After going winless in December and January, Miami hockey aimed to kick off February with a much-needed victory.
That didn’t happen.
The RedHawks lost 5-1 to the St. Cloud State Huskies on Friday night, only to repeat the 5-1 performance again on Saturday night. The pair of losses on the road in St. Cloud, Minn., extends Miami’s winless streak to 14 games and losing streak to eight.
“It’s hard,” senior defenseman River Rymsha said. “We’ve just got to keep doing the right things. Hopefully one of these days we can get a break that goes our way and start getting back in the win column.”
The last time the ’Hawks (9-15-4, 3-11-2 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) lost eight games in a row was during the 1995-96 season. The last time Miami hockey went winless for more than 14 games was during the 1990-91 season, when current head coach Enrico Blasi was a freshman forward. They went 17 games without a win.
Blasi could not be reached for comment before publication. His weekly Monday press conference was pushed back to this afternoon, and there was no on-ice practice on Monday for the ’Hawks due to travel on Sunday.
Miami’s last victory came on Nov. 17, 2018 when the RedHawks beat Colorado College 3-2 in overtime. Most recently, Miami tied Providence on Jan. 5 for its last non-loss.
“At some point, everybody’s gone through this,” Rymsha said. “Whether it’s at the college level or the junior ranks or growing up, everyone has a little taste of what it’s like. But, at the end of the day, you’ve just got to keep working and get back to the basics. Hopefully, we can steer this around.”
In the past eight games, Miami has been outscored 33-10, with nine of those goals scored on the penalty kill. The ’Hawks went 7-for-11 on the man-disadvantage against the Huskies this weekend.
But Miami’s two goals from the weekend came on the power play, and the man-advantage went 2-for-9.
Playing in his first games back from injury, senior forward and co-captain Josh Melnick assisted on both goals. Melnick and junior forward Gordie Green now lead the RedHawks with 20 points each. Green finished the weekend with a goal and assist.
“[Melnick’s] a good leader,” Rymsha said. “He knows the right things to say at the right time. For me, it was more his presence — getting him back in the locker room, getting him back on the ice. He’s a big part of the team and it was really exciting to see him out there.”
At the other end, senior goaltender Jordan Uhelski saw 31 shots on Friday, and junior goaltender Ryan Larkin faced 36 shots on Saturday. The duo had 26 and 31 saves, respectively.
Regardless of these ugly statlines, the RedHawks find strength in The Brotherhood.
“You love your teammates, you love the game,” Rymsha said. “When you have those two things, it makes it easier to go through something like this — when you know you’re going through it with guys you love, playing the game you love.”
The ’Hawks will play the game they still love against the University of Nebraska Omaha (8-16-2, 4-11-2 NCHC) at the Steve “Coach” Cady Arena this weekend. Miami, now eighth out of eight teams in the NCHC, faces UNO, which sits two points above the RedHawks in the league standings.
After a bye-week starting Feb. 17, Miami will end the season playing three NCHC teams consistently ranked in the USCHO.com’s top-20 poll — current No. 5 Minnesota Duluth, No. 7 Denver and No. 8 Western Michigan.
For a team defined by its preseason and early season energy, the RedHawks hope their energy will soon translate to wins.
“[The energy] is definitely still there,” Rymsha said. “It’s a little bit harder right now with the losses, but guys are still enjoying coming to the rink. Guys are still joking around. That same energy is still there. It can get a little frustrating at times, but hey, that’s hockey and we’re going to be fine.”
Puck drop is at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night and 7:05 p.m. on Saturday. Friday’s contest between the RedHawks and the Mavericks will air on CBS Sports.
Correction: The printed version of this story contains incorrect information about the pair of losses extending a 14-game winless streak.