Congratulations to the seniors of the Miami Hockey team.
With the RedHawks’ victory against Bowling Green, Ray Eichenlaub, Michael Findorff, Brian Kaufman, Alexandre Lacombe, Bill Loupee, Justin Mercier and Kevin Roeder became the most successful senior class with their 99th victory Saturday night.
The game could not have been more fitting. Kaufman, the unheralded captain of the team, started the scoring with his seventh goal of the season. Kaufman, playing in his 112th career game, scored his 27th career goal and registered his 52nd and 53rd career assists. After scoring only one goal in eight games as a freshman, few expected the senior to put up robust offensive numbers, let alone display the type of leadership that would see him named captain this season.
And then there was Kevin Roeder. With Miami trailing in the third period, something unpredictable happened-an event so rare, it has only happened five times in 141 games. Roeder scored.
In 141 games, Roeder has seen the score sheet just 33 times. And while the defenseman has not had consistent offensive production in his career (freshman Chris Wideman already has 19 assists in less than one season), it has been his lockdown defense that allowed Miami to go 99-39-13 in the past four seasons. While most of what Roeder does is not in the score sheet, his career plus-51 shows his value. This means when the defenseman is on the ice, Miami has scored 51 more goals than they have given up when at even-strength or shorthanded.
Towards the end of the game, more senior magic entailed. Lacombe, who had not scored a goal since Oct. 25 against Alaska, tallied the game winner. While it was only his 56th game, Miami moved to 7-1-1 in his career when the forward found the back of the net. It was also the second time this season Lacombe scored the game-winning goal.
While the other four seniors did not contribute in the scoring column Saturday night (Eichenlaub and Findorff did not play), they have also been an important part of the success of this senior class.
Mercier, the only draft pick among the lot, is two points away from 100 in his career. In his first two seasons, the forward had 35 points. Then, the future Colorado Avalanche winger exploded onto the scene with 25 goals and 15 assists last season. Expected to be the offensive powerhouse for the Red and White this season, Mercier is third on the team in scoring with 23 points. In 144 career games, he has also spent 181 minutes in the penalty box. A hard-nosed offensive presence, Mercier has been integral to the success of Miami hockey the past four seasons.
In addition to Mercier’s constant ice presence, Ray Eichenlaub played 138 games in the past four seasons. A steady force on the blue line, the defenseman has anchored Miami while still amassing 44 points. Eichenlaub has been a crucial part of the team’s defensive prowess and under his direction, Miami’s freshman defensemen have found a great mentor.
Less heralded, Loupee and Findorff have also left a mark on the program. Though he only has 18 points in four seasons, Loupee has played in 93 games for the Red and White. The team has never lost when he has had a multi-point game. This held true Saturday night with his two assists.
And do not forget Findorff either. While he has played in only one game this season, the forward has scored 5 five points in 39 career games. While used sparingly in the past two seasons, Findorff has still amassed a plus-5 and has a career plus-9.
These seven men are part of a very special class. In addition to their latest accomplishment, they have also been to three NCAA tournaments, played in two quarterfinals and won a CCHA championship. So congratulations to the Miami RedHawk seniors. Here is to hoping you get that 100th win against Lake Superior State Feb. 13, and with all that you have accomplished, maybe a Frozen Four or national championship before you end your Miami careers.