Monthly Archives: September 2011

2011-12 Season Preview: Ohio State

Last year’s Ohio State Men’s Hockey team disappointed a lot of Miami faithful by beating the ‘Hawks 1-0 and 5-2 in Columbus on January 7-8. But fret not Buckeye haters RedHawks fans, this was the beginning of the end, and Ohio State promptly finished the season 3-10-3 which included a 2-game sweep out of the CCHA tournament at the hands of Lake Superior State.

Head Coach Mark Osiecki will be at the helm for his second season after a 15-18-4 overall and 10-14-4-2 CCHA record last year. He will have a new goalie coach to mentor senior netminder Cal Heeter and will take one of the largest freshmen classes in college hockey history into the season with 13 rookies on the roster to start things off.

For all of the so-called “draw” of the upcoming Big Ten Conference and the Ohio State “brand name,” this year’s out of conference schedule certainly isn’t impressing us. Ohio State opens up tomorrow (10/1) with an exhibition against Windsor (Canada) College, followed by a home series against Quinnipiac October 7-8. They later have a November series against Alabama-Huntsville and one game at the RMU/Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase on December 30th. Throw in a game against Little Sisters of the Poor and it looks something like the football team’s OOC schedule (in which they’ve played Akron, Toledo and Colorado this year, and looked awesome awful at Miami of Florida 2 weeks ago).

Outside the weak out of conference schedule, Ohio State does have a couple “marquee” games this year. They will play at Notre Dame in potentially the final game/series in the Joyce Center Ice Rink on October 14-15 (schedule is still undecided for the Irish). Then there’s the aforementioned College Hockey Showcase in Pittsburgh against host Robert Morris University. Finally, to top it off, on January 15th Ohio State heads to Cleveland and Progressive Field for the Frozen Diamond Faceoff against arch-rival Michigan.

Our Fearless Predictions:
The Buckstache rides again…towards the bottom of the league and another first round CCHA tournament road trip and early exit. And with these HIDEOUS “traditional” new uniforms, I’m not sure it will be a pretty ride, either.

The CCHA Media took Ohio State 9th and the Coaches predict a 7th place finish.
Ceiling: 7th
Floor: 11th
Related Links:

Ohio State Hockey Men’s Hockey Examiner – Season Preview
OSU Lantern – Season Preview

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2011-12 Season Preview: Northern Michigan

A look back:
The ‘Cats were picked 7th by media, 6th by coaches in 2010-11 and finished 6th. However, in their 1st round playoff series at home against Bowling Green – who had only won 8 games prior to that series – they were taken down 2-0 in game 2 and 2-1 in a 2OT thriller in game 3, ending NMU’s season early.

Where they stand:
NMU’s Top 3 scorers return as seniors, and one of them, Tyler Gron, was just named to the Preseason All-CCHA 2nd-team. Gron was not named as one of the captains of the team by head coach Walt Kyle (NMU class of 1981), however and those honors go to seniors Justin Florek, Andrew Cherniwchan, and junior Scott Macaulay. Kyle has a rather surprising record of 176-153-39 in his 10 seasons in Marquette, and will likely ride Reid Ellingson as the ‘Cats primary goaltender this year.

A look ahead:
The Wildcats start the season without an exhibition, but with 2 games in the Kohl Center vs. the Wisconsin Badgers. Although the Badgers won’t be there, this will be a small taste of the WCHA, and they’ll get a full dose starting in the newly reconfigured WCHA starting in the 2013-2014 season. A strong start could get this young team (16 underclassmen) on the right track.

Predicted Finish: This year looks to be more of the same from the Wildcats. In the CCHA preseason polls released 9/28, the coaches tabbed NMU at 6th and the Media in a tie for 7th.

Floor: 10th
Ceiling: 6th

Links:

Marquette Mining Journal Season Preview

SOURCE: Notre Dame and RPI to Hockey East

                                         

Redskin Warriors has received an unconfirmed report that Notre Dame and RPI are moving to Hockey East in 2013.

Our source with credible access to the ongoing talks tells us the Irish will take their talents east, and along with the Engineers of RPI will become the 11th and 12th members respectively, of Hockey East. If true, it could also signal Notre Dame’s intent to join the ACC for all other sports as the rest of the collegiate athletic world undergoes the same sort of seismic shift as hockey. And, for certain it’s a coup for Hockey East to land the last remaining free agent gem in the Fighting Irish.

For  Notre Dame, this move makes sense. They would become conference mates with longtime rival, and Catholic college brethren, Boston College as well as Providence and Merrimack who also don the cloth.

For RPI, well, what an opportunity. They will be reunited with former ECAC rivals and this ties nicely to their reemergence on the college hockey scene as young head coach Seth Appert has the Engineers headed in the right direction. Their travel costs won’t rise and their sense of prestige and strength of schedule will certainly improve.

In the meantime, we’ll try to gain confirmation and will update this story as we can.

Preseason All-CCHA teams announced

The CCHA has released its 2011-2012 preseason All-CCHA teams.

Reilly Smith heads up the 1st-team with 10 first place votes – only he and Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan received 10 first team votes, earning them both unanimous decisions. Cody Reichard makes the first team as the league’s top goaltender. Defenders Chris Wideman and Will Weber made the 2nd-team as well.

Rankings: Miami #1/2, Notre Dame #2/1 in preseason polls

The 2 national (official) polls have released their first rankings of the 2011-2012 season. If the polls on September 26th meant anything, Miami RedHawks players, coaches and fans should be VERY happy.

The first unofficial poll was released by College Hockey News last week with Miami at #1, and today’s In the first USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll for the 2011-2012 season, Miami checks in at #2, despite having more first place votes (12) than the Irish (11). 4 CCHA teams made the Top 20, and 6 more are in the “Others Receiving Votes” category to start the season. Interestingly, 7 of the 8 NCHC teams are in the top 20 including #’s 2, 3 and 4, and the 8th team (St. Cloud State) checks in at #24. Have a look at the full poll HERE and the USCHO writeup HERE.

In the first USA Hockey Magazine / USA Today D-I Men’s Poll, Miami and Notre Dame flip spots, with Miami taking 15 of the 31 first place votes. In this 15-team poll, the CCHA has the same 4 teams ranked, with only 3 more “receiving votes.” Again, all 8 NCHC teams made the list, with St. Cloud State getting just 1 point. Full Poll can be found HERE.

Here’s Miami’s official release on the rankings.

6 days until HOCKEY!!!

2011-12 Season Preview: Bowling Green

With former Miami captain and assistant coach Chris Bergeron taking the reins, last season the Bowling Green State University Falcons finished in the basement of the CCHA winning just three league games and ten overall. However, the ten wins were a dramatic improvement from 2009-10 when they won just five games in an absolutely forgettable season.

With the continued uncertainly surrounding the Falcons once proud hockey program, this off season hasn’t been anything to write home about. And, without a conference affiliation for 2013 and beyond (they have been extended an invitation to join the WCHA but have not yet accepted), the Falcons saw their best player, junior Jordan Samuels-Thomas, transfer to Quinnipiac. Samuels-Thomas led Bowling Green in scoring each of his two seasons in the orange and brown. Sadly, the program once again looks unsteady even with recent improvements made to their home rink and having professed a desire to be included in the new NCHC with MAC brethren Western Michigan and Miami.

The latest rumor surrounding the Falcons was first published by Bruce Ciskie, the voice of the defending champion UMD Bulldogs on his Twitter feed, and then again on his blog. Ciskie is reporting the Falcons have asked the WCHA for more time as they consider the league’s invitation, but that they have met with four Atlantic Hockey schools, Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris, about potentially starting yet another new college hockey league. In addition, the Buffalo Bulls, who currently field a club hockey team, could be convinced to move to Division I, and perhaps even UAH could be included in discussions. If this pans out, this league would actually make a ton of sense for all involved. First, the Falcons would have a far greater chance of competing, the geography and travel would be much better than making trips to Minnesota and Alaska, and it would not only save a program (Alabama-Huntsville), but even add one in the University at Buffalo. More on this as the story develops.

On and off the ice, the story continues to be somewhat bleak as BG lost their best player, then had two incoming freshmen declared non-qualifiers by the NCAA and the recruiting pipeline does not appear to be loaded with top-end talent. But, they do return junior goaltender Andrew Hammond who posted respectable numbers (2.67 GAA, .915) and three of their top five scorers. However, those three combined for just 48 points (Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele had 71 for Miami last season), but it’s something.

Generally speaking, BG’s recent recruiting classes feature kids from second tier junior leagues and do not possess the depth as top tier teams that are pulling the best from the USNTDP, USHL, BCHL and the east coast. Of course Bergeron has been working with the specter of their program folding, marginally renovated facilities and now the problem of not having a conference. Looking at their incoming recruits, at first blush, there doesn’t appear to be a ton in the tank, but hopefully for the Falcons, some of these guys are late bloomers. On the positive side, Bergeron’s first recruiting class seems to have landed more size for the Falcons, which would follow the trend of when he recruited larger players at Miami to fit a tough, physical style that both he and Enrico Blasi utilized successfully behind the RedHawks’ bench.

Overall, I think 2011-12 is going to be another tough season in northwest Ohio.

Season Prediction

Ceiling — 9th

Floor — 11th

Update: WMU and SCSU Officially Accept Invitations to NCHC

 

Well, that didn’t take long. 

After officially extending invitations to the schools on Wednesday, the NCHC became a reality for the Western Michigan Broncos and St. Cloud State Huskies on Thursday.  This brings the total schools welcomed into the NCHC up to 8, and gives Miami a conference rival of sorts in Western Michigan, having spent the last 31 years in the CCHA together (WMU has been in the CCHA since the 1975-76 season and Miami joined for the 1980-81 campaign).

Miami Athletic Director Brad Bates was present to welcome the Broncos with WMU director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard providing the big news to local media.

St. Cloud State University President Dr. Earl Potter announced the Huskies are joining the NCHC, and looks forward to “forming new partners with Miami and Western Michigan.”

As far as these two teams go, Miami has a slight 51-49-9 edge all time against Western Michigan, and a solid 7-1-1 record against the Huskies.

Going the Distance?

Head Coach Enrico Blasi, Captains Alden Hirschfeld and Will Weber, and probably just about everyone else associated with the Miami Hockey program will tell you that rankings before the season starts, on opening night, and even in the second half of the season don’t mean anything. Coach Blasi certainly has said in the past that the only ranking that matters will be where and when Miami ends up on April X. This year, that date happens to be April 7th, and that location is Tampa, Florida.

With that said… A Number 1 ranking is still something to celebrate, and celebrate we will.

Thanks to College Hockey News, we have that reason to celebrate.  CHN has put Miami at the head of the class for the 2011-2012 season. Check out the headlines here.

Again, we appreciate the great preseason accolades. But how serious should we take the rankings?  Let’s wait until April and see what shakes out in the next six and a half months. Especially with fellow defectors CCHA-ers Notre Dame, Michigan and Western Michigan joining Miami in CHN’s entirely too early preseason top 10 rankings.

11 days until the exhibition. The countdown is on!!

Report: WMU, SCSU Expected to Join NCHC

Curious…

That would be my immediate reaction to reports by both College Hockey News and USCHO that Western Michigan University and St. Cloud State University are expected to join the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference that will start play in 2013-14. According to reports, both schools will be invited by week’s end. Both websites cited separate sources with CHN naming the Grand Forks Herald and USCHO citing the Kalamazoo Gazette.

So, what does this mean for Notre Dame?

I think it means they are going to play as an independent while their administration very likely considers a new conference for their other sports as the dramatic changes in college athletics continue. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Notre Dame join either the Big 10 or the ACC for all sports. Of course, only the Big 10 helps the Irish (why Notre Dame gets away with using “Fighting Irish” and others like North Dakota are crucified for using “Fighting Sioux” is beyond me, but a story for another day) on the ice so things are going to be more difficult for them until the situation is resolved.

Notre Dame has committed to announcing a “decision” within 10 days.

As for the NCHC, the addition of Western Michigan makes all the sense in the world. Heavy commitment to hockey, Division I in all-sports, travel partner and MAC rival with Miami, Andy Murray at the helm, etc.

However, I’m perplexed by the addition of St. Cloud.

When the NCHC announced the formation of the conference, “like-mindedness” and a commitment to hockey were noted as key tenets that brought these schools together. I must confess I do not know a ton about St. Cloud as a university, but I know they aren’t a Division I school (though defending national champion UMD isn’t either), they aren’t highly regarded academically and I can only hope assume their ability to support hockey at this highest level is not a challenge for them financially. Plus, St. Cloud’s president went on the record saying the Huskies would not accept an invite to the NCHC as our pal Goon reported a few months back over at Goon’s World making him either a slick politician or an absolute hypocrite.

So, I’m wondering what SCSU brings that Bowling Green doesn’t?

It’s another Minnesota school which is a boon for recruiting, but Bowling Green is a Division I school and inviting them would have kept the three hockey-playing MAC schools together. If Notre Dame wasn’t (ever) going to accept the invitation, I wonder why the NCHC is going with a small non-Division I school over a program that has won a national title, has reaffirmed their commitment to hockey and is a three-hour drive from Oxford, Ohio?

More on this to come over the next few weeks I’m sure.

Shayne Bingham Added to Miami Roster

Though it’s been a rather tumultuous and loud off-season for the Miami RedHawks and college hockey as a whole, there was one relatively quiet addition to Miami’s roster last week when Danbury, Connecticut’s Shayne Bingham was added as a walk-on for the 2011-12 season.

Bingham, who played high school hockey at Rye Country Day, an independent college prep school located in Rye, N.Y., was initially hoping to play club hockey at Miami after enrolling earlier this year. However, the freshman penned a letter to head coach Enrico Blasi asking for a shot at the big team. With the loss of prized defensive recruit He Who Must Not Be Named Connor Murphy to the Sarnia Sting of the OHL and the impending departures of senior defensemen Will Weber, Cameron Schilling, and Chris Wideman, along with forward/defenseman Matt Tomassoni at season’s end, an extra d-man is a needed insurance policy this year. And, if Bingham makes enough of an impact during practice, he could earn a roster spot next season even when Miami has additional defensemen coming to campus to account for the aforementioned losses.

To be truthful, if Bingham sees the ice this year it likely means injuries or suspensions have decimated the Miami blueline. However, I’m sure he’ll be the hardest worker in practice doing everything he can to earn a shot this year and in the future.

The Journal News of Lower Hudson Valley has a tremendous article on Bingham’s story including the outreach to Coach Blasi that eventually earned him a shot.

Best of luck to Shayne as he begins his Miami career!