By Steve Perkins, For The Miami Student
After winning the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs and making its ninth NCAA appearance in the last 10 tournaments, Miami University hockey begins its 2015-2016 season Friday.
The RedHawks finished 25-14-1 (14-9-1-1 NCHC) last season. Seven freshmen join a 24-man squad that returns 10 seniors.
Below is a line-by-line breakdown.
First line: Kevin Morris – Sean Kuraly – Josh Melnick
This is a leadership-heavy line with the ability to dictate the style of play. Morris and Kuraly are both seniors and captains this year with enough size to rumble in the corners and force the play to the middle, while smaller, skilled forward freshman Josh Melnick works for perimeter shots and speed around the outside.
Second line: Anthony Louis – Jack Roslovic – Alex Gacek
This is a very skilled line that may cause big matchup issues for opponents. Louis is a natural goal scorer and player who can move the puck well. He has great vision for teammates who like to make cuts and find open lanes.
Right-winger Gacek is the Energizer Bunny of this line – he just keeps going and going. All jokes aside, Gacek is one of the hardest working guys on the team. He returns this year as a senior who could potentially fill the void of Blake Coleman with his similar work ethic and style.
The two are centered by first round draft pick Roslovic. The freshman from Columbus fits in with Louis and Gacek nicely. This second line will lead to a lot of scoring.
Third line: Michael Mooney – Ryan Siroky – Kiefer Sherwood
This line will be quiet this year, but expect them to produce. Senior left-winger Michael Mooney leads by example, working hard and focusing on the little things. His freshman line mates, Ryan Siroky and Kiefer Sherwood, are average-sized forwards with the ability to shine. Size could be a slightly bigger problem than skill for this line. If they can keep from being pushed around, they’ll find success.
Fourth line: Conor Lemirande – Devin Loe – Andrew Schmit
This line is the big line. With an average size of 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, this line boasts NHL size. These three forwards haven’t contributed much on the scoresheet, amounting a combined 18 points in 122 games, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fulfill a role. Look for some quick-hitting set faceoff plays. Loe was 9-4 on face-offs Saturday.
First line: Louie Belpedio – Matthew Caito
This is a strong defensive unit that started most of last season’s games together. Belpedio brings an extra offensive charge to the Miami defense and wears the alternate “A” this season, after putting up 19 points last year from the blue line. Caito is a solid stay-at-home defenseman who can fire the puck when necessary.
Second line: Scott Dornbrock – Chris Joyaux
This is the biggest defensive pair the RedHawks have this year. Sophomore Scott Dornbrock checks in at 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, while senior Chris Joyaux stands at 6-feet, 199-pounds. These two are pretty solid in their own end, combining for a +12 in 150 games.
Third line: Grant Hutton – Taylor Richart
On the left side, big freshman Grant Hutton is complimented by a smaller, but more experienced, senior. Hutton is a little thinner than Dornbrock, standing at 6-foot-3, but weighing 205 pounds. Richart has 15 points and is a -1 in his 99-game career at Miami.
The two seniors will most likely see even playing time throughout the season.
Jay Williams: In 65 games as a RedHawk, the senior out of McLean, Virginia has a career save percentage of .911 and a 2.29 goals against average.
Ryan McKay: Also a senior, McKay is one of the biggest guys on the team (6-foot-1, 230 pounds), and that helps him take up a lot of net. His .920 save percentage and 2.31 GAA in 65 games make him and Williams seem interchangeable.