Miami finishes sweep of #15 Michigan State 4-0

Connor Knapp made 20 saves and Miami received goals from four different players as they completed the weekend sweep at #15 Michigan State winning 4-0 on Saturday night.

Junior forward Reilly Smith opened the scoring by tallying the eventual game-winning goal on a 5×3 powerplay midway through the second period and the RedHawks exploded for three goals to break open the game in the third as they peppered Spartan netminder Will Yanakeff with 44 shots.

Reilly Smith rings a shot off the post as Will Yanakeff attempts to make a save.

With the weekend sweep, Miami moved all the way to fifth place in the tightly packed CCHA standings, and if the season ended today, Miami would earn a first round bye in the CCHA tournament. Additionally Miami has moved solidly into NCAA tournament consideration as both their KRACH, and more importantly, Pairwise numbers are favorable. Miami is now ranked 10th in KRACH having faced the fourth most difficult schedule in the country and tied for 11th in the Pairwise meaning the RedHawks would be a #3 seed if the season ended today. But, it’s still early January.

One troubling note coming out of this game was that Miami found itself shorthanded eight times and took eleven penalties in the game. Hopefully, it was simply the presence of former CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos on the Spartan bench that led to many questionable calls against the RedHawks and not the start of another trend. It is true that Miami is a physically imposing, strong team and at times it does seem as though the RedHawks receive the short end of the stick for “being too strong.” To his credit, Anastos said of the Friday game, “I thought that we got what we expected – a tough, physical game from an opponent that has some pretty good size across the board. They made things tough for us, but we generated some shots and did a good job getting in front of the net.” (source: Lansing State Journal) So, at least the Spartan head man acknowledged the size and strength of the RedHawks and certainly did not go on the record complaining about calls because he got plenty of them Saturday night. On the results of the weekend, Anastos said, “When someone comes into your rink and beats you in every phase of the game, that’s unacceptable.” (source: Lansing State Journal) It’s always great hearing an opposing coach talk about how his team was dominated — especially in their barn.

So, 2012 has gotten off to a nice start for the RedHawks. But, with plenty of hockey to still be played, Miami has to string together the kind of second half that can propel them up the national rankings and into the CCHA, and hopefully, NCAA tournaments come March.

Miami is back in action next week as they travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. to take on Lake Superior. The Lakers swept Miami in Oxford on October 27-28 so the RedHawks will be looking for payback as well as yet another chance to face someone ahead of them in the CCHA and national standings.

Notes

– Miami’s 44 shots on goal was a season’s high mark and they dominated the Spartans with a 20-5 SOG advantage in the final period.

– Tyler Biggs, Alden Hirschfeld and Blake Coleman had Miami’s three goals in the third period.

– Miami’s last sweep over MSU also came on the road November 14-15, 2008.

– Connor Knapp earned both weekend wins allowing just one goal on 54 shots (.981). The shutout was the ninth of Knapp’s outstanding Miami career.

– Miami’s penalty kill was 13-for-13 on the weekend.

– It seems as if Miami has been on the road the entire season, as they have played just one home game since November 19. But, after next weekend’s series at Lake Superior, Miami plays nine of its remaining twelve games at Steve Cady Arena.

– Here’s Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos on the differences between his Spartans and Miami. Courtesy USCHO.com

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Posted on January 8, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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