Monthly Archives: February 2015
Fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind victory on Saturday night to gain a valuable series split against Minnesota-Duluth, fifth-ranked Miami heads west for their final road trip of the 2014-15 regular season to take on #7 Denver at Magness Arena.
Last Time We Met
This will be the third and fourth meetings of the season between the two rivals after splitting a series in Oxford just a month ago. That series saw Miami (19-10-1, 12-7-1-1 2nd NCHC) play both Jay Williams and Ryan McKay with Williams getting out-dueled by Denver (18-10-2, 11-8-1-1 t3rd NCHC) freshman netminder Tanner Jaillet when he surrendered just two goals before Miami picked up a dominating 4-1 victory on in front of McKay on Saturday night. These will be the 16th and 17th all-time meetings (8-7 DU) and the 8th and 9th in just the past two seasons as the teams played five times last year including the NCHC championship game where the Pioneers defeated the RedHawks to advance to the NCAA tournament.
Offensively, the Pioneers are led by high scoring forwards Danton Heinen (12-23-35), Trevor Moore (16-15-31) and defenseman Joey Laleggia (11-20-31) who actually leads the NCHC conference scoring race. That is
interesting because only one defenseman in the last 10 years has won a conference scoring title — Torey Krug at Michigan State in 2011-12 (he actually shared the title with Michigan’s T.J. Tynan). Notable is that Denver senior forward Zac Larraza (11-7-18) is suspended for Friday night’s game due to an illegal hit delivered in the Pioneers sweep of Colorado College last weekend. Larraza notched 1-1-2 in the series last month so his absence could be beneficial to the RedHawks. He will be eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday night.
Last weekend, Miami gutted out a split of their series against UMD dropping Friday night’s game 3-1 and climbing out of another 3-1 hole to win 4-3 in overtime on Blake Coleman’s 12th goal of the season on a pretty 2-on-1 feed from sophomore Anthony Louis. The two of them also finished a rush on Friday that netted the team’s only goal. Overall, Miami is still looking inconsistent offensively as they’ve now tallied 3, 2, 1 and 4 goals over their past four games despite playing two of those against the league’s worst in Colorado College. Friday night was so bad, at least in head coach Rico Blasi’s estimation, that he benched Conor Lemirande, Chris Joyaux, and yes, Riley Barber for Saturday’s finale. Sooner or later Barber is going to have to determine if he wants to be a competitor. For as much as I praised him for his efforts two Friday’s ago at Colorado College, that’s been the exception. He just doesn’t look like he cares all the time, which is too bad because guys like Czarnik, Coleman and Murphy deserve better in their senior seasons to say nothing of guys like Dornbrock, Paulides and Kuraly who consistently give a full 60-minute effort each night. Hopefully the message has been received and we’ll see a rejuvenated and committed Barber down the stretch. If he plays to his talent, Miami could be in for a terrific run in March and April.
Senior captain Austin Czarnik continues to pace Miami with 2-28-30 and leads all active players in career points (154 — tied with Minnesota’s Kyle Rau). Czarnik is trailed on the Miami team by Barber (13-14-27), Louis (6-18-24), Coleman (12-12-24) and Sean Kuraly (15-6-21) who leads the squad in goals. Defensively, Miami has been fairly strong and has gotten respectable goaltending from Williams, and on Saturday, McKay. I suspect we’ll see Williams on Friday and Blasi will take it from there pending the outcome and his play. I’d also like to see more Colin Sullivan now that’s he’s recovered from an injury that cost him most of the first half of the season. Getting an opportunity last Saturday, he looked smooth and fleet of foot — something Miami can use more of against the top tier teams they’ll face from this point forward.
This is a huge weekend for both teams as just three points separates the two teams. NCHC seeding. PairWise implications. Playoff home ice…a lot on the line! And, as with two weekends ago in Colorado Springs, Miami will be battling the dry, snowy altitude here in Colorado and will have to dig deep to compete for 120 minutes. It was no secret that Miami looked gassed at 6,000 feet on the big ice late in the game Saturday night at Colorado College. It’s encouraging however that they were just here and their bodies should be more acclimated to the altitude and they’ll also get to skate on a regulation ice surface this time out. As with most of these elite league series, I’ll call a split but Miami will have to work hard on the road to get it.
How to Watch/Listen
The Blog of Brotherhood will be in attendance for both games, but we’ll be a fan in the stands this weekend. We’ll do our best to keep you updated via Twitter but you can catch both games at MURedHawks.com with Drew Davis at the mic, not Greg Waddell. A rare conflict in schedules will prohibit Waddell from traveling west with the team this weekend. The games can be heard over the airwaves on both WMOH (1450 AM) and WKBV (1490 AM) this weekend. Friday’s game will be covered by Root Sports (DirecTV Ch. 683 & 684; Dish Ch. 414 & 5414). Saturday’s game will be streamed on NCHC.tv. (source: MURedHawks.com)
Starting with this weekend, things are about to get real for the 6th ranked Miami RedHawks over the course of the regular season’s final three weekends.
This weekend, Miami (18-9-1, 11-6-1-1 t1st NCHC) faces #7 Minnesota-Duluth (18-11-1, 10-7-1-0 4th NCHC) in Oxford. Earlier this season, the schools split a series in Duluth playing two tight one-goal games with Miami winning the first night 3-2 and dropping the finale 4-3.
Last Time We Met
The series over Halloween weekend was a fright-fest for special teams.
On Friday, Miami netted two powerplay goals getting the game-winner from Sean Kuraly in the third period, who has nine such tallies this year, good enough for second nationally (Austin Ortega of Omaha has 10). While on Saturday, Miami erased a 3-1 deficit but came up short as UMD got the game-winner on their second powerplay tally of the night in the third period.
Blake Coleman had three goals that weekend (including a penalty shot tally) and was clearly the best player on the ice. He’ll have to be again if Miami is to get a win or two this weekend.
Offensively, the Bulldogs are led by forwards Alex Iafallo (7-16-23) and Dominic Toninato (14-8-22). While not as dynamic as Miami’s top forwards, they get the job done. Both UMD and Miami have four players with 21 points or more, but Miami can run out more top end goal scorers. UMD has just one player with 10 or more goals (Toninato) while Miami has four who have notched at least 10 showing the scoring depth the RedHawks possess.
Defensive, UMD is a rugged group led by hard-hitting Carson Soucy and Andy Wellinski who adds a scoring touch from the blueline with seven goals on the year. In net, freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo has played 83% of the minutes in the blue paint compiling a 15-9-1 record with a solid 2.31 and .911 slash line.
For Miami, I’d expect both Crash Cousins to be in the lineup to counter UMD’s physicality and I suspect we’ll see Jay Williams tonight for certain. Because he played both games in Colorado Springs last weekend, it’s reasonable to believe Miami head coach Enrico Blasi has selected Williams as the #1 ‘tender for the reminder of the season. Unless Williams plays poorly or is injured, I’m willing to bet he’ll be in there on Saturday as well.
This will be the just the sixth and seventh all-time meetings between the schools (UMD leads 3-2). Expect a low scoring weekend with Miami netting just five goals last weekend at Colorado College and the defensive responsibility with which UMD plays. If Miami could make the weekend an up-and-down track meet, it would favor the RedHawks with their team speed and skill up front.
As with many of these high-profile NCHC weekends this year, I’ll pick a split.
Tonight’s contest starts at 7:35 PM and Saturday’s finale at 7:05 PM. Greg Waddell will have the call for both games which be heard at MURedHawks.com and over the air on 1450 AM and 1490 AM. Additionally, both contests are televised on Time Warner Cable (Ch. 311 & 1311) and Saturday’s game will also air on Fox College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 608, Time Warner Ch. 319).
Around the League
#1 North Dakota at Western Michigan – The Broncos can help Miami with a victory or two this weekend over the nation’s top ranked team.
#5 Omaha at St. Cloud State – Ditto for the Huskies. Wins over the Mavericks will help Miami’s cause in the NCHC standings.
#9 Denver at/vs. Colorado College – The Front Range rivals conclude the season’s battle for the Gold Pan with a home-and-home. Should the Tigers find a way to get a win in this rivalry series, it would help Miami dramatically in their effort to secure home ice in the NCHC playoffs.
From the League Office
Omaha sophomore forward Austin Ortega scored his 10th game-winning goal of the season last Saturday, which leads the NCAA and ties the NCAA single-season record, last set in 2002 by New Hampshire’s Colin Hemingway. Ortega is one of eight players to tally 10 game-winners in a season. Miami junior forward Sean Kuraly is second
in the country with nine game-winners this season, just one away from tying the record also.
In a battle of top-seven teams, No. 7/7 Minnesota Duluth travels to face No. 6/6 Miami. Expect a lot of shots to be fired as Miami and UMD rank first and second, respectively, among NCHC schools in shots for (34.46 /33.53), shots against (25.14/25.93) and shot margin (+9.32/+7.60). The two teams are third and fourth nationally in terms of shot margin as well.
NCHC teams scored two short-handed goals last weekend and now have three of the top 12 teams nationally in short-handed goals. No. 1/1 North Dakota leads the NCAA with nine short-handed tallies, while UMD is tied for second with seven shorties and Miami is tied for seventh with five. The NCHC has six players with two short-handed goals this season, which is among 27 players nationally tied for the NCAA lead with two short-handed goals. Four of the six play for UND while Miami and UMD have one each.
Miami takes game one in Colorado Springs tonight by a final score of 3-1. Three different RedHawks scored with sophomore Justin Greenberg getting his first of the season.
With the win, Miami (17-9-1, 10-6-1-1 t2nd NCHC) moves into a tie for second place with Omaha in the ultra-competitive NCHC and creates more distance between itself and 5th place Denver, who lost 4-2 at North Dakota. Miami is now a full five points clear of the Pioneers in the race for home ice in the NCHC playoffs.
Overall, tonight was an impressive effort by Miami against an opponent that did not quit. Despite falling behind early, Miami really took over the game after about the 10 minute mark of the 1st period, and while they only tallied three goals, the game never felt in doubt. In other words, it never seemed like Colorado College would pose a real threat.
CC opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal. Luc Gerdes picked up the garbage in front of Miami netminder Jay Williams and found twine at 6:19. But, Miami would get it back immediately when Cody Murphy tallied his 11th goal of the season, a powerplay marker for the RedHawks just 26 seconds later. Murphy, who was camped in front and redirected a wrist shot from Anthony Louis, has now scored 11 goals in his past 14 games. And, he would have had another, but it was waved off after a lengthy video review.
In the second, Miami absolutely dominated possession but could muster just one goal, albeit a beauty, from Riley Barber who dangled around a defender before roofing a perfect wrister over the shoulder of CC goaltender Tyler Marble at 16:22.
In the third period, it was more of the same as Miami largely dictated play. After a shaky first period, Jay Williams was stellar in net and Justin Greenberg scored his first goal of the season off a ridiculous backhand saucer pass from Kevin Morris on a 2-on-1 rush at 9:09.
With the victory, and the completion of the night’s other league contests, the current NCHC standings look like this.
1. North Dakota – 34 points
2. MIAMI – 32 points
2. Omaha – 32 points (Miami has tiebreaker)
4. Minnesota-Duluth – 31 points
5. Denver – 27 points
6. St. Cloud – 22 points
6. Western Michigan – 22 points (SCSU has tiebreaker)
8. Colorado College – 4 points
Miami and Colorado College go at it again tomorrow night at 9 PM EST. The game can be seen on NCHC.TV and of course Greg Waddell will have the call, well, maybe via Miami All-Access.
Random thoughts and stats:
– Miami outshot the Tigers 34-23.
– Jay Williams is now 15-4 on the season.
– Riley Barber really turned it up tonight. His compete level was high from the drop of the puck. That’s extremely encouraging.
– Three stars of the night: 1. Jay Williams (22 saves), 2. Riley Barber (1-0-1, 4 shots), 3. Tyler Marble (31 saves)
– Miami blocked 16 CC shots (Caito 4, Richart 3)
– Miami was dominant in the faceoff circle winning 44 to CC’s 23. Coleman (13-4) and Kuraly (11-2) led the way.
– Miami was 1 for 4 on the powerplay but did allow a shorthanded goal.
– I loved how Rico used Schmit and Lemirande tonight. Putting the Crash Cousins together for extended periods of time combined with altitude was effective at wearing down CC in the 2nd period. There were times that the Tigers could not get the puck out of their zone.
– Austin Czarnik registered his 26th assist on Barber’s goal.
– Miami has a season’s-best four game unbeaten streak (3-0-1).
Riley Barber notched his 13th goal of the season while shorthanded to give Miami a 2-1 lead heading to the third period. Miami completely owned about 18 minutes of the period and at times had possession in the CC end for minutes at a time. I’d like to see more finish out of this team, but the effort has been outstanding tonight.
The line of Schmit, Lemirande, Coleman/Murphy was huge (no pun intended) in the period. Rico rewarded the Crash Cousins with more ice time throughout the period. Wearing a team down at altitude with that size is an excellent coaching maneuver.
- We said earlier that Riley Barber looked sharp tonight. And, as usual, we were right. Barber’s sick wrister from between the circles after a toe drag/dangle was criminal. Keep it up big fella.
- Crash Cousins are big. We haven’t seen a ton of the two of them together this year, but tonight, they are dominating the Tigers in the offensive zone digging out pucks and showing more offensive prowess than I can recall seeing from them this year. Well done.
- Jay Williams has found his game. After not being tested for what seemed to be the entire second period, Williams came up big as CC mounted several good chances late in the period. He looks much sharper.
2-1 Miami after two. Let’s finish this and get ready for tomorrow night!
After one period of play in Colorado Springs, #7 Miami and Colorado College are tied at 1.
Miami allowed its 3rd shorthanded goal early in the period at CC’s Scott Wamsganz converted a mess out front of Jay Williams off a rush.
Miami would answer right back on the same powerplay as Cody Murphy recorded his 11th goal of the season off a tip in front of an Anthony Louis wrist shot from between the circles. Matt Caito notched the other assist.
- Dornbrock. A huge hit along the boards to break up a CC rush. He has also blocked shots and looks physical tonight.
- Czarnik’s back checking effort on the play that ended up being the CC goal was impressive. His effort is the type of thing you want to see out of your senior captain.
- Riley Barber’s compete level is up tonight. He made a couple outstanding stretch passes taking advantage of the big ice.
- Jay Williams rebound control is “off” at best. He looks a bit lost on the big ice and doesn’t seem to be playing the angles nor seeing the puck very well.
- Taylor Richart continues to do the little things. He made a big block of a CC shot on their last powerplay to end the first period.
So far, so good. Miami looks smooth and in control. Hopefully they are well hydrated to compete for 60 minutes at 6,000 feet.
More to come from Colorado Springs.
Welcome to Colorful Colorado!
Well Miami fans, we’ve reached the final month of the regular season. And, I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for this point in the year for quite some time because I’ll have the opportunity to see Miami in person four times in a three week span.
In the NCHC, this will be the month that will determine who hoists the Penrose Cup as the regular season champion and identify three other teams who will claim home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Miami’s stretch run includes six games against (current USCHO rankings) #9 Denver, #6 Minnesota-Duluth and #2 North Dakota meaning Miami will have its league destiny in its hands facing teams it is chasing in the standings and realistically battling each one for home ice.
But first, Miami (16-9-1, 9-6-1-1 3rd NCHC) has a potential trap series in front of it facing lowly Colorado College (5-19-1, 1-14-1 8th NCHC) in Colorado Springs.
The RedHawks are coming off an interesting two weekends that saw them play just twice as they picked up a tie and win over 7th place Western Michigan. The tie came during an exciting game in Kalamazoo that went back and forth before the Broncos tied the game late with an extra attacker goal, but Miami came away with an important extra league point when Cody Murphy scored a classic shootout goal in sudden death. Then last Saturday, the RedHawks jumped out to a four-goal lead after two periods but had to hang on as Western Michigan scored three unanswered goals in the third period to turn a laugher into a close game at the Hockey City Classic in Chicago.
Looking ahead to the weekend, this will be the final regular season meetings between the Tigers and RedHawks. Earlier in the year, Miami swept Colorado College in Oxford by a combined 8-1 score as Miami dominated the Tigers behind Jay Williams’ stellar goaltending and big offensive weekends from Riley Barber, Sean Kuraly and Alex Wideman.
Miami and Colorado College have met just six times with each squad having earned three wins. However, Miami has won the last three in the series by a combined score of 14-2. Clearly, Miami has the upper-hand against this former national powerhouse.
Mike Haviland is behind the bench for his first season in Colorado Springs after replacing longtime CC head man Scott Owens over the
summer. A former Chicago Blackhawks assistant from 2008 through 2012, Haviland is a native of New Jersey, played a season of college hockey at Elmira and was a 1990 supplemental draft pick of the Devils, but never played in the NHL.
Haviland has his hands full attempting to rebuild a proud Colorado College program that hasn’t had much success over the past few seasons.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, there simply isn’t a lot of talent on this team. Owens did not leave Haviland with much to work with and aside from sophomore defenseman Jaccob Slavin, there aren’t many Tigers that have that eye-popping look. I have seen the Tigers once in person this season, and though it was very early, they looked ordinary in narrowly defeating Alabama-Huntsville 4-3. While that victory sealed a series sweep, the Tigers weren’t very impressive in earning two one-goal victories over the Chargers.
Offensively, the Tigers are led by juniors Cody Bradley (8-13-21) and Hunter Fejes (5-9-14) and are two of only four Tigers with at least five goals on the season. Simply put, CC cannot score.
Defensively, there is more talent as four of the Tigers six NHL draft picks are on the blueline. Led by the aforementioned Jaccob Slavin (3-9-12) and senior Peter Stoykewych (2-5-7), the Tigers have some size and puck-moving ability that Miami will have to be aware of in case the defense activates. And, on the big ice at altitude, Miami will have to be mindful not to chase too much and lose their legs in the third period.
Entering the weekend, CC has lost six in a row and is averaging just 2.04 goals per game this year. In net, goaltenders Tyler Marble and Chase Perry have largely split time and sport a combined 3.87 GAA and .880 save percentage. Rather dismal goaltending numbers for certain. (source: MURedHawks.com)
With the final three series of the year looming, Miami needs six points this weekend to give themselves a shot at winning the Penrose Cup. Perhaps more importantly, the points can help secure a spot in the league’s top four earning home ice.
Despite the 5,000 foot difference in altitude, Miami is far too talented and these games are far too important to the RedHawks.