Monthly Archives: November 2011

Denver Cup Highlights

Courtesy of Miami All-Access.

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Smith, Czarnik Earn CCHA Weekly Honors

       

                                                                           Smith                           Czarnik

 

Miami forwards Reilly Smith and Austin Czarnik were named the CCHA Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively.

Smith, a junior from Mimico, Ontario had a big weekend in Denver as he tallied three times in two games against Providence and Denver and was named the MVP of the 20th annual Denver Cup Classic as Miami claimed its second Denver Cup title in school history. This was Smith’s second weekly offensive honor this season. He leads Miami with 11 goals.

Czarnik, a freshman from Washington, Mich. had 1-3-4 on the weekend and was named to the all-tournament team with Smith and Miami teammates Cameron Schilling and Cody Reichard. For Czarnik, it was his second rookie honor this season.

As an aside, I guess it pays to play for the former commissioner of the CCHA because despite allowing seven goals in a win and tie against Minnesota, Michigan State senior goaltender Drew Palmisano was named the league’s goaltender of the week while all Alaska’s Scott Greenham did was shut out the Bowling Green Falcons…for the weekend. Greenham made 39 saves in total, but I find it difficult to believe that a double-shutout wouldn’t garner goaltender of the week honors regardless of how many shots you see.

Other Random Weekend Thoughts

Fresh off seeing Miami for the first time in-person this weekend, here are a few thoughts about this team after two months of play.

Offense

It’s an effective offense that’s starting to emerge for Miami. Led by junior sniper Reilly Smith’s 11 goals, the first line featuring Smith and freshmen Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin can be potent. Czarnik is tied for second on the team in goals (5), leads the team in assists (9) and is tied for the team lead in points with Smith (14). It’s pretty impressive that a freshman is averaging nearly a point per game in his first season in college hockey.

Senior co-captain Alden Hirschfeld is well on his way to setting career highs in goals and points as he has registered 5-8-13, good enough for a tie for second in goals, second in assists and third in points.

Blake Coleman has also been impressive showing vision, speed, tenacity and hands. I especially like Coleman’s feisty approach as he has the potential to become a devastating power forward for the RedHawks.

Miami is starting to develop the sort of scoring depth that maybe won’t overwhelm the eyes on the score sheet, with the exception of Smith’s goal tally, but will help them avoid becoming too reliant on one or two scorers which may have plagued this team last season.

Defense

Big, strong, ferocious. Senior co-captain Will Weber had it all last night against Denver as he provided a physical presence that, frankly, appeared to intimidate the Pioneers early on.

Cameron Schilling is beginning to reemerge as the swift skating puck-mover that we’ve come to know over the past few years while Chris Wideman consistently contributes offensively as he leads all Miami defenseman in points (8) and is third on the team with seven assists.

And, Miami is getting quality minutes of shut down hockey from unheralded Garrett Kennedy as he leads Miami in +/- at +8 in just 13 of Miami’s 16 games.

With the defense standing up in front of Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp, it will make their lives much easier and we should see their statistics improve. However, they have to cut down the bad turnovers because right now at least, it seems every defensive zone turnover winds up in Miami’s net.

Overall

At 8-6-2, it’s not exactly a blazing start. However, Miami has erased their 2-6 mark through eight games to go 6-0-2 over the last eight to move within striking distance both in the league and nationally as the season nears the halfway point.

If Miami can continue to find scoring from several lines, including the freshmen, and get the physical, but not-over-the-line defense from Weber and company, they should be set for a second half run.

RedHawks Claim Second Denver Cup

Tournament MVP Reilly Smith scored three goals in two games and All-Denver Cup goaltender Cody Reichard made 32 saves Saturday night as the RedHawks swept Providence and host Denver at the 20th annual Denver Cup Classic at Magness Arena.

Joining Reichard and Smith on the all-tournament team were freshman forward Austin Czarnik who registered 1-3-4 and senior defenseman Cameron Schilling, who was initially credited with Miami’s third goal on Saturday before it was awarded to Smith, but chipped in with two assists in the tournament.

With the weekend’s two wins, Miami has now stretched its seasons-best unbeaten streak to eight games and has moved two games above .500 for the first time this year. At 8-6-2, the RedHawks are beginning to find their stride as all facets of their game were on display over the weekend, including the power play, which finished 3-for-9, and the defense that seemed to play with renewed intensity finishing checks and reverting to Miami’s notoriously aggressive style that overwhelmed the Friars and certainly surprised the Pioneers early last night.

Against Providence, Miami skated and passed demonstrating superior speed and skill. While the Friars netted two goals, they were never really a serious threat to win the game as both goals were scored off Miami mistakes. The first a terrible defensive zone turnover, and in perhaps showing a little rust in his return to the net, senior goaltender Connor Knapp appeared to be too deep in his crease when the Friars scored their second goal of the night in the second period.

Other thoughts from Friday as I saw this team live for the first time this season:

– The top 6 forwards were all over the Friars with three tallies from the freshmen which is incredibly encouraging.

– Having speed is something that will really set this team apart as they grow over the next few years. And, we finally have it.

– Jimmy Mullin is very strong on the puck and knows how to find his way between the circles with it.

– Blake Coleman is feisty and will be a point-scoring machine.

– “Awesome” Alden Hirschfeld looked like the captain on Friday night. Workmanlike and efficient. He led by example.

– It was good to see Connor Knapp back in net. He looked a little rusty on the second goal, but was otherwise strong making the saves he needed to enabling Miami to coast to the 6-2 victory.

In last night’s championship game against Denver, Miami got off to a slow start as they tried to dictate terms to the Pioneers. Will Weber was caught up in a scuffle during the first stoppage as he was sent off along with Denver’s Dusty Jackson. The ensuing faceoff was in the Miami zone and won cleanly by the Pioneers leading to Chris Knowlton’s blistering slapshot off the draw that put DU on top 1-0 at the :11 mark of the game.

But, as this team begins to play with the sort of confidence we’ve come to expect over the years, it felt as if it didn’t really matter. Miami struck back shortly thereafter as junior Reilly Smith notched his third goal on the weekend at 4:41 of the first off a wrister from between the circles that appeared to be slowed by Denver freshman goaltender Juho Olkinuora but not stopped.

Miami struck again in the period when at 12:09, freshman center Austin Czarnik stole the puck at the Denver blueline and walked in on Olkinuora sending a nifty backhand through the five-hole that found the back of the net giving the RedHawks a 2-1 lead. Once again, the Pioneers’ third-string goalie who shut out the Princeton Tigers one night before, appeared to get a piece of Czarnik’s shot, but not enough. Miami would not trail again.

In the second, Miami would score their third consecutive goal as senior defenseman Cameron Schilling sent a hard wrister on goal that was ultimately deflected by Smith giving Miami a 3-1 lead. For Smith, it was his team-leading 11th goal of the season.

Later in the second, the Pioneers were the benefactors of yet another poor Miami defensive zone turnover as the RedHawks lost a battle along the boards and the puck squeaked away and onto the stick of Drew Shore who made an easy centering pass to a wide open Ty Loney who beat Reichard glove-side to bring the Pioneers within a goal.

But, while Denver dominated play during the third period, Cody Reichard turned in one of his signature big game performances as he turned aside all 10 shots including three saves on Denver’s Jason Zucker, a second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild.

Zucker attacked the goal on a mini-break when he came in with Will Weber trailing and attempted to go from his left to right. But, Reichard stood tall and made the save while Weber was whistled for a slashing penalty. Rather than accept the two minute power play, Denver head coach George Gwozdecky elected for a penalty shot thinking a one-on-one encounter with his best player would be a better way to beat Reichard. But, Reichard came up big waiting out Zucker who attempted a backhand that was stopped by Miami’s senior goaltender.

Reichard would stone Zucker again late in the third period from close range and senior Trent Vogelhuber scored an empty net goal as Miami defeated Denver for the third consecutive time by a 4-2 score.

Notes:

– Former Miami and current Denver head coach George Gwozdecky coached in his 1,000th career game.

– Enrico Blasi is now 3-1 against the Pioneers, and his former mentor, in his coaching career.

– Miami is now 3-3 all-time against Providence and 4-4 all-time against Denver.

– The RedHawks are now tied for 13th in the Pairwise and 11th in KRACH having played the 8th most difficult schedule in the country.

– Miami returns to CCHA play next weekend as they travel to face Northern Michigan in Marquette, Mich.

– This was Miami’s second win ever in Denver, the first coming in 1997 when the RedHawks captured their first Denver Cup title. Miami is now 2-3 all-time at Denver.

Biggs out for Denver Cup

Miami freshman forward Tyler Biggs will not be playing in this weekend’s Denver Cup games vs. Providence and Denver according to a tweet posted to his personal Twitter feed yesterday.

Biggs said that he would be traveling with the team, but was disappointed that he would not be playing. We’ll see if we can get an update prior to tomorrow’s 6:37pm EST puck drop against the Providence Friars.

Denver has also announced that starting goaltender Adam Murray and senior defenseman John Ryder will both miss not only this weekend, but significant time meaning that the Pioneers have now lost their top two goaltenders to injury for most of the season. And, in Ryder, they also lose their top shutdown defenseman and physical presence on the blueline.

Chris Wideman Named CCHA Defenseman of the Week

For the third week in a row, a Miami RedHawk has been recognized for his on-ice performance. Over the past two weeks, freshmen Tyler Biggs and Austin Czarnik were lauded as Gongshow CCHA Rookies of the Week. This time, senior defenseman Chris Wideman was named the Gladiator CCHA Defenseman of the Week for his efforts in Miami’s win and tie against visiting Bowling Green.

On the weekend, the senior from St. Louis was +4 with three assists and two blocked shots as Miami improved to 4-0-2 over their past six contests.

Miami will try to make it four solid weekends in a row as they travel to take on Providence and Denver in the 2011 Denver Cup at Magness Arena. The puck drops at 6:37pm EST on Friday and 9:07pm EST on Saturday.

RedHawks Take a Step Back, Tie BGSU

After last weekend and coming immediately off of a night where the RedHawks looked like they belong as the #7 team in the country and a pre-season #1 team, they took a rather large leap backwards tonight in a 4-4 tie with CCHA foe Bowling Green State University. After last night’s 4-0 picking apart of the Falcons, Miami gave up 4 1-goal leads on the night, and earned just a point in the CCHA standings. In the shootout, Miami failed to convert any of their 3 shots, and BGSU walked away with 2 points and the shootout victory.  Although the ‘Hawks did extend their unbeaten streak to 6, I feel like I’m kissing my sister in saying that, as this could have been another 3 points and a victory for The Brotherhood over a weaker BG squad.

Starting off the scoring was the RedHawks leading scorer Reilly Smith, from freshman Austin Czarnik.  Miami had come off of a penalty kill just seconds before the goal after having a great penalty kill to start off the evening.  After BG’s Mike Fink scored to tie it up the first time, Czarnik quickly took matters into his own hands and scored his 4th of the season on a beautiful pass from Chris Wideman.

Miami’s Bryon Paulazzo headed to the penalty box just 3 minutes into the second period, and BG capitalized on the power play to make it 2-2 with a goal from Dan DeSalvo.  To take their third lead of the night, Captain Alden Hirschfeld slammed home a Chris Wideman rebound to take a 3-2 lead. However with 1:45 left in the second, Bryce Williamson made a nifty move, and Miami had blown 3 leads in just 2 periods.  Much of the second half of the second period was disjointed, ugly hockey from Rico Blasi’s squad, and you could sense BG starting to build some confidence by limiting the Miami attack.

Miami seemed to have turned that dial to mute in the third period, playing typical Miami hockey and keeping the puck in their end for much of the third period.  Tyler Biggs had scored just 1:49 into the final period, and all the boys needed to do was protect the puck.  Miami seemed to have the win wrapped up with 2 BGSU penalties in the last 5 minutes but with 1:12 to play, Ryan Carpenter slid a softie through Cody Reichard’s legs and Miami’s 4th lead of the evening went with it, and free hockey and another shootout were all that remained.

Miami again dominated in overtime, but could not find the back of the net.  Finally, in a stark contrast from last weekend’s shootout, there were no fireworks, as Miami couldn’t convert on any of their 3 shootout chances by Czarnik, Smith and Paulazzo. On BG’s second attempt, Williamson got the puck past Reichard for the eventual game winner.

Last night I speculated that tonight would be a perfect time to get Connor Knapp back into the rotation, but Blasi stuck with the hot hand in Cody Reichard. With injury notes hard to come by from the Miami Hockey staff, we can only perpetuate the rumors that Cody is still playing because of the outstanding play of late.  Connor Knapp did dress for each of the last 4 games, but did not see any time in net, lending me to believe that he is healthy, but riding the bench for the time being until Reichard cools off.  And speaking of going cold, tonight may have been the night. Reichard only made 12 saves on 16 shots. The 4th goal was a squeaker right through the 5-hole on what should have been a routine save.

Up next for the RedHawks is a road trip to Denver to face the Providence Friars and Denver Pioneers.  Miami and Providence play in the first game of the Denver Cup on Friday at 6:37 Eastern time. Saturday, Miami faces Cradle of Coaches member George Gwozdecky and the Denver in the evening matchup, starting at approximately 9:07 PM Eastern.

Game Notes:
– Czarnik, Hirschfeld and Smith each had 1 goal and 1 assist on the night
– The CCHA referee committee and commissioner mush have read our column from last night as it seemed that John Philo and Kevin Langseth were back to their usual penalty-calling ways.  Miami was called for a more Blasi-esque 7 minor penalties, and BGSU was whistled for 8 infractions.  Miami  was just 4 for 6 killing penalties and 1 for 7 on the power play, continuing a somewhat slow start to the season on special teams.
– Alex Wideman was still nowhere to be found on the Miami bench. After a promising start to the season, Alex has not played for several games and has us wondering why he has been in a suit for these latest games rather than the red and white.
– Austin Czarnik is Miami’s main faceoff specialist, even as a freshman. He took 25 out of 60 faceoffs on the night, winning 13 of them.  With 4.1 seconds left in the third period and Miami needing a faceoff win to send one final shot on net, Czarnik was the man on the faceoff dot for Miami.

Hawks take down BGSU 4-0

The Alumni Weekend welcome wasn’t too kind for former Miamians and current BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron and assistant coach Barry Schutte.  Miami Freshman Blake Coleman scored twice, and Cody Reichard handily stopped everything thrown at him tonight in Oxford, as your Miami RedHawks put together a complete game in taking down the Bowling Green Falcons 4-0.  After a 5-game winless streak, the ‘Hawks are now streaking in the right direction, running it to a 5 game unbeaten streak.

Coleman started the scoring early, burying a pass from Trent Vogelhuber (who had 2 assists of his own on the night) at 15:26 of the first period. Blake seemed to have “the look” tonight, as he had several scoring chances throughout the game, and tallied a team-high 4 shots.  Blake looks to be jealous of his fellow freshmen forwards Tyler Biggs and Austin Czarnik – the last to CCHA Rookies of the week, and is taking care of business when he is on the ice.

Tonight’s game was a continuation of the Hawks weekend against Michigan last weekend. There was a plethora of blocked shots, great goaltending, and timely offense – 30 total shots and of course the 4 goals (all even strength), which tied a season high for this young Miami squad.  It seems the 3,700-mile trip to Alaska was more than just another away series for the Hawks. Since the trip, the team is playing more complete hockey, and the upperclassmen and underclassmen are really coming together as a team. It seems the trip was well worth it, if not only for the 6 points they took from the Nanooks.

In the second period, Garrett Kennedy showed that he was another of the RedHawks wanting to get in on the fun. Garrett was seen pinching down from the point several times, was taking excellent shots, and looks more and more like a top tier defenseman every time he’s on the ice.  Steven Spinell flipped a wrister into the crease area later in the second period, and it was deflected perfectly by Curtis McKenzie to put the Hawks up 3-0.  Coleman’s second on the night finished the scoring at 14:33 left in the game, as Trent Vogelhuber threw another in on net

There with Kennedy and Spinnell were the always staunch defensive pairings featuring Cameron Schilling, Will Weber and Chris Wideman, and Senior netminder Cody Reichard. Cody feasted on all 23 shots that the Falcons threw at him, rarely letting up a good scoring chance, and limiting any rushes BG had by swallowing up any rebounds he let loose.  Cody has regained the form we’ve come to expect over the last 3 years, and has been fantastic in net since Connor Knapp got sick during the Alaska trip.  This was the first shutout for Miami since Reichard blanked Michigan on February 5th, 2011 in Oxford, and leaves him 1 shutout away from the Miami career record of 12, held by David Burleigh.

Another CCHA win puts the ‘Hawks in a tie for 5th in the CCHA with a 4-4-1-1 record, and brings their record to .500 at 6-6-1 overall.  Catch the RedHawks in Ohio on the Ohio News Network (ONN) again on Saturday night as they take on the same Bowling Green State Falcons at 7:05 PM from Steve Cady Arena.

Some additional notes on the evening:

  • It will be interesting to watch how Blasi plays the rotation going forward with Reichard’s success, having now led Miami in net for each of the last 5 games.  Tomorrow presents another opportunity for Miami, and the young BGSU squad may be just the break that Reichard needs, and may also be just the right team to break in Knapps pads after his illness.
  • While the Hawks only took 4 penalties for 8 minutes, some inexperience still showed by the Freshmen. Biggs was caught in a scuffle with the Hawks up 3-0 in the third and ended up throwing one last punch to a Falcon’s face, immediately in front of Referee John Philo.  The 4 penalty kills stretch Miami’s streak of perfection to 26 penalty kills in a row.
  • Curtis McKenzie is bringing the pain.  Tonight reminded me of nights past when the likes of Kevin Roeder and big Joe Cooper roamed the new and old Goggin Ice Arenas.  Throw in his assist on Kennedy’s goal and then his own twine-tingler in the second period, and you begin to see the all around player that Coach Blasi intended on bringing to Oxford.  McKenzie now has 3 goals on the season
  • We’re probably going to need an explanation from radio announcer Greg Waddell after Coleman’s second goal. Waddell quipped “Fruity Pebbles for one and all!” just after Blake slammed it home.  Perhaps there’s an inside joke there that we aren’t privy to?
  • While Miami tallied 30 shots, they also had 23 shots blocked on the night. While this could be seen as a concerning stat, I see it as a promising one, as it means Miami is getting back to playing Rico Blasi, put-the-puck-on-the-net, down and dirty hockey.  Along with 53 shots on or around the net comes a few dirty goals, including Coleman’s second which was of that variety.
  • A note on the CCHA referees.  Perhaps I’m just taking a small sample size, but it seems to me that they are being more lenient than in years past? Perhaps they are just calling less penalties, or really need to improve their medial coverage on eye exams, but tonight’s game had only six penalties. In addition to the lack of arm-raising being done, it seems the leagues head pairing (Brian Aaron and Wilkins) has a thing for calling off big goals. In tonight’s matchup in South Bend, Boston College had a goal waved off with 2 seconds remaining in the second period.  This followed their weekend in Oxford, where the same pairing took 2 apparent goals away from Miami on Saturday night’s tie and shootout win for Miami.

Weekend Preview: Miami v. Bowling Green

Miami hopes to continue its solid play as the RedHawks conclude a four-game homestand against Chris Bergeron and the Bowling Green Falcons.

The RedHawks enter the weekend just 5-6-1 overall (3-4-1-1 CCHA), but are 3-0-1 over the past two weekends. With 11 league points, Miami has climbed out of the cellar in the CCHA and is currently 7th in the standings. Miami has been led by senior goaltender Cody Reichard as he has been in net for each of the previous four games showing both the kind of play we expect and the leadership that’s needed for this team to compete. This year, it all starts in the net until the forwards begin to put the puck in the net like we think they can.

Bowling Green (6-5-1, 1-5 CCHA) snapped a five-game losing streak by sweeping lowly Canisius at the BGSU Ice Rink last weekend. The Falcons are led offensively by sophomore Cam Wojtala and freshman Ryan Carpenter with 13 and 11 points, respectively, and like Miami have had trouble scoring this season averaging just 2.16 goals per game.

In net, junior Andrew Hammond has performed well having started all 12 games for the Falcons and representing a 2.14 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.

For Miami, the good news is the young forwards are starting to find their game. Freshmen Tyler Biggs and Austin Czarnik have earned CCHA Rookie of the Week honors over the past two weeks and Czarnik seems to have found chemistry playing with junior Reilly Smith on the first line. Unsurprisingly, Czarnik and Smith lead the RedHawks with 8 and 9 points, respectively with Smith also leading the team with 7 goals.

In fact the freshmen forwards consisting of Biggs, Czarnik, Blake Coleman, Jimmy Mullin and Alex Wideman have combined for nine goals or 32.1% of Miami’s scoring, and 23 points, which is 31.5% of Miami’s points. Source: miamiredhawks.com

If the RedHawks hope to continue to ascend the league standings, and more importantly, the Pairwise rankings, they need these two games. With stellar defensive play from junior Garrett Kennedy as he clearly leads by example (Kennedy has played possessed unafraid to throw his body all around the ice) and the dramatic improvement from Cody Reichard, the Hawks have the right formula. Now if they can just start scoring more consistently, they could go on a run.

I think Miami sweeps.

Notes

– Miami is 21-3-2 in the last 26 games against Bowling Green including 11 straight victories and 18 of the last 19. Miami has won 12 straight against BG at home.

– The Falcons still lead the all-time series 58-42-7 despite Miami’s dominance over the past decade.

– Bowling Green has not played a road game since October 22 at Lake Superior.

– Falcon head coach Chris Bergeron is seeking his first win over his alma mater. He is 0-4 all-time as the Falcons coach against Miami. Conversely, Miami bench boss Enrico Blasi is 26-8-2 all-time against Bowling Green.

Biggs, Czarnik Claim Back-to-Back CCHA Rookie Awards

                                         

Tyler Biggs                                                          Austin Czarnik

Miami freshmen forwards Tyler Biggs and Austin Czarnik have been honored with the first weekly CCHA awards of their respective careers in back-to-back weeks.

For his efforts against Alaska, Biggs was named the Gongshow CCHA Rookie of the Week. In Miami’s two game sweep in Fairbanks, the forward from Loveland, Ohio had an assist in both games, blocked a shot and finished +1 for the weekend.

Coming off a game DQ, Czarnik (Washington, Mich.) did not play in Friday’s 2-1 win over Michigan. However, he suited up for Saturday’s game and had a goal and two assists for a career-high three points in Miami’s 3-3 tie with the Wolverines to earn the Gongshow CCHA Rookie of the Week award. He also blocked a shot and finished +1 on the night.

Congratulations to both players and best of luck the rest of the way.