>Miami Victorious on Senior Night

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Band of Brothers – The 2011 Senior Class (Camper, LoVerde, Vaive, Cannone, Miele)

Photo: Rachel Lewis

Oxford, Ohio – One night after allowing a 3-1 lead to slip away in a 3-3 tie with #15 Western Michigan, the Miami RedHawks defeated WMU 3-1 on Senior Night at Steve Cady Arena.

Senior assistant captain Andy Miele, junior Matt Tomassoni and sophomore Curtis McKenzie had the goals for the RedHawks (17-9-6, 14-7-5-2 CCHA) and junior netminder Connor Knapp made 16 saves to earn his sixth win of the year.

The five-member senior class consisting of co-captains Carter Camper and Pat Cannone, Justin Vaive, Vincent Loverde and Miele have helped lift Miami’s program to heights unseen in their time on campus. This class has been part of the first two Frozen Fours in school history, has won 102 games — and counting, and could lead this year’s squad to the first Mason Cup championship in a few weeks in Detroit, and just perhaps, an elusive national title.

For the weekend, Miami dominated the Broncos. If not for a stretch of about 1:40 on Friday, they would have easily swept Western Michigan. On Saturday, Western at one point went 23:15 between shots on goal as Miami opened a 3-0 lead. The RedHawks outshot the Broncos 35-17 including 17-5 in the third period. It was clear these seniors were not going to lose another third period lead to the upstart Broncos.

But rather than sweeping, Miami earned four league points on the weekend as they tied, but dropped the shootout Friday night. Though they entered the weekend in first place in the CCHA, they left tied with Michigan for second, just one point behind Notre Dame. Both Michigan and Notre Dame picked up weekend sweeps of conference opponents and both have two games in hand over Miami. They will spend that “capital” next weekend as the RedHawks are off.

Though they left in second place, Miami gained points in a much more important way.

Entering the weekend tied for 16th place in the Pairwise Rankings that largely determine the NCAA Tournament field, Miami helped themselves with a win and a tie against Western Michigan. After last night’s games went final, Miami had moved all the way to a tie for 9th position jumping CCHA leader Notre Dame and weekend foe Western Michigan in the process. They are currently tied with Michigan (Miami leads series 2-0) and New Hampshire (series tied 1-1) and are actually ahead of 7th place Nebraska-Omaha in terms of their RPI.

While I haven’t been able to go through all of the math, here is roughly what I believe happened to enable Miami to so significantly move up in the Pairwise.

  • Miami tied and defeated Western Michigan turning that comparison in the RedHawks favor as they win the season series 2-1-1
  • Michigan swept Ohio State dropping the Buckeyes out of the Teams Under Consideration (TUC) category. Since the Buckeyes swept Miami earlier this year, that 0-2 mark was damaging the RedHawks’ record vs. TUC’s. Not that this is different than any other time, but we want Ohio State to continue to lose.
  • Since winning the Florida College Classic championship over Miami, St. Cloud State has been on fire entering the TUC race. Miami has a 1-1-1 record against SCSU and that win replaces the two Buckeye losses
  • Miami’s strength of schedule is rated 13th toughest in the nation. Of the teams ranked ahead of them in the Pairwise, only North Dakota, Denver, UMD and UNO (WCHA, anyone?) have higher rated schedules with some of the ECAC and Hockey East schedules being embarrassingly bad (e.g., Yale, Merrimack, Union, etc.)

With this weekend being a bye week for Miami, it will be interesting to see how their 9th place ranking in the Pairwise fares. I’ll try to provide context for the teams we should be “rooting for” as Miami prepares to finish the regular season February 25-26 at Lake Superior State. Earlier this season Miami defeated and tied the Lakers in Oxford by 6-2 and 2-2 scores.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the seniors for their devotion and performance on and off the ice. Having watched them largely in person over the past three years, it’s been bittersweet to have only attended two games this year due to relocating out west. Between dropping the national title game in ’09 to losing Brendan Burke and losing a tough one in last year’s national semifinals, this group has battled adversity. It would be quite the send-off if they could somehow muster a way back to the Frozen Four for the third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe go out with a bang in St. Paul.

But, first things first.

Let’s sweep the Lakers in two weeks.

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Posted on February 13, 2011, in Andy Miele, Carter Camper, CCHA, College Hockey - Analysis, Connor Knapp, Justin Vaive, Michigan Wolverines, Notre Dame, Pat Cannone, Vincent LoVerde, Western Michigan. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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