Monthly Archives: October 2011

Weekend Recap: Lakers sweep RedHawks

With Miami stumbling out of the gate to an uncharacteristic 2-6 start, common themes have emerged during the first eight games of the 2011-12 season. In a nutshell, Miami has been plagued by penalties, poor penalty killing and defense, and an overall lack of leadership starting from the net out.

Senior goaltenders, and four-year starters, Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp currently feature the worst numbers of their career. Reichard has never had a season goals-against average higher than 2.11, nor a save percentage lower than .912, but currently sports a 3.11 and .870. For Connor Knapp, he has never posted numbers worse than 2.09 and .904, but currently sits at 3.17 and .888 respectively.

Clearly, this was not supposed to be a problem coming into the year. Now, with the rash of penalties and lack of sound defense and penalty killing, the goaltenders have certainly been left out to dry on more than one occasion this season. Yet, as four-year starters and leaders on this team, they were expected to be a rock in the net allowing the young forwards to find their game. Miami’s goaltenders simply aren’t keeping the RedHawks in games. If this doesn’t improve, it won’t matter about the development of the offense because coming from behind in every game simply won’t work.

On defense, seniors, and four-year starters Cameron Schilling, Chris Wideman and Will Weber need to be better. There have been many instances already this season of defensive misplays, overplays and general lack of intensity. Very strange considering this group has always done what it takes, and performed admirably in all situations. This group has to find their game to support the development of the kids upfront.

Lastly, Miami is not receiving scoring depth nor significant contributions from role players. Max Cook, Steve Mason, Pat Tiesling, Curtis McKenzie, Trent Vogelhuber, Bryon Paulazzo…these guys have to elevate their games, and especially, stay out of the penalty box.

There are still 30 games to go. It’s a long season and this team has plenty of time to gel. I think we all expected a drop-off, but I would not have predicted six losses in the first eight games. Worse, the RedHawks are 0-4 in league play meaning they’re already staring at an uphill battle to finish in the top five and earn a bye and home ice in the CCHA playoffs…something Miami has NEVER failed to accomplish under the current playoff format.

Hopefully, Miami will begin to find their game on the road as the RedHawks travel to Fairbanks, Alaska to face the Nanooks in another critical CCHA series.


Gameday: RedHawks host Lakers

It’s been a crazy week so this weekend’s preview is going to be pretty short.

Tonight the #16 Miami RedHawks (2-4) host 18th ranked Lake Superior State (5-1) in a CCHA series at Steve Cady Arena. The Lakers sport a fancy 5-1 overall record but they’ve fashioned against some of the “weak sisters of the poor” having compiled it against the likes of Alabama-Huntsville, Michigan State and Bowling Green – three teams that are a combined 6-12-2 with Bowling Green having four of those wins. In contrast, Miami’s three opponents sport a combined record of 12-4-1 with the RedHawks having the only victory over Colgate so far in 2011-12. The strange Thursday-Friday series is due to Miami’s Homecoming football game against Buffalo on Saturday afternoon that will literally draw 5 fans. In fact, so many fans that you couldn’t possibly host a football game followed by a hockey game on the same night. But, I digress.

As usual, the Lakers are led by head coach Jim Roque who is in his 7th season behind the bench. Roque carries an all-time record of 85-108-39 into the weekend’s series. In contrast, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi is 262-169-46 all-time and and impressive 23-8-1 against Lake Superior despite Miami’s dismal overall 37-54-11 record against the former NCAA powerhouse.

On the ice, the Lakers are led by sophomore netminder Kevin Kapalka who offers another test for the offensively-challenged RedHawks. Kapalka, who took over the starting job in the middle of last year, has been impressive sporting a 1.84 GAA and .926 save percentage. He has allowed just 11 goals in 6 games. Offensively, the Lakers aren’t lighting up the scoreboard having netted just 17 goals in six games (2.83 per game) and there aren’t a lot of marquee names to write home about.

But, until Miami shows its defensive mettle and its stable of young, talented forwards start finding the net, even offensively-challenged teams like Lake State aren’t to be taken lightly. Miami should sweep this series, but they’ve yet to put together a truly solid game, let alone weekend. It’s time to make that happen.

Do work boys.

Weekend Outlook – Double Lantern Weekend – Miami SWEEP

Friday  4-2

Saturday 4-1

Deja Vu All over Again, Hawks fall 2-0

I guess I really don’t have to write a recap of last night’s 2-0 loss to Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich.

The script was nearly identical to Friday’s game. Ferris gets two powerplay goals in eight attempts, Miami can’t convert in just three man-advantage situations and the RedHawks fall to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the CCHA on the season.

Connor Knapp made 20 saves and Bulldog freshman goaltender, C.J. Motte earned his second collegiate shutout by stopping all 27 Miami chances.

Miami was whistled for 59 penalty minutes including three game misconducts as they continue to lead the nation in PIM.

Something’s gotta change fast because this appears to be a young, undisciplined team. Senior co-captains Alden Hirschfeld and Will Weber need to grab control of this team quickly to solve the penalty-fests that Miami games have become. If the RedHawks aren’t going to get the calls, then they need to find a way to avoid getting called or it’s going to be a long season.

Here are Miami’s penalty numbers through six games:

vs. Bemidji – 3 penalties for 6 minutes

vs. Bemidji – 4 for 8

vs. Colgate – 11 for 22

vs. Colgate – 9 for 18

vs. Ferris State – 7 for 14

vs. Ferris State – 13 for 59

Additionally, Miami has scored just 14 goals in six games and has scored more than three goals just once. Last season, Andy Miele would have 14 points in a weekend.

Remember, it’s a young, new team and a long season, but it’s certainly not off to a great start.

Penalty kill fails as RedHawks drop CCHA Opener

The undefeated and 14th ranked Ferris State Bulldogs used two powerplay goal and an empty-netter to hand 10th ranked Miami a 4-2 loss in the CCHA opener for both squads.

Special teams were again suspect as the RedHawks were 0-5 on the powerplay and surrendered two Bulldog powerplay goals in five shorthanded situations. That’s not going get it done over the course of a season.

Austin Czarnik and Trent Vogelhuber had the goals for Miami, while senior netminder Cody Reichard made 21 saves, several of them of the spectacular variety.

On the season, Miami is converting powerplay chances at a 20% clip and killing penalties at a lackluster 76% rate. Both numbers need to improve for Miami to begin to play more consistently.

The good news is this young Miami team has been in every game this year. Last weekend, they blew a one-goal lead in dropping a 3-2 decision to nationally ranked Colgate, and last night, entered the third period tied at 2 but were unable to grab the lead as Ferris scored 6 minutes into the period and held on for the win despite being outshot 12-5 in the period and 28-25 for the game.

Tonight, Miami attempts to earn the split and even its record at 3-3 on the year as they take on the Bulldogs again at 7pm EST from Big Rapids, Mich.

Miele’s Five-Point Night leads Pirates past Monarchs, Earns Promotion


Well, that didn’t take long.

Former Miami stand out and Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner, Andy Miele, registered a gigantic night offensively with 2-3-5 as his Portland Pirates defeated the Manchester Monarchs 5-3 on Wednesday night.

Miele, the only Hobey Baker Award winner in Miami hockey history, now has a season line of 3-4-7 in just four games with AHL Portland. And, earlier today, his performance was more than enough to earn him a quick promotion to the Pirates NHL parent club, the Phoenix Coyotes, with whom Miele signed a pro contract last spring. Presumably, Miele will suit up for his first NHL regular season game on Sunday night when the offensively challenged Coyotes (2-3-1) will face the Anaheim Ducks (4-1) at the Pond.

Congratulations, again, Andy! And, best of luck in your NHL debut — whenever that may be!

Miami Faces Tough Test at #14 Ferris State

Fans around the CCHA had to be rejoicing when Pat Nagle finally exited the campus of Ferris State University after last season. Nagle, who finished in the top 5 in the nation last year in both goals against average (2.02) and save percentage (.923), capped his career in Big Rapids as one of the most dominating goaltenders in recent league history by earning first team All-CCHA and All-America honors.

Before fans could celebrate too much however, enter C.J. Motte, the nation’s top ranked college goaltending recruit who just happens to suit up between the same pipes as did Nagle at Ewigleben Ice Arena.

All Motte has done through his first two collegiate starts is go 2-0 with a microscopic 0.50 goals against average and ridiculous .977 save percentage. In addition, the “other” goaltender, senior Taylor Nelson, is no slouch. Nelson ranks third all-time at Ferris State in save percentage (.911) and goals-against average (2.55) in 39 career starts. He’s off to an equally impressive start as he sports a 1.01 GAA, .952 save percentage and is also a perfect 2-0.

In all, the Bulldogs have scored 15 goals in their first four games and allowed just three in sweeping ECAC opponents St. Lawrence and RPI.

Returning names of note familiar to Miami fans are junior super pest Travis Ouelette (5-0-5), who is also the team’s leading returning scorer (2010-11 numbers: 10-11-21), junior Kyle Bonis (5-1-6) and senior defensemen Chad Billins and Brett Wysopal.

Needless to say, Ferris State has been tough on Miami in recent years. The RedHawks have had a difficult time breaking longtime Bulldog head coach Bob Daniels trapping system that emphasizes defense first. However, with this year’s Miami squad being a little more offensively challenged than in past seasons, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. It’s no secret Miami is loaded with talent, especially speed up front, but how will the young forwards fare against a system designed to clog the neutral zone and slow the game down? Perhaps a more moderate pace could even help Miami and literally slow the game down a bit for them. Regardless, the RedHawks face a stiff challenge traveling for the second consecutive weekend to open league play against a top 15 opponent who always gets up for the red and white.

Overall, the RedHawks are 44-40-16 against the Bulldogs, including 20-20-9 in Big Rapids. Under head coach Rico Blasi, Miami is 16-9-6 against Ferris State. Last season Ferris beat Miami 3-2 on Friday while Miami salvaged a 1-1 tie on Saturday with the Bulldogs winning the ridiculous CCHA mandated shootout. Miami swept the Bulldogs in Big Rapids in 2009-10, however en route to a dominating conference regular season title.

Weekend Prediction – Let’s light the lantern at least once this weekend.

Friday – Ferris 2-1

Saturday – Miami 2-1

INCH Recruiting Rankings: Miami #1

Inside College Hockey has ranked Miami’s 2011 recruiting class #1 in its annual rankings.

The RedHawks feature four of the top 20 forwards (Biggs, Mullin, Coleman, Czarnik) in the nation, and while there are no defensemen or goaltenders listed for Miami, it’s certain this class would have been even higher if He Who Must Not Be Named Connor Murphy had honored his word and actually suited up on the blueline for the Red and White.

Next season, you can expect to see Pat Sieloff’s name listed at defense, and possibly, both Ryan McKay and Jay Williams at the goaltender position as Miami works to replace four-year starters Will Weber, Cameron Schilling, Chris Wideman, Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy watching all the freshmen grow and mature as student-athletes and young men.

Smith, Miami take down Colgate 4-3


Light the Lantern!!!

After a long trip to Hamilton, NY early Thursday morning, the RedHawks have already made the trip worthwhile. Reilly Smith came off of his (now-apparent) 2 game suspension to start the year and put on a snipe show en route to a hat trick – the second of his career. Smith also had an assist on Austin Czarnik’s 2nd period goal, finished the night with 4 points, a +1 rating and scored on 3 of his 4 shots on the night.

A couple other notes to pass along from the evening:

–Austin Czarnik scored his first collegiate goal, assisted by Smith and Alden Hirschfeld.  A big thank you goes out from the Redskin Warriors to the Michigan State Spartans for allowing Czarnik to de-committ from MSU and come to Miami this season.
–Miami continued its slow start on the shot chart tonight. Miami’s had 20 and 26 shots in two games against Bemidji State and just 15 shots tonight.  Sure, that’s a great shot percentage on the evening, scoring on over 25% of the shots taken, but Rico Blasi’s offense is based on creating chances and hammering the opposing goalie with pucks.  We will have to continue to monitor the shot count each night.  Let’s not take the wrong impression, however, as the ‘Hawks came out on top in the one column that matters most.

Other “inside the box score” notes:
–Miami was 2 for 4 on the power play (Smith’s first and Czarnik’s goals), and 7 for 9 on the Penalty Kill.
–22 penalty minutes for the RedHawks – sounds about right for the physicality of the Miami attack.
–Cody Reichard got the win in net for the RedHawks, making 20 out of 23 saves on the night. Expect to see Connor Knapp in net Saturday night as is the usual from Coach Blasi.

Miami’s recap can be found here.
More stories to come.

Let’s break out the BROOMS tomorrow!

2011-12 Season Preview: Notre Dame

It seems like a “here we go again” type of season for Notre Dame in 2011-12, but with a few big events thrown in at the same time.  The Fighting Irish look primed for a repeat of last year’s 2nd place CCHA regular season finish and NCAA Frozen Four trip with 5 Seniors coming back and 9 of their top 12 scorers also back.  Let’s take a deeper look at the Irish.

First of all, this is what BIG TIME scheduling is all about. The Irish started with an exhibition, but just returned from a trip to visit the defending National Champions Minnesota-Duluth, where they lost the opener and came back from 2 goals down to win the second game of the series. Up next, they open CCHA play against Ohio State, but later host RPI, Boston College (11/18), Northeastern (12/2-3), Boston University (12/31), and also make a 1-game trip to play Minnesota (1/7/12). This is all BEFORE any CCHA matchups, in which they play Western Michigan (2 Home/Home series), host Michigan for 2, take the 3,500 mile journey to Alaska (who wants to drive it with me??) AND will have a late-season trip to Oxford to look forward to as well. Maybe Ohio State will learn something from this kind of scheduling? (yeah right)

In addition to this schedule, possibly one of the marquee events of the entire NCAA Hockey Season will be the opening of the Compton Family Ice Center.  Saturday’s game against Ohio State will be the last hockey contest the Irish will play in the Joyce Center since moving in back in 1969.  The Students are on Fall Break at Notre Dame this weekend, so tickets are available if you’re really itching to sit in an old, crusty cavern of a hockey “arena” and experience the last game that will be played there.

On the other side of this weekend is the opening of the Goggin on steroids “Comp”.  “CIA”? “The compton”? Gonna need a nickname for the new palace in South Bend.  ND opens the Compton Family Ice Arena with a game against RPI on the 21st – a one game series, likely due to the ND vs USC football game on Saturday night in South Bend.  (I’m working the angles to get tickets for the opener, but our paychecks are limited here at Redskin Warriors.)

Taking a look at the on-ice product, the Irish return 9 of the top 12 scorers from last year (although those 3 departures are in the top 6 overall).  Head Coach Jeff Jackson is in his 7th year in South Bend, and holds a 141-79-27 record for the Irish (324-132-52 overal with 2 National Championships for Lake Superior State), and Jackson will rely on 20-game winner Mike Johnson in net.  Although Johnson came through with 20 wins last year, Johnson posted less than stellar 2.62 goals against average and a .904 save percentage on the season – numbers he will have to improve on this year if the Irish want to make it back to the Frozen Four.

Returning on the ice for the Irish are 2010-11 CCHA Rookie of the Year T.J. Tynan – a preseason All-CCHA unanimous pick along with Miami’s Reilly Smith. Tynan is joined by fellow 2010-11 1st team all CCHA selection Anders Lee (Alternate Captain) in ND’s stellar Sophomore Class. Seniors Sean Lorenz (Captain – D) and Billy Mayday (Alternate Captain – F) also return to lead this team into what would be the second consecutive and 3rd overall Frozen Four for the Irish under Jeff Jackson.

Predicted Finish
Anything less than 3rd place is a hugely disappointing season for the Irish.  Look for the Irish to show up in Tampa for the Frozen Four if their goaltending keeps improving as well.
Floor: 3rd
Ceiling: 1st

D Joyaux Commits to Miami

Helping offset the loss of prized recruit He Who Must Not Be Named Connor Murphy, Chicago Steel defenseman and Bloomingdale, Ill. native, Chris Joyaux, has verbally committed to play his college hockey for the RedHawks.

Joyaux, a ’92 birthdate, will provide size (6’1″, 195), experience and leadership to a blueline that will see four-year starters Will Weber, Chris Wideman and Cameron Schilling depart Oxford prior to next season. And, along with highly regarded Pat Sieloff and Matthew Caito, Joyaux’s presence on campus will help bolster a very young back end that will once again feature two freshmen goaltenders in Jay Williams and Ryan McKay.

Welcome aboard Chris!