You know the drill by now. Today’s team is the #3 Miami Redhawks
Last year Miami featured the Hobey Baker winner and one of the best offenses in all of college hockey. They finished 3rd in the CCHA and were a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Though they were upset by UNH in the first round, they took another step towards establishing themselves as one of the best programs in the country. A solid group back, plus some very good recruits (though, not as many as there should be) make Miami a title threat once again.
Forwards: We just talked about North Dakota having to replace Matt Frattin, and Miami has an even tougher job. Andy Miele led the country with 71 points (1.82 per game) en route to winning the Hobey. Teammate Carter Camper was almost as good, finishing with 57 points (1.46 per game). That’s tough to do in any league, but especially in the CCHA, which had exactly half of the 12 stingiest defenses last year.
Fortunately, Miami brings back Reilly Smith, who may have had the most talent of anyone on the team last year. He was 4th nationally at 1.42 points per game, and led the Redhawks with 28 goals. His 21 goals in CCHA play led the league.
Beyond Smith, Miami has a group of forwards who don’t classify as spectacular, but they do their job very well. Alden Hirschfeld (12 goals), Curtis McKenzie (7) and Trent Vogelhuber (7) are the top scorers, but pretty much all of their forwards are very good defensively as well – a big reason why Miami has been among the stingiest defenses nationally the past couple of seasons.
The best incoming Freshman is Tyler Biggs, a first round pick of the Maple Leafs, who was one of only two forwards to get called up to the NTDP U-18 team in his first year at the program. He’s a big kid and while I think his offensive upside is limited he’ll be hell to face for opposing forwards.
Defensemen: There’s no Alec Martinez in this group, and I think they can all be described in roughly the same way: not a ton of upside but all have good skill and are very solid and fit Miami’s system very well. There’s a reason why the Redhawks allowed just 2.07 goals in CCHA games, and led the conference with a 90.5% success rate in conference games.
Personally I think Chris Wideman is their best defenseman, but I am also a big fan of Will Weber. Watch for Ben Paulides to make an impact as a Freshman, but one who won’t be making an impact as a Freshman is Connor Murphy. Murphy is heading to the CHL and while he was a first round pick, he is a pretty small kid and already has a knee injury under his belt. A college degree might have been a good idea.
Goaltenders: Two years ago Miami had the best goalie tandem in the country. This past year both were a bit worse, though Knapp was still very good. He probably will be right around his .925 save% in CCHA play again, whereas I expect Reichard to improve a bit on his .914 mark, especially with the group of defensemen back for the Redhawks.