Amidst a hot goaltender’s performance and a finally-successful power play, Miami hockey is still plagued by an inability to sweep National Collegiate Hockey Conference opponents. The RedHawks lost 2-1 on Friday to Colorado College, but battled back to win 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.
Junior goaltender Ryan Larkin stopped 63 of the 67 shots he faced against the Tigers (5-6-1, 1-5-0 NCHC), while also logging an assist on Friday night. Saturday night, Larkin shined and helped his team weather a 36-shot storm as the RedHawks only generated 26.
“Obviously, if your goaltender’s the best player on the ice, you’re going to have some success,” head coach Enrico Blasi said earlier this season.
Larkin’s performance led his team to a fourth straight week in the USCHO.com’s top-20 poll. With the split, the RedHawks (9-5, 3-3 NCHC) are ranked 19th for the second time this season, and moved up from the 20th spot last week.
Freshman defenseman Derek Daschke’s goal and assist to Saturday’s game-winning goal earned him the NCHC Rookie of the Week award. From the blue line, Daschke ranks third on the RedHawks with 11 points (3g, 8a).
Senior forward Josh Melnick also finished with a multi-point weekend (2a) and leads Miami with 13 points.
The trend of veteran leadership and successful newcomers continues for the RedHawks. Freshman forward Monte Graham had two assists against CC, while Noah Jordan, another freshman forward, got his first collegiate point off an assist to the RedHawks’ first goal on Saturday.
Regardless of who finds the back of the net, the RedHawks are most successful when scoring first. Miami boasts a 8-1 record when beating its opponents to the scoreboard. The first goal was the difference this weekend, as senior defenseman River Rymsha opened scoring on Saturday en route to Miami’s victory.
The ’Hawks also proved adept at limiting opponents on the scoresheet, allowing an average of 1.86 goals for the season – good for fifth in the nation and a dramatic improvement from last year’s 3.46 GAA.
Still, room for improvement remains as the RedHawks’ went 0-for-4 on the power play on Friday. It wasn’t until overtime on Saturday when Miami finally found success on the man-advantage, ultimately winning the game off sophomore forward Casey Gilling’s goal.
A 16.4 power play percentage is 41st in the country, though a 84.5 percent penalty kill percentage (17th) bodes slightly better for the RedHawks’ future.
And limiting Larkin’s workload, like Miami hockey did earlier in the season, will only help the program as it tries to get over .500 in conference play.
Miami hockey has yet to win a weekend against an NCHC opponent since January 2017. And its schedule doesn’t get any easier. After a non-conference breather this weekend, the RedHawks are slated to play No. 1 St. Cloud State before the December holiday break.
The RedHawks will have to wait a weekend to attempt to remedy their NCHC woes, as they spend Thanksgiving weekend in Durham, N.H. to play the New Hampshire Wildcats (1-6-3, 1-3-2 Hockey East). Puck drop is at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.
*Due to travel, the team could not be reached for comment.