By Steve Perkins, staff writer, and Grace Remington, sports editor
The Miami University hockey team (0-1-1-0) opens its second weekend of the year with a home-and-home series against instate rival Ohio State University (0-2-0-0). The RedHawks look to bounce back from last weekend’s tough start to the season against Providence College, in which they mustered one point.
Senior forward and alternate captain Kevin Morris said the team can learn from the weekend.
“Our young guys are able to see what a national contender looks like,” Morris said. “We can’t really take anything for granted. We have to stick to the process and really focus on the little things that ultimately lead to wins.”
The rivalry with OSU is the RedHawks’ longest-running series. Miami is 73-61-13 all-time against the Buckeyes, including a 10-2-1 record in the last four years.
Miami is still seeking its first regular season win. Sophomore defenseman and alternate captain Louie Belpedio believes the RedHawks will find the win this weekend.
“We have to play our game,” Belpedio said. “Coach always says if they play their best, and we play our best, we will win.”
The Buckeyes are also winless after dropping both games during a home-and-home series with Bowling Green State University last weekend. OSU lost 6-3 last Friday at home and lost 2-0 the following Saturday on the road. Junior forward Nick Schilkey scored twice for OSU in its season opener.
Ohio State goaltender Christian Frey did not start last Saturday after giving up four goals on 33 shots to start the season. During his last meeting with Miami, Frey held the ’Hawks to two goals on 62 shots.
Last weekend was the first winless opening weekend for MU since the 2003-2004 campaign. The RedHawks have never opened a season with three losses during head coach Enrico Blasi’s tenure. The last time it happened was in the 1998-1999 season, when Miami started 0-3-1 under head coach Mark Mazzoleni.
Blasi said the records don’t concern him.
“Well, I think it’s just like any other weekend where we play each other,” Blasi said. “It doesn’t matter what the teams do the weekend before or the weekend after. It’s a battle, and there’s not a lot of room out there. We’re looking forward to two really good games.”
In last weekend’s series against Providence, six Miami skaters played their first collegiate games, and all seven freshmen dressed for the weekend. Rookies forwards Jack Roslovic (one goal, one assist) and Josh Melnick (one goal, one assist) and rookie defenseman Grant Hutton (one assist) all notched their first NCAA points against the Friars.
Senior forward Alex Gacek posted two assists in back-to-back games against PC. In his first three years on the team, he had only four multi-point games.
The RedHawk defenders also made big contributions. Six of the seven blue liners recorded at least one point, combining for seven points (3g, 4a) against Providence.
Morris said he was also eager for the series.
“It’s always a good rivalry,” Morris said. “We always have a really good turnout in Columbus. We’re excited. We know they’re always a competitive team.”
Puck drop is 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus, Ohio. The second game begins at 7:05 p.m. in Oxford, Ohio.