Monthly Archives: February 2013
The march to Pittsburgh is nearly upon us.
When we were looking at the PairWise back in December, it didn’t really make sense. Now, however, it’s very meaningful. Let’s take a look at what’s happening keeping travel in mind. First, there are 2 regionals that Miami would love to be at: Toledo and Grand Rapids. Light travel, meaning no big trips out east to play eastern teams that are hosting, even when Miami is a #1 seed (UNH, 2011). And secondly, Miami could end up staying within 302 miles of Oxford (Grand Rapids: 298 mile drive, Pittsburgh, 302 mile drive) from the CCHA tournament through the Frozen Four if things happen to fall correctly. It’s certainly not a lock, and there’s a long way to go, but let’s take a deeper look at the current PairWise.
Light the Lantern! Miami sweeps Lake State
On the strength of 44 saves from freshman phenom Ryan McKay and goals from classmates Riley Barber and Matthew Caito, the #3 Miami RedHawks defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
In doing so, the RedHawks are now just one point away from clinching a share of the final CCHA regular season title and two points from an outright championship to close the league. Frankly, going into this season with so many new faces and young players, I would not have predicted a regular season title. But this team, coached so well by head man Enrico Blasi and his associates Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia have molded the 2012-13 RedHawks (21-8-5, 16-6-4-4 1st CCHA) into an intense, system-based and fast squad that is a nightmare to play against. The RedHawks lead the nation in team defense and are sixth in penalty killing despite an offense that has just one point-per-game player (Barber) and no skaters ranked higher than 14th (Barber) in the national scoring race.
Last night, the ‘Hawks were carried by their talented freshmen as they served up a hard-fought victory. Though frankly, you never really felt as if Lake would be able to get past the one-goal barrier with McKay back between the pipes and the Miami defense stinging a bit after allowing four Laker goals the night before. Read the rest of this entry
So, it would be an understatement to say that we’ve been a little distracted here over the past couple weeks. Previews? Nah. Recaps? What?
Well, here’s a little Saturday update to tide you over til tonight.
What’d we miss?
Tonight, Miami unveiled their uniform for the 2013 Hockey City Classic, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen from the RedHawks. Or maybe it’s a combination of a lot of what you’ve seen in the past from them? Either way, I can’t say they are the prettiest jerseys I’ve ever seen, but they do look pretty darn special.
Here’s Miami’s release on the new jersey design, with Steven Spinell showing off the new unis. Spinell is a Chicago-born and raised kid, who will certainly relish this weekend’s game against Notre Dame in Soldier Field.
Miami leads the chase for the CCHA
Regular Season title with 3 weeks remaining.
The RedHawks swapped shutouts with Western Michigan over the weekend, but that wasn’t the only NCAA hockey action. It was quite a week in the world of NCAA hockey, and the upcoming weekend will certainly be much more significant for Miami.
We’ll recap the weekend notes after the jump, but before you go on, take a quick read through Rick Cassano’s previews of next weekend. He has insights on what several RedHawks did growing up on outdoor rinks, as well as how the entire Hockey City Classic came to be for Miami. If those don’t get you fired up for next weekend, I don’t know what will. Perhaps a weekend series against the Irish in what will be a determining weekend for the final CCHA regular season championship? Or maybe it won’t be until you are driving into Chicago next weekend. In any event, (Friday and) Sunday can’t get here fast enough.
On to the recap of last week – it was an up and down weekend, that’s for sure…
First place Miami clashes with second place Western Michigan in the nation’s premiere weekend series
It’s a #MACAttack weekend as long-time MAC rivals Miami (17-6-5, 12-4-4-4 1st CCHA) and Western Michigan (17-6-5, 13-4-3-1 2nd CCHA) renew their hockey rivalry that’s heated up over the past two years. The schools have met twice at Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA tournament over the past two seasons.
Two years ago, Miami defeated the upstart Broncos in the CCHA title game to capture the program’s only Mason Cup, while last year, the Broncos returned the favor in the semifinals en route to their first Mason Cup championship. However, during the regular season, Miami swept Western in Oxford.
It has to be especially heartening to new NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr to see the two CCHA squads at the top of the league just 8 months from the inaugural puck drop for the new league.
But, to the weekend at hand…
10 goals last weekend? And, 15 over their past four games? Could it be that Miami’s offense is finally waking up at precisely the right time? With just 8 regular season games left, the time is now for this team to find its offensive game, keep playing stout defense and come together down the stretch.
Well, the stretch starts tonight in Kalamazoo where Miami will face it’s most difficult road series of the year at Western Michigan and the Lawson Lunatics, whom, to put it mildly, comprise the
most vulgar “rowdiest” student section in all of college hockey. And, we poke fun because it’s true in both good ways and bad.
Leading the charge for the Broncos is a familiar cast of characters led by senior Dane Walters who leads WMU with 21 points (12-9-21) and junior Chase Balisy with 20 (8-12-20). Western’s power play is best in the league at 22.9 percent but it will be without junior powerplay specialist Dennis Brown (1-13-14) who was suspended for tonight’s game following Saturday night’s shootout loss against Ferris State. Additionally, the Broncos will be without two other players including injured sophomore defenseman Garrett Haar (3-3-6), who scored a goal in the CCHA semifinal win over the RedHawks, and sophomore forward Justin Kovacs (1-5-6) who was also suspended following the Ferris State game.
In net for Western will be “The Big Slubowski,” sophomore Frank Slubowski who has started every game this season for the Broncos. Slubowski, a finalist for last season’s CCHA Rookie of the Year, has returned with a vengence notching 16 wins, a 1.78 GAA and .922 save percentage so far. It goes without saying that beating Slubowski will be challenging for Miami, a team that has struggled to score this year.
For the RedHawks, well, expect more of the same.
The top line has to continue to execute and carry the team offensively. In moving sophomore forward Alex Wideman alongside sophomore center Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber, head coach Enrico Blasi has gone for speed and creativity out of his top three. This has enabled players like Blake Coleman, Curtis McKenzie and Sean Kuraly to use their blend of speed and size to give Miami a more balanced and dynamic top six look.
Defensively, the RedHawks lead the nation in total defense and freshmen goaltenders Jay Williams and Ryan McKay will be tested, not so much by Western’s offensive prowess, but rather to keep their composure on the road in a rink that is difficult to play in. This will be an excellent test for Miami and if they are fortunate to split this weekend’s series, that would be huge as we move toward the playoffs.
– Miami is coming off its second straight CCHA sweep as the RedHawks downed then No. 20 Alaska, 4-1 last Friday before completing the sweep, 6-2, on Saturday and have won 5 straight overall. (source: MURedHawks.com)
– Western enters the series on a five-game unbeaten streak going 4-0-1 during that stretch including a sweep of 8th place Michigan (it ain’t what it used to be). Last weekend the Broncos won at Ferris State, 3-1 on Friday before dropping a shootout to Ferris on Saturday. (source: MURedHawks.com)
Before we recap the week, we remember Brendan Burke. Burkie died 3 years ago today (February 5, 2010). Each and every RedHawk, including those freshmen who didn’t know him miss him like a brother. His legacy will live on in Oxford and throughout hockey and sports through the You Can Play project. We encourage you to support You Can Play at http://www.youcanplayproject.org, and always remember Brendan as an important part of The Brotherhood.
For the second week in a row, Miami has swept their opponent out of Oxford, this time sending the Alaska Nanooks back to Fairbanks significantly cooler than they were coming in. The 2 wins snapped a 6 game win streak for the Nanooks, who fell back out of the polls, but still remain as a TUC in the PairWise – a good thing for Enrico Blasi’s talented young squad. Here’s what you missed so far this week.