#5/6 Miami at St. Cloud State
Fresh off a 3-1 holiday road trip that featured two shutouts by junior netminder Jay Williams, Miami is on the road again this weekend in a two-game series at NCHC rival St. Cloud State.
This will be the first and only time the two schools meet this year after playing six times last year culminating in Miami’s two-game NCHC playoff series sweep of the Huskies who finished first in the league’s inaugural regular season.
Though they rode high last year, this year has been very different for the defending Penrose Cup Champions.
The Huskies (7-10-1, 2-5-1 NCHC) find themselves mired in seventh place while Miami (14-6-0, 7-3-0 NCHC) sits in first place in the league standings after finishing a disastrous dead last one year ago.
Both games can be seen via NCHC.tv and heard via Miami All-Access. Tonight’s game will also be shown live on Sports Time Ohio and Fox Sports North Plus (good lord) at 8:37 PM EST and tomorrow the puck drops at 8:07 PM EST.
Miami has dominated this series though the number of games between the burgeoning rivals is relatively limited. Miami leads the all-time series 12-5-1 including a 4-2 mark last year. After splitting two regular season series on each other’s home ice last season, the RedHawks went to St. Cloud fighting for an opportunity to salvage their season, and salvage they did as they swept the Huskies out of the NCHC playoffs.
St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko is a familiar name to Miami fans as he was an assistant with the program under former Miami head coaches George Gwozdecky and Mark Mazzolini for five seasons. At SCSU, Motzko has taken the program to its only Frozen Four and has gone a respectable 191-146-41 in 10 seasons behind the bench of his alma mater.
Coming off last season’s first place regular season finish, SCSU was picked to finish third in this year’s preseason poll behind North Dakota and Miami. However, they will have to go on some kind of run in order to fulfill those lofty preseason expectations.
In net, the Huskies run out sophomore Charlie Lindgren who has decent numbers with a 2.63 GAA and .905 save percentage. However, the Huskies simply aren’t scoring like they did a year ago averaging just 2.44 goals
per game vs. 3.58 a season ago. Leading scorer Jonny Brodzinski paces the Huskies with 11-6-17 after netting 21 goals a year ago. The loss of Hobey Hat Trick Finalist Nic Dowd has been huge because after Brodzinski’s 11 goals, only one player, Joey Benik, has at least 8 goals for SCSU. In fact, the next highest scorers after Benik are Andrew Prochno and David Morley who have just three goals apiece.
Looking at this matchup on paper, Miami should sweep the weekend. SCSU can’t score and when Miami’s right, they can. However, road weariness could take its toll as the RedHawks will be playing their fifth and sixth games away from home since December 28. As much as I want to say Miami will sweep, I think they leave the series with yet another NCHC split.