>Is it just me, or was that the longest offseason in recorded history? After a bittersweet finish to the 2008-2009 season, Enrico Blasi returns an energetic, battle tested team with big game experience to the ice, with three tough series’ to open the season. New Hampshire and a “not to be taken lightly” Michigan State team loom on the horizon for the Miami hockey squad, but the Hawks’ focus rests on the task at hand this weekend…the St. Cloud State Huskies.
St. Cloud is very good in goal, with a solid 1-2 combination of Junior Dan Dunn and freshman Mike Lee, a standout player throughout his amateur career. Lee was drafted 91st overall in the 2009 NHL draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, and participated in the US National Junior Evaluation Camp (the same one Miami’s Chris Wideman and Connor Knapp attended). By all accounts, Lee is a favorite to make the roster. Last season, the Huskies were a shade over .500, finishing with a 18-17-3 record, good enough for a 6th place finish in the WCHA, before getting swept in the first round of the WCHA Tournament.
Miami returns several core players for the upcoming season (17 letterwinners to be exact), a team that owned the nation’s best penalty kill and the CCHA’s third best power play. Junior Carter Camper finished first in power play points with 23, and was joined by fellow junior Pat Cannone, who was tied for second in the league with 21 points on the man advantage. Miami hockey has the winningest Division 1 program over the last four seasons with a 104-44-14 record; a .689 winning percentage.
There are a few story lines in connection with this weekend series. St. Cloud Head Coach Bob Motzko was an assistant at Miami from 1991-1993; a member of George Gwozdecky’s staff that coached the “player-turned-coach”, Enrico Blasi. This season will be Motzko’s 5th in St. Cloud.
Another story to keep an eye on this weekend, is that of Miami freshman defenseman Joe Hartman. His first two games in a Miami sweater will likely be his two biggest, as the St. Cloud native faces off against his hometown university and a team that tried their darnedest to recruit him. Hartman attended Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota and lived just a few miles from the school’s main campus.
Tale of the Tape
Miami RedHawks St. Cloud State Huskies
Location: Oxford, Ohio St. Cloud, Minnesota
08-09 Record: 23-13-5 18-17-3
Preseason Ranking: 1 13
Head Coach: Enrico Blasi (211-151-33) Bob Motzko (81-58-19)
Series Record: Miami leads 5-1-1