Monthly Archives: March 2011

>CCHA Round 2 – Miami v. Alaska

>Oxford, Ohio – If defense wins championships, then offense wins games. Fortunately for the seventh ranked Miami RedHawks, they have plenty of each.

The 2010-11 edition of the Miami RedHawks (19-9-6, 16-7-5-2, 3rd CCHA) finished second overall in team scoring and first overall in team defense in the CCHA. It was another stellar year for the program that continues to set the bar higher and higher.

Led by seniors Andy Miele (19-42-61) and Carter Camper (17-33-50), Miami boasts three of the top 17 scorers in the nation, and two of the top four, with sophomore Reilly Smith pacing the RedHawks with 24 goals.

Junior netminders Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp once again turned in solid seasons with each posting goals-against averages around 2.10 and save percentages near .910. Reichard leads Miami in minutes played, victories (12) and shutouts (3), while Knapp’s 1.76 goals-against average in conference play was best in the CCHA.

Under Dallas Ferguson, Alaska (16-15-5, 10-13-5-3, 7th CCHA) has taken a defense-first approach. It’s no understatement to say the Nanooks do not score much. But, while their offense ranked 8th overall in the CCHA, only Miami and Ferris State allowed fewer goals. Led by junior netminder Scott Greenham, Alaska allows an average of just 2.31 goals per game. In fact, Greenham played all but ten minutes of empty net time in goal this year for the Nanooks and earned second team All-CCHA honors for his efforts.

This weekend offers an opportunity for Miami to advance to Joe Louis Arena to play in the conference semi-finals for the third time in four years. Importantly, this series against Alaska offers the chance for at least two games against a current TUC and a chance for the RedHawks to improve their record in that PairWise category. If Miami can win this weekend’s series, and win at least one game in Detroit against another TUC, they will solidify themselves as a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Should the RedHawks finally capture the Mason Cup, it’s conceivable that Miami could earn a #1 seed in the national tournament.

Prediction

Miami has played just two games since February 12. They will enter the weekend’s series rested, and presumably, healthy. But it’s possible there could be some rust. The RedHawks are playing their best hockey of the season. They enter the weekend riding a 9-game unbeaten streak. The seniors are leading by example and you know they want one more chance at a Mason Cup and I think they’ll get it.

Miami advances to the semifinals in two games, 2-1 and 4-1.

Notes:

  • Miami is 33-14-5 all-time against Alaska and 18-7-2 in Oxford
  • Miami is 1-4 all-time as the #3 seed in the CCHA playoffs
  • Miami and Alaska have split each of the last four regular-season series in Oxford
  • Miami won the only other previous playoff meeting 2 games to 1 back in 1994 in Oxford
  • The RedHawks haven’t made it to the Joe in an odd numbered year for the CCHA Championship weekend since 1997
  • Hobey Baker Award front runner Andy Miele enters the weekend having notched a point in 13 consecutive games. During the streak, he’s scored 28 points

>Miami to Host Alaska in 2nd Round of the CCHA Tournament

>Oxford, Ohio – It took until late Sunday night in Marquette, Mich. to finally determine the second round match ups in the CCHA Tournament, but after Bowling Green defeated Northern Michigan 2-1 in double overtime, we know Miami will face the Alaska Nanooks in the second round of the CCHA Tournament.

Congratulations to former Miami captain and assistant coach Chris Bergeron on winning his first ever playoff series as a head coach. As a reward for winning their first round series, the Falcons will now face the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor next weekend for the right to advance to the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Earlier this season, the RedHawks and Nanooks split a series in Oxford with Miami winning 4-0 on Friday. However, Alaska stole the second game as they scored two goals in the final five minutes of the third period to win 3-2. It was one of several third period meltdowns for Miami this year. Fortunately, the RedHawks seem to have put those problems behind them as they ride a nine-game unbeaten streak into the CCHA Tournament.

Alaska advanced to face Miami on the strength of two overtime victories over a game Michigan State squad in Fairbanks as they helped the Spartans close the book on the coaching tenure of Rick Comley. In doing so, Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson earned his 50th victory behind the Nanook bench.

CCHA Playoffs – First Round

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Farmington Hills, Mich. – Though Miami is sitting this weekend out, there are three best-of-three first round CCHA tournament matchups that begin tonight. Here is an overview of each series.

(11) Bowling Green at (6) Northern Michigan
Chris Bergeron’s first year with the brown and orange certainly wasn’t as easy as former Miami assistant Jeff Blashill’s with Western Michigan. The Falcons won just three conference games and finished 8-24-4 overall in the former Miami captain and assistant coach’s first stint as a head coach.

The good news is the Falcons finished a respectable 1-2-1 including a shootout win against the Wildcats, and split a pair of games in Marquette back in November.

But, the bad news is the Falcons enter the conference tournament on an eight game winless streak. And, Northern Michigan has gone 26-13 in the CCHA playoffs since Walt Kyle took over as head coach in 2002 and the Wildcats have advanced to the Joe in seven of Kyle’s eight seasons.

If all the top seeds win, Northern Michigan will travel to Oxford to face Miami next weekend to play for the right to advance to Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA Conference Semifinals.

Prediction: NMU sweeps

(10) Michigan State at (7) Alaska
The Spartans make their second trip to Alaska in the past three weeks as they battle the Nanooks in Fairbanks. Michigan State won the regular season series 2-1-1 splitting two games Februrary 18th and 19th at the Carlson Center.

Despite junior goaltender Drew Palmisano’s Twitter pleas to Miami’s Andy Miele (he asked the RedHawks assistant captain to “lose one to Lake Superior State” to avoid a return trip to Fairbanks), the Spartans are once again heading to the great white north.

Michigan State is 39-13-3 all-time against Alaska and has a 4-0 record in first round CCHA tournament games. The Spartans lead the all-time conference tournament series by a 6-2 count and are 15-7-2 all-time in Fairbanks.

If all the top seeds win, Alaska will fly to South Bend to take on Notre Dame next weekend.

Prediction: Alaska in three

(9) Ohio State at (8) Lake Superior State
Coming off a sweep at the hands of Miami, the Lakers limp into a home playoff series against the Buckeyes on a four game winless streak. Ohio State won the series 1-0-1 despite dropping a shootout just two weeks ago in Columbus so the teams are familiar with each other.

Given the way the Lakers played against Miami, I think Ohio State has the upper hand in this series. Should the top seeds hold serve, the winner of this series will face Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend.

Prediction: Ohio State sweeps

>Miele Named CCHA Player of the Month…Again

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Miami Senior Forward Andy Miele

Farmington Hills, Mich. – Well, Carl Hagelin might not know who Andy Miele is, but the rest of the league and the nation sure does.

Miele was named the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month for the second consecutive month as he racked up 4-8-12 in six games for the RedHawks. The senior from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., and Hobey Baker Award front runner, now has 19-42-61 on the year as Miami finished in third place in the league and has a week off before returning to action March 11-13 in the second round of the CCHA playoffs.

Miami claimed three of the five players of the month awards this season with senior captain Carter Camper earning the first one way back in October.