Monthly Archives: October 2009

>Following the RedHawks

>Here are some helpful links for listening/watching the RedHawks this weekend:

http://www.wntk.com/newsite/content/index.php

http://unhwildcats.tv/

http://secure.stretchinternet.com/demo/games.php?user=unh&o=cal_stamp&sd=today

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>RedHawks Head East: The Game Notes

>Miami (2-0-0) vs. New Hampshire (0-1-0)
Friday, Oct. 16 • 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17 • 7:05 p.m.
Whittemore Center • Durham, N.H.

THE GAME
Miami hits the road for the first time in 2009-10 when it travels to New Hampshire for a weekend series with the Wildcats. Face off both nights is at 7:05 p.m.

The RedHawks opened the season Friday and Saturday with a sweep of No. 13/15 St. Cloud State at Steve Cady Arena. In the opener, Carter Camper scored 1:52 into overtime to lift Miami to a 3-2 victory. On Saturday, Jarod Palmer and Devin Mantha scored goals 20 seconds apart and Connor Knapp made 22 saves for a 2-0 win.

New Hampshire saw its streak of eight straight season-opening wins come to an end with a 3-1 loss at Rensselaer. After falling behind 1-0, the Wildcats evened the game before allowing a pair of third-period goals.

THE COACHES
Enrico Blasi is in his 11th season behind the RedHawk bench, holding a 211-151-33 career record. He is a three-time CCHA Coach of the Year selection and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06.

Dick Umile, a five-time Hockey East Coach of the Year, enters his 20th season as the head coach of the UNH Wildcats. He is sixth on the active coaches win list with a mark of 444-221-71.

THE SERIES
New Hampshire leads the all-time series with a 4-3-0 record, but the last meeting was resulted in one of the biggest wins in Miami’s school history. The teams’ first two matchups were part of tournaments during the 1993-94 and 1997-98 seasons, with Miami winning both. UNH won the next four games from 1998 to 2003, including the only two games played in Durham, before the NCAA Tournament meeting.

POLL NUMBERS
Miami became the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation on Tuesday when the RedHawks were listed as the top team in the USCHO.com/CBS College Sports poll. On Monday, the RedHawks retained its No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll, while being listed atop the first INCH Power Ratings.

QUICK HITS
Miami stands 2-0 for the second time in four years, but only the fourth time in Enrico Blasi’s 11 seasons. His other top starts are 8-0 (in 2006-07), 4-0 and 3-0. Since 2005-06, Miami’s ice hockey team has the best winning percentage among all 58 Division I teams at .693. Miami was perfect on penalty kills over the weekend, flighting off all 10 man-advantage situations by St. Cloud State. In 2008-09, the RedHawks led the nation in penalty kills with a success rate of .897. Five different RedHawks scored goals over the weekend, including freshmen Curtis McKenzie and Devin Mantha. Eleven of Miami’s 20 skaters have tallied at least one point over the first two games.

SERIES BREAKDOWN
New Hampshire has won four of the seven meetings all time, but Miami snapped a four-game losing skid — and won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game — in the last matchup.

A detailed breakdown of the previous meetings:
Nov. 28, 1993 W, 6-2 N1
Dec. 28, 1997 W, 4-2 N2
Oct. 23, 1998 L, 4-1 A
Oct. 21, 2000 L, 7-2 A
Dec. 20, 2003 L, 3-1 N3
March 24, 2007 W, 2-1 N4

BLASI vs. THE WILDCATS
Enrico Blasi holds a 1-2-0 record all-time against New Hampshire, including 0-1 in Durham. The other two games have taken place at neutral sites.

A 2-0 START
Miami is off to a 2-0 start for the second time in three years and just the fourth time in 11 seasons. The RedHawks opened 2007-08 with eight straight wins, while Blasi’s other fast starts include four wins in 2003-04 and three wins in 2002-03.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Special-teams play was a big factor in the RedHawks’ success in 2008-09 and this year has started no different. Miami successfully killed off all 10 penalties it received against St. Cloud State, five in each game. A year ago, the RedHawks led the nation in penalty kills, turning in a success rate of 89.7 percent (208/232).

On the other side, Miami converted two of nine power plays for a 22.2 percent rate, almost four percentage points higher than last year.

IN GOAL
Miami returned to its standard goaltender rotation for the weekend, starting Cody Reichard on Friday and Connor Knapp on Saturday. Together, they stopped 42 of 44 shots (.955 percentage) and combined for a 0.98 goals-against average. Reichard improved to 11-8-2 in his career, while Knapp now stands 14-5-3 after his third career shutout.

FIRST-TIMER SCORERS
A pair of freshmen earned their first career goals over the weekend.Curtis McKenzie opened the scoring on Friday night when he put back a rebound in the second period. One night later, after being scratched for the opener,Devin Mantha converted a wrist shot in his first collegiate appearance. Another freshman, Reilly Smith, broke a scoreless tie with his goal in the exhibition game.

MORE ROOKIE NEWS
In addition to the goal scorers and Smith, two other freshmen made their first appearances last weekend. Joe Hartman and Steven Spinell also saw their first collegiate action against St. Cloud State.

TOP TEAM
Since 2005-06, Miami’s ice hockey team has the best winning percentage among all 58 Division I teams. Over the last four-plus seasons, the RedHawks have compiled a record of 105-44-14 (.693), just ahead of Michigan, which has a record of 109-47-10 (.685) since 2005-06.

QUICK STRIKES
Miami’s two goals on Saturday night came just 20 seconds apart at 5:22 and 5:42 of the third period. The school record for fastest pair of goals in 11 seconds.

REDHAWKS vs. WILDCATS
Miami’s four seniors were all members of the 2006-07 team that faced New Hampshire in the NCAA Tournament. Gary Steffes had two shots and took a two-minute penalty, while Jarod Palmer and Dane Hetland only took shots (two and one, respectively). Brandon Smith was a scratch for the contest.

>Game No. 2

>The fast paced, physical brand of hockey continued on Saturday night in Oxford, Ohio, in a game that saw the Miami RedHawks sweep the St. Cloud State Huskies, with a 2-0 victory over their WCHA opponent.

The first period was, for the most part, a stalemate. If one had to provide a decision (ala boxing), Miami would own the advantage. Gritty board play was the rule, rather than the exception and much of the first was played in the neutral zone. St. Cloud appeared to have trouble setting up the power play, as the Miami penalty kill was running on all cylinders tonight (and last night, for that matter). Pat Cannone had a great chance to give Miami an early lead, but couldn’t settle the bouncing puck. He had three quarters of the net open for his choosing. Miami’s cycle work on the power play was good, too. St. Cloud did a good job of clearing; looked to me like the RedHawks were looking for the centering pass. Miami’s stickhandling is so good, it’s unreal. Guys like Miele, Palmer, Camper, etc. etc. could play just as well with their stick upside down.

In the second, things were still evenly matched. It sounds cliche to say, but this was a well played game by both teams. Both goaltenders were good, as well. St. Cloud freshman sensation Mike Lee didn’t make any “incredible saves,” but neither did Miami’s Connor Knapp for that matter. Both guys were just solid. Can’t fault Lee for the loss. They were simply good shots. The physicality picked up in the second as well. After a “discussion” of sorts (discussion meaning as close to a fight as you can get in college hockey) Cameron Schilling and Curtis McKenzie were given 2 minute minors for roughing after the whistle. The same went for St. Cloud State, as Garrett Raboin and Drew LeBlanc got the gate for the same offense. The Huskies came out with a power play however, as the minors came after a delayed Miami penalty on Jarod Palmer. The visitors were unable to capitalize in the final fifteen seconds of the period and each team took it’s share of a scoreless game into the dressing room for the second intermission.

The post-whistle action may have just been the turning point of the game. The RedHawks seemed to have been energized for the third period as it was still (yes, you guessed it) an evenly matched game. The two schools matched intensity and lines for most of the weekend, but the deadlock was broken at the 5:42 mark, as Andy Miele took a Reily Smith pass in the right corner and made a pretty feed to a waiting Jarod Palmer, who buried the one-timer past Lee and gave Miami a 1-0 lead.

The Cady, she was a rockin’.

Admittedly, I didn’t see the second goal. I was taking notes on Palmer’s goal from my seat in Section 5 and everyone was still standing. I of course, happened to be sitting. Learned my lesson there, but it was freshman Devin Mantha who fired a wrister from the left circle over Lee’s trapper to put the RedHawks on top, 2-0. Mantha’s goal, his first in a Miami uniform, was twenty seconds apart from Palmer’s; Miele and Will Weber were credited with assists.

The Cady, she was a rockin’ even louder.

After a St. Cloud time out, Lee was pulled in favor of an extra attacker, to no avail, and that’s the way it would end. Miami completes the sweep and begins the 2009-10 campaign, 2-0.

Random Thoughts:

– More line mixing tonight. Justin Vaive moved up to the top line early on and the mixing and matching continued throughout most of the game. Defensive pairs remained untouched.

– When kept together, I thought once again that the McKenzie-Miele-Palmer line was the best one on the ice. McKenzie is going to be a fun player to watch. He was part of the fracas at the end of the second period and was quick to get in his opponent’s face when Knapp was sprayed after freezing the puck. Think of Jarod Palmer…how he likes to mix it up. That was C-Mac tonight; was very impressed with that young man this weekend.

– My three stars on the night: Andy Miele, Curtis McKenzie, Jarod Palmer. Knapp would be 3 1/2. Not to sound like a homer, but EVERYONE on the ice played their you know whats’ off tonight. They’re quick, they finish checks, they provide good support in both zones. It’s going to be a great season.

– The Miami penalty kill was a perfect 10/10 this weekend. The power play was 2 for 9.

– Knapp was solid tonight. He didn’t have much traffic in front of him most of the night, but he did a good job of getting rebounds kicked out to his defensemen to clear the zone. He did however, make a beautiful glove save on an Oliver Lauridsen shot from the left point. It was the kind of save that made the Danish defender look to the Heavens as if to ask “why?” If Cody Reichard and Knapp continue the solid play on their respective nights this season…look out. Both guys were superb this weekend. The shutout tonight was the third of Knapp’s Miami career.

– Thought Will Weber looked a bit rusty. He got caught not moving his feet in the first period and took an interference penalty. Looked generally out of position at times. Not to “slam” his play at all. Still looks, to me, like the raw player we saw last year. He’ll need time to develop.

– 19 penalties were called in this game and the teams’ had a combined 9 power plays. Lots of coincidental penalties, eh?

– All of Miami’s goals this weekend came in the second and third periods, or overtime.

– Andy Miele leads the ‘Hawks after the opening weekend with three points, all assists, followed by Carter Camper (1g, 1a) and Jarod Palmer (1g, 1a).

– Sweet Caroline, BA BA BAAAAAAAA.

– Matt Tomassoni threw some big hits tonight. Gotta love that. We won’t discuss the undisciplined roughing after the whitsle penalty he took in the second period though, but such was the tempo of the game. Can’t fault a guy for mixing it up. It’s hockey after all, not basketball.

– The RedHawks travel to New Hampshire next weekend, to take on the Wildcats in Durham. Bob Norton has already penciled the Red & White in at 2-2.

>Saturday Night Lines

>Miami:

Hirschfeld- Camper- Wingels
R. Smith- Cannone- Vogelhuber
McKenzie- Miele- Palmer
Vaive- Steffes- Mantha

Schilling- Wideman
Weber- LoVerde
Tomassoni- Hartman

Knapp
Reichard

Scratches: Hetland, B.Smith, Mason, Kennedy, Spinell

St. Cloud:

Festler- Roe- Volpei
Hanowski- Marvin- Lasch
Christian- LeBlanc- Novak
Mosey- Oslund- Ryan

Barta- Raboin
Zabkowicz- Hepp
Lauridsen- Gaudet

Lee
Dunn

>Game No. 1

>A racuous crowd of 3,515 at the Goggin Ice Center saw one heck of a season opener on Friday night, as Miami defeated the visiting St. Cloud State Huskies 3-2. Oh, and they needed overtime to do it. More on that in a minute.

Both teams were slow to get going on this night. The neutral zone play of either team wasn’t particularly good, the RedHawks had trouble skating the puck into the zone (and keeping it there), but there were a few good scoring chances for each side peppered about the Cady Arena ice early on. Miami netminder Cody Reichard was great in the first period, making a spectacular save on a breakaway and taking a hard shot off of the mask as well. St. Cloud had quite a few rushes that Reichard had to fend off and his play kept his team in the game. The Huskies though, drew first blood at 17:42 of the first when defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, a 6’6, 228lb sophomore from Denmark, found the back of the net on a slapshot from the left point. Good traffic in front of Reichard never gave him a chance to see it and the visitors took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.

The second period, however, was a study in contrast. It became an end to end game and the physicality picked up as well. Both teams were finishing checks and making big plays and, as was the case all night, there was a flurry of activity around each team’s goalcrease. That activity paid off for the RedHawks, when freshman Curtis McKenzie knocked home an Andy Miele pass off of a rebound just 1:36 in to the second frame, to tie the game at one. It was Miami’s first tally of the season and “C-Mac’s” first of his Miami career. Both schools were very good on the penalty kill tonight. Miami killed off 5 of 5, but it was the one that St. Cloud couldn’t kill that came back to haunt them. Exactly seven minutes after Miami lit the lamp, they did it again. Carter Camper made a nice play with the puck and found a waiting Pat Cannone, for a one-timer past the blocker side of St. Cloud goaltender Dan Dunn. That goal was as pretty as they get, folks. Camper and Chris Wideman drew assists and the RedHawks had in their posession, a 2-1 lead. St. Cloud finished 4 of 5 on the kill tonight and Cannone’s power-play goal was the only one on the man advantage for the home team.

The Red & White would hold that lead for 18 minutes in the third period. The game would once again become tied when Miami had issues clearing the zone…again. With Huskies on the doorstep, Reichard did all he could to stop the trickling puck from going past him, but it did just that…trickled past him, and the game was tied late in regulation. Junior Brian Volpei was credited with the goal.

Miami was clearly the better team in the overtime period, which only lasted 1:52. Carter Camper was the hero of the night, coralling a Tommy Wingels rebound, taking it behind the net and putting it over Dunn’s shoulder to give the good guys the win.

Other notes/observations:

– The McKenzie-Miele-Palmer line was very good tonight. Jarod Palmer is so good with the puck, (as is Miele most of the time) and really provided some nice chances for McKenzie to bury. These guys are able to create a lot of offensive chances, as was evident on McKenzie’s goal early in the second period.

– Lots of shuffling around tonight on the RedHawks bench. Obviously Rico is still trying to find chemistry in his lines and it didn’t take him very long to start doing it. The defensive pairing of Tomassoni/Hartman was split almost half way through the first period. Hartman moved up to play with LoVerde (a great pair, in this blogger’s opinion) and Steve Spinell dropped down to play with Tomassoni. The Schilling/Wideman pairing was untouched. The mixing and matching was more so on the forward lines. Justin Vaive started with Gary Steffes and Brandon Smith, but eventually moved up to play with Camper and Wingels. Steffes eventually played with Reilly Smith and Pat Cannone and Brandon Smith with Miele and Palmer. Whew. Confused yet? Good, me too.

– The potential on the defense is astronomical. Cameron Schilling appears to have filled out a bit and Spinell and Hartman are both very physical players. Tomassoni played very well tonight, too. Hartman is a gem though. He handles the puck very well, posesses a great shot, takes good angles, and is suprisingly quick for his size. One can only imagine the player he’ll be in three more years.

– I long for the day when Justin Vaive will use his size to his advantage. He needs to fill out more and plant himself in front of the net. He did so, sparingly tonight and had a really good scoring chance result from it.

– Hartman and Wingels were the best players on the ice. Gary Steffes was very good too, as always, showing great hustle.

– I’m not one to normally judge officials, but the interference call on Vincent LoVerde in the second was bogus. LoVerde’s feet became tangled up with a St. Cloud player’s and both men fell to the ice, trying to get posession of the puck. How that merits an interference call is beyond me.

– St. Cloud is a very quick team, with a solid one-two goaltending tandem. Wouldn’t surprise me to see freshman Mike Lee get the nod on Saturday night. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Connor Knapp, for that matter, either.

– Dane Hetland, Will Weber, Devin Mantha, Steve Mason, and Garrett Kennedy were the Miami scratches tonight.

– Game two of the weekend series begins at 7:05 on Saturday night.

>The Games Finally Count…on Friday.

>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

>All-Time Defense Selected

>**Note**

I mistakenly left Joe Cook off of the list. I’ll add him to the forwards voting, and if he gets enough votes (more than the last place defenseman) I’ll add him to the team.

6- Dan Boyle            23- Andy Greene
24- Kevin Roeder     21- Alec Martinez
3- Bobby Marshall    25- Mitch Ganzak
              37- Jeff Zatkoff
             1- Charlie Effinger

>Quick Hitters

>- The “RedHawks In the Pros” section on the left side of the page is updated to the best of my ability. Still trying to track down a few guys. Brian Kaufman is one of them, as is Taylor Hustead. He’s (Kaufman) not listed on the Houston Aeros roster, so if you know his whereabouts, please drop me a line! Same for Hustead.

– Miami Alum Dan Boyle was selected to be an alternate captain for the San Jose Sharks this season.

– Goaltender Charlie Effinger has joined the Allen Americans of the CHL. That makes three former RedHawks (Nino Musitelli and Bill Loupee are the others) to be a part of the expansion organization.

– Former RedHawks blueliner Alec Martinez will make his NHL debut on Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

– I sometimes post things on the Twitter account that don’t make the blog. Follow the hockey page at twitter.com/muhockeyblog, or my personal account @alexmmcdaniel.

– I won’t be able to attend the Miami exhibition on Saturday, against Windsor. I’ll be in Columbus for the Blue Jackets opening night game. If you’d like to send in an account of the exhibition, please e-mail me.

– Realized I left off Joe Cook’s name from the “All-Time Defenseman” voting. Pretty big name. E-mail me your case for him to make the team, if you so desire.

>Where Will They Finish? 1-6

>6. Alaska Nanooks
2008-2009 Record: 17-16-6 (4th overall)

5. Ohio State Buckeyes
2008-2009 Record: 23-15-4 (5th overall)

4. Northern Michigan Wildcats
2008-2009 Record: 19-17-5 (6th overall)

3. Michigan Wolverines
2008-2009 Record: 29-12-0 (2nd overall)

2. Miami RedHawks
2008-2009 Record: 23-13-5 (3rd overall)

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2008-2009 Record: 31-6-3 (1st overall)

>Season Storylines

>It’s finally here.

With the RedHawks kicking off the 2009-2010 season tomorrow night against Windsor (albeit an exhibition), here are a few things to keep an eye on for the upcoming campaign. Feel free to add more of your thoughts in the comments section.

Goaltending
Given the way that Coach Blasi likes to divvy up the the goaltending duties, will Miami have a solidified number one ‘tender this season? In somewhat of a surprise move last season, Blasi gave the reigns to Cody Reichard for the NCAA tournament. It paid off. Will we see more of Reichard this season? Is confidence an issue perhaps, even though he now has that “big game expierience”? Will Connor Knapp’s recent knee injury (although not serious) stunt his development or limit his time in net? As we all know, Knapp has impressive mobility for his size and a wicked glove hand. Competition breeds excellence. Who will step up?

Defense
Chris Wideman’s work last season was very impressive, as he led the ‘Hawks in assists with 26. Stepping in to quarterback a Division I powerplay as a freshman is undoubetly no easy task, but he proved worthy to the task. To what extent can the RedHawks continue this success with a man advantage? How will the newcomers to the blueline transition their games to the college level? There are big shoes to fill with the loss of Kevin Roeder, but there is some great talent coming in. Like the situation in net, who will step up and take that role? Another player to watch is Will Weber. As a freshman last season, Weber posessed a large amount of raw talent. How will his game improve? Miami also has a solid group of sophomore defenseman. Guys like Schilling, Tomassoni join Weber on that corps. Their development is something to keep an eye on.

Offense
Two words. Carter Camper. Okay, maybe two more. Pat Cannone. Oh…and Andy Miele. Well, we’re up to six now, but the core of the offense is hinged on these three guys. Sans Justin Mercier this season, can Miami fans expect to see a jump in performance from these top three scorers? Dangerous on the power play and receiving some early Hobey Baker attention, Camper will look to improve on his team best twenty goal season from a year ago, as he inches his way into the 100-point club. Cannone and Miele are big point producers too, finishing behind Camper for second and third in total points, respectively. Who will be the next offensive standout from a talented group of freshmen?

Leadership
No doubt new captain Tommy Wingels has learned from the best. While not having crossed paths with former captain Andy Greene, there was one man who did- Ryan Jones. We all know that Greene was a great leader and posessed traits that molded Ryan Jones into a great captain, which poses the question- how will Wingels lead the team who holds the preseason number one ranking in the country? There is a lot of pressure that comes with the letter “C” sewn on the sweater; how does he mold himself into model captain? How will other guys like Vaive, Steffes, and LoVerde mentor the newcomers? There are a lot of watchful eyes on the RedHawks this season. How does the team, as a whole, deal with the pressure of being a national contender and making a trip to Detroit in April?

Hardware
Is this the year Miami finally captures a Mason Cup? A National Championship?

Scheduling
How does Miami handle a tough schedule early on in the season? St. Cloud, New Hampshire, Michigan State, Northern Michigan, and Michigan right out of the gun provides an intriguing challenge. Will the dreaded post holiday swoon be avoided this season?