>Games 23 & 24 – Miami v. Ferris State
Big Rapids, Mich. – What a difference a week makes.
Stripped of their #1 national ranking and coming off two non-conference losses to lowly Robert Morris University where their offense generated just two goals, the #2 Miami RedHawks took to the road to take on #6 Ferris State in a battle of the top two teams in the CCHA. Both squads entered the weekend with 34 league points and the Bulldogs brought a 12-game league unbeaten streak and a perfect 11-0 record at Ewigleben Ice Arena to the table.
On Friday, Miami rode the excellent goaltending of sophomore Cody Reichard in posting a 4-0 victory. With the win, Reichard improved his record to 11-2-2 in registering his fourth shutout of the season stopping all 23 Bulldog shots. The shutout tied Reichard with David Burleigh for the most in a single season in Miami history in just 16 games.
Seniors Jarod Palmer and Brandon Smith and junior Andy Miele and sophomore Trent Vogelhuber (CBJ draft pick) scored for Miami as they received scoring from throughout the lineup and dominated the play from start to finish.
Saturday’s game started slowly as the first period ended with a scoreless tie. However, in the second period, Miami would trail 2-1 before erupting for three-straight goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third. Miami would score first in the third period and lead 5-2 before allowing a late powerplay goal and extra-attacker goal to make the score much closer than the RedHawks would have preferred. It was the first time this season that Cody Reichard allowed more than three goals in a game as he made his first back-to-back starts in more than two months. Still, you have to be concerned about Miami’s inability to kill late game, extra-attacker situations. This really hasn’t improved since last season’s debacle in the national title game.
With the victory, Miami (15-4-5, 12-1-3-1 CCHA) leads now second place Michigan State (15-7-4, 10-4-4-1) by five points and Ferris State (16-6-2, 10-4-2-2) by six points (remember, CCHA regular season victories are worth 3 points) in taking the season series 2-0-2 against the Bulldogs. Miami has two games in-hand over the Spartans in the race for the CCHA regular season championship. Miami received two goals from junior captain Tommy Wingels (San Jose draft pick) and single goals from Jarod Palmer, sophomore defenseman Chris Wideman (Ottawa draft pick) and sophomore Alden Hirschfeld in scoring five goals for the first time in the past five games.
Though Cody Reichard allowed a season’s-high four goals in Saturday’s game, his stats remain spectacular. In 17 games, Reichard is 12-2-2 with four shutouts, a 1.54 goals-against average and a save percentage of 93.2. In conference games, Reichard is 10-0-1 with a 1.18 goals-against average with a save percentage of 95.0. He is a legitimate Hobey Baker Award candidate, and if he continues his pace, will easily shatter most of the Miami single-season records for goaltending excellence.
Next week, Miami makes its longest road trip of the year with a trek to the land of the Midnight Sun, from where you can purportedly see Russia from your house, Alaska. In fact, the RedHawks will be playing the University of Alaska in Fairbanks which is actually north of North Pole, Alaska and just 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The Nanooks will enter the weekend in fifth place in the CCHA with an overall record of 10-7-5 and a league mark of 7-7-4-4. Alaska picked up two points in Ann Arbor this weekend losing 6-0 on Friday before bouncing back with a shootout win on Saturday, which was technically a 3-3 tie with the Wolverines. Interestingly, the Nanooks have won all four league shootouts in which they have participated this season.
Here’s a quick look at the rest of the Top 10 and how they fared this weekend.
#1 Denver – off
#3 Wisconsin – split at #8 Colorado College
#4 North Dakota – tied and lost at unranked Minnesota – The Gophers appear to be pulling it together with the help of Bowling Green transfer, and Ohio native, Jacob Cepis who has provided instant offense with four goals and five points in his first six games. The Gophers are now 7-1-1 in their past nine games.
#5 Yale – beat Brown 8-5
#7 Michigan State – lost and won shootout over unranked Notre Dame who is also beginning to show signs of life
#9 Cornell – tied St. Lawrence 1-1
#10 Minnesota-Duluth – Swept Minnesota State moving into first place in the WCHA with Denver’s bye week.