By John Lachmann
It’s a new year, and hopefully that means the Miami hockey team will be able to live up to its preseason potential.
Ranked No. 2 to start the season, the RedHawks are 9-7-2 and ranked 13th. They also dropped a 4-2 decision to the U.S. National Under-18 team on New Year’s Eve, 4-2 on their home ice.
But that was in 2013. So there’s no need to harp on what went wrong in the previous calendar year.
Let’s look at what Miami needs to improve upon if it wants to rejuvenate this season.
SCORING FROM OTHER SOURCES – Miami is 12th in the NCAA in scoring, but this was supposed to be the RedHawks’ forte entering this season.
They were ranked second in the country entering this season.
Through 18 games, only five players are averaging better than a half-point per game. Just past the midpoint of the season, the sixth-place scorers have eight points, which cannot be what the coaching staff had envisioned entering 2013-14.
CUTTING DOWN BARBER AND CZARNIK’S MINUTES – Sophomore Riley Barber just returned from a trip to the World Juniors in Sweden and junior Austin Czarnik recovered from his extensive first-half on-ice minutes.
They were both overused between their regular shifts and special teams in the first half.
GET HEALTHY – Miami has generally had pretty good luck when it comes to injuries, but the bug has struck this season.
Junior forward Blake Coleman suffered an upper body injury and will miss part of January’s schedule. Sophomore defenseman Taylor Richart was limping in a boot at the New Year’s exhibition game. Junior forward Jimmy Mullin did not come out for the third period of that game, although his status is unknown.
BETTER UTILIZE TALENTED PLAYERS – Mullin has six points. Mullin, who made a video when he was 16 and committed at that age. Mullin, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Senior forward Bryon Paulazzo, who has two goals in the eight games he has played.
Freshman forward Devin Loe is 2-2-4 in five games.
Stick with freshman defenseman Johnny Wingels, who > freshman Trevor Hamilton at this point.
And, most importantly…
WIN CLOSE GAMES – The RedHawks are 3-6-2 in games decided by two goals or less and 0-3 in one-goal games.
It’s a tough conference and struggling in close games is tantamount to a death sentence with Miami’s schedule.
Even one more loss flipped to a win would make the RedHawks 10-6-2, which would look so much better than 9-7-2.