The All-Cady Arena First-Decade Team

It’s hard to believe the 2015-16 season will be Miami’s 10th at Cady Arena.

From opening night in 2006, a 5-2 win over Denver in the Ice Breaker, to the RedHawks’ series-clinching 4-0 win over Western Michigan in the best-of-3 series in the NCHC Tournament in March, much of the RedHawks’ rich history has been made in recent years at the picturesque rink on the south side of Oxford.

And many outstanding players have laced up their skates there, some of which are currently in the NHL, and many more just one step below in the AHL.

The Blog of Brotherhood takes a look at some of the top players that have taken the ice for Miami in recent years in its All-Cady Arena First-Decade Team.

These are players that were the best during their time in Oxford, not necessarily the most successful in their college hockey afterlives.

(NOTE: To qualify, players had to log at least two seasons at Cady Arena. Also, yes it is technically Cady Arena at the Goggin Ice Center, but the rinks will be referred to as Goggin – 1976-2006 – and Cady – 2006-present – in this piece)

GOALIE – Jeff Zatkoff.

Zatkoff save

Miami has produced several excellent goaltenders since opening the doors at Cady Arena, but Zatkoff stands alone at the top. He played one season at Goggin Arena and his final two at Cady, where he posted a 1.94 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Zatkoff’s 1.96 GAA is the second-best all-time at Miami, and he is tops in career save percentage at .927 (he went 2.02 and .928 in 2005-06, the final season at Goggin). He finished his three-year career with seven shutouts, and he left for the pros after his junior season.

Miami did not have the defensive depth it has boasted for the past several seasons when Zatkoff was between the pipes, making his numbers even more impressive. The RedHawks were not NCAA Tournament regulars when this rink opened, but by the time Zatkoff left Oxford, they were. Boston College ended all three seasons Zatkoff played for the RedHawks, but he picked up Miami’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win in 2007, holding New Hampshire to one goal in a 2-1 win. He also beat Air Force the next season to open the NCAAs and played a remarkable game in the RedHawks’ 4-3 overtime loss to BC in the regional final.

Zatkoff, a third-round draft pick of the Kings, is one of just five former Miami goalies to play in the NHL, and he is second on that list in games played with 21, logging a 2.58 GAA and .913 save percentage. He played most of 2014-15 with the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, where he went 18-18-2.45-.910.

DEFENSEMAN – Chris Wideman.

CWideman3

Wideman recorded 12 goals and 83 assists for 95 points in 2007-12, the most points of any Miami defenseman since Mitch Ganzak. Wideman came to Oxford as a true freshman at 18 and went 0-26-26 his rookie campaign, earning him First-Team, All-CCHA Rookie honors. He found his scoring touch as a sophomore, netting five goals to complement 17 assists for 22 points. Wideman went 3-20-23 his junior season and 4-20-24 his final year. He was at least plus-8 each season and finished his career plus-58.

At Miami, Wideman was an excellent quarterback on the power play, and it was nearly impossible to get the puck away from him or clear it past him on the man advantage. His defensive play improved greatly in his four years with the RedHawks, and despite being just 5-feet-10, he was more than able to hold his own in the defensive zone.

Wideman was drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round in 2009 and is still in the Senators’ system. He was called up once by Ottawa but has yet to get into an NHL game. However, he earned the AHL’s Eddie Shore Award for the league’s top defenseman this season, as he scored 19 goals and dished for 42 assists, tallying 61 points. The latter two led all league blueliners. Wideman has played three full seasons with AHL Binghamton, where he has 30 goals and 100 assists for 130 points. He just re-signed with the Senators and should get into his first NHL games in 2015-16.

DEFENSEMAN – Vincent LoVerde.

LoVerde

The perfect complement to Wideman, LoVerde was the textbook definition of a shutdown defenseman. He had just six goals and 30 assists in four seasons at Miami, but he finished plus-67 and blocked 237 shots in 2007-11.

LoVerde was a physical blueliner and a force on the penalty kill who almost never made a mistake in his own zone. While his role was mostly limited to defense with the RedHawks, he made crisp outlet passes to get the puck out of the D-Zone. And for the grinding role he played, LoVerde was highly discipline and had relatively low penalty minute totals, never reaching the 50 mark. He also overcame a heart virus that shut him down at the end of his junior season.

The six-feet, 205-pounder was not drafted, and like Wideman, came to Miami as a true freshman, playing his first game at 18½. He signed with the Kings and began his pro career in the ECHL in the fall of 2011. He played a season and a half for Ontario, scoring 12 goals and picking up 29 assists in 91 games at that level, and he has played for AHL Manchester since. LoVerde has logged 184 AHL games, scoring 13 goals and dishing for 40 helpers. He was named captain this past season, and his team won the Calder Cup, with LoVerde going 2-8-10 in 19 games during Manchester’s playoff run.

FORWARD – Reilly Smith.

Smith

Smith had a decent freshman season but was off the charts his next two campaigns before turning pro. Smith scored eight goals and set up 12 as a rookie, but he blew up with 28 goals his sophomore season and 30 more his final year, during which he earned First-Team All-West honors. Despite skipping his senior season, Smith is still 29th on Miami’s all-time points list with 122, and he is tied for ninth in goals on the RedHawks’ career leaderboard (66). Rick Kuraly’s career goal record of 101 set in 1983 seems unbreakable, but Smith might’ve topped him had he stayed for a fourth season, as he needed 35 to tie it after lighting the lamp 30 times as a junior.

Smith improved in every aspect of his game from the first day he set foot on the ice at Cady Arena. Obviously the goal totals are eye-popping, and he got better at finding the net in his three years, but he bulked up and became markedly better defensively.

Smith only needed 45 games in the AHL – where he went 14-21-35 – before sticking for good in the NHL. He came to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal in 2013, and he only missed one game in two seasons with the Bruins, scoring 33 goals and assisting on 58. He has exactly 100 NHL points (36 goals, 64 assists). Smith was on the move again this summer, and he will suit up for the Florida Panthers this fall.

FORWARD – Andy Miele.

NanooksF3

Miele is the only player in Miami history to win the Hobey Baker, awarded to college hockey’s top player. He was the only player in recent years to join the RedHawks mid-season, as he came in for the final 18 games of 2007-08 and racked up seven goals and seven assists. Miele’s points totals jumped to 31 his sophomore season, 44 his third year and an NCAA-best 71 his final campaign, during which he won the NCAA’s top individual prize. He tied for second in single-season points by a RedHawks that season and his assist total (47) is second all-time. Despite playing 3½ seasons, Miele is seventh on Miami’s all-time points leaderboard with 160, and he is one of only seven RedHawks to record 100 career assists.

For being 5-feet-8, Miele did it all while in Oxford. He was an outstanding penalty killer, a great playmaker and a deadly-accurate finisher. Miele played well above his size and was too elusive to take much physical punishment, and for being a small guy he would lay out the occasional hit. He played on lines with a number of forwards with Miami and his game seemed to mesh with all of them.

Miele played for the Phoenix Coyotes for parts of three seasons, logging a total of 15 games and recording two assists. He is now in the Detroit Red Wings’ system. In four AHL seasons, he has 245 points. Miele was third in that league in points in 2013-14 and second last season.

FORWARD – Jarod Palmer.

Palmer

Picking the third forward was incredibly difficult, but because of Palmer’s all-around game, he earns the nod. He recorded 30 points as a freshman, including 11 goals. Palmer notched 35 points his sophomore season and 27 as a junior, capping his career off with an 18-27-45 campaign. He was 13th on Miami’s all-time career points leaderboard when he left Oxford with 47 goals and 90 assists for 137 points, and he is still 15th overall. Palmer never missed a game with the RedHawks and owns a school record that will be nearly impossible to break: He played in 169 games in his Miami career. With no UAF in the conference and one less playoff round in an eight-team league, the opportunities to play in more than 42 games in a season are much more scarce.

Palmer’s statistics are impressive enough on their own, but the things that didn’t show up on the stats sheet really set him apart. His stickhandling was NHL caliber from Day One with the RedHawks, and he is one of the best penalty killing forwards in recent history. Palmer also won nearly every battle along the boards, even while vying with multiple opponents. His passing and scoring skills were also at an NHL level while he was still in college. And of course his durability – not only did he never miss a game, he seemingly never tired when he was on the ice.

Sadly, Palmer’s pro career came to an end after just six games with his hometown Minnesota Wild, as he suffered another in a string of concussions. He did manage to score one goal while in the NHL. Palmer also logged 117 AHL games with Houston, scoring 16 times and setting up 31 more. He is currently a head coach for Sugar Land of the NA3HL.

Catching up with Miami alumni

LoVerde

(Defenseman Vincent LoVerde, photo by Cathy Lachmann)

Between the Stanley Cup playoffs, minor league championships, the NHL draft and its resulting transactions, trades and Wednesday’s free agent madness, numerous Miami alumni have spent the past couple of months winning trophies and moving to different cities.

If all of the activity is giving you a headache, here is the Miami-centric version of recent events involving former RedHawks.

LOVERDE WINS CALDER – Defenseman Vincent LoVerde, the captain of AHL Manchester, led the  Monarchs to a Calder Cup championship in June.

The fourth-year pro who graduated in 2011 tied a career high in the regular season with nine goals, and he went 2-8-10 in 19 playoff games. LoVerde, 26, has already played in 275 professional games, racking up 25 goals and 69 assists for 94 points in the Kings organization.

STEFFES A KELLY CUP WINNER – What a season it was for Gary Steffes. The 2010 Miami graduate scored 61 goals between the regular season and playoffs and capped his year off by winning the Kelly Cup with Allen of the ECHL.

Steffes netted four goals in nine games in a call-up to AHL Milwaukee, potted a league-leading 44 regular season goals for Allen – more than twice his previous career high – and tallied 13 more in 25 postseason contests, the second-highest total in the league.

In 317 pro games, Steffes has 128 goals and 116 assists for 244 points.

BOYLE REACHES NHL CONFERENCE FINAL – Defenseman Dan Boyle advanced to the Stanley Cup conference final as a member of the New York Rangers, playing 19 postseason games and recording three goals and seven assists.

Boyle, the only RedHawks alum to participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs, also became the first former Miamian to play in 1,000 regular season games in 2014-15. In addition to leading all ex-RedHawks in career regular season games played (1,019), he is tops in assists (428) and points (581), as well as career playoffs games played (126), goals (17), assists (63) and points (80).

PRO SIGNINGS, PLAYERS ON THE MOVE – Former Miamians were involved in a number of transactions between draft weekend and the first day of free agent signings on Wednesday.

Here are the highlights:

– Forward Reilly Smith was dealt from Boston along with F Marc Savard to Florida for F Jimmy Hayes. Hayes and Smith played against each other in the 2010 Frozen Four.

Smith has 36 goals and 64 assists for 100 points in 203 NHL games with the Bruins.

– F Blake Coleman signed a two-year deal with New Jersey on Wednesday. Coleman was drafted by the Devils but did not join a New Jersey affiliate in the spring after Miami was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

– F Andy Miele was re-signed by Detroit for one year. He finished second in the AHL in points last season with 70.

– D Chris Wideman was re-signed by Ottawa for one year. Wideman led all AHL defensemen in assists (42) and points (61) and was tied for the league lead in goals (19).

– F Carter Camper, who played in the Boston, Columbus and Ottawa systems, was signed to a one-year deal by Washington. Camper finished with a pro-high 52 points with Binghamton in 2014-15.

– F Marc Hagel was inked to a two-year deal by Minnesota. Hagel is coming off his second full pro season, and he went 12-21-33 with AHL Iowa.

– F Curtis McKenzie signed a two-year deal to remain with Dallas. McKenzie split time between AHL Texas and the Stars. He went 6-15-21 in 31 games in the AHL, and he was 4-1-5 in the NHL.

– F Austin Czarnik signed with the Bruins right after Miami’s season ended, coincidentally ending up in Providence, where the RedHawks played their final game of 2014-15. Czarnik played three games with the P-Bruins, notching two assists.

– Though he’s not an alumni yet (thank God), F Sean Kuraly had his rights traded from San Jose to Boston last week. Kuraly will be a senior at Miami this fall and could rejoin Czarnik in 2016.

Twenty-four former RedHawks either logged games in the AHL, the NHL or both last season. Here are the final 2014-15 regular season and postseason stats for all former Miamians currently playing pro hockey around the world:

REGULAR SEASON
NHL
F Reilly Smith, BOS, 81 GP, 13-27—40
F Tommy Wingels, SJ, 75 GP, 15-21—36
D Alec Martinez, LA, 56 GP, 6-16—22
D Andy Greene, NJ, 82 GP, 3-19—22
D Dan Boyle, NYR, 65 GP, 9-11—21
F Curtis McKenzie, DAL, 36 GP, 4-1—5
D Cameron Schilling, WSH, 4 GP, 0-0—0
G Jeff Zatkoff, PIT, 1 GP, 0-1, 1.62 GAA, .941 Sv%
AHL
F Andy Miele, GRP, 71 GP, 26-44—70
D Chris Wideman, BNG, 75 GP, 19-42—61
F Carter Camper, BNG, 75 GP, 15-37—52
F Pat Cannone, CHI, 64 GP, 14-33—47
F Marc Hagel, IOW, 67 GP, 12-21–33
F Curtis McKenzie, TEX, 31 GP, 6-15—21
D Vincent LoVerde, MNC, 63 GP, 9-11–20
D Cameron Schilling, HER, 63 GP, 3-15—18
F Trent Vogelhuber, SPR, 64 GP, 8-8–16
F Tyler Biggs, TOR, 47 GP, 2-3–5
D Steve Spinell, HFD, 52 GP, 1-4–5
F Gary Steffes, MLW, 9 GP, 4-0–4
F Justin Mercier, 16 GP, 2-2–4
F Alden Hirschfeld, GRP, 12 GP, 1-1–2
F Austin Czarnik, PRO, 3 GP, 0-2–2
F Ryan Jones, UTC, 5 GP, 0-1–1
D Will Weber, SPR, 30 GP, 0-1–1
F Alex Wideman, BNG, 4 GP, 0-0–0
G Jeff Zatkoff, WBS, 37 GP, 18-18, 2.45 GAA, .910 Sv%
ECHL
F Gary Steffes, ALL, 63 GP, 44-29–73
F Justin Mercier, TOL, 46 GP, 22-21–43
F Alden Hirschfeld, TOL, 59 GP, 11-33–44
F Tyler Biggs, ORL, 8 GP, 4-2–6
D Steve Spinell, GRE, 6 GP, 1-1–2
F Bryon Paulazzo, STK, 22 GP, 2-2–4
G Connor Knapp, REA, 41 GP, 24-15, 2.58 GAA, .915 Sv%
G Cody Reichard, STK, 31 GP, 8-20, 4.31 GAA, .872 Sv%
SPHL
F Devin Mantha, MIS, 39 GP, 11-17—28
F Bryon Paulazzo, MIS, 35 GP, 6-16—22
F Max Cook, COL, 36 GP, 3-9—12
Europe
F Dustin Whitecotton, Deggendorf, Oberliga (Germany), 38 GP, 14-33—47
F Evan Cheverie, Belfast, EIHL (Britain), 47 GP, 12-32—44
F/D Matt Tomassoni, Kassel, DEL-2 (Austria), 43 GP, 9-27—36
F Ryan Jones, Cologne, DEL (Austria), 30 GP, 12-5–17

PLAYOFFS
NHL
D Dan Boyle, NYR, 19 GP, 3-7–10
AHL
F Andy Miele, GRP, 16 GP, 3-11–14
D Vincent LoVerde, MNC, 19 GP, 2-8–10
D Cameron Schilling, HER, 10 GP, 3-5–8
F Pat Cannone, CHI, 5 GP, 0-6–6
F Curtis McKenzie, TEX, 3 GP, 1-1–2
D Steve Spinell, HFD, 3 GP, 1-0–1
F Alden Hirschfeld, GRP, 6 GP, 1-0–1
G Jeff Zatkoff, WBS, 1 GP, 0-0, 1.03 GAA, .958 Sv%
ECHL
F Gary Steffes, ALL, 25 GP, 13-5–18
F Justin Mercier, TOL, 20 GP, 8-4–12
F Alden Hirschfeld, TOL, 7 GP, 1-0–1
G Connor Knapp, REA, 7 GP, 3-4, 2.44 GAA, .919 Sv%
SPHL
F Bryon Paulazzo, MIS, 5 GP, 4-1–5
F Devin Mantha, MIS, 5 GP, 1-1–2
Europe
F Mike Kompon, Belfast, EIHL (Britain), 4 GP, 1-3–4
F Dustin Whitecotton, Deggendorf, Oberliga (Germany), 4 GP, 1-2–3
F/D Matt Tomassoni, Kassel, DEL-2 (Austria), 5 GP, 0-1–1

 

Joining the Blog of Brotherhood team

Blasi-a

(photo by Cathy Lachmann)

Redhawk95 and Miamibeef04 have graciously invited me to write for this site starting this off-season, and I just wanted to make a short post to express my gratitude and introduce myself.

I’ve been a writer for Scripps-Howard for the past 18 years, first with The Cincinnati Post and Kentucky Post and after those publications folded, I stayed on with Scripps-owned WCPO.com, and I also write for the Northern Kentucky Tribune, GetSportsInfo.com – which covers Cincinnati college and pro sports plus fantasy football and baseball – and Tristatefootball.com.

I’ve also been a Miami season ticket holder since 2006, and have missed just three games since Cady Arena opened – two to get married and one for my grandmother’s funeral.

I started writing about Miami hockey for Trent Rosecrans’ site in 2009, and after he moved on to The Enquirer, I starting writing the RedHawkey blog for WCPO and have done so for the past five seasons.

Last March the editor of WCPO.com informed me he is going to remove my blog from its site even though I’ve written hundreds of pieces pro bono over the past five years, generating tens of thousands of hits.

Coming from that situation to this one, the prospect of writing for The Blog of Brotherhood is exciting. I look forward to joining two passionate Miami fans as we make this the best source for RedHawks hockey coverage on the ‘net.

I also hope to continue providing game analysis and writing player features like I did for RedHawkey.

Check back in the next few weeks as we bring you exclusive off-season interviews and roster analysis as we prepare for the 2015-16 season!

Follow me on Twitter at @rednblackhawks

#1 Miami v. #4 Providence :: 2015 NCAA Tournament First Round

Founded in 1636, historic Providence, R.I. will host the 2015 NCAA Tournament’s East Region.

This evening at 6:30 PM EDT the Miami RedHawks, champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, are set to mark their return to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.

The top seed in the East Region, the RedHawks (4th overall seed) will face fourth seeded Providence College (15th) of Hockey East in their hometown.

The Friars last played two weekends ago when they were ousted by New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East conference tournament. The two squads went the distance in the best-of-three weekend series in Providence playing three low-scoring 2-1 games.

We could end this post right here, because a low-scoring game is precisely what Miami should expect this weekend.

Junior Jon Gillies could sign with Calgary upon the completion of the Friars season. Tomorrow, perhaps?

The Friars rank in the top 5 nationally in many defensive categories including goals allowed (3rd) and save percentage (4th) led by junior goaltender Jon Gillies, who’s .931 save percentage and 1.95 GAA each rank 6th best nationally. That said, Miami will run out junior Jay Williams, who’s numbers aren’t too shabby either. Williams actually has a better GAA (1.89, 5th nationally)) than Gillies and his .922 save percentage (29th nationally) ranks just a few spots lower.

Meanwhile, Miami is much more offensively inclined boasting three players with 18 or more goals (Blake Coleman and Riley Barber (20 each) and Sean Kuraly 18) but they will be without Coleman, and likely, Barber for the game against the Friars. In fact, the Friars leading goal scorers, Nick Saracino and Trevor Mingoia have just 13 goals each, but Providence does run out five players with 11 or more goals. Maybe not as dynamic as Miami’s top end forwards, but they certainly have depth. That could be a problem for a Miami team suddenly without a lot of it.

This is not the first time Miami has seen Gillies. The two schools have met four times over the last three seasons playing, amazingly, four consecutive overtime games. Last year, Miami traveled to Providence and put up a four-spot against Gillies on Saturday night scoring six goals on the weekend. Miami should have some confidence against one of the nation’s best.

The Prediction

With both Coleman and Barber likely missing this game, obviously the Crash Cousins, and their size, can play a larger than usual role. Like most Hockey East squads, Providence is relatively small. Miami should use their blend of size and speed to jump on the Friars right away. I’d love to see Rico have the guys throw the body around, but they’ll have to mindful of east coast refs. The NCHC is a big, physical league and the RedHawks are one of the most physical teams in the country. If the refs don’t let the boys play, Miami could find themselves killing far too many penalties despite the Friars woeful powerplay which is converting at a paltry 14.7% clip this year.

Ultimately, this game is Jay Williams’ to win. He has to step up and hold Miami in the game. The RedHawks should expect to have to win a 2-1 style game because, 1) we’re missing 40 goals from the lineup, and 2) it’s how the Friars play.

Despite missing huge parts of the lineup, this is not your father’s Miami. This is not the team from the CCHA that was hardly challenged over the past decade and then, at times, unprepared for the rigors of the NCAA tournament. But, these RedHawks are the champions of the NCHC, a conference that sent six of its eight teams to the Dance. A conference that is currently 3-0 in the 2015 tournament. After last year’s adjustment to life in the National and life on the road, Miami has figured out how to win in the most dominant college hockey conference in the land. That has to account for a lot.

The RedHawks, though missing some big-time talent, have guys that can step up. Miami’s depth will certainly be challenged.

As much as I want to pick Miami, overcoming the losses of Coleman and Barber, along with the need to win a tight 2-1 game just doesn’t seem to fit Miami’s run, gun and bang style.

But, there is just something different about this team. They’re more battle tested. They’re deep. I think Miami finds a way to get it done but the goal scoring will surprise you. Look for a Kevin Morris or Crash Cousin dirty goal to be the difference. Miami wins.

Parting Thoughts

– Williams and the RedHawks’ defense will have to be big tonight because Miami cannot afford to fall behind the Friars and expect to be able to come-from-behind facing such an intensely defensive team.

– Unless Miami wins, we MAY have seen the last of Coleman and Barber in the red and white which would be an unbelievable shame considering how their Miami careers could end. Barber is just a junior, but could decide to sign with Washington. However, if his knee injury is severe, the Capitals could be inclined to see how he does in a comeback situation with Miami meaning, perhaps, Barber could also come back to finish his degree. Something I’d assume his family would be quite happy with given his father, Don Barber, collected his degree from Bowling Green before embarking on a successful pro career. When Miami’s season is finished, I’d expect the New Jersey Devils to sign Coleman (a senior) as quickly as possible.

– Gillies, Kuraly and Barber know each other well having played together on the US U20 team that won gold in 2013 and then again Barber and Gillies returned for the 2014 team when Barber was captain. Gillies was the main netminder that year for Team USA.

The home of the AHL’s Providence Bruins will host the 2015 NCAA Tournament East Region.

– Despite playing at “home,” the Friars have not played a game at the Dunkin Donuts Center since 2004. And, with Providence having a fairly small fan base, the advantage Providence will have shouldn’t really affect the RedHawks. Certainly, this team is road tested playing in hostile environments like the Ralph (UND), Amsoil (UMD) and Lawson (WMU) to say nothing of having made long road trips all year, twice in fact, to Colorado to play at altitude. In other words, Miami has seen and heard it all.

#4 Miami vs. #15 Providence

Earlier this morning, the Miami RedHawks, champions of the NCHC, learned their NCAA region and opponent. The RedHawks will travel to Providence, R.I. to take on Providence College of Hockey East in a first round East Region game. Miami is no stranger to going east to face HEA opponents as they have done so countless times taking on the likes of UMass-Lowell, UNH and BC over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the majority of those contests have turned out poorly for Miami as they have been skated out of the rink.

But, that’s what’s so intriguing about this draw.

Head coach Enrico Blasi built this team to compete against HEA teams. Smallish, fast forwards who can possess the puck, get out in transition and put pressure on the forecheck are hallmarks of this squad, and seemingly, what’s been done to Miami over the years. And, this year, Blasi added more size with the Crash Cousins and the addition of Scott Dornbrock on the blueline.

Simply put, this team is built to win against teams big and small. And, since you can’t do anything about the draw. Go east and win the region. If there was ever a year that Miami would get over this hump, it’s this year with this team of veterans.

Honestly, the bracket is pretty good for Miami.

Consider Providence. The #15 overall seed should be playing the #2 overall seed. Sure, we’re playing them in their town, but Providence doesn’t have any kind of fan base. The crowd will not be an issue and Miami has gotten used to traveling after two seasons in the NCHC. We should be playing the #13 overall seed, Yale, but at least on paper, may have gotten a break. Providence has great goaltending, but Miami faces great goaltenders each and every weekend in the NCHC. This team should be ready.

Also consider the other half of the bracket…BC and Denver. We know all about Denver and have beaten them 3-of-5 times this year. We’re a much faster team than the Pioneers and their goaltending is suspect. As for BC? It’s not a great BC team with average goaltending and not the teams of the past with guys like Gaudreau, Gerbe, Kreider and others that were elite college players.

This is a region that Miami can win, but the RedHawks are not without their faults.

Miami will be missing the services of NCHC tournament MVP, Blake Coleman, for the first round match against Providence. And, who knows the injury status of junior sniper Riley Barber, who’s play has been outstanding the last month of the season. Last we saw Barber, he was being helped on and off the ice with a large ice bag on his left knee. Clearly not a good sign, but let’s hope for the best. I’m sure we won’t know his status until very late in the week. If those two guys are out, it’s on the other leaders to step up. Also concerning is Miami’s goaltending. I’d say it’s been average of late. Clearly the RedHawks will ride Jay Williams, but if I had to take Williams or Providence’s Jon Gillies to win this game, all else notwithstanding, I’d have to say I’d take Gillies. He’s a proven stud in the Friars net.

So, Miami fans. A lot to celebrate this season. Let’s hope the boys have four more W’s in them.

Love and Honor!

More to come this week.

NCHC CHAMPS!

The Miami RedHawks are the 2014-15 NCHC Champions!

On the strength of three Blake Coleman goals, solid goaltending from Jay Williams and spectacular penalty killing, the Miami RedHawks won the second Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis. The RedHawks defeated a stingy St. Cloud State team 3-2 and have earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Concerning however, is that Blake Coleman was issued a game misconduct, his third of the season, meaning he will be suspended and miss Miami’s first round tournament game next weekend. And, Riley Barber was injured late in tonight’s game and was seen being helped on the ice by teammates to join the celebration following Miami’s victory. Barber had an ice pack on his left knee as he hopped across the Target Center ice.

Coleman was named tournament MVP and Austin Czarnik and Louis Belpedio joined him on the all-tournament team.

More to come later, but tune in tomorrow at noon EDT for the NCAA selection show on ESPNU. USCHO.com will have a bracket projection up soon I’m sure so check out Jason Moy’s excellent analysis there as well.

Love and Honor!

NCHC Semifinal :: Miami vs. Denver

The RedHawks return to the Frozen Faceoff looking for an NCHC tournament championship.

The RedHawks are back in the Frozen Faceoff for the second consecutive year and like last year, will face Denver albeit in the semifinal rather than the championship game.

Miami and Denver have played four times this year splitting two weekends with the most recent contests coming just three weeks ago in the Mile High City. In that series, Miami dominated play on Friday night and Riley Barber and Alex Gacek had two goals in a 5-3 victory before the Pioneers returned the favor drubbing the RedHawks 6-2 on Saturday night.

For Miami, this game is simple. Contain the DDT line of Daniel (Doremus), Danton (Heinen) and Trevor (Moore), you limit Joey LaLeggia’s chances from the point and you fire shots against good but not great goaltending (either Evan Cowley or Tanner Jaillet) and you walk away a winner.

But, you let that top line get going and Miami will have its hands full.

Of concern is that Miami has been lax defensively over the past several weeks. I know Jay Williams played well and got his fifth shutout of the season last weekend (BTW – Can we be done with the goaltender rotation? Let’s pick Williams and move on) but there were also two disallowed goals in Sunday’s series clinching win over Western Michigan that helped retain that goose egg. Miami has to get back to playing sound defensively and needs Williams to put this team on his back. Remember, one of his very few poor games this year was the 6-2 loss to DU a few weeks ago when he surrendered four goals in less than one period of play. He has to put that out of his mind and focus on doing what he’s done nearly all of this year, which is play fantastic hockey.

Offensively, Riley Barber is hot. Ten points in his last seven games including six goals. He had three vs. DU in the series in Denver a few weeks back so he can hurt this team. Austin Czarnik is hot. Six goals in his past four games. Blake Coleman is hot with nine points in his past four games.

These are the right guys to carry this team.

A little defense, a little goaltending and some tenacity from Coleman and friends up front and Miami could really make a run not only this weekend, but next weekend in the NCAA tournament as well.

I’m optimistic that this team is peaking at just the right time.

Go RedHawks!

“It’s Go Time” – Western Michigan at #5 Miami

Question: Is there anything better than playoff hockey?

Answer: No.

The last time WMU and Miami met, it was under the stars at the Hockey City Classic in Chicago.

Now that we’ve established that, the fifth ranked and second seeded Miami RedHawks (21-12-1, 14-9-1-1 2nd NCHC) are back at home for the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season when they needed three games to dispatch Michigan State en route to the final CCHA championship weekend at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. They will face an old CCHA foe and MAC rival in seventh seeded Western Michigan. The Broncos (13-16-5, 6-13-5-4 7th NCHC) trail the tightly contested all-time series 56-60-11 and went 0-3-1 vs the RedHawks with the only non-loss coming in Kalamazoo a weekend before the Hockey City Classic in Chicago. In that game, Miami led 4-0 after two periods before hanging on to post a 4-3 victory at Soldier Field.

In Oxford, it was a more pleasing storyline as the RedHawks swept the Broncos by 1-0 and 5-2 scores and you never really got the feeling that WMU could challenge Miami offensively. Hopefully we’ll see even more offense this weekend after watching Miami put up 44 shots against North Dakota in a 2-1 loss Friday last before putting six goals on the board against likely NCHC Player of the Year, Zane “Five Spot” McIntyre who trolled the Blog of Brotherhood on Twitter.

What did he do?

He “favorited” our tweet predicting a Miami sweep of UND last weekend. The problem was that he did it after UND won game one by the narrowest of margins when a fluke goal decided the outcome.

Of course he then laid an egg on Saturday surrendering a “five spot” to the RedHawks in a 6-3 Miami victory.

Zane “Five Spot” McIntyre trolled the Blog of Brotherhood last weekend. The problem? Five goals against on Saturday night.

If you’re going to troll, at least do it before the game. And, if not, you might consider backing up the trolling with decent play. Either way, not good.

Anyway, back to this weekend.

Miami enters the NCHC playoffs as the second seed nearly pulling off a “worst to first” story. As it is, Miami turned the tables on last year’s 8th place finish on the strength of a 2nd place effort in the regular season. They built upon last season’s successful NCHC playoff run which ended in the inaugural NCHC championship game where they fell to Denver ending up a mere goal short of a ninth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. This year, an NCAA appearance is all but certain as playoffstatus.com shows the RedHawks as having a 99% chance of reaching the tournament even with two losses this weekend.

Last weekend Miami dropped a close one on Friday before Austin Czarnik went off on Senior Night recording four points on the back of his first career hat trick (including two shorthanded goals) to lead the RedHawks to a dominating 6-3 victory over North Dakota. Jay Williams had goaltending duty and played well on Friday save the first goal by UND, which was an ugly, harmless shot from the corner that he inexplicably misplayed. Ryan McKay had the net Saturday and played well enough to win but I think we definitely see Williams tomorrow. Depending on how game one goes, and based on his play, we could see him again on Saturday night.

Western Michigan is led offensively by three players with 10 or more goals. Colton Hargrove (12-13-25, 72 PIM), Sheldon Dries (13-12-25) and Nolan LaPorte (10-12-22, 89 PIM). On

Kenny Morrison is highly regarded as a potential NHL free agent.

the blueline, Kenny Morrison (5-10-15) is well-regarded and has been mentioned as a possible early departure risk as NHL scouts are circling the would-be free agent.

In net, Lukas Hafner has had a good season including last Saturday’s shutout of #6 Minnesota-Duluth in Kalamazoo. Hafner (11-11-5, 2.35, .916) took the reins from senior Frank “The Big” Slubowski last season and has played the majority of the minutes in the WMU net this year. He has the talent to keep WMU in these games and could even steal one if Miami isn’t getting traffic in front and pucks to the net. Like last weekend, Miami should attempt to make these games up and down affairs and fire more than 40 SOG to wear down the Broncos and their netminder.

Interestingly, the Broncos have four players with 50 or more PIM this year with three of those four having 70 or more. In contrast, Miami has just one, senior Blake Coleman (80 PIM) so this will definitely be a clash of styles. WMU likes to muck it up and play in your face using their size and physicality. That said, they feature uber-goon Mike McKee who is really worse than a goon. He’s a cheap, dirty player. Miami will have to keep their composure because WMU head coach Andy Murray will want his guys in the faces of Miami’s talented and smallish forwards.

Overall, this is a very good matchup for Miami on paper. While I believe Hafner could steal a game for the Broncos, I don’t see it happening. I think Miami will take care of business in two tightly contested games. MIAMI SWEEPS.

Thank you Seniors! — #1 North Dakota vs. #5 Miami

By the end of the weekend, Miami hopes to once again pose with hardware. This time as NCHC champions.

As Miami returns home for the final two games of the regular season, could there be more drama in the air than what’s flying around in Oxford, Ohio?

Consider.

Fifth ranked Miami (20-11-1, 13-8-1-1 2nd NCHC) will close out the season against #1 North Dakota (24-6-3, 15-5-2-0 1st NCHC) in a battle of two teams that have spent the majority of the year ranked in the top 10. Should the RedHawks sweep, they will claim a share of the NCHC regular season title and the #1 seed in the NCHC playoffs. Though the teams will be tied atop the standings, Miami would claim the top seed by virtue of its 3-1 record against UND.

And, consider.

Saturday is senior night and six RedHawks (Austin Czarnik, Blake Coleman, Anthony Jacaruso, Cody Murphy, Alex Wideman and Ben Paulides) will skate in their final regular

Alex Wideman is one of six Miami seniors who will play the final regular season games of their career this weekend against North Dakota.

season games at Steve Cady Arena with a chance to earn their second regular season championship of their remarkable careers.

No Miami class has won more than one regular season championship in program history.

Yep, you read that right.

No Miami class has EVER won two regular season championships in any four year period in the history of the university, which of course, dates back to 1809. Probably overly dramatic since the hockey program has only existed since 1978 — pure semantics. This class could become the first to do so after capturing the CCHA’s final regular season title at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.

North Dakota is a storied program that’s won seven national championships and fifteen, now sixteen, regular season titles. Getting a share of the NCHC title in our second year in the conference would be fantastic. It took Miami 15 years of program existence and 13 CCHA seasons to win a regular season title in that now defunct league.

And, to do it against North Dakota would be even sweeter.

Last Time We Met

Like most of the top teams in the NCHC when pitted against one another, and certainly Miami has seen this, the squads split a series in Grand Forks back in November with Miami winning 3-2 on Friday before dropping the finale 4-1. In the Miami win, Jay Williams had to make just 21 saves and Sean Kuraly had two goals to lead the RedHawks. Ryan McKay struggled in the Miami net in the loss as North Dakota started junior Zane McIntyre both nights.

Certainly Miami would like to replicate the Friday victory as they limited UND to just 23 SOG and controlled the green and white with tight checking defense.

North Dakota

UND comes to Oxford on a roll having won four in a row. Their last non shootout loss was a 3-2 OT setback to Omaha way back on January 30. And, their last regulation loss? January 9 to UMD.

However, UND suffered a loss in a sweep last weekend (yeah, I see what I did there). The loss to which I am referring was that of senior assistant captain and leading goal scorer Mark MacMillan (16-9-25) to a lower body injury which required surgery earlier this week. MacMillan, a fourth-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadians (one of 14 NHL picks — I think — I lost count at 10) had already set a career high in goals before being injured Saturday night while blocking a shot off the stick of SCSU’s Jonny Brodzinski. Presumably, MacMillan

The loss of senior assistant captain Mark MacMillan will be difficult for North Dakota to overcome.

fractured his foot and I’m assuming surgery was required to fix what was likely an ugly injury. But, I’m speculating. Regardless, MacMillan won’t play this weekend, and I’d find it hard to see him returning for the remainder of his college career, but never say never.

UND is led by its d-corps which boasts numerous NHL draft picks and junior netminder Zane McIntyre who shared the USHL’s goaltender of the year award with Miami’s Ryan McKay just over three years ago.

Up front, speedy Drake Caggiula (15-16-31) leads an attacking set of forwards including Michael Parks (12-19-31) that are a handful but perhaps not as talented as Miami’s crew led by Czarnik, Coleman, Murphy, Kuraly, Anthony Louis and Riley Barber. That said, UND will want to slow things down. Miami, on the other hand, should look to run the green and white out of the building. Forty shots on net each night should be the goal.

Miami

Well, here we are. The end of another solid regular season and the end of a bounce-back year for the program. While it’s too early to hand out accolades, the team has played hard and well enough to have earned the chance to win a regular season title on home ice.

Last weekend in Denver, Miami split its series with the Pioneers, but one thing that really stood out? The rejuvenated play of junior forward Riley Barber who had three goals on the

Miami fans are crossing their fingers that Captain America has returned.

weekend playing hard, inspired hockey. If Barber is ready to roll, look out this weekend and for the rest of the year.

However, questions abound in net as neither Ryan McKay, and most certainly Jay Williams, looked overly strong. McKay allowed three goals in Friday’s win, but Williams was ineffective surrendering four goals in less than one period of play. McKay steadied the ship when he came into the game, but still gave up two goals after Miami attempted to crawl back into the contest at 4-2. Whomever Blasi goes with (I’ll bet it’s McKay on Friday) has to give this team a chance to win by scoring three goals because getting more than that against UND just isn’t realistic. Miami has to be prepared to win two slugfests.

The Prediction

These two teams are very evenly matched with the defensive and goaltending edge belonging to UND. That said, I’d probably give the RedHawks an advantage up front with, in my opinion, more top-end guys, more game-breakers than UND which really has a grinding offensive mentality. Miami could earn a significant size advantage this weekend, especially if head coach Enrico Blasi chooses to dress both Crash Cousins. Even with one or the other in the lineup, and Miami’s size on the blueline, they match up quite well in both the size and speed categories.

But, with UND missing one of their best players, the excitement around the weekend, senior night, and what it means to Miami (home ice, #1 seed in the NCHC, Penrose Cup, redemption for last year, NCAA seeding on the line, etc., etc.), I’m going to call a MIAMI SWEEP and watch the RedHawks skate off Saturday night with the Penrose Cup.

How to Listen/Watch

The Voice of the RedHawks, Greg Waddell, will be back on the radio this weekend as both games will be available at MURedHawks.com and over the air at 1450-AM (Saturday only) and 1490-AM. Friday’s game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network which unfortunately means no NCHC.tv for Friday. Saturday’s regular season finale will be streamed through the league’s package and also available on Time Warner Cable (Chan. 311 & 1311) and on Fox College Sports Pacific (DirecTV Chan. 608, Time Warner Chan. 321).

From the League Office

  • This weekend marks the final weekend of the NCHC regular season before beginning NCHC Tournament play next weekend. No. 1/1 North Dakota has already clinched a share of the Penrose Cup, awarded to the NCHC regular-season champion. UND needs just one point at No. 5/5 MIAMI this weekend to win the title outright. The RedHawks need to sweep UND to also get a share of the title, which would then give MIAMI the No. 1 seed in the NCHC Tournament and make UND the No. 2 seed.
  • North Dakota enters the top-five series with MIAMI riding a four-game win streak and seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1), which is the longest active unbeaten streak in the NCAA. With its share of the Penrose Cup, UND has secured its 16th conference championship in program history, the most of any NCAA Division I men’s program.
  • Four teams (MIAMI, Omaha, Denver and Minnesota Duluth) are separated by just five points with two games to play, while only three of those teams will get home ice for the NCHC Quarterfinals. UMD currently sits in fifth place on the outside looking in, but can make that up with at least three points and some help this weekend. UND has already secured home ice. Tiebreakers for seeding, should they be needed, are listed on page 8 of the release. More information on possible place finishes for these teams are listed below.
  •  According to the KRACH Ratings, the eight NCHC teams have played the eight toughest schedules in the country this season, led by Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State at No. 1 and 2, respectively. Omaha, Denver, MIAMI, CC, WMU and UND round out the top eight, respectively.

Possible place finishes for each team entering this weekend:

  •         North Dakota – 1,2 (needs just 1 point at Miami to clinch 1 seed/outright title, already has share of regular season title)
  •         MIAMI – 1,2,3,4,5 (needs 2 points to secure home for sure, needs sweep of UND to share regular season title and get 1 seed)
  •         Omaha – 2,3,4,5 (needs 4 points to secure home ice for sure)
  •         Denver – 2,3,4,5 (needs 5 points to secure home ice for sure)
  •         Minnesota Duluth – 2,3,4,5,6 (needs just 1 point to secure 5 seed, needs at least one team ahead of them to lose/tie to have a chance to get home ice)
  •         St. Cloud State – 5,6 (SCSU has to sweep DU and UMD has to get swept by WMU for SCSU to move up to 5 seed)
  •         Western Michigan – locked in to 7
  •         Colorado College – locked in to 8

 

#5 Miami at #7 Denver

The jewel of the west, Denver, awaits #5 Miami this weekend.

Fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind victory on Saturday night to gain a valuable series split against Minnesota-Duluth, fifth-ranked Miami heads west for their final road trip of the 2014-15 regular season to take on #7 Denver at Magness Arena.

Last Time We Met

This will be the third and fourth meetings of the season between the two rivals after splitting a series in Oxford just a month ago. That series saw Miami (19-10-1, 12-7-1-1 2nd NCHC) play both Jay Williams and Ryan McKay with Williams getting out-dueled by Denver (18-10-2, 11-8-1-1 t3rd NCHC) freshman netminder Tanner Jaillet when he surrendered just two goals before Miami picked up a dominating 4-1 victory on in front of McKay on Saturday night. These will be the 16th and 17th all-time meetings (8-7 DU) and the 8th and 9th in just the past two seasons as the teams played five times last year including the NCHC championship game where the Pioneers defeated the RedHawks to advance to the NCAA tournament.

The Pioneers

Offensively, the Pioneers are led by high scoring forwards Danton Heinen (12-23-35), Trevor Moore (16-15-31) and defenseman Joey Laleggia (11-20-31) who actually leads the NCHC conference scoring race. That is

Freshman forward Danton Heinen leads DU in scoring this season.

interesting because only one defenseman in the last 10 years has won a conference scoring title — Torey Krug at Michigan State in 2011-12 (he actually shared the title with Michigan’s T.J. Tynan). Notable is that Denver senior forward Zac Larraza (11-7-18) is suspended for Friday night’s game due to an illegal hit delivered in the Pioneers sweep of Colorado College last weekend. Larraza notched 1-1-2 in the series last month so his absence could be beneficial to the RedHawks. He will be eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday night.

The RedHawks

Last weekend, Miami gutted out a split of their series against UMD dropping Friday night’s game 3-1 and climbing out of another 3-1 hole to win 4-3 in overtime on Blake Coleman’s 12th goal of the season on a pretty 2-on-1 feed from sophomore Anthony Louis. The two of them also finished a rush on Friday that netted the team’s only goal. Overall, Miami is still looking inconsistent offensively as they’ve now tallied 3, 2, 1 and 4 goals over their past four games despite playing two of those against the league’s worst in Colorado College. Friday night was so bad, at least in head coach Rico Blasi’s estimation, that he benched Conor Lemirande, Chris Joyaux, and yes, Riley Barber for Saturday’s finale. Sooner or later Barber is going to have to determine if he wants to be a competitor. For as much as I praised him for his efforts two Friday’s ago at Colorado College, that’s been the exception. He just doesn’t look like he cares all the time, which is too bad because guys like Czarnik, Coleman and Murphy deserve better in their senior seasons to say nothing of guys like Dornbrock, Paulides and Kuraly who consistently give a full 60-minute effort each night. Hopefully the message has been received and we’ll see a rejuvenated and committed Barber down the stretch. If he plays to his talent, Miami could be in for a terrific run in March and April.

Senior captain Austin Czarnik continues to lead the RedHawks on the ice and in the scorebook.

Senior captain Austin Czarnik continues to pace Miami with 2-28-30 and leads all active players in career points (154 — tied with Minnesota’s Kyle Rau). Czarnik is trailed on the Miami team by Barber (13-14-27), Louis (6-18-24), Coleman (12-12-24) and Sean Kuraly (15-6-21) who leads the squad in goals. Defensively, Miami has been fairly strong and has gotten respectable goaltending from Williams, and on Saturday, McKay. I suspect we’ll see Williams on Friday and Blasi will take it from there pending the outcome and his play. I’d also like to see more Colin Sullivan now that’s he’s recovered from an injury that cost him most of the first half of the season. Getting an opportunity last Saturday, he looked smooth and fleet of foot — something Miami can use more of against the top tier teams they’ll face from this point forward.

The Prediction

This is a huge weekend for both teams as just three points separates the two teams. NCHC seeding. PairWise implications. Playoff home ice…a lot on the line! And, as with two weekends ago in Colorado Springs, Miami will be battling the dry, snowy altitude here in Colorado and will have to dig deep to compete for 120 minutes. It was no secret that Miami looked gassed at 6,000 feet on the big ice late in the game Saturday night at Colorado College. It’s encouraging however that they were just here and their bodies should be more acclimated to the altitude and they’ll also get to skate on a regulation ice surface this time out. As with most of these elite league series, I’ll call a split but Miami will have to work hard on the road to get it.

How to Watch/Listen

The Blog of Brotherhood will be in attendance for both games, but we’ll be a fan in the stands this weekend. We’ll do our best to keep you updated via Twitter but you can catch both games at MURedHawks.com with Drew Davis at the mic, not Greg Waddell. A rare conflict in schedules will prohibit Waddell from traveling west with the team this weekend. The games can be heard over the airwaves on both WMOH (1450 AM) and WKBV (1490 AM) this weekend. Friday’s game will be covered by Root Sports (DirecTV Ch. 683 & 684; Dish Ch. 414 & 5414). Saturday’s game will be streamed on NCHC.tv. (source: MURedHawks.com)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.