Monthly Archives: March 2012
Here’s a well-crafted production by the Dallas Stars after yesterday’s morning skate in which former Miami forward Reilly Smith participated for the first time as a professional hockey player. Good luck to Reilly and the Stars down the stretch.
Click HERE as the video won’t automatically embed.
We all knew it was a possibility and it has indeed happened: Reilly Smith has signed a 3 year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Some, if not most saw the writing on the wall after Miami’s early exit from the NCAA tournament with a 4-3 OT loss to UMass-Lowell on Friday night- a game that Smith would most likely wish be kept off of his impressive Miami resume. Some say his mind was made up after the CCHA consolation game last weekend that saw the RedHawks defeat the Bowling Green Falcons at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Nevertheless, the junior captain finished his Miami career with 66 goals and 56 assists for 122 points and is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He will join Dallas as the team embarks on a four game roadtrip beginning Monday night in Calgary.
Best of luck to Reilly. He sure was fun to watch during his three years in Oxford.
More to come.
So, at the start of the season, if you knew Miami would be the second seed in the East Regional with these three schools, how many of you would have said “sign me up?”
Well, that’s precisely what the RedHawks have in front of them this weekend as they look to secure their third trip to the Frozen Four in four seasons. When you break it down, there is absolutely no logical reason I can think of why Miami shouldn’t win this regional going away. Sadly though, it doesn’t always turn out that way as we well know.
This region is so ripe for the taking, it’s highly possible the #1 seed in the east, Union, won’t even make it past a well-rested, but certainly not powerful Michigan State program with a new lease on life. After the shellacking Miami put on them in Oxford a few weeks ago, the Spartans had to sweat out the CCHA’s championship weekend awaiting word on whether they’d have an opportunity to continue their year. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, the Spartans have much to prove and will be well-motivated to send the ECAC champions back to Schenectady empty-handed just like last year and I think they will.
When you look at the River Hawks of Lowell, on paper it’s hard to believe they have 23 wins in what was a down year for Hockey East. Traditionally strong programs Vermont and New Hampshire were down and mediocre squads like UML, Maine and BU were able to compete for a championship with only BC emerging as a true national title threat. Heck, Providence whom Miami destroyed 6-2 at the Denver Cup was a threat in that league this year and dispatched the River Hawks (WTF?) in the Hockey East playoffs in three games. In some of the worst uniforms I’ve ever seen, the tiny Lowell squad is made up of guys I’ve never heard of before. Again, none of this means anything. Miami has traditionally struggled with small, quick (though I have no idea if the River Hawks can skate) Hockey East teams in the past but this year’s edition of the RedHawks has speed and our traditional size to burn. A small, quick team such as Michigan State has had absolutely zero success against Miami this year as evidenced by our 4-0 record against the Spartans. You’d like to think this game is Miami’s to lose, but in a one game format, absolutely anything can, and usually does, happen. And, apparently their best player, someone named Riley Wetmore (12-25-37), a nearly 23 year old junior (good lord), has a broken hand to deal with and his effectiveness will undoubtedly be limited against a Miami squad that can bring physicality on every line. And, their leading scorer, Scott Wilson (16-21-37), is just a freshman who lacks experience in big time games, though he is also advanced in age (20).
Size, speed, experience, goaltending, coaching. They all belong to Miami in this game. The one thing Lowell has in its court is the home ice advantage as I’m sure the River Hawks will feel right at home playing hockey in a dump like Bridgeport.
In looking at this regional, Miami has a Frozen Four run set up nicely. In addition to their advantages over UML, they are 4-0 against Michigan State and would either face the Spartans or Union in the second round who has no scholarship players and plays in the relatively weak ECAC.
Hopefully, the hockey gods look favorably upon RedHawk Nation this weekend and we are fortunate enough to advance. Regardless, it should be an exciting weekend. But, you have to feel like its our time. We’ve endured disappointing regional performances before so that’s always a cautionary point. Yet, this Miami team is peaking at the right time and should come into the weekend with the confidence knowing they’ve been here before, and more importantly, they’ve done this before – which no one else in the region can say. Hell, Lowell hasn’t been to the tournament in 16 years. Miami is led by its 10 seniors and it feels like things are coming together at just the right time.
First off, before you get to picking your brackets, take a read at College Hockey News’s interview with NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Committee Chair Sean Frazier. While the PairWise is nearly Bible when it comes to the selection process, Frazier weighs in on the selection process and the subjectivity that the committee has.
Secondly, jump over to the CHN Bracket Contest and submit your picks. You saw my picks last night/this morning, and they match up there. Whomever wins the bracket contest from our readers gets the best prize ever.
Here’s a current breakdown of all the picks from NCAA hockey fans like us, as of 1:45PM this afternoon (courtesy: collegehockeynews.com). It seems the RedHawks are instilling a lot of confidence in fans right now, as 54% think Miami will make it to the Frozen Four in Tampa. I can’t say I’m opposed to this one bit.
For this Redskin Warrior, a sense of optimism and hope comes along with the tournament brackets for once. Teams like
the evil empires BC and BU are nowhere to be found (until the finals, anyway), other teams are missing key components, and momentum from a strong finish seems to be on our side. There are 9 teams that made the tournament in 2011, and 6 teams that have never won the whole thing.
Here are my picks and thoughts on the weekend ahead…
Northeast Region: #1 overall – Boston College, Minnesota-Duluth, Maine, Air Force
Let’s start in Worcester, where BC will undoubtedly have issues with Air Force. The Atlantic Hockey Champion has given teams fits in the last few NCAA tournaments. Last year, the Air Force Academy took the #1 overall seed Yale to overtime. 2 years ago, RIT took down another #1 seed in Denver, then blew out New Hampshire to make its first ever Frozen Four.
Even though BC has won 15 in a row, I still think Air Force comes in with the experience of last year’s tournament and gives them quite a fight. They are over sized and over matched on paper, but you can never discount the heart of the Falcons on the field or on the ice. BC in a tight one, maybe even in overtime again.
On the other side, you have the defending National Champions in the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs taking on the Maine Black Bears – Hockey East’s runner-up. If Maine’s Hobey Baker candidate and the nation’s top goal-scorer Spencer Abbott doesn’t play, I think they are 1 and done. If he plays (his status is currently “questionable”), this is a game to watch. I think the ‘Dogs come out on top in either scenario, however.
In the regional final, look for a titanic battle between the last 2 National Champions. BC’s size and speed will overpower UMD and make it to the Frozen Four again.
West Region: #4 overall – North Dakota, Minnesota, Boston University, Western Michigan
Congratulations, Western Michigan! You’ve won the CCHA Tournament, arguably the best conference in NCAA hockey this year. Here’s the Mason Cup, and you get North Dakota as your victory prize!
All kidding aside, I think the Broncos ride their Mason Cup win to a good showing. However, North Dakota has won 3 straight WCHA Playoff tournaments – something no other team has ever done, and they’ve been here before. NoDak moves on in this matchup.
In the early game in St. Paul, the home town team is matched up with Boston University. The Minnesota Golden Gophers make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. For one of the flagship programs of college hockey, this is somewhat remarkable, and in that time, 29 teams have made the NCAA tournament since Minnesota last did. Can you beat my score of guessing 24 of those 29 teams?
Minnesota, this region’s host, should have about 15,000 of the capacity 18,064 fans in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and I have no doubt this will help propel them to a victory. Don’t count out BU, however. In a battle between head coaches who have 5 total national championships between them (Lucia – 2, Parker 3), I’ll take Minnesota.
This creates a rematch of a conference tournament that we just saw last week, and ironically, it happens in the exact same building. Last Friday, North Dakota quickly went down 3-0, but rallied and scored 6 unanswered goals to move on. This coming Friday, I predict a different story, and Minnesota heads to Tampa.
Midwest Region: #2 overall – Michigan, Ferris State, Denver, Cornell
Michigan extends its NCAA tournament appearance streak to 22 years in a row – all of them under head coach Red Berenson – and will face the Cornell Big Red, whom Michigan met in the first year of the streak. While Cornell has 18 total wins on the season, Michigan has 18 wins against TUC’s this year. ‘Nuff said. Michigan big.
On the other half, a much depleted Denver squad comes in for its 5th straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers could be missing their best player in Jason Zucker, and head coach George Gwozdecky is preparing for the weekend as if they do not have their leading goal-scorer. They will take on a Ferris State squad that was unexpectedly bounced by Bowling Green in round 2 of the CCHA Playoffs, and has only been to the NCAA tournament one other time (2003) in their history. I’m taking Ferris State, here, but they’ll run into a much more stern task in the regional final.
If the 2 CCHA teams prevail in Green Bay, this pits the #1 vs #2 teams from the conference against each other. Ferris State lost 7 times during the CCHA regular season this year, and two of them were to Michigan. I don’t think Ferris State has the star power to overcome Michigan, and Michigan makes it to their second straight Frozen Four.
East Region: #3 overall – Union, Miami, UMass – Lowell, Michigan State
Of the 4 brackets in this year’s tournament, I don’t think Miami could have drawn a better grouping. They don’t have to face Michigan, North Dakota, or either of the Minnesotas OR Bostons. Nice work, selection committee!
In the early game, Michigan State – the last team in the tournament – takes on the ECAC winner, the Union Dutchmen. A school of only 2,000, who is lead by first-year coach Rick Bennett, looks for their first-ever win in the NCAA tournament. I think they get it this year, as Michigan State is reeling. As we know, they fell 6-0 and 4-1 in Oxford 2 weekends ago, and have a bit of a goalie controversy. Also in his first year, Head Coach Tom Anastos will need to find something for either Drew Palmisano or Will Yanakeff to build on from those embarassing losses. Michigan State is going to be coming off of a bye, those 2 big losses, and another “bye” week, so they are going to be rusty as well. The ECAC Champs from Schenectady, NY (that’s fun to say) take this one handily.
We’ll have some more for you on the Miami vs. UML game later in the week, but I will tease you with this fact from our Sunday #SixPack from this past weekend. Despite the youth on this team, Miami will be the bigger and stronger team. UML’s largest player is just 6′ 1″ tall. Miami averages that in height, with 13 players plus Connor Knapp coming in at 6′ 1″ or taller. It might look like a scene from one of my favorite hockey movies with the size advantage Miami will have on the ice. In any event, the
New York Rangers RedHawks take down the scrubs from Mystery, Alaska River Hawks and move on to face Union.
The Regional Final will be a hard fought battle, but I’m confident that Miami will be back on track after a big win on Friday night and will carry the momentum to Tampa where I’ll get to see the RedHawks take on Michigan in the National Semifinals.
To recap, that’s BC against Minnesota on one side, and Michigan vs Miami in the other half of the bracket. Post your picks in the comments below and we’ll see how things turn out this weekend. IS IT FRIDAY YET?!?!?!
First and foremost, all credit for this post goes to “muhawk” over at Miami Hawk Talk. It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read and I definitely wanted to share it here. Love & Honor!
One shift at a time, one period at a time, one win at a time.
Win four games, Miami. Win four games, guys, and win the NCAA national title.
Win it for yourself, so regardless of what happens in the rest of your playing career and the rest of your life, you will always be able to say you won a national title at Miami.
Win it for your parents, because they likely spent too many hours to count getting up before dawn and driving to God-knows-where so you would have a chance to roll around the ice while playing youth hockey.
Win it for Dr. Shriver, Lloyd Goggin, and other administrators who had their fingerprints on the program in its infancy and all the others who were basically crazy enough to think a school located in southwest Ohio would and should be able to compete with the hockey elite from schools in Minnesota, Michigan, and New England.
Win it for Coach Cady. The man is basically the father of this program, and helped bring this team from an independent to the CCHA, before stepping down as coach to help develop the program, a program that was on the verge of getting the ax a few years later. Coach Cady poured his heart and soul into this program and has helped build what we see today. He deserves the chance to hold the NCAA Championship trophy, and not just to hand it off to BU.
Win it for Coach Blasi. He’s the man who turned this program from CCHA also-ran into The Brotherhood and a consistent national contender. It used to be a big deal to see Miami’s name on Selection Sunday. Now, it’s basically old hat. Frozen Four runs are now annual expectations, not impossible dreams. Rico made that happen and did so in a way that should bring pride to all Miami students, alums and fans.
Win it for Burkie. Yeah, that still applies. Every single time I see his name in print or hear it on television, I still feel immense pride in our school and pride in the college program we cheer for, because it is also Brendan’s school and this is the program he had such a major impact on in just four years. It’s an impact I’m sure he didn’t even fully comprehend at the time but one that reaches far beyond the city limits of Oxford and continues to this day. The Brotherhood was and is lucky to have Brendan in its group.
Win it for the guys who came before you. There are certainly too many names to mention here: some are playing in the NHL, many others aren’t. Just to name a few since this recent run started: Kompon, Hogeboom, Greene, Davis, Zatkoff, Jones, Martinez, Roeder, Mercier, Wingels, Palmer, Miele, Camper, etc. These men and others donned the Miami jersey and gave everything they had trying to reach the dream. Many never had the chance, while others came oh so tantalizingly close to the summit. The Brotherhood isn’t just about the current crop, it’s about the young men who kept fighting through so many frustrating years to get the program to this point, a point where, once again, Frozen Four runs are now annual expectations, not impossible dreams.
Win it for your brothers. Clearly, they’re not just teammates, classmates or friends. They are and always will be your brothers and this is your chance to raise a banner with your Miami family.
Finally, win it for Miami. The old gal is 203 years old and she is still as beautiful as always. One thing that is missing from her résumé is a D1 NCAA title. You can change that in the coming weeks. It won’t be easy. Hell, it will be one of the hardest things you try to accomplish. But it’s supposed to be difficult. If it weren’t difficult, everybody would do it. The fact that it is agonizingly difficult is why it is great. This program has felt pain. It’s time to experience the ultimate glory.
Go Miami. Love and Honor.
**DISCLAIMER: We suggest that you not play the
gut feelings informed predictions of three idiots fans who love Miami hockey way too much anywhere in Las Vegas. You’ve been warned.**
Frozen Four: Boston College, Minnesota, Miami, Michigan
Finals: Boston College v. Miami
National Champions: Boston College
Frozen Four: Boston College, Minnesota, Miami, Michigan
Finals: Minnesota vs. Miami
National Champions: Miami
Frozen Four: Boston College, North Dakota, Miami, Michigan
Finals: Boston College vs. Miami
National Champions: Boston College
At last Thursday’s CCHA Awards Banquet, 2 RedHawks took home some hardware on the night. Miami didn’t take home some of the awards we’ve grown accustomed to winning (defensive defenseman, CCHA POTY), but last night was still a success for 2 Miami Seniors.
For the on-ice awards, despite only receiving Honorable Mention for the All-CCHA teams, Senior Connor Knapp took home the goaltender of the year. Somewhere along the lines, the voters changed their minds and moved Knapp from the third best goalie in the league to the best, jumping over . With his stats in 2012, you can understand why – I would have changed my mind as well. 16 games, 10-5-0 record, 1.41 goals against average, .945 save percentage, and don’t forget those 5 shutouts on the season and 13 career shutouts – a Miami record.
Reilly smith won this year’s Perani Cup, given to the player with the most nominations as one of the “3 stars of the game” in conference play. Check out the standings here, and you’ll see that he beat out this weekend’s opposing goalie Frank Slubowski for the award.
Jumping off of the ice now, we turn to Senior goaltender Cody Reichard. We know about Cody’s efforts with Swoop’s Stoop, and his hard work off the ice has also payed of. Reichard won the prestigious Ilitch Humanitarian Award, which is given to a player “who had tremendous philanthropic efforts.” Tremendous philanthropic efforts… that doesn’t even begin to describe Cody’s work with Swoop’s Stoop. Congratulations Cody on this award, and we hope we get to see a Lowe’s Senior CLASS award on your mantle as well!
In addition to yesterday’s CCHA Awards Banquet, the Hobey Baker Award Committee announced its 10 Finalists for the 2012 Player of the Year Award. Reilly Smith made the top 10 list, marking the 5th time in the last 6 years that Miami has had a Hobey Baker Award Finalist. Of the 10 finalists, 3 will be named to the Hobey Hat Trick, invited to Tampa Bay and the Frozen Four, and will be eligible to win the award.
Here’s a list of the finalists all-time for the Redskins/RedHawks.
- Reilly Smith, 2012
- Andy Miele, 2011 Winner
- Carter Camper, 2011
- Cody Reichard, 2010
- Ryan Jones, 2008 – also a Hobey Hat Trick member
- Nathan Davis, 2007
- Andy Green, 2006
- Derek Edwardson, 2004
- Dan Boyle, 1998
- Randy Robitaille, 1997
- Brian Savage, 1993
Sorry for the late posting on this…It was a long weekend for the Warriors!
Look out Bridgeport, here come the RedHawks! It was just announced on ESPNU that Miami will face the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks on Friday at 6:30pm. The other matchup in the East regional bracket features Union vs. Michigan State.
More to come from the Redskin Warriors today and over the next week. We’ll also “phone in” our predictions for the entire tournament and preview some of the matchups.
Here is the bracket at NCAA.com