Ben Blanchard, Sports Editor
Last weekend, desperate for its first win since late October, the Miami University hockey team (3-8-4 overall, 0-4-2 NCHC) seemed on the verge of breaking its seven-game winless skid. Leading Cornell 2-0 late in the second period Friday, the ‘Hawks seemed to be well on their way to victory. Four periods later, however, MU was swept by the Big Red, both losses (Friday 4-3 and Saturday 2-1) coming by agonizing one-goal margins.
“We’ve had some close games,” sophomore forward Josh Melnick said. “I think a full 60-minute team game is what we need. Friday’s game, we came out strong, had a good first and second period, then in the third we got away from our game and let them come back. Saturday was the opposite, we came out flat for the first two periods, then in the third, we battled hard, but you can’t wait until the third period to play the right way.”
Still without a win in National Collegiate Hockey Conference play and in the months of November and December, this weekend’s home series against NCHC opponent Colorado College (3-11 overall, 1-5 NCHC) is pivotal to Miami’s hopes of turning the campaign around.
Against CC, a familiar conference opponent, head coach Enrico Blasi knows what his team should expect this weekend.
“Their speed has always been really good, they skate and play hard,” Blasi said. “Their offense is really, really good. Their rush tactics and the way they create in transition and the offensive zone is something we have to be aware of and pay special attention to. We know how our league is, you have to be ready to play and play your best.”
While the Tigers, like all teams in the ultra-competitive NCHC, are talented, their recent results have been similar to the RedHawks, as CC has lost seven straight.
Last season, MU fell twice at Colorado before sweeping the Tigers in Oxford, 3-0 and 4-0, the last time the teams faced.
The majority of the RedHawks, however, have never played a minute against the Tigers. 14 of MU’s 26 players are first-years, including starters goaltender Ryan Larkin, forward Carson Meyer and defenseman Jared Brandt.
Meyer will look to continue an exceptional rookie season, as he has the third-most points (12) of any Miami skater, including the first goal last Friday and only tally Saturday.
Starting senior forward Anthony Louis will also be key to MU’s chances this weekend, as the Chicago Blackhawks prospect leads Miami with 18 points (9g, 9a) through 15 games.
“If we focus on executing and competing for those 60 minutes, we should be able to finish teams off,” Melnick said. “If we focus on execution and finishing chances, bearing down in the paint and committing ourselves to the process, this team will be successful.”
The puck drops in the Goggin Ice Center 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Friday’s tilt will be broadcast on the Fox College Sports network, and both games will be livestreamed at NCHC.tv and aired on 1490-AM and 100.9-FM WKBV.