By John Lachmann
Four seasons ago, the Miami hockey team was dominated by youth, with eight freshmen and six sophomores comprising the majority of its roster.
That team came within a minute of winning a national championship.
The RedHawks' roster Version 2012-13 contains 11 freshmen and seven sophomores, plus a senior graduate student in Marc Hagel who has not played a game in a Miami uniform.
Three current RedHawks have played more than 70 games with the team – senior defensemen Stephen Spinell and Joe Hartman and senior forward Curtis McKenzie.
"The good news is our staff has been through this before and we've kind of grown a little bit and we know what we can and can't do with young teams," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "We went through it last year a little bit and we went through it four years ago with that many freshmen. We have a pretty good blueprint of what we need to do and how to go about doing it."
More good news came in the form of the RedHawks' exhibition performance in a 6-2 win on Sunday over a Western Ontario team that went to the CIS (Canada's version of the NCAA) championship game last season.
That team's starting goalie was a former Chicago Blackhawks' third-round draft pick that was integral in the OHL Kitchener Rangers' Memorial Cup runner-up season in 2007-08.
"We as a coaching staff were really happy with what we saw," Blasi said. "When you only have eight practices before you play an exhibition game it's really hard to get a gauge of what they can and get do, and yeah, they've done some good things in practice against each other, but it's still practice. To see them in a game atmosphere with a uniform on in different situations – we were kind of tinkering a little bit with giving guys a chance in different positions – and I thought they handled themselves very well."
While that exhibition was an encouraging sign, not to mention paramount since the current freshman class could compose nearly half of the RedHawks' roster for the next four seasons, Blasi warned this team could experience growing pains.
In the next few days we'll evaluate the forwards, defensemen and goalies as Miami enters the 2012-13 season.