do after a good weekend, we just kind of cut it loose and go back to work on Monday,” RedHawk captain Jack Clement said.
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Last season, Miami struggled to build any momentum, having no more than two consecutive wins all season. Early this season, though, Miami built up a four-game winning streak against three different teams, showing promise for a program that’s struggled for the past few years.
“It's important to get off to a good start, get some good points, and kind of build that momentum as we move into the thick of the conference schedule,” Neaton said.
If Miami can build that momentum now, the RedHawks will be a real competitor and dangerous opponent as the season continues.