Monthly Archives: September 2013

RedHawks 2013-14 Wish List: We Want It All

For 2013-14, I can’t help but be hopeful for big things. A new conference that will provide new rivalries, new teams coming to Oxford and new barns to visit. Today, we give you our 3 wishes for the new season that has us thinking big. Be sure to comment below with your wish list items or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter by using the links above.

Open in Style

(Flickr/Billy V)

A strong start against OSU and North Dakota will be crucial. (Flickr/Billy V)

There isn’t much more that I like seeing out of the RedHawks than crushing Ohio State. It will be very important for this young team to gel in the Exhibition game against Windsor on October 5th. Miami will – as usual – have all it can handle with OSU on October 11 in Columbus and October 12 in Oxford.

It will be nice to have the home and home series back with Ohio State even though they have joined the Big Ten Hockey Conference. But a series is just a series when you’re not in the same conference any more. With that said, don’t expect a walk in the park on opening weekend.

Following the Ohio State series is what may be the biggest series of the season in week 2, as Miami welcomes North Dakota to Oxford for just the third time ever. The first game of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference will be on national television on CBS Sports Network, and Miami will look for its first ever win against North Dakota during the series in Steve Cady Arena. Miami has lost 3-0 and 3-2 to North Dakota in Oxford and tied them 5-5 in Grand Forks just a few years ago. It will be important to gain at least a split in the series that should match up 2 top 10 teams in the first month of the season.

Avoid the Rico Swoon

Blasi

Enrico Blasi comes into the season with a record of 311-196-53, good for 71st all time in NCAA wins.

We all know it seems to happen around the middle of the year. Perhaps this is why Miami scheduled a game against the US National Team Development Program on New Year’s Eve instead of a tournament trip to play games that count. The game will be in Oxford, so there won’t be any extended travel, and the game will be a nice bridge to keep the team fresh between NCHC games against Denver on December 6 and 7 and the second half opener against Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on January 10 and 11.

For year’s we’ve been complaining about the Swoon, and with good reason. In 2011-12, the Swoon came pretty early with an overtime loss to Colgate, 2 losses at Ferris State and another 2 losses to Lake Superior State in Oxford – all of which came in October. At the end of the year, Miami would go on to win 9 out of their last 10, before losing to UMass-Lowell in the NCAA East Regional.

In 2012-13, the Swoon hit in December and continued into early January. Losses to LSSU and Ohio State, a 1 goal performance in the Three Rivers Classic (1-0 win against OSU and 1-0 loss to Robert Morris) finished 2012 and then Miami opened 2013 with a loss and shootout win in Northern Michigan, and another 1-0 loss at Wisconsin. The story repeats itself once again as the Hawks got hot down the stretch and ended up winning the final CCHA Regular Season Championship.

We could go back and back and back and just about every year find a stretch such as the above. It always turns out okay for the Hawks, as Enrico Blasi has led the Hawks to 8 straight seasons with at least 23 wins, all of which also led to NCAA Tournament appearances.

National Title or Bust

Jonathan Biles/www.bloguin.com

Can the RedHawks hoist this bad boy in April? (Jonathan Biles/www.bloguin.com)

This was a foregone conclusion with this wish list, right? While many think that a regular season championship and tournament championship are possibilities in the first year of the NCHC, those championships are small potatoes compared to what this team has the potential to do. I’m certainly not going to be upset if we win one or the other, but these RedHawks have a real shot at greatness.

With a quick glance down the roster, you’ll find just 2 seniors and 8 juniors including a candidate for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in Austin Czarnik. The 11 Sophomores are part of what may become the best recruiting class that Miami has ever had, and the Freshmen are arguably the second best class ever, at least on paper.

The defense may have a little work to do after losing seniors Joe Hartman and Steven Spinell – guys who played a combined 307 games as RedHawks. However, replacing them are 3 great recruits: 2 brothers of current/former players (Matt Joyaux, brother of sophomore Chris, and Johnny Wingels, brother of former Miamian and current San Jose Shark Tommy) and one of the more highly regarded defensive recruits in the country in Trevor Hamilton. The defense was the second best in the country last year only allowing 1.74 goals a game over 42 games, so the new guys will certainly have big skates to fill.

But… Losing those 2 star defensemen isn’t all bad when you look who is in net for Miami. Behind the blue liners are not just one, but 2 goalies in the top 10 in the NCAA. Ryan McKay was statistically the 2nd best goalie in the country with a ridiculous 1.39 goals against average and a .946 save percentage – both numbers just whispers away from the number 1 spot.

This team is going to be good. How good? Well, I can’t predict the future. But with a new conference and a bunch of unknown foes, who says the RedHawks can’t take advantage of the unfamiliarity, run off a bunch of wins, gain the confidence they need to roll off 4 all-important season-ending wins and take home the NCAA Championship? There’s only one thing that Miami hasn’t done, and that’s win the last game of the season and hoist THAT trophy. This year, more than ever, the RedHawks have all the pieces to take the Frozen Four by storm and win it all. We start the wild ride on October 11th. See you there!

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Welcome to the NCHC, Part 2

NCHC

Today, we finish up our team capsules with the remaining 4 teams in the NCHC. We introduced you to Western Michigan, St. Cloud State and North Dakota in Part 1 of our team capsules. Let’s just jump right in and meet the remaining 4 teams.

Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks

UNO is another familiar foe of the RedHawks, having played in the CCHA with Miami from the 1999-2000 through 2009-10 seasons. In 2010, they joined the WCHA for a few seasons, and will make the jump to The National this season as a charter member.

The Mavericks lost 10 letterwinners last season, one of which came to Miami: Forward Andrew Schmit, who played in 20 games for the Mavs last season. They have plans for building a new multi-purpose, 7,500-seat arena on campus, rather than playing in the CenturyLink Center, but the school insists on not using taxpayer money (a great move), and is working on raising the estimated $65-80 million needed for the new building.

Overall record: 268-291-73 (16 seasons)
NCAA Appearances: 2 (2 first round losses)
Arena: CenturyLink Center Omaha (Capacity: 15,959)
Current Head Coach: Dean Blais (74-68-16, 4 seasons)
Record vs. Miami: Miami leads 17-7-3

Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's ice hockey athletic logo

The 2011 NCAA Champions boast 5 Hobey Baker winners, 11 Regular Season Championships and 3 Conference Tournament Championships, having played in the WCHA since 1965-66.

The Dogs moved into the new AMSOIL arena in 2010, and later won the NCAA Championship in 2011 in a dramatic, overtime thriller against Michigan. I had a pretty good view of that one:

Overall record:
NCAA Appearances: 8 (4 Frozen Fours, 1 National Championship)
Arena: AMSOIL Arena (Capacity: 6,600)
Current Head Coach: Scott Sandelin (231-229-93, 14 seasons, 1 National Championship)
Record vs. Miami: Miami has the only win in this series, their 2-1 victory in the 2009 Regional Final.

Denver Pioneers

Denver Pioneers men's ice hockey athletic logoAfter a tumultuous offseason, Denver will be entering the 2013-14 season in a rather unfamiliar place. Former Miami Head Coach George Gwozdecky was ousted after compiling a stellar record and 2 National Championships. It was a classic “what have you done for me lately?” type of situation, and apparently 5 tournament appearances in the last 6 seasons wasn’t enough “lately” for the Denver higher-ups.

Jim Montgomery will take over as the head coach in Denver, a team that had been in the WCHA since the 1958-59 season, and only trails Michigan (9) in total NCAA Ice Hockey Championships.

Overall record: 1323-878-132
NCAA Appearances: 23 (14 Frozen Fours, 7 National Championships)
Arena: Magness Arena (Capacity: 6,026)
Current Head Coach: Jim Montgomery (0-0-0, 1st season as a head coach)

Colorado College Tigers

Colorado College is by far the smallest school in terms of enrollment in the NCHC. They have just 2,034 students compared to 11,800 for the next closest (both UMD and Denver) and over 16,500 for Miami. However, they have been playing Division I Ice Hockey since 1939-40 and have a bit of history in Colorado Springs.

Playing in Colorado Springs World Arena has been quite a home ice advantage for the Tigers. They have a 230-99-18 record at home, which is just a shade under a .700 win percentage. Playing there, on their Olympic-sized ice sheet will never be an easy win.

Overall record: 1136-1128-119
NCAA Appearances: 20 (Most recent in 2008, 10 Frozen Fours, 2 National Championships)
Arena: Colorado Springs World Arena (Capacity: 7,380)
Current Head Coach: Scott Owens (317-204-68, 14 seasons)
Record vs. Miami: Colorado College has won the only 2 meetings between the schools

So there you have it, Now that you’ve met the teams of the NCHC, we’ll continue our preseason coverage this week with additional previews and predictions for the upcoming 2013-14 season.

22 Days to Go! Welcome to the NCHC, Part 1

As we start our 2013-14 preseason coverage, we introduce you to the new conference. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference should prove to be a whale of a conference to play in for many years. Outside of college hockey, you may not know that these schools are power houses. You may not have even heard of some of the schools without ties to Miami hockey. Here’s the first portion of our intro to the teams of the NCHC.

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