Ben Blanchard, Sports Editor
After suffering a sweep at Western Michigan in last weekend’s opening National Collegiate Hockey Conference series, the Miami University hockey team looks to bounce back in a home series against the University of Nebraska-Omaha this weekend.
The two losses to the Broncos continued a three-game losing streak for the RedHawks, who have been outscored 15-6 over the skid.
The three losses came on the heels of a five-game unbeaten streak, as MU is now 3-4-2 overall and 0-2 in NCHC play.
While consecutive defeats weren’t the desired result for the ‘Hawks, head coach Enrico Blasi believes that his young team is committed to growing and learning from its mistakes.
“As much as everyone wants to see outcomes, the process is what’s important,” Blasi said. “Our plan hasn’t changed, we need to make sure we focus on the things we did well, but also learn from the things we didn’t do well and why we didn’t do them.”
With 14 freshmen and six sophomores on Miami’s 26-man roster, some early trials and tribulations shouldn’t come as a shock.
However, even in defeat, the young RedHawks have continued to show promise. In all three losses, Miami led at one point, and in both games at WMU, entered the second period tied or leading.
“It comes down to our heart,” sophomore forward Kiefer Sherwood said. “We have to find it in our hearts and muster up the will to win, that’s the difference right now. We’ve sat back when we’ve had leads, and you can’t do that in our conference, the competition is too good.”
The Mavericks (4-3-1 overall, 1-1 NCHC) split a pair of home NCHC games with Colorado College last weekend, losing 2-1 and winning 6-4.
“They’re a well-constructed team, they’ve got a bunch of good forwards that can skate well and finish,” Sherwood said. “I think their forwards are maybe the most skilled up front in our league.”
UNO’s senior winger Austin Ortega has sparked the Mavericks’ offensive efforts this season, tallying seven goals and four assists through eight games. Against the ‘Hawks last season, Omaha’s all-time leader in game-winning goals (13) notched two goals and an assist.
Last season, MU went 2-1-1 against Omaha to increase its all-time series lead to 20-12-5. In those games, Sherwood picked up two goals and two assists, while senior forward Anthony Louis had three goals and two assists.
Through eight games, Sherwood leads all RedHawk skaters with 12 points (4g, 8a), with Louis right behind with 11 (7g, 4a).
Freshman goaltender Ryan Larkin has started every game for the Red and White, and will look to improve upon his .907 save percentage and 2.73 goals against average this weekend. Before Larkin gave up 11 goals in last weekend’s sweep, he was 15th in the nation with a .927 save percentage.
The last time the two teams played, Miami won 7-3, as now-junior forward Conor Lemirande contributed a hat trick, his only three goals of the season.
Returning to home ice bodes well for the ‘Hawks, as they are 2-1-2 at home and 1-3 on the road.
“Playing at home is definitely an edge for us,” Louis said. “We always love playing at home, but especially when we’ve been on the road.”
Puck drop in Steve ‘Coach’ Cady Arena is 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.