Miami looks to climb out of the NCHC basement with 9 freshmen added to the mix
RedHawks have finished eighth in the conference each of the last two seasons
ST. PAUL — No one said a turnaround was going to be easy for Miami's men's hockey team for Chris Bergeron, who took over as head coach before the 2019-20 season.
It has been some tough sledding for the RedHawks, who have finished last in the eight-team NCHC each of the last two seasons. And Miami has been picked to finish last in a preseason poll of the media who cover the conference.
Bergeron went through a rebuild when he was the head coach at Bowling Green before he took over at Miami. Last season, the RedHawks struggled despite having a returning All-NCHC First Team goalie in Ludvig Persson. So what will be the start to turning things around?
"(Persson) has brought a work ethic that I've seen very, very little of in the last 20 years," Bergeron said. "The problem comes that he just takes on too much on himself. He doesn't need to be Superman.
"We need to help him. We need to play better in front of him. The other thing is he believes we should be winning and isn't OK with losing. Unfortunately — but the reality is — too many people have gotten used to losing at Miami. That's going to take a bunch of kids saying, 'No more.'"
There are a lot of new faces on the roster with nine freshmen to try to take up that mantra.
"We got to campus a couple weeks early and did a golf outing, trying to get to know everyone before we really get into it for the season," Miami senior defenseman Jack Clement said. "I'm really excited about the guys we've brought in. Looking forward to it."
Head coach: Chris Bergeron (4th season at Miami, 20-66-9 overall, 14-52-6 NCHC; 13th overall, 191-220-53 overall).
Last season’s record and finish: 7-27-2 overall, 4-19-1 NCHC. Lost in opening round of NCHC playoffs at Denver.
Last season’s NCHC finish: 8th out of 8 teams.
NCHC preseason media poll: 8th.
Notable changes: The RedHawks lost captain and defenseman Derek Daschke — the team's leader in points (28) — to the transfer portal (he is with Minnesota Duluth this season). Forward Matt Barry, who finished third on the team in points (23), graduated. Assistant coach Eric Rud left to become the head coach of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede.
Outlook: Ludvig Persson was an All-NCHC First Team selection as a freshman, but saw his numbers slide last season under a heavy workload (32 games, 37.6 shots against per game, the most in the nation). Look for a bounce back season for a player known for his work ethic, desire to win. The RedHawks need to help with more offense (2.6 goals-per-game, 34th nationally) and a better penalty kill (74.5%, 53rd).
New faces: Freshmen forwards John Waldron, Frankie Carogioiello, Artur Turansky, Blake Mesenburg, William Hallen, Maxwell Dukovac; defensemen Michael Feenstra, Axel Kumlin.