#6 Miami earns two league points at Northern Michigan
RedHawks lose and tie at CCHA’s last place team
Well, let us hope this year’s edition of the “Rico Swoon” is short-lived because yet again, Miami has failed to hold momentum over the holidays as they are now 0-2-1 in their past three games after dropping Friday’s game 2-1 and tying Northern Michigan 3-3 (won shootout) last night. Further, the losses to teams Miami should beat continue to pile up just as the loss to Robert Morris has become a seemingly annual event. Miami is something like 0-4 in their last four meetings against the Colonials.
But, to come back to earth, the problem with this team right now is that they simply are not scoring goals. The nice thing? There is no quit as they rallied from a 2-0 hole last night to take a short-lived 3-2 lead which was inexplicably lost with a blueline turnover on a Miami powerplay that NMU turned into a shorthanded goal.
With Rico essentially rolling 3 of his 4 lines each night, this team does not appear to have a lot of scoring depth at the present time. And certainly, there isn’t a lot of supplemental scoring coming from the likes of Blake Coleman, Jimmy Mullin, Cody Murphy or Alex Wideman which was happening earlier in the year. Those players must find their games over the next six weeks to give Miami any realistic chance of advancing in March. If the better teams can focus all their energy against the Barber, Czarnik and McKenzie line, it will limit that group’s ability to continue to put the puck in the net.
At 12-5-5, Miami is tied for 10th in the PairWise rankings that largely determine the field of 16 for the NCAA tournament. With plenty of hockey to be played, the RedHawks are in a good position, but in watching this team over the past month, it concerns me that they will be able to realistically compete with the likes of Notre Dame, Minnesota and Boston College – the latter team most certainly the model for this year’s edition of the RedHawks. In watching all the Miami talent at the WJC (e.g., Ryan Hartman, Connor Murphy, Pat Sieloff, and yes, Tyler Biggs) that didn’t come to campus, it can be no wonder this team is struggling offensively this year. But, they are very strong defensively and in net. Those two groups are going to have to realize their margin of error is very slim and they’re going to have to do even more to carry Miami through this offensive slump. And, again, at 12-5-5, it’s not like this team is in the basement of the league. All is most certainly not lost or wrong with the 2012-13 RedHawks.
Next week, Miami returns to the road again with another lengthy bus trip to Madison, Wisc. (EDIT: The RedHawks flew to Marquette, Mich. – I guess we’re flying more this year to get ready for life in the NCHC) to take on the improving Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center. If you would have asked me about this series 4-6 weeks ago, I would have told you there is no reason Miami doesn’t go in there and get two out-of-conference victories. However, the Badgers have moved above the .500 mark at 8-7-5, and unbelievably, find themselves just three points back of first place Denver in the seemingly mediocre WCHA. This will be an interesting series for both teams as Miami will come in with something to prove against a Big 10 opponent in their building. I expect nothing but the RedHawks’ best next weekend as they head into the stretch run of conference play.
– With freshman netminder Ryan McKay stopping all five NMU skaters in the shootout last night, Miami is 4-0 in CCHA mandated tie-breakers. In fact, Miami has yet to allow a single shootout goal against all season.
– Miami finishes the year 1-1-2 against Northern Michigan. Walt Kyle seems to torment Enrico Blasi and the RedHawks every single year. Wildcat fans wish they could play us every week because they can’t beat anyone else on a consistent basis.
– Freshman defenseman, Matthew Caito, notched his first career two-goal game as he helped lead Miami back from a 2-0 second period hole. He has been very good this year leading all Miami defensemen in scoring with a 3-6-9 seasonal line.
– Sophomore Austin Czarnik (8-17-25) and freshman Riley Barber (9-15-24) continue to lead the CCHA in scoring. They must have some help down the stretch if Miami is to advance in the conference and national tournaments.