Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

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?

Well, there was last weekend, when #3 Miami split its weekend series with then #12 Notre Dame winning 3-1 on Friday in Oxford and then dropping an awfully sloppy looking 2-1 decision on Sunday at the Hockey City Classic played outdoors at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

And, there was last night at Lake Superior.

In last night’s game, Miami could not: 1) stay out of the penalty box (7 penalties), 2) stop shooting (51 shots on goal), 3) stop scoring (5 goals), and 4) stop allowing goals (4 goals against). The four goals against equalled a season’s worst (October 26 at Michigan). However, the RedHawks have allowed four goals in a game just twice this season which is incredibly impressive.

Looking back at last weekend, the two games against the Irish could not have been more different.

On Friday, Miami’s speed dominated the slower-footed Irish generating numerous scoring chances. Surprisingly, Notre Dame sieve goaltender, Steven Summerhays looked serviceable in limiting the damage but was schooled by sophomore Blake Coleman’s sick goal off a 2-on-1 chance.

Here’s Coleman’s goal and the rest of the Friday highlights.

Moving ahead to last Sunday, Miami took on the Irish again but this time outdoors at Soldier Field.

Overall, the event went off without a hitch. Other than a few delays for ice repair, the sunshine and moderate temperatures (around 25 degrees) made for an outstanding day. The wind was not a factor, but I’ll admit having club seats to grab a little warmth in the lounge between periods was ok with me.

However, it was apparent the ice was wet in spots leading to strange puck bounces and movements making it very difficult for either team to hit long or cross-ice passes with much accuracy. Further, the ice was clearly slow which played into Notre Dame’s hands as their big but slow defensemen were able to better keep Miami’s smaller, quicker forwards to the outside. The RedHawks were unable to get to the net with as much success as they were on the fast ice at Steve Cady Arena.

Worse? Notre Dame uber-hack Jeff Costello scored a goal and speared a Miami player (Blake Coleman I believe) at the end of the game drawing the ire of the RedHawks but, inexplicably, not a suspension from the CCHA. Watch for #11 in blue and judge for yourself.

My lasting impressions? A sloppy hockey game with three bad goals. The Irish were simply fortunate to get one more bad goal than the RedHawks.

The loss snapped a lengthy unbeaten streak against the Irish as Miami had not lost to Notre Dame since December 3, 2010. But, the RedHawks are an impressive 11-2-2 in their last 15 overall against Notre Dame and it’s certainly conceivable these two could meet again at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. But, with the Friday win, Miami clinched a first-round bye in the CCHA tournament and will finish as the only team in league history to never play in the first round of the playoffs since the league started the new playoff format. The RedHawks will host a CCHA second round playoff series in Oxford the weekend of March 15-17.

Turning to the Lakers…

Earlier this year, Miami split a series with LSSU in Oxford winning 3-2 and falling 1-0 on December 7-8. Lakers’ freshman goaltender Kevin Murdock made 46 saves in blanking the RedHawks to earn the series split.

Last night, Miami embarked upon their final road trip of the regular season and last as a member of the CCHA by making the 8-hour trek to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. to take on the Lake Superior State Lakers.

After the disappointing offensive showing in Chicago, the ‘Hawks came out fast early with Jimmy Mullin getting Miami on the board first with just his fifth goal of the season on the powerplay. Lake State would fight back and take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission with an even strength and powerplay tally of their own but was dominated as Miami registered a 16-8 shots on goal advantage after one.

In the second, the ice tilted in Miami’s favor on the scoreboard as the ‘Hawks got the period’s only two goals and outshot Lake State by a whopping 22-3 margin. Riley Barber and Max Cook netted the Miami goals as they erased the one goal deficit and led heading into the final period of play.

The third period saw a back-and-forth affair as the teams traded goals with Lake Superior twice tying the score. However, the RedHawks were undeterred and equalled the two Laker goals with two of their own. Freshman defenseman Matthew Caito recorded his fourth goal of the season and redshirt senior forward Marc Hagel netted his fifth of the year and also notched two assists for a three point night. Caito now has 16 points on the season to lead all Miami defenseman ranking fifth in team scoring and eighth overall in defenseman scoring in the CCHA.

Freshman netminder Jay Williams was back between the pipes for Miami after watching classmate Ryan McKay earn both starts last weekend against Notre Dame. For Williams, it was one of his worst statistical performances of the year as he stopped just 25 of 29 Laker shots but stood tall in the third period as Lake Superior fired 18 of its 29 shots at him.

With the win, Miami improved to 20-8-5 on the season recording its eighth consecutive season of 20 or more wins. The three points enabled the RedHawks to widen their lead in the CCHA regular season standings. With Western Michigan’s shootout victory over Notre Dame, the second-place Broncos trail Miami by three points (one game) and the Irish find themselves 5 points back of the leaders.

As the standings look currently, with victories in two of their final three regular season games, Miami can clinch at least a share of the final CCHA regular season title. Realistically, if Miami were to complete the sweep tonight, and Notre Dame were to knock off Western in regulation, it will be very hard for Miami NOT to capture its third regular season title since 2006. And, importantly, Miami is still third overall in the PairWise and a good showing down the stretch could enable Miami to lock up a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and perhaps play their regional games in either Toledo or Grand Rapids.

The RedHawks and Lakers faceoff tonight at 7:05pm from Taffy Abel Arena. Greg Waddell has the call on Miami All-Access and locally on WKBV-AM 1490.

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Posted on February 23, 2013, in 2012-13 News, 2012-13 Weekend Previews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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