>Game #26 – Miami v. Alaska
Fairbanks, Alaska (Jan. 23) – #2 Miami earned five points on their longest road trip of the year defeating the Alaska Nanooks 5-0 in Fairbanks, Alaska last night. Sophomore Connor Knapp stopped all 19 shots in registering his third shutout of the season. It was Knapp’s first game action since a 2-1 loss to Robert Morris on January 10 where he made just 13 saves. His goals-against average is now a sparkling 1.95 with a 91.8 save percentage as he improved his record to 4-2-3 on the year.
This weekend saw the reunion of last year’s top line of juniors Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels and sophomore Alden Hirschfeld that was so good throughout the NCAA tournament. And, they didn’t disappoint managing five points between them for the weekend. It was also nice to see Hirschfeld pick up his game as he seemed much more involved and active than I can remember seeing over the past several weeks. In addition, Trent Vogelhuber seems to have picked up some of that energy as he was also much more visible, working much harder than I have seem him. It’s good to have those two sophomores helping contribute to take some of the scoring pressure off senior Jarod Palmer and the juniors (e.g., Camper, Pat Cannone, Andy Miele, Wingels, etc.).
The RedHawks jumped to an early 1-0 lead at 6:42 of the opening period when freshman Reilly Smith redirected a Tommy Wingels shot past Nanook goaltender Scott Greenham. The goal was scored 6×5 during a delayed penalty as Miami was able to control the puck in the offensive zone and find a quality chance. Miami would tally just six minutes later when sophomore Matt Tomassoni found the net off a chance on the right side. Tomassoni took a pass from senior Brandon Smith and wristed a high, hard shot that appeared to hit Greenham’s right shoulder and bounce up and over the sophomore. The RedHawks would complete their highest scoring first period of the season when Palmer scored off a feed from Andy Miele that chased Greenham from the net at 14:50 of the first period.
Steve Thompson would enter the game and keep the Nanooks in it, but Miami would finish off the evening on third-period goals from Wingels and Brandon Smith to secure a five-point weekend and an enjoyable flight back to Ohio for the Red and White.
Head coach Enrico Blasi succinctly summarized his thoughts on the 5-0 victory.
“It was a good effort by all of our guys tonight,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “Connor played well (in) net and we came in with a determined effort. It was nice to get the win.” muredhawks.com
- Knapp’s shutout was the third of the season and his fifth in just 33 career games. He has already surpassed last year’s two shutouts which was his first season at Miami.
- Wingels’ goal was his team-leading 13th of the season. He is just two goals off his career high of 15 that came during his freshman campaign in Oxford.
- Miami’s fourth line of Brandon Smith, Justin Vaive and Matt Tomassoni includes a fifth-year senior (Smith), the 6’6″ son of an NHL legend (Vaive) and a defenseman (Tomassoni). The line combined for 2-2-4 on the evening.
- Miami (16-4-6, 13-1-4-2 1st CCHA) has opened a seven point lead over second place Michigan State with two games in-hand. The RedHawks ran their league unbeaten streak to 16 games.
- Miami is once again atop the Pairwise and KRACH rankings and are positioning themselves for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament should their good play continue.
- One of the key components of the Pairwise Rankings that effectively determine the 16-team NCAA Tournament, is record against Teams Under Consideration (TUC’s). The top 25 teams in the Pairwise are ranked and defined as “under consideration.” Miami has played 26 games this season with 18 of them coming against TUC’s. They are 12-2-4 in those games having played the 7th most difficult schedule in the nation and have achieved the 2nd best winning percentage in the country. However, only Miami’s series with Lake Superior State is against another TUC for the remainder of the regular season meaning it will help Miami’s Pairwise if the top teams they have already played, and beaten, such as Ferris State, Michigan, Notre Dame, New Hampshire and St. Cloud State continue to win.
- Miami returns home for the next two weekends starting with a two-game series against the CCHA’s last place team, Western Michigan January 29-30 followed by what is shaping up to be a big series against fourth place Lake Superior State. The Lakers are having a surprisingly nice season and are in line for a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs.
- After two weeks on the road, Miami will not leave the state of Ohio until at least the CCHA championship weekend in Detroit in late March.
- Ohio State’s victory over Michigan State coupled with Miami’s win in Fairbanks enabled the RedHawks to open a seven-point spread over the second place Spartans in the CCHA. It’s roughly a 2 1/2 game lead since CCHA league wins are worth 3 points each.
Other Games of Interest
#8 Ferris State 3, Michigan 2 – Ferris earns the split in the second half of the home-and-home from Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
#3 Wisconsin 4, #1 Denver 3 – The Badgers take 3 of 4 points from the Pioneers in Madison opening the door for #2 Miami to return to the top of the polls this week.
#14 Bemidji State 5, #4 Minnesota-Duluth 4 – The Beavers of the CHA sweep the first place team in the WCHA. The sweep effectively silences the noise-makers from that western conference whom as we know, can do no wrong…for a few minutes at least.
Posted on January 24, 2010, in Alaska Nanooks, Bemidji State, College Hockey - Analysis, Miami RedHawks, Ohio State Buckeyes, University of Denver, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Wisconsin Badgers. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.