Monthly Archives: April 2009
>They have arrived. After a morning skate in Oxford, the RedHawks have arrived in Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the Frozen Four activities, scheduled to begin tomorrow. As the home team in Thursday’s early semi-final, Miami will take the Verizon Center ice tomorrow afternoon from 12:15-1:15pm for a practice session. Should the RedHawks advance to the National Championship game, they’ll have a morning skate on Friday at 11:15am.
To view a video recap of the ‘Hawks trip to The District, click this link. Props to Steve Baker and Miami All-Access for putting these features together.
Another piece of interest here, is from the RedHawks morning skate today. A mic’d up Coach Blasi gets his team in gear, for the final practice at Cady Arena this season. Check that one out, here.
– USCHO has a nice preview of the Miami/Bemidji matchup. Click the preview to read the entire story.
The balance for Miami extends beyond the score sheet. Blasi is always telling his players to maintain an even keel, neither too high nor too low. And this RedHawk roster is balanced in more ways than scoring.
– CHN has published their semi-final notebook. Decent read, good coverage on all four teams.
– Another great article from CHN, about Miami’s mainly young defensive skaters. To read the article, click here.
>With the team’s departure for D.C. scheduled for sometime later today, there is some more Frozen Four News to pass along. Both Hockey’s Future and INCH have released their previews for the semi-final matchups. Here now, a Miami preview of both:
Miami’s greatest challenges may lie in not only trying to slow down (and wear down) the confident Beavers, but also to get pucks by sophomore Matt Dalton. Dalton allowed just two goals in the Midwest Regional and stopped a combined 59 of 61 shots he faced.
This team’s strength is its balance. That depth makes it difficult for opposing coaches to match lines, and it’s tough to wear them down. Also, Miami is traditionally one of the best penalty-killing teams in the country – the RedHawks enter the Frozen Four ranked second nationally in that category. If your opponent is deeper than you five on five and wins 90 percent of its penalty kills, you’re in for a long night.
Also…there will be PLENTY of viewing parties nationwide, for those unable to make the trip to our Nation’s Capital. To see the official list (everywhere from San Fransisco to Atlanta) click here.
Finally…a pointless reminder. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 5pm on Thurdsay and it’s being brought to you with an All-Star lineup. Gary Thorne and Barry Melrose, along with Clay Matvik will have the call on “The Deuce.” It will also be broadcast locally, on 1450 WMOH-AM, with yet another All-Star lineup. Greg Waddell will handle the play-by-play duties and as an added bonus, “Diamond” Dave Allen will accompany Waddell, providing color commentary. It’s an All-Star lineup for an “all-star” kinda’ weekend.
I will be in Washington, so I’m not sure what coverage on the blog will be like at this point. I’ll also be updating on twitter.com/muhockeyblog and additionally, for WLWT.com in some capacity. More on that as the logistics are worked out.
>A collection of Miami-related Frozen Four articles and updates from the past week make for a quick Sunday update:
– Dayton Daily News coverage of the RedHawks.
– New York Daily News article on Miami’s “debt” to Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene.
– Former Mahoning Valley Phantom Alden Hirschfeld is ready for the Frozen Four.
– Dayton Daily News on Cody Reichard’s long journey to Miami.
– Miami All-Access with Chris Wideman and Kevin Roeder can be found here.
– Miami All-Access with Enrico Blasi at this link.
– Finally, there will be a viewing party for Miami alumni at the Voice of America Learning Center on Thursday afternoon at 4:30pm for the Miami/Bemidji game. Admission for guests age 21 and older is $10. More information can be found by clicking here.
>Ryan Jones needs no introduction. Those in the Miami community know who he is, what he’s done, and where his career is heading. I recently had the chance to find out a little more about his career in professional hockey, his thoughts on the Frozen four, and his reflection on Miami, straight from the man himself. Enjoy.
AM: What went through your mind when you found out you were being traded to Nashville? Had Minnesota given you any indication of where you’d be playing this season and what was your reception like within the Predators organization when you arrived?
RJ: “The first thing that went through my mind initially was shock. I really couldn’t believe that I was being traded before my first full professional year. Minnesota had a meeting with me just after I had surgery to repair my shoulder (combination of 4 years of college and a freak collision with the boards in my first pro game) and told me that they were looking for me to compete for a position on the big squad. They had some holes that weren’t filed and were looking to go with a more youthful line up, so things looked good. The Predators were great when I got here. I actually came down two months early to rehab my shoulder and live with Jason Arnott. His brother is my agent so that is how the connection was made. It was good to meet the guys prior to the season and get a chance to establish my work ethic within the organization.”
AM: Talk a little about how life in professional hockey differs from life as a collegiate hockey player. In addition, how does “game day” differ?
RJ: “Well, there is a lot more down time. Just think of when you were sitting in class or doing homework and saying, “man I could do so much if I wasn’t in class or doing work.” That is what it is like. It is actually a fairly boring lifestyle if you ask me. Travel is second to none. We have a private jet and basically all we do is show up at the private runway and step on the plane. Meals are provided on the plane so it is extremely nice. My game days have actually settled down from college. I spent a lot of the game day at Miami getting myself pumped up because there was so much practice time between games. Here I try to calm myself down because it is the NHL and I am so excited every game.”
AM: Living in Ohio and being an admitted Blue Jackets fan, I don’t get to see many Predator games on TV. I know that a large part of your game is camping in front of the net and driving to it to try and create offense. Has the Predators system/your role on a line/Coach (Barry) Trotz allowed you to focus on doing this? Would you consider your game in the NHL to be similar to the game you played as a RedHawk?
RJ: “My game is exactly how it was at Miami, minus the confidence. As a rookie you spend so much time worrying about if you’re going to be in the line up and dwelling on mistakes and what not. My confidence has been a roller coaster so far this year and I think my game has taken a hit because of it. Much like my freshman year at Miami, I haven’t been as productive as I would have liked to be, but I continue to work hard and try to provide energy. The goals and points will come next year when I have had the experience, the game starts to slow down, and I start to be confident in my game again.”
AM: We all know the story of why you chose to grow your hair long…because of Korinne Croghan and Locks of Love. In her passing, how have you been affected and how did Korinne’s fight inspire you, on a personal level?
RJ: “Well, the whole thing was a little more publicized than I would have liked it to be. I worry that I took a little bit of attention away from who the attention should have been on. People made a big deal about me growing my hair and it took off because I was an athlete. I would have liked the stories to be more about her and how amazing of a person she was; a celebration of her life so to say. The one regret that I have is not showing the world more of how amazing of a girl she was. On a personal level, I still stay in contact with her family and sent some equipment, (jerseys and what not) to her brother and her foundation. I’ll always remember her and how she enjoyed everyday of her life despite her struggles. I always thought about her when I was in the AHL, feeling sorry for the situation I was in. She taught me to enjoy everyday which is what I did and it ultimately led to my being re-called.”
AM: With it being tournament time, here’s a two-part question: Watching the Boston College game last year, I remember you were shown leaving the bench after the Eagles had scored the game winner in overtime. What was that moment like for you, knowing your Miami career had come to an end?
RJ: “I have said before and still say that that moment was one of the saddest days of my life. Miami was a huge part of who I was. I had life-long friends there, people I loved and whom I enjoyed working so hard for. Everything about Miami was amazing in my eyes; the community, classes, partying. It just couldn’t get better to me. I expected, going into that tournament, to be playing two weeks later, so I never braced myself for what might happen. At that moment, reality hit me that I would never wear the Miami jersey again, which is why I didn’t want to take it off.”
AM: Second part: you said after that game, in the press conference, that you’d be the first alum to call once the program made the Frozen Four. I know that after several attempts, you did in fact manage to reach Coach Blasi. Explain the feeling you had when you found out that Miami beat Minnesota-Duluth to advance.
RJ: “I was able to watch the games this past weekend at my place due to not traveling with the team because of my injury (which I am quickly healing from. SORRY Jackets fans, I’ll be back to punish them!). What I saw was exactly what Miami hockey is all about: hard work, sacrifice, dedication and passion. I was proud beyond words to be an alumni of the team that was playing. When they won those two games, all I could think about was a promise that I had made to my school to be the first person to call and I was not going to break it. I was able to get ahold of Rico after the meeting and it was a pretty emotional conversation, I’ll leave it at that. I have talked to most of the guys since and I look forward to another excited phone call in two weeks.”
AM: To me, you are a large part of what “The Brotherhood” is about and in my opinion, a perfect example of what a captain should be. What do you personally feel that you’ve done to better the Miami hockey program? I could list about 1,000 things and am sure others could too, but what does Ryan Jones feel that he’s done?
RJ: “My goal in life is the leave every place I stop a better place than when I arrive. I am not sure in which way I have made Miami better. It was an amazing place when I got there. However, many people have told me how much I have impacted the program and that is one of the greatest compliments I will ever receive.”
AM: Put your rookie season, thus far, into perspective. Explain how it has played out vs. your initial expectations. Were you at all…”starstruck,” more or less, to playing with/against guys that you maybe had watched throughout your years in college and before?
RJ: “I told myself I was going to do everything in my power to play in the NHL this year and I accomplished it. I wish I could have played the year a little more consistently. There were games I felt like I was one of the best players on the ice and others where I questioned if I could keep up. If I can eliminate the latter, I will be a darn good NHL player. Another thing I wish, is that I could eliminate the injury I am currently dealing with. It is kind of a pain and is really testing my mental strength off the ice. I was star struck at first, but I can recall winning a face-off against Mike Modano and at that point I realized that all these guys I looked up to were just players and I could compete.”
AM: One of the highlights of this rookie season was your first NHL goal, which you scored against Marty Turco, another CCHA guy, from Michigan. Explain that moment.
RJ: “My first goal is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a moment when everything kind of came together and a childhood dream came true, (actually Turco is so old that when I was 6 I was probably imagining scoring on him, joking). That goal was a big thank you to so many people that have had such a huge impact on my career. The main people being my parents, especially my father who sacrificed so much for me to play hockey at the level I did. My dad is the greatest leader the world will ever see and only a few people will see it. That however, is a long story. Not far behind my family is my second family, the people at Miami. Coach Blasi, Bergeron, Blashill, and Petraglia. Athletic Director Brad Bates, Steve Cady, Josh Fenton, the man himself Mr. Goggin, who without him, Miami hockey would not be possible. I could list 100 people at Miami that I scored that goal for, including many fans. It was just nice to be able to give people something to cheer about and be happy for.”
AM: I’m very curious to know what type of rookie hazing you’ve been subjected to?
RJ: “Nothing other than paying for the rookie meal, which was more than I want to share. I’ll just say it was somewhere between five hundred and five thousand. You can guess which end it was closer to.”
AM: Inquiring minds were wondering: Is there any significance as to why you wear the number “10” in Milwaukee (which you also wore in Houston) and “28” in Nashville? I know Steve Sullivan has 26 occupied, for now.
RJ: “I was always a be “19” fan, but I think my calling is 26/27. “26,” because of the obvious, I played the best hockey of my life in that number and “27” because my cousin, John Tonelli, wore that number and I think it would be cool to have it in the family. Both of those numbers were taken, so I just stayed with the number they gave me at camp. You haven’t seen the last of the Jones 26 jersey though, I promise you that.”
AM: Is there anyone you keep in contact with at Miami, or guys you’ve played with on past teams? Do you feel you’ll always follow the program in years to come and as I’m sure many will wonder, do you plan on going back to Oxford at all?
RJ: “I keep in contact with a bunch of the guys that I played with. Mitch Ganzak and I were roomates throughout our time at Miami, so we still have lots to talk about, but I have made so many good friends that I will stay in touch with them all. Brian Kaufman is someone I live with in the summers, so I have to congratulate him publicly for being the oldest player in Miami history. Brian and I train together and we are life long friends. I plan to come to Miami in the summers for the Alumni events which sound exciting beyond belief. I will always follow Miami hockey because of how much the program meant/means to me.”
AM: Closing thoughts? What advice would you give anyone considering making a commitment to play college hockey at Miami?
RJ: “If you’re looking for a place where hard-work, dedication, sacrifice and comradery are the core of everyday living, then Miami is your place. If you want individualism and spot light, try Michigan (laughs). Miami is a place where dreams and life long friends are made. It is the best four years anyone can ever wish to experience.”
>Former RedHawk defenseman Mitch Ganzak has been named to the ECHL-All Rookie team. Ganzak, who spent this season with the Wheeling Nailers, registered a total of 39 points (7th best in ECHL) and a +15 rating. His 32 assists are 6th best in the “E” among defensemen. Ganzak has played three games in the AHL this season. Two with Albany and one with the Norfolk Admirals.
The Nailers have three games remaining, including tonight’s contest against Trenton.
(Photo Credit to Rachel Lewis)
>Beautiful day in Oxford today. I made it over to Cady to watch practice. The guys were very loose and having a good time with each other. Coaches Bryan Vines and Brent Brekke spent the first forty minutes working with all three goaltenders; 2 on 1 situations, rebound control, things like that. There was even a Bill Davidge sighting! Davidge, doing his best impression of Johnny Cash today, was accompanied by a cameraman. Possibly shooting a Miami feature for Blue Jackets Live?
– Miami alum and current San Jose Shark Dan Boyle has launched his official web site. Here is a link to the page.
SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: The Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity is selling “Love & Honor” shirts, with all proceeds going toward the Miami Hockey Band. Clicking here will link you to the page to see the shirt design and find out how to purchase yours. It’s definitely something different. I’ll be picking one up myself.
>Some good news today as RedHawks Head Coach Enrico Blasi has been named a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award, which is awarded each year to the best coach in Division I hockey. You may remember that Rico is a past winner of the award, taking the honors in 2006. Other notable finalists include Dallas Ferguson (Alaska), Tom Serratore (Bemidji State), Jack Parker (Boston University), and Kevin Sneddon (Vermont).
– INCH has been having a bit of fun lately with Haiku poetry. As they do each year, they’ve written a Haiku for each team selected fot the NCAA tourney. Here’s what they’ve come up with for Miami:
is nation’s best, lets teammates
feel shame and get free
They also have past tourney Hawk Haiku’s:
Now more than ever,
“Talent” in Oxford is found
on ice and in stands.
Hope co-eds will follow
RedHawk fans will make Worcester
easy on the eyes
Can’t spell Oxford without “O”
Zero tourney wins
Certainly the program has come a long way since 2004. Here’s hoping next year’s Haiku reads a little something like…
Music to their ears
The RedHawks look to repeat
– Finally tonight, a HUGE thank you to a few blog readers out there. With their help, I’ll be on my way to Washington, D.C. next week to the Frozen Four. I couldn’t have done it with out them. Thank you for reading. I’m forever grateful.