Monthly Archives: March 2013
Miami earns first NCAA tournament victory since 2010
Happy to be proven wrong, Miami easily dispatched Minnesota State thrashing the Mavericks by a 4-0 score. It’s been a long time since we’ve won big in this tournament and freshman Ryan McKay was back on top of his game earning the fourth shutout of his career and Miami’s first-ever NCAA tournament whitewashing of an opponent.
Curtis McKenzie, Marc Hagel, Cody Murphy and Max Cook notched goals for Miami as they advance to their third regional final since 2009. The RedHawks will face WCHA regular season champ, St. Cloud State (24-15-1) in today’s final at 4pm EST from Toledo.
Miami (25-11-5) will need even more balanced scoring today as they face a talented Huskie squad coached by former Miami assistant Bob Motzko. It is a preview, of sorts, of next year’s NCHC conference as Miami and SCSU will likely be the favorites to capture the first championship in the new league.
The Huskies took Notre Dame behind the woodshed yesterday exposing the slow and plodding Irish by a final of 5-1. SCSU looked strong, tough and fast in handing it to the Irish as I predicted here and other places. The Huskies have notched 136 goals this year and will provide yet another loaded offensive challenge for Miami.
Led by seniors Ben Hanowski (17-14-31 plus his rights were just traded for Jarome Iginla) and Hobey Baker finalist Drew LeBlanc (13-37-50), freshman Jonny Brodzinski (22-11-33) and junior Nic Dowd (14-24-38), the Huskies can score with the best of them. In net, sophomore Ryan Faragher is 23-14-1 with a respectable 2.26 GAA and .915 save percentage. The defense corps is led by Nick Jensen and Kevin Gravel – Jensen is particularly effective offensively. The Huskies are deep and talented and will pose a significant challenge to the RedHawks.
With another victory, Miami will reach the Frozen Four for the third time in five seasons. They would face the winner of today’s Quinnnipiac/Union regional final if they are fortunate enough to win.
The road to the Frozen Four – “The Skate” rather than The Dance – starts in about 45 minutes. 4 Regions, 4 teams each. 5 Conference Champions, 11 at-large berths. 1 Championship.
Miami begins in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, OH tomorrow, as we’ve already previewed. And previewed again… But what about those other teams in the Midwest? And who else is in this thing anyways? Let’s break it down and give you our 2013 Frozen Four predictions in the process.
This Saturday, Miami’s NCAA tournament run takes a trip through Toledo, Ohio, as the RedHawks take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. There are some interesting storylines that my co-blogger redhawk95 laid out for you: Miami can’t win the big games and a “one and done” is forthcoming. Well fear not, RedHawks. I think Rico Blasi and the youngest Miami team in decades have more going for them this weekend than previously expressed.
The RedHawks will face the Mavericks of Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Late last night, the Miami RedHawks (24-11-5) learned their NCAA tournament fate as they received an at-large bid to compete for a national championship in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. The RedHawks were seeded second in the Midwest Regional and will face third seeded Minnesota State of the WCHA on Saturday at 5pm EST. The game will be played in Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center, home of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. This is the eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Miami, and the 11th in school history. On the other hand, this is just the second appearance all-time for MSU in the national tournament, and first since 2003 when they lost a first round game to Cornell.
In yet another forgettable performance in a big game at Joe Louis Arena, the Miami RedHawks hockey program concluded its run in the CCHA by being thoroughly embarrassed by Michigan. Final score…6-2.
What does this mean?
It means Miami will await the outcome of tomorrow afternoon’s CCHA championship game pitting Notre Dame and Michigan to determine whether the RedHawks are a #1 seed or #2 seed in the national tournament. If Notre Dame wins, Miami will be a two seed, but if Michigan takes the final Mason Cup, Miami will back its way into a #1 seed. Regardless, Miami should be slotted in Toledo and will probably face St. Cloud, Denver or Wisconsin (or the like) from the WCHA.
All that said, we’d seen today’s movie a thousand times. We knew how it would end before the teams set foot on the ice. Miami is now 0-6 all-time against Michigan in the CCHA playoffs and we simply do not show up against them in big games. Ryan McKay looked, perhaps, like a tired goaltender having played three games in three nights last weekend and he simply did not do enough to keep his team in the game. It will be interesting to see who Rico starts next week in the NCAA tournament. But, certainly, McKay does not deserve all the blame. Again, this was something we’ve seen time and time again with this program over the years. It was the same game I’d seen a hundred times.
The good news? Miami will have at least one more game in the tournament. But, we have been “one and done” in 2011 and 2012 and have not won a game in the tournament since 2010 when Miami defeated UAH and Michigan en route to the Frozen Four.
The NCAA tournament selection show will air tomorrow night at 9pm EST on ESPNU. If nothing else, it will be an interesting week for this hockey program.
The RedHawks face streaking Michigan at Joe Louis Arena
On the strength of series’ victories over Michigan State and Western Michigan, respectively, the Miami RedHawks and Michigan Wolverines will meet once again at Joe Louis Arena for the right to advance to tomorrow night’s last-ever CCHA championship game.
Today’s semi-final matchup smells precisely like the one the teams played in 2010 when the regular season champion RedHawks faced seventh seeded Michigan who had gotten hot late in the year needing to win the conference tournament to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Of course, Michigan would go on to win the Mason Cup but Miami would have another chance to face the Wolverines in the Midwest regional final in Fort Wayne where the RedHawks would gain revenge by earning their second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four.
In the grand scheme of things, tonight doesn’t mean much. However, as the last season of the CCHA draws to a close, Miami has a lot of hardware on the line this evening. Tonight is the CCHA Awards Show (tickets are still available), and with a player/coach nominated in each of the categories, Miami could haul home some nice individual honors. Every person involved with the team will tell you the same, that tonight’s awards are team awards, or tonight’s awards don’t mean anything if the Hawks don’t get it done ON the ice in the next 4 weeks. Here’s our take on how tonight will go down.
After Friday night, there was some panic around Oxford in regards to the Miami Hockey program after being shut out by the 11th seeded Spartans in game 1. “Was the whole season a waste?” “Was the regular season a fluke?” “Why did a team with such firepower get shutout 7 times this year?”
Well, I think Enrico Blasi and the RedHawks turned all of those doubts into more hope for this young team with a 4-1 victory that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated last night. Let’s take a look at the two nights’ work.
On Friday, Michigan State came out firing with their first goal at 8:04 of the night. Miami couldn’t counter punch at all. A usually stout Austin Czarnik was just 5 for 21 in the faceoff circle, and Miami’s scoring chances were minimal. Ryan McKay stopped 21 of 24 shots on the night, but on the other end, Freshman Jake Hildebrand blocked all 34 shots Miami fired at him and MSU skated away with the shutout win.
Turn the page to Saturday night, and we saw the team that has been in the top 10 for the entire season, currently stands as the #3 team in the land and the team that is second in the country in scoring defense at 1.63 Goals per game.
To start the game, Miami wasn’t messing around. Senior Captain Steven Spinell, having not played entirely up to his potential over the last several weeks, decided to set the tone. The very first time MSU tried to cross the red line at center ice, Spinell laid out MSU’s Kevin Walrod. In the post-game press conference, Spinell said he “saw the opportunity and took it to send a message and set the tone for our team. We’re here to battle, and that was our focus.” (courtesy: Rick Cassano, Hamilton Journal-News) Spinell took a 2 minute penalty for and Indirect contact to the head – elbowing infraction, but the tone was set.
Last night, Miami held Michigan State to just 4 shots in the first period, 5 in the second and 8 in the third. Unfortunately, scoring chances isn’t an official stat, but I’d venture a guess that Miami had around 17 scoring chances compared to those 17 actual shots by Michigan State. In the second period alone, Miami outshot MSU 20-5 and really made the game look like it was theirs without question.
Once again, Blasi pulled the right strings and added some extra strokes to his masterpiece of a season. Blasi took Blake Coleman out of the game as a healthy scratch and inserted Bryon Paulazzo seemingly on a whim. To make the lines fit, he also dropped Cody Murphy down to the fourth line. Murphy was centered by Max Cook and also had Jimmy Mullin on his line for the night. Murphy had a goal and an assist, and Mullin scored the first Miami goal of the series that really turned the momentum in favor of the Hawks.
Miami was clearly the better team, and after Mullin opened the scoring, the rout was on. Austin Czarnik scored the game winning goal – his NCAA leading 4th shorthanded goal – off of a fantastic effort from Riley Barber, and Miami never looked back. In all, 4 RedHawks had multi-point nights: Czarnik would add a second goal in the 3rd period, Matthew Caito (team high 6 shots) and Barber had 2 helpers each, and Murphy had his spectacular goal and added an assist to go along with his 4 shots on the night.
Tonight, we find out if the momentum gained in the first period of Saturday’s game will carry into Sunday’s deciding game 3. If Miami can win, they will head to The Joe and will face the hottest team in the NCAA in Michigan (7-0-1 in their last 8). If MSU wins, Miami still likely has a #1 seed wrapped up, but will not have the opportunity to win the final CCHA Tournament Championship in Detroit next weekend.
Tickets are still available for tonight’s game. Tickets are $3 for students and $18-23 otherwise. Puck drop is at 7:05 once again, and the game can be seen in HD on Miami All-Access.
Five members of the 2012-13 Miami RedHawks were honored this week with CCHA recognition of their efforts on and off the ice.
Freshman Riley Barber was named first-team All-Conference and was also named to the All-Rookie team on the strength of his 15-21-36 line and +13 rating. Barber led the RedHawks in goals, the CCHA in scoring, collected a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship and has a earned a regular season title with Miami. So far, so good for the native of Livonia, Mich. In addition, Barber was the only unanimous selection to the All-Rookie team, was a four-time CCHA Rookie of the Week recipient including Rookie of the Month for the months of October and November and led the nation in assists and points among all freshman. It is certainly reasonable to believe that Barber will be a finalist for CCHA Player of the Year which will be awarded next week in Detroit.
Freshman Matthew Caito was also named to the CCHA All-Rookie team finishing with five goals and 16 points, leading Miami defensemen in all three scoring categories. Playing in one of Miami’s top defensive pairs, Caito finished with a +9 rating and was named the CCHA Defenseman of the Week twice.
Freshman Ryan McKay was named the CCHA All-Rookie team’s goaltender by posting a league best 1.32 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, while earning an 8-3-1 record with two shutouts. In overall play, McKay’s 1.17 goals-against average and .957 save percentage were the best in the country among all goaltenders. He was recently named the CCHA Goaltender of the Month for February as he recorded a 4-1-0 record with one shutout, helping the RedHawks to a 6-2-0 record on the month. His 1.20 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage led all goaltenders in the nation for February, as he allowed just six goals and made 148 saves.
Joining Barber on the CCHA All-Conference first team, was his sophomore linemate, Austin Czarnik who notched an 11-22-33 season’s line and +18 rating. Czarnik, who tied for the most first-place votes with eight and earned the most total vote points (46), finished the season in fourth place in both conference scoring (8-18-26) and overall scoring.
Lastly, Miami senior captain Steven Spinell was nominated as the team’s designee to become the 2012-13 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be chosen from the group of nominees with the winner announced at the 2013 CCHA Awards on Friday, March 22.
Congratulations to all five student-athletes and best of luck in the playoffs!
On the strength of a 2-to-1 road series victory over Alaska, the Michigan State Spartans (13-24-3) advance to face the CCHA regular season champions, Miami (22-9-5), in round two of the CCHA playoffs. The Spartans, who finished dead last in the CCHA, won games 1 and 3 of the close fought series against the Nanooks to advance to challenge Miami in Oxford for the second consecutive year in the playoffs.
Last year Miami dominated MSU by 6-0 and 4-1 scores to end the Spartans CCHA season and advance to the league championship weekend in Detroit. However, head coach Tom Anastos’ MSU squad squeaked into the NCAA tournament where they were ousted in the first round by Union en route to a Frozen Four appearance.
Since 2005, Miami is just 13-8-1 against Michigan State, showing the Spartan program is still dangerous and that Miami must take them seriously this weekend. In the CCHA playoffs, Miami owns a 2-1 record against MSU (since 2005) with the lone loss coming in the CCHA championship game in March of 2006 at Joe Louis Arena.
This weekend’s series is a best-of-three second round matchup that pits the league’s top defensive squad, Miami, against the lowest scoring team in the conference in Michigan State. Needless to say, if the Spartans have any chance this weekend, they must hold Miami to 2 goals or less to have a realistic chance of winning a game, much less the series. The RedHawks meanwhile will be looking to get to the three goal plateau. When the Hawks score three goals or more, they are unbeaten at 17-0-1. However, when they net two goals or fewer, Miami is just 5-9-4 showing they can be vulnerable to low scoring affairs. Of course, that plays into the hands of the Spartans who have two capable netminders in junior Will Yanakeff (3.13/.901) and freshman Jake Hildebrand (2.33/.929). Earlier this year, the teams played a series in Oxford resulting in a 2-2 tie (SOW win for Miami) on Friday and a 2-0 Miami win on Saturday. This is notable because Hildebrand and Miami freshman Jay Williams faced off in both games as Ryan McKay was on the shelf due to his injury suffered in the Michigan series. On Saturday, Williams had to make only 13 saves to record his first career shutout with the Red and White. It will be interesting to see if head coach Enrico Blasi goes with McKay both nights or if he reinstates the rotation. As of late, Rico has been favoring McKay, but as we all know, that can change at a moment’s notice. With Williams having success against MSU earlier this year, it’s certainly conceivable he goes back to the freshman from McLean, Va. this weekend.
The best-of-three series faces-off at 7:35pm EST on Friday night from Steve Cady Arena. Game two will be played at 7:05pm EST from SCA and game three, if necessary, will also face-off at 7:05pm EST.
With the students out of town on Spring Break, seats should be available all weekend by calling the Miami ticket office at 1-866-MUHAWKS (1-866-684-2957), logging on to MURedHawks.com or stopping by the Goggin Ice Arena ticket office. Currently, the games are scheduled to be broadcast on Miami All-Access but not nationally televised.