Monthly Archives: March 2009

>RedHawks to Play Bemidji State & More

>Let the scouting begin. With a 4-1 win over Cornell on Sunday night, Bemidji State has moved on to the Frozen Four and will meet Miami for the right to face either Boston University or Vermont in the national championship game. You’ll recall that the Beavers knocked off No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Saturday night, 5-1. As both Miami and Bemidji are number four seeds, this will be the first time in the current format of the tournament (adapted in 2003) that there will be a 4 vs. 4 match up in the national semi-final game. No word yet if which team will be the “home” team and wear white jerseys.

– Bemidji finished the regular season with a record of 18-15-1 and advanced to the NCAA tournament by winning the CHA tournament. Their last NCAA appearance was in 2006, as a No. 4 seed, losing to Wisconsin in the first round.

– The Beavers are currently on a 5-game win streak. Senior Tyler Scofield led the team in the regular season, with 22 goals, tied for 9th best in the nation. Matt Dalton is Bemidji’s No. 1 goaltender. In 30 games, Dalton had a 19-10-1 record and a 2.17 GAA. The BSU power play was 6th best in the nation and the penalty kill was 19th.

– The RedHawks are 2-0 all-time against Bemidji State. The last meeting between the two schools was in November of 2000. The RedHawks swept the weekend series in Bemidji, MN, winning both games 4-2.

This isn’t the first time the RedHawks have played spoiler and knocked off a No. 1 seed to advance. Miami defeated No. 1 New Hampshire in 2007; the same year that Michigan State- a three seed, won the national title.

Other Notes:

– For those wondering, Rico stated in his post game presser, that Ryan Jones made good on his promise of being the first alum to call when the team reached the Frozen Four. He said that Jonesy called several times before he was able to pick up. “I finally picked up and he’s yelling on the other line,” Blasi said.

– Miami will play the early game on 4/9, at 5:00 pm.

Here and here are some photo galleries from the RedHawks 2-1 over Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night.

– For those that were unable to attend the team’s welcome home rally (me), here is a nice video recap of the arrival, with a police escort, might I add.

– Here is a round up of some of the nationally published articles about the RedHawks weekend:

Inside College Hockey

College Hockey News

US College Hockey Online

Bleacher Report

Dayton Daily News

NHL

NCAA

Cincinnati Enquirer

WCPO-TV

WKRC-TV

WLWT-TV

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>Destination: Washington…RedHawks Are In the Frozen Four

>
“It’s the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen.”

The RedHawks are moving on to Washington, D.C. They’ve won the West Regional and will move on to the Frozen Four. It was Miami hockey at it’s finest, as they Red & White upended the streaking Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth, 2-1 on Saturday night. After a scoreless first period in which Miami only had one official shot on goal, Justin Mercier got things going in the second, to give Miami a 1-0 lead. It was a shorthanded tally, his 51st as a RedHawk and 13th of the season. Later in the second, Mercier struck again, potting his second of the night on the power play and giving the RedHawks a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.

It appeared that Duluth had gotten on the board in the second, but the goal was overturned due to interference in front of the net. All night long, the Miami penalty kill was outstanding, holding UMD’s third-best power play to an 0-6 mark on the night. Miami, however, was 1-7 with the man advantage.

UMD goaltender Alex Stalock was pulled late in the game, in favor of the extra attacker. The Bulldogs would only score once in the waning minutes, with 2:05 remaining, although they had several chances in the Miami end as time wound down.

Not to be lost in all of this…the outstanding play of Miami goaltender Cody Reichard. He was very, very good tonight and kept his team in the game with some gigantic saves. Reichard was named the game’s second star. MReichard, Mercier, and defenseman Cameron Schilling were named to the West Regional All-Tournament team, with Mercier being named the Regional MVP with 3 goals in this weekend’s action.

The RedHawks now have some time to prepare for their next matchup, as they’ll meet the winner of Cornell/Bemidji State on April 9 in our Nation’s Capitol. They’re two wins away from a National Championship.

Congratulations to everyone involved that paved the way. The Brotherhood is truly something special.

Frozen Four ticket info from MURedHawks.com:

Tickets for the Frozen Four are available by calling the Miami Athletic Ticket Office at 1-866-MUHAWKS. In order to be eligible to purchase tickets to the Frozen Four fans must be an active member of the Red & White Club.

Frozen Four ticket orders will be processed under the following Red & White Club guidelines:

$2,500 and above = maximum of six (6) tickets per membership;
$1,000-$2,499 = maximum of four (4) tickets per membership;

$250-$999 = maximum of two (2) tickets per membership;

Seat locations will be filled based on active membership level of the Red & White Club. The Frozen Four ticket price is $177 for an all-session ticket (two semifinal games and the national championship game).

The Miami Athletic Ticket Office will be open on Sunday, March 29th from 2-3 p.m. to process orders and answer questions about the Red & White Club.

Updated TV Schedule:

Miami PostGame Following Minn. Duluth Win

Stay tuned. More to come as updates follow.

>RedHawks 1, Adversity 0

>They never trailed. The RedHawks defeated No. 1 seed Denver 4-2 on Friday afternoon, punching their ticket to the quarter-finals of the NCAA Tournament. Miami jumped out to a quick lead in the first period, when senior Justin Mercier made a nice toe-drag and fired a wrist shot past Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie. It was the 50th of his Miami career. As time ticked down in the first period, the RedHawks struck again. This time, it was Alden Hirschfeld, netting his fourth goal of the season. The result? 2-0 Miami, end of the first period.

They never trailed.

The second period was much of the same. Uptempo, with the ‘Hawks seeming to take advantage of Denver’s defense and Olympic size ice surface and solid puck moving ability. They seemed to get behind the defense frequently on this day and their hard work paid off. Miami struck early again. Bill Loupee potted his second goal of the season, now giving the Red & White three goal lead. Denver finally found the scoreboard late in the second, when Joe Colborne deflected a shot past Miami goaltender Cody Reichard. It was a power-play tally that cut the Miami lead to two. Momentum was high on the Denver bench. They were…back in it, one could argue, but the momentum went the other way. A great effort by the hard working Andy Miele gave MU it’s fourth goal of the contest on a controversial play. Denver argued that the puck went out of play, hitting the netting above the glass behind the goal. Miele stuck with the play and buried the puck, despite the Pioneer protest. The goal stood after a short conference by the officiating crew, and the Miami lead was once again three goals. 4-1 Miami, end of the second period.

They never trailed.

Denver would score the only goal of the third period, when the returning Tyler Bozak scored another power play tally for the Pioneers. This was a curious decision by Denver bench boss George Gwozdecky, as he pulled goaltender Cheverie in favor of the extra attacker with around six minutes left in regulation. It was a 5 on 4 Denver advantage, with Miami’s Vincent LoVerde and DU’s Brandon Vossberg serving co-incidental minors. The move paid off and Denver once again only trailed by two. That’s the way it would end after some big saves late by Reichard, Miami found itself advaning in the NCAA tournament to take on the winner of the nightcap game- Minnesota-Duluth vs. Princeton.

They never trailed.

This game was Miami hockey. This looked like the team that we saw in the first half of the season, which is a very good sign. One issue of concern, was the powerplay. 0 for 5. Have to capitalize on man-advantage chances, but with the offense running like a well-oiled machine and the defense carrying it’s share of the load, things worked out for the better. Gwozdecky said after the game that coaching against Rico was “a little bit like coaching against your son.” I’m sure that even in defeat, Rico made “dad” proud. What a classy guy George Gwozdecky is. He is still revered by many in the Miami community and will forever be.

This program has been here before…the regional finals. Never, in the soon to be storied history of Miami hockey has the team been past this stage. Teams with guys named Jones, Martinez, and Zatkoff didn’t make it past the quarter finals. This young Miami team, with no true nationally recognized “superstars” has a chance to do something great. Once again, we are one win away from the Frozen Four. Is this the year the chips get cashed in? We’ll know in 24 hours from now.

Looking ahead to tomorrow night, the RedHawks have a very tough test, once again. They’ll face a very good, very solid, University of Minnesota-Duluth squad. These guys are unreal. They’ve won five games in a row, after scoring twice in the last minute of regulation (including the game tying goal with 0.8 seconds left) and then netting the OT winner to defeat Princeton on Friday night. In my opinion, this is the hottest team in the country right now. They bring the third best power play in Division I hockey and a very good netminder, in Alex Stalock to the contest. These two teams are very similar…both play a very fast paced game, have a share of small forwards, and move the puck very well. It is, however, a home game for the Bulldogs. Not literally, of course, but the distance from Duluth to Minneapolis…2 hours, 20 minutes. Oxford to Minneapolis? 11 hours, 16 minutes.

Yikes.

If Miami plays “Miami hockey” (see: 3/27 vs. Denver), things will take care of themselves and the RedHawks will be D.C. bound. Expect a tough contest, folks. We’re one win away. One.

Go RedHawks. The puck drops at 9:00pm ET on ESPNU.

Post game comments: Justin Mercier/Tommy Wingels, Coach Enrico Blasi and DU Head Coach George Gwozdecky

>A Few Notes…

>Just some odds and ends here on the eve of the Miami/Denver first round matchup:

– Miami All-Access chronicles the RedHawks’ Selection Show viewing party from last Sunday. You can check that out by clicking here.

– If you’re in the Oxford/Butler county area, Buffalo Wild Wings in Oxford will be the official host of the Miami athletics Viewing Party for tomorrow night’s game. Fans wearing Miami gear will receive 10% off of their food order.

Here is the address of the restaurant, if anyone needs it:

Full-screenBuffalo Wild Wings
OXFORD (#3129)

10 East Walnut Street
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: 513-524-2999

– In addition to offering Gametracker services for the contest, MURedHawks.com will host a live blog where fans can submit questions and comments to the Miami hockey staff.

– USCHO has published their version of the 2009 West Regional preview. Here are a few excerpts:

Before that hypothetical rematch can happen, though, the other two teams in the regional will have something to say. Denver takes on Miami in the opening game at Mariucci Arena, setting up the sort of teacher-versus-student matchup that practically writes stories by itself.

“In my mind, in the regional there are four very good teams,” said Denver Coach George Gwozdecky. “Any one of the four could come out of that region as the champion, so we know we’ve got our work cut out for us against Miami, that’s for sure.”

“We’ve done this before, so really nothing new,” says RedHawk head man Enrico Blasi. “Last time we played them in the NCAAs, they won the national championsip, so maybe it will be our turn.”

And just to confirm…

The Game: (4) Miami vs. (1) Denver
Time: 5:30pm ET
TV: ESPN2 (HD)
Radio: MURedHawks.com and WPFB 910 AM

Unfortunately, I’ll be working during the game, so I won’t be online with anything until late Friday night. Here’s hoping to a RedHawks win!

>Denver Update: Pioneers Now In Minneapolis

>Mike Chambers, of The Denver Post has been keeping tabs on the hometown Pioneers this week in practice and checks in with some updates on George Gwozdecky’s squad. Here they be…

– University of Denver captain J.P. Testwuide missed practice again Tuesday and could be a spectator Friday when the Pioneers open the NCAA Tournament against Miami (Ohio) at the West Regional in Minneapolis. Testwuide, a rugged senior defenseman who leads the team with a plus-17 rating, will nevertheless make the trip in the Pioneers’ 23-player traveling party.

– Junior center Tyler Ruegsegger surprisingly participated in some practice drills Tuesday, donning full equipment and an orange “no crush” sweater. Ruegsegger’s season was deemed over when he partially tore a ligament in his right knee on March 13 against Alaska-Anchorage. Ruegsegger is doubtful, at best, for Friday, but the Lakewood native said he will pay his own way to Minneapolis if he’s not included in the team’s travel party. “I’m definitely making the trip. I couldn’t miss this,” he said.

– Bozak ready. DU standout center Tyler Bozak, who had a team-leading 21 points before he suffered a knee injury in the 18th game of the season, is practicing on a line with the team’s top two scorers, Anthony Maiani and Rhett Rakhshani. Bozak will return from a 21-game absence Friday.

(Here is a feature on what Bozak’s return to Denver lineup brings to the team. A 23 year old sophomore, Bozak is considering a plethora of NHL teams in competition for his potential services next season. These games could be his last in maroon and gold.)

“It doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat,” Rakhshani said. “The intensity of a game is a little different, but I would imagine he’ll step right in from where he left off, with the athlete he is and the skill set he has.”

Footnotes:

– DU (23-11-5) is 8-1 in its past nine NCAA Tournament games. . . . Miami is 2-4-1 in its past seven games. The RedHawks (20-12-5), who began the season 12-3-3, were idle last weekend after being eliminated from the CCHA playoffs by Northern Michigan in a three-game series.

– Chambers also has a short piece about former Pioneer captain and current Miami Volunteer Assistant Coach Bryan Vines. Check it out at this link.

>Gacek Commits to Miami

>I officially feel old…and I’m only 22. 15 year old Alex Gacek has given a verbal commitment to play his college hockey here at Miami. The Dracut, Massachussettes native spent last season with the Boston Little Bruins midget team and tallied 8 goals and 8 assists in 27 games. Gacek, a 5’8, 170 pound forward, is slated to arrive in Oxford in 2011. He’ll turn 16 on April 6.

Little Bruins Team Page

More to come…

>Your Attention…

>Just a few things to pass along about the page here…on the right side menu, you’ll notice a new poll about who the starting goaltender should be. I’m curious to hear your opinions! Also, just below that you’ll find the “Tournament Central” section. There are brackets, a game preview, and TV listings for the tournament coverage.

In addition, I have added the “2008-09” tournament banner further down on the left side of the page.

Enjoy! Go RedHawks!

>Game Preview: (4) Miami vs. (1) Denver

>NCAA Championships: Seven (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005)
NCAA Appearance: 19th (most recent, 2008)
Head Coach: George Gwozdecky (Wisconsin ’78)

What You Need to Know: The Pioneers have been dealing with injuries, especially in the second half of the season. The good news is that Tyler Bozak is expected to return to the lineup, giving DU a much-needed boost at center. Tyler Ruegsegger is out for the season. Even when players are missing, there is sufficient, talented depth to make a difference for the Pioneers. Freshman Joe Colborne really came on in the second half of the season.
Denver holds a record of 23-11-5 and a mark of 16-8-4 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The Pioneers are coming off a 4-0 loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the championship game of the WCHA tournament. Denver also finished second in the WCHA regular season, two points behind North Dakota. The Pioneers are led by Anthony Maiani who has 41 points (11-30-41) on the season. Denver also features three 15-goal scorers in Rhett Rakhshani, Tyler Guegsegger and Luke Slasar.

How They’ll Advance: You don’t win 23 games in a year, including 16 in the WCHA, by accident. The Pioneers are a very good skating team and are the best suited team of the four in the Minneapolis regional to playing on the huge ice at Mariucci Arena, although they’ll be taking that particular surface for the first time this year (and were 0-3-1 in four games on big sheets at Colorado College and St. Cloud State). Freshman defenseman Patrick Wiercioch has 12 goals and is a difference maker from the blue line.

What Might Trip Them Up: The Pioneers were 6-5-1 against NCAA Tournament teams this season, but just 1-4-1 in those games in the second half of the year. Consistency in taking care of the wins you’re supposed to get is a key to success in the regular season, but there has to be some concern about how Denver plays when good teams start to push back at this time of the year.

NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Seventh (most recent, 2007)
Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (Miami ’93)

What You Need to Know: After a 6-0-1 stretch that put the Redhawks in a great position to finish at least second in the regular season, Miami
finished the year 2-4-1, including a 3-game CCHA quarterfinal loss to Northern Michigan. Having played well most of the year, the Redhawks have to be alarmed that they’re not exactly on a roll headed into the national tournament.

How They’ll Advance: Miami has a very productive offense and two freshmen goaltenders who have been reliable for most of the year. With player like Carter Camper, Justin Mercier and Andy Miele taking the reins, the Redhawks have the ability to outscore anyone that they come across.

What Might Trip Them Up
: Over the past few years it seems like the RedHawks complete great regular seasons but are incredibly inconsistent in the postseason. The team hasn’t shown that they have learned from past losses and suffered an early exit from the CCHA Tournament. Until they prove they can win in the postseason, you have to wonder if they’ll ever make a dent in the national tournament.

The Venue

Fourteen years after the new Mariucci Arena first graced the campus of the University of Minnesota, fans and players alike still are amazed by the breathtaking beauty of a sold-out Mariucci and the atmosphere it provides. In 1993, the old Mariucci Arena, located in front of Williams Arena, took on a whole new face when it relocated just north of its old home. The new Mariucci Arena brings a brand new look to Golden Gopher hockey, not only from the outside, but inside as well. With the best sight lines possible from every seat, no Gopher fan is ever disappointed with the view of the fastest game in town. The Olympic-sized (200 feet by 100 feet) ice sheet lends itself to the free-wheeling style of play of Minnesota’s “Pride on Ice.” With the capability to have ice year-round, the arena brings a truly state-of-the-art facility to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.

This year marks the fourth time in 10 years that Mariucci Arena has hosted the NCAA West Regional, joining 2000, 2003 and 2005. In 2006, the facility welcomed the NCAA’s Women’s Frozen Four.

The 2001-02 season featured the introduction of 18 luxury suites, which increased the capacity of the building from 9,700 to 10,000. It was the third time that seating capacity has been increased, a testament to the support the Golden Gophers receive from the community.

Upon entering the building, fans immediately become part of the action as play on the ice can be heard from the George Lyon Lobby. The glassed-in entrance features a clear glass elevator, original brick from Memorial Stadium and a display dedicated to the legendary John Mariucci, for whom the building is named.

Escalators on either side of the lobby bring fans up to the concourse level where the fastest game in town can be seen. The open-bowl configuration allows fans to watch the game from anywhere on the concourse.

The arena seating capacity of 9,305 for the first three seasons increased to 9,700 before the 1996-97 campaign, continuing to make Mariucci Arena one of the premier collegiate hockey venues in the country. The nearly 500 person-per game average increase is due in large part to the 395 additional seats added between 1995-96 and 1996-97, the continued demand for standing-room only tickets and also to the continuous fan demand to watch a Gopher hockey game and take in the Mariucci Arena experience.

The last time these two teams met was during the 2006 Ice Breaker Tournament. Miami won the game 5-2, with defenseman Michael Findorff scoring the first ever goal at Cady Arena.

Box Score of 2006 Icebreaker Game vs. Denver

(Information in this post credited to INCH.com and MURedHawks.com)

>The Frozen Four…THE REDHAWKS ARE IN.

>As the show progresses, I’ll be updating the official brackets. Boston University is the number one overall seed in the tourney.

Manchester: (Northeast)

(1) Boston University vs. (4) Ohio State
(2) North Dakota vs. (3) New Hampshire

Grand Rapids: (Midwest)

(1) Notre Dame vs. (4) Bemidji State
(2) Northeastern vs. (3) Cornell

Bridgeport: (East)

(1) Michigan vs. (4) Air Force
(2) Yale vs. (3) Vermont

Minneapolis: (West)

(1) Denver vs. (4) Miami
(2) Minnesota-Duluth vs. (3) Princeton

Click to view the Frozen Four bracket:


With the Miami bid, the RedHawks will play on Friday at 5:30pm on ESPN2. If they were to win that game and move to the regional finals, they would then play on Saturday at 9:00pm on ESPNU. Both games are available in HD. Below are the TV listings for each tournament game:


>Updated Bracketology

>The question now seems to be, not if the RedHawks will be in, but where they will play. Finishing 13 in the PWI earns the RedHawks a number four seed. CHN’s final projected bracket is as follows:

Minneapolis

(1) Denver vs. (4) Miami
(2) Northeastern vs. (3) Princeton

Obviously, a Miami/Denver matchup would be several things…emotional, due to George Gwozdecky’s MU connection, tough, given that the Pioneers are a national powerhouse, not to mention former national champions and one could even describe the matchup this way: winnable. While Miami had a tough second half of the regular reason, we’ve seen the Jeckel and Hyde personality that this team has. Remember the sweeps of Michigan and Notre Dame? Denver is vulnerable. Beaten by University of Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA title game, the Pioneers could be doubting their game heading into the Frozen Four…lest we forget, they *are* a number one seed.

Remember, today is Selection Sunday! Tune in at 11:30 AM on ESPN2 to find out where the RedHawks land. I’ll be updating the blog here, as the show progresses.