Monthly Archives: October 2014
#10 Miami at #19 Minnesota-Duluth
Coming off last weekend’s disappointing home split with unranked St. Lawrence, Miami heads to Duluth, Minn. to face NCHC opponent, Minnesota-Duluth in a two-game conference series. Despite outshooting the Saints 95-27 on the weekend, they dropped Friday’s contest 5-4 and had to go overtime to earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory on Saturday night to salvage the split.
For Miami (4-2, 0-0 NCHC), the series constitutes their first foray into 2014-2015 league play and they will certainly be looking to better last season’s dismal 6-17-1-1 league record. Additionally, Miami will be eager to avenge last season’s 0-2 record against UMD who swept the RedHawks in two one-goal games in Oxford 5-4 and 1-0. Those two losses were indicative of Miami’s year as they went just 4-10 in one goal games. Just a little improvement in those games and last season might have looked quite different for the Red and White.
The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-1 NCHC) split their opening conference series of the season last weekend (by 1-3 and 6-1 scores) at home handing previously unbeaten Denver its first loss of the year on Saturday night.
Tonight will be just the fourth meeting all-time between the two schools with UMD holding a 2-1 edge in the tightly contested series – each of the previous three games has been decided by one goal. Of course, Miami has earned the biggest victory to date in 2009’s NCAA West Regional Final in Minneapolis, Minn. Miami fans remember that one fondly as the RedHawks punched their first-ever ticket to the Frozen Four.
UMD headman Scott Sandelin is in his 15th season behind the Bulldogs bench. During that time, he has compiled an unremarkable 250-248-67 record, but has the one-thing Miami fans covet most, a national title. Since 2008, Sandelin’s Bulldogs have gone 128-88-30 winning the 2011 national title over Michigan in a memorable overtime affair. I have always thought of Sandelin as a tough-nosed coach who I wouldn’t mind leading my team should the need arise.
It’s no secret the Bulldogs are led by their stellar class of sophomores led by forwards Dominic Toninato (6-2-8) and Alex Iafallo (1-6-7) and 6’4” defenseman Carson Soucy (2-3-5). Along with Soucy, the Bulldogs run out 6’6” Brendan Kotyk (0-1-1) and 6’2” Andy Welinski (1-2-3) to form a large presence on the blueline. Last season, Miami struggled against the bigger teams of the NCHC. Given the Bulldogs size throughout the lineup, it’s likely the Crash Cousins — Conor Lemirande (6’6”) and Andrew Schmit (6’5”) along with center Kevin Morris (6’4”) — could be reunited on Miami’s fourth line to counterpunch.
The Bulldogs size up front will take a bit of a hit as they will be without senior captain Adam Krause (6’3”). While not much of a scoring threat, his leadership will be missed as he is expected to miss the next month with a broken wrist. Krause had just 20 points in parts of three seasons coming into this year but was off to a decent 1-2-3 start in the Bulldogs first six games. Again, given the Bulldogs size, it would not surprise me to see some combination of Colin Sullivan and Taylor Richart in the Miami lineup along with Trevor Hamilton and Ben Paulides this weekend in Duluth.
In net, the Bulldogs are led by freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo of Finland and junior Matt McNeely. Kaskisuo has played in four of UMD’s first six games and has compiled stellar 2.53/.911 numbers while McNeely has registered a 2.45/.896 line, respectively. Both goaltenders are big and athletic and will present a significant challenge to Miami this weekend.
Overall, I’m not yet loving what I’m seeing out of the RedHawks. They are working to find consistency in their own zone and are still turning the puck over with regularity. And, while they are second in the nation in shots on goal (40.5/game), those shots aren’t finding the back of the net with enough regularity. Miami is tied for 23rd in the country in scoring averaging an even 3 goals per game. Conversely, UMD leads the NCHC and is 8th in the nation in scoring averaging 3.83 goals per match.
However, UMD has been awful at home compiling just a 6-12-3 home record since the start of last season and is a pedestrian 34-29-7 all-time at Amsoil Arena.
If the Bulldogs weren’t so bad at home, I’d pick a UMD sweep. Considering that, I’ll opt for a weekend split.
#10 Miami vs. St. Lawrence
Fresh off last weekend’s sweep of then #17 Ohio State, Miami (3-1) returns to action this evening in the first of a weekend non-conference series with the Saints of St. Lawrence University.
The Saints (2-2) hail from the state of New York along with other members of the ECAC including RPI, whom Miami will face in January, and Cornell whom Miami could face in the Florida College Hockey Classic at the end of December. So, this is the first of a possible five games against ECAC competition that should help Miami prepare for a return to the NCAA tournament at the completion of the regular season.
All-time, Miami has faced St. Lawrence just 12 times and holds a slim 6-5-1 advantage in the series. However, the last meeting came in November of 2006 so really the all-time series numbers mean next to nothing except to note that Miami head coach Enrico Blasi has had success behind the bench piloting the RedHawks to a 4-3 road victory eight years ago.
St. Lawrence head man Greg Carvel is an upstate New York native and played four seasons for the Saints in the early ‘90s. Carvel is in his third season behind the bench and has seen his share of tough times since replacing long time St. Lawrence coach, Joe Marsh, in the spring of 2012. The Saints finished a disappointing 8th in the competitive ECAC despite featuring a high-scoring offense led by “Hobey Baker Hat Tricker” Greg Carey who led the Saints with 18-39-57. Overall, Carvel is 35-37-8 at his alma mater and is desperately trying to jumpstart a program that has fallen behind the likes of Union, Colgate, Cornell and Quinnipiac as the lions of the ECAC.
The Saints enter the 2014-15 season with nine freshmen, including goaltender Kyle Hayton who recorded his first collegiate shutout last weekend as St. Lawrence split a series with then #4 Ferris State in Canton, N.Y. Hayton sports an impressive 2.49 GAA and .925 save percentage playing in the first four games for the Saints authoring two consecutive series splits.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi says the Saints are an aggressive speedy team with a mobile defense corps that likes to apply constant pressure. He made a point in this week’s press conference to stress that Miami must have their heads right and be ready to compete in all three zones avoiding turnovers that could lead to transition chances for St. Lawrence.
Up front, the Saints lost four of their top five scorers including brothers Greg and Matt Carey (18-19-37) who tied atop the goal scoring list for St. Lawrence. In fact, the top returning scorer is sophomore defenseman Gavin Bayreuther (9-27-36) who has started fast leading the team in shots on goal (14) and already having contributed 2-2-4 in the first four matches of the year. Currently, sophomore forward Drew Smolcynski leads the Saints with 1-7-8 and another defenseman, Ben Masella is tied for second on the team in scoring having exactly matched Bayreuther’s.
Though the Saints are currently averaging four goals per game, they really are struggling to score because 10 of the season’s 16 goals came in a blowout win over lowly Niagara two weeks ago. In the three other games this year, the Saints are averaging just two goals per game potting only four in last weekend’s home split with Ferris State. Conversely, the Saints are allowing 3.3 goals per game and lost three starters along the blueline from last year’s squad that was one of the worst defensive clubs in the ECAC.
Newcomers to watch include Minnesota transfer Christian Horn who played in the USHL last season after seeing no game action with the Gophers in the 2012-13 season. Also keep an eye on Ryan Lough, who head coach Greg Carvel calls a “quick two-way player.”
The Saints were predicted to finish 11th in the 12 team ECAC.
If the Miami team that played last weekend shows up again, I think it will be a very good weekend for the RedHawks. I just don’t see St. Lawrence being able to score enough to keep up with Miami, and defensively, I expect the Saints to struggle against Miami’s size, tenacity and speed. I’ll pick a Miami sweep.
Both games will be streamed live on NCHC.tv and you can also catch Greg Waddell’s call at Miami All-Access. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:35 PM and Saturday’s series finale will get things started at 8:05 PM.
Miami sweeps Ohio State
We’ll have more to say about the weekend that was, but here’s one of the coolest things from the weekend…the new silver alternate sweaters from adidas. Rachel Lewis gets the photo credit.
#11 Miami at/vs #17 Ohio State
Yep, it’s red and gray time as Miami faces yet another in-state and former conference rival, Ohio State.
Miami has dominated the Buckeyes over the past several years owning an 8-2-1 record against them in the previous 11 contests. Overall, Miami leads the all-time series with the “little hockey sisters of the poor” from Cowtown by a 71-61-13 margin, but it obviously has always been relatively close as both programs were down for many years. It’s a great rivalry and is good for both programs for different reasons. I’m glad the two schools plan to continue playing each other on an annual basis.
duhOSU head coach Steve Rohlik is in his second year behind the bench after the shocking dismissal of Mark Osiecki. I still contend that was a mistake, but Rohlik has provided a steadying hand as he attempts to solidify OSU as a perennial Big Six power along with Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. With the two losses to Miami last season, Rohlik is still looking for his first win against the RedHawks.
Last weekend, the Buckeyes split two overtime games at Cheap Furniture Arena against then #3 Providence winning Friday by a surprising 5-4 score and dropping the series finale by a more expected final score of 2-1. I say the Friday score was surprising because I thought it would take at least three games for duhOSU to score five goals, especially against a top five team like Providence.
But since last weekend, the Friars faced the U.S. U-18 squad in an exhibition tying the youngsters 3-3. So, two things there…first, that’s a pretty darn good U.S. U-18 team this year and maybe the Friars aren’t quite as good (right now) as anticipated. The Friars highly touted goaltender, Jon Gillies, currently sports a 2.89 GAA and .895 save percentage, which is hardly “Mike Richter Award Watch List” worthy. But, it’s early.
duhOSU returns several familiar names to Miami fans including seniors Tanner Fritz and Nick Oddo. Seriously, these guys have to be on the 8-year program. Of course we’re talking about duhOSU so that shouldn’t surprise.
Fritz led Ohio State with 11-26-37 in his sophomore season but trailed off a bit to 8-24-32 last year. Still, Fritz is a solid, if unspectacular, player for the Buckeyes and is off to a 2-2-4 start in their first two games.
Oddo had a bit of a breakout year last year with 9-21-30 after posting just 17 total points in his first two seasons with the red and gray.
duhOSU did lose two big offensive contributors in Ryan Dzingel (22-24-46) and Max McCormick (11-24-35) who both left Cowtown with college eligibility remaining to sign pro deals. Dzingel may have more upside, but I have to question the advice these two received. Neither really strike me as immediate impact kind of NHL prospect meaning you’re way better off getting a degree and moving on a year later.
Returning in net for duhOSU is Christian Frey (9-4-3, 2.27 GAA, .929 save percentage), who joined the Buckeyes in an emergency at mid-season after all hell broke loose in the crease. Ohio State burned through several goaltenders losing some to departure and others to injury. Paula Weston has a bit on this here. However, Frey solidified the Buckeyes problems in net and it was after his arrival that the team played a bit better. Actually, if not for a 3rd period collapse against Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Six Championship Game, they would have made the NCAA tournament. Instead, OSU surrendered the final three goals in a 5-4 OT loss to the Badgers. But before that loss, Ohio State defeated Michigan State and Minnesota at the Xcel Center so they did show some promise in that late season tournament run.
But, that was last year.
Overall, Ohio State finished the 2013-14 season 18-14-5, good enough for fourth in the Big Six. The Buckeyes had the 14th ranked offense in the nation averaging 3.19 goals per game, but were tied for 28th nationally in defense, giving up an average of 2.70 per contest.
Defensively, the Buckeyes are a veteran group likely to pose a significant challenge for Miami’s corps of talented forwards. But again, they’re filled with solid, but unspectacular, contributors throughout their lineup. Miami is more talented, but that doesn’t always mean wins as we learned weekly a year ago.
Last year, Miami swept OSU in impressive fashion winning by 6-2 and 6-3 scores as they opened the season strong. However, this looks like another split weekend with each team winning on it’s home ice, but you never know. Cheap Furniture Arena should be filled with Miami fans tonight, but I’ll still say split until I have a better read on whether or not Miami can fix the continued defensive issues that are plaguing the team.
Both games face-off at 7:05 PM with tonight’s game at Cheap Furniture Arena in Columbus and tomorrow’s at the beautiful hockey-only facility known better as Steve Cady Arena at the Goggin Ice Center.
Catch all the action at MURedHawks.com. An All-Access broadcast will also be available for both contests. Saturday’s matchup will also be streamed on NCHC.tv.
Miami vs BG – Week in review
This weekend, Miami split a home and home series with BGSU, with each team winning on their own home ice. Before we head to Columbus to face the Suckeyes, here’s a quick recap of the weekend that was.
Check out the Friday night highlights from BGSU…
…And the NCHC.tv highlights of Miami’s Sunday night win.
Here is Coach Blasi’s post-game presser from Sunday as well.
Miami looks huge. Maybe it’s the new uniforms, or perhaps the small size of BG. From what I saw, the new RedHawks add a whole lot of size and they’ll be able to compete physically with everyone this season. We covered the size in our season preview, but the addition of Colin Sullivan (6’1″), Scott Dornbrock (6’3″), Andrew Schmit (6’5″) and Conor Lemirande (6’6″) was evident already. Sullivan and Schmit played in 1 game, while Dornbrock and Lemirande played in both contests this weekend.
Matt Caito was out on Friday night. This could be a classic “Blasi benching” for an undisclosed discipline issue or an injury. It was the first game Caito missed in his 3 seasons in the Red and White (81 starts in 82 games). He promptly had 2 assists on Sunday afternoon, so I’m guessing he is healthy and will play the rest of the way.
Ryan McKay started both games on the weekend, but early in the Sunday night game, McKay was slammed into for the third time on the weekend and did not return to action. Jay Williams finished up and got the win on Sunday night. McKay was back on the bench by the start of the third period, so the injury may have been minor. We’ll know quickly how McKay is feeling coming up this weekend.
Miami was also without Jimmy Mullin – a constant for the RedHawks in his first 3 years in Oxford. As we mentioned in the season preview, he will be out for the season with injury and will redshirt so he can play again next season.
NCHC Players of the Week
It didn’t take long for Freshman Louie Bepledio to make some noise. He garnered the first NCHC Rookie of the Week honor. Louie scroed his first collegiate goal on Sunday night. In an eerie spin, Sophomore Trevor Hamilton won the first ever NCHC Rookie of the Week award last season. Let’s hope the season doesn’t end the way it ended last year.
Taking a look at the Bauer NCHC Player of the Week Nominees, Sean Kuraly (2 goals and an assist), Matt Caito (2 assists) and Jay Williams (1 win and 23 saves) all garnered some attention for the weekly honors.
You can also see the top 5 goals of the week from the high-quality NCHC.tv. If you haven’t already subscribed, I highly recommend doing so. You won’t get Friday night’s away game, but every NCHC contest will be broadcast live via NCHC.tv.
Enjoy your hump day and we’ll see you again soon as we will soon preview another Home and Home series with THE Ohio State University this Friday and Saturday.
Quick thoughts on last night’s season opener
Ok, so it wasn’t a great opener for #10/#11 Miami as they dropped a non-conference game at unranked Bowling Green. Here are a few thoughts on the game. I didn’t have the opportunity to watch the game, but I was able to listen to most of the BG radio call.
1. The lineup – We knew the defense corps would look drastically different, but I did not expect to see regulars Matt Caito (upper body injury) and Matt Joyaux on the bench. That said, we talked about the depth on the blue line this year. They’re not all going to be able to play each night. I don’t know the severity of Caito’s injury, but hopefully he’ll be back in there on Sunday. From what I heard, it sounded like Miami got some physical play out of freshman Scott Dornbrock. Other than that, and the Paulides goal, there wasn’t much said about the Miami D except their continued struggles with the puck in front of their own net.
Up front, Blasi went with the jumbo 4th line last night and not surprisingly, BG head coach Chris Bergeron matched him with his first line including Adam Berkle and Dan DeSalvo. Not sure that’s what we want to see. Unless those guys can skate with first-liners, putting them out there on the road is going to almost always draw the other team’s first line. Blasi will be better suited getting those guys on the ice at home when he has the last change.
2. BG seemed to dictate play – The Falcons seemed hungrier and outworked the RedHawks, something that head coach Enrico Blasi said could happen earlier in the week. But, I think the coach has to be concerned that the overall compete level was not where he wanted it.
3. Ryan McKay was solid – Two power play goals against and a broken play goal that he could do little to stop. Other than that, McKay was really solid last night making 35 saves. It’s a great sign that he’s dialed in early and as Miami improves around him, we could be in for good things from the junior looking to revert to his form from his freshman year.
Enrico Blasi’s Postgame Comments
Here are Miami head coach Enrico Blasi’s short postgame comments in what can only be described as the BG dungeon of a “press room” following last night’s 3-2 loss in the season opener to the Falcons.
#10/#11 Miami v. Bowling Green
With the start of the 2014-15 season just a few days away, hope springs eternal in Bowling Green, Ohio where Miami man, Chris Bergeron, has the Falcon faithful dreaming of an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 1990. Bergeron, 43, spent four years as a player at Miami in the early ’90s as a teammate of current Miami head coach, Enrico Blasi. Then after several seasons of professional hockey, he gave the program another 10 seasons as an assistant coach before leaving Oxford for the barren wasteland that is Bowling Green before the start of the 2010-11 season.
At Bowling Green, Bergeron has revitalized a once-proud program by guiding them to their first plus .500 season in a decade, and in the now lesser WCHA, has a reasonable chance to take the Falcons into the NCAA tournament. The Falcons finished 2013-14 with a respectable 18-15-6 record and played in the WCHA’s “Final Five” after sweeping a home playoff series against Michigan Tech before falling to eventual Broadmoor Trophy champion, Minnesota State 4-0.
Over the past decade, this series has belonged to Miami. The RedHawks have dominated the Falcons as the football team has done to them year after year on the gridiron. Yet, because of the former dominance of the BG program in the ’80s and early ’90s, the all-time series still favors Bowling Green 58-46-8 as the Falcons would routinely crush the then Redskins when Miami’s program was just getting started. At the same time, BG was winning national titles coached by legends such as Ron Mason and Jerry York, and was, well, relevant. And, because they showed us no quarter “back in the day,” I have no feelings of remorse reminding everyone that Miami has owned their longtime MAC rivals for the better part of the last decade. While the teams haven’t played since the 2012-13 season, the final season of the now defunct CCHA, Miami is 12-1-1 against the orange and brown in the past 14 and you have to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the Falcons last non shootout victory over the Red and White.
But, this is a new Bowling Green.
They’re headed by a Miami man in Chris Bergeron who was a successful college star and helped lead Miami to back-to-back Frozen Four appearances as an assistant. He knows how to coach and he’s successfully turning the BG program. Around? Stay tuned, but they are certainly in a much better place today than how he and former Miami icer Barry Schutte, found them.
Along with more success on the ice, Bergeron has overseen substantial renovations at BGSU Ice Rink including new locker rooms. And, while (thankfully) the old curling parlor is still in use by the BGSU curling team, it has been largely changed over into another skating sheet to help save wear and tear on the main rink.
As for the team on the ice, Bergeron has nine of his top thirteen scorers returning from last year’s fourth place WCHA squad. Most importantly, both Falcon netminders are back including Tommy Burke who finished 2013-14 with an impressive 14-7-6 record with a 2.43 GAA and .912 save percentage. Burke figures to get the bulk of the work this year with back up Tomas Sholl (4-8, 2.68 GAA and .896 save percentage) relieving him from time to time.
Bowling Green returns their top goal scorer (14) from a year ago in junior Mark Cooper and top points man (32) in senior Dan DeSalvo whom Miami fans should remember from the CCHA. In addition, the Falcons return two other 10 goal scorers and their top returning threat from the blue line is Pierre Luc-Mercier, who just deserved to have his name typed because it’s so cool. Departed are clutch scorer Ryan Carpenter along with top defensive scorer Ralfs Freibergs and Marcus Perrier, but the Falcons appear to have some depth that should worry Miami this weekend.
On the recruiting trail, the Falcons are not loaded with top tier recruits, but have a large freshman class consisting of 10 players who are hoping to make an impact on the college stage. But then again, Miami won with lower-tiered recruits during Bergeron’s time in Oxford as the program has become a destination for the nation’s top junior players. I’m certain Bergeron is getting the type of player that he feels best fits his system as he builds their compete level and a culture of consistency in northwest Ohio.
When taking about this year’s squad, these previews nearly write themselves.
As you’re well aware, the RedHawks will run out top end forwards Sean Kuraly, Blake Coleman, Riley Barber, Anthony Louis and Austin Czarnik and expect to get bounce-back seasons from junior goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. Everyone in RedHawk nation must hope the defense corps will improve with the additions of super Freshman Louie Belpedio and Boston College transfer, junior Colin Sullivan. Returning RedHawks like Matt Caito, Trevor Hamilton and the Joyaux brothers must be improved or Miami will find the going tough once NCHC play begins on Halloween in Duluth.
Looking back at the weekend, some of Miami’s old defensive problems resurfaced in a 3-0 loss to the US Under-18 team and 11-0 thrashing of Simon Fraser (whom the Falcons also defeated 7-2).
In the exhibition opener, Jay Williams allowed all three goals playing the entire game, but Miami was unable to solve the younglings defense. On that team is incoming Miamian Jack Roslovic who contributed a shot on goal for the Red, White and Blue. Hopefully the US game was just a matter of Miami finding its legs, but the RedHawks have struggled against top-talented teams over the past year and some defensive letdowns were apparent.
Overall, Miami is much more talented than the Falcons. However, you know Bowling Green will be fired up to face another out-of-league school who also happens to be a longtime rival in their building on Friday night. I expect a close game with Miami winning 4-3 Friday and then taking it to the Falcons 5-1 on Sunday in Oxford.
Note: This is a Friday/Sunday series with Friday’s game starting at 7:07 PM EST at Bowling Green. Sunday’s affair starts at 5:05 PM at Steve Cady Arena. All games can be seen and/or heard via Miami All Access and you can watch Friday at WCHA.tv (which is a heckuva lot more expensive than the NCHC’s package which also provides superior hockey) and watch Sunday on Time Warner Cable or NCHC.tv.
Here are a few more looks at the new primary home sweaters courtesy of Tracy Brod Troxel from the Pep Rally Fan Appreciation Night.
Miami’s home ice advantage
Watch as the coach and the captains talk about the importance of Miami’s home ice advantage.