Category Archives: 2013-14 News

Frozen Faceoff Semifinal — Lines

photo-4

Here are the lines for tonight’s NCHC Frozen Faceoff against North Dakota.

MIAMI

Forwards:

Blake Coleman — Austin Czarnik — Cody Murphy

Anthony Louis — Sean Kuraly — Riley Barber

Max Cook — Justin Greenberg — Alex Gacek

Alex Wideman — Kevin Morris — John Doherty

Defense:

Chris Joyaux — Matthew Caito

Matt Joyaux — Ben Paulides

Trevor Hamilton – Michael Mooney

Goal:

Ryan McKay

Jay Williams

NORTH DAKOTA

Forwards:

Drake Caggiula — Mark MacMillan — Michael Parks

Brendan O’Donnell — Rocco Grimaldi — Luke Johnson

Stephane Pattyn — Connor Gaarder — Derek Rodwell

Bryn Chyzyk — Colten St. Clair — Andrew Panzarella

Defense:

Dillon Simpson — Jordan Schmaltz

Nick Mattson — Paul LaDue

Keaton Thompson — Troy Stecher

Goal:

Zane Gothberg

Clarke Saunders

Advertisements

Post-practice Comments — 3/20

Miami head coach Enrico Blasi and junior captain Austin Czarnik met briefly with the media following today’s practice at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Frozen Faceoff — We have questions…

It’s a huge weekend for the NCHC.

As the song “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons goes, “Welcome to the new age.”

As the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference comes to a close, we are left with the inevitability of a new gathering of college hockey fans at new venues in new cities. It it officially the blending of the old — the WCHA’s Final Five as represented by North Dakota and Denver with the CCHA’s “Hockey in the D” being repped by Miami and Western Michigan. And, with both the WCHA having been relegated to second tier status playing their tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich. and the Joe being empty of college hockey this weekend, it does seem that we are certainly moving on.

But, what have we learned this year? And, was it better? Will it be?

Did fans fawn over new and existing rivalries? Was the action so riveting in the NCHC (and the Big 6) that all of this was really necessary?

Sadly, I believe the answer is “not quite yet.”

While the on-ice product during the regular was at best a “meh,” the playoff action in the NCHC has thus far been fascinating with three “lower seeds” moving on to compete in the Frozen Faceoff this weekend in Minneapolis. Of course, those lower seeds included 7-time national champions Denver, 2012 Mason Cup champions Western Michigan and 2012 CCHA regular season champions Miami.

Not exactly “lower seed material.” But, this season has certainly proved that someone has to finish last in a highly competitive league. This year it was Miami, but they of course promptly dispatched the first ever Penrose Cup champions, St. Cloud State, in two games.

But, it’s certainly clear the NCHC has much riding on this weekend.

Minneapolis’ Target Center selection as the venue for the NCHC’s Frozen Faceoff raises questions.

First, the venue. The Target Center is a facility with one full-time tenant, the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA. Yep, it’s a basketball facility first and foremost. The last time the WCHA held a Final Five tournament there, in 2000, there were catcalls from many who attended saying it’s not a good venue to host the sport. I can’t speak to the hockey games (if any) that have been held there since, but some are saying improvements to the facility bode well for the weekend. It would be a nice-to-have if the NCHC doesn’t have to endure heat over the selection of Target Center, but the location in downtown Minneapolis, is superb.

Second, attendance. You know former Miami man and NCHC commish Josh Fenton has to be breathing a huge sigh of relief that North Dakota was able to overcome the challenge from Colorado College to earn a trip to the Frozen Faceoff. As it is, the three dance partners add very little in terms of a traveling fan base. Denver is simply too far away and they don’t even draw 50 students to their regular season games at Magness Arena. As for Miami and Western Michigan, it remains to be seen. Western had traveled well to the Joe the past few years, but that’s all of a two-hour drive from Kalamazoo. I might ordinarily suggest that they would have more fans than Miami this weekend, but with the basketball Broncos earning a berth (and being blown out by Syracuse right now) in the NCAA tournament, that might have picked off some of their fans.

Speaking of the red and white, we all know we have a fan base that’s reluctant to travel, and in a year that saw Miami finish dead last in the regular season, and with the NCAA tournament regional being hosted by Miami in Cincinnati, I have to believe most fans will simply wait it out. If Miami wins the weekend, they’ll attend next weekend in our backyard. If not, well, at least they got to watch the games on CBS Sports Network.

Will NCAA hockey venues look a lot like Florida Panthers’ games this weekend?

Assuming North Dakota brings 5,000-7,000 fans and you get 1,000-2,000 from DU, MU and WMU, plus another 3,000 or so who are fans of other Minnesota NCHC schools or just college hockey fans, maybe, maybe we could see 10,000 in the building. Anything more than that would be fantastic but unrealistic, especially considering the Big 10 tournament is being held in nearby St. Paul and features the home squad, Minnesota.

But, that brings about another thought. The old WCHA would jam the Xcel Energy Center to see Minnesota, North Dakota, SCSU, UMD and Wisconsin go toe to toe. Now, the WCHA will draw, maybe, 5,000 for their games at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for Anchorage, Minnesota State, Bowling Green and Ferris State from nearby Big Rapids who you’d think will have by far the most fans in attendance. And, as I write this, I’m watching Michigan and Penn State play in front what appears to be a crowd of three people at Xcel right now. When the CCHA would hold its tournament weekend in Detroit, you always knew Michigan would bring between 10,000-15,000 fans for their games, regardless of the time. And, when Michigan and Michigan State would play, the building would be full.

What to make of all this?

Well, it seems we had it pretty good, and I’m hopeful Xcel will be full when Minnesota and Wisconsin come calling. One thing is certain, Hockey East is making out like a bandit as their league changed the least and only strengthened itself with the addition of Notre Dame who has also had to adjust to a quite a bit more travel — and it showed with their eighth place finish in the regular season but it advanced by knocking off the #1 seed — sound familiar? And, the ECAC has not yet been touched by realignment so things were as they always had been. Consistency has its advantages.

Lastly, the quality of the hockey. I’m beginning to formulate a theory that Miami, despite its defensive shortcomings might just be a tired bunch. I have no way to know for sure, but I wonder if the impact of all the extra travel the team has had to do this year, and not just the travel from Oxford to Denver as an example, but I wonder if all the extra bus rides, transfers and equipment hauling has taken a toll? I wonder if any of this

Will Miami be on the defensive against North Dakota or will they have the same jump we saw last weekend against St. Cloud?

has affected any of the other schools? Denver and Colorado College are obviously exempt because they have had to fly everywhere for years. But for the other programs, were all the extra flights, bus rides and shuttles as draining as they appear to have been on the RedHawks? Bus rides from St. Cloud to Madison were replaced by flights to Kalamazoo. And, that speaks nothing for travel costs which were obviously much higher for Miami and Western Michigan, especially, than they had ever been. So, will Miami have anything left after back to back trips to Denver and St. Cloud? We understand they stayed in Minnesota all week, but that has to take a toll on bodies at this point in a hockey season nutritionally, sleep-wise, workouts and recovery, everything. Will they be able to muster the energy required to take on North Dakota and its fans?

So, the real question…is all of this sustainable?

We are already beginning to hear whispers that another round of realignment is forthcoming. Perhaps inevitable. And, how does Alabama-Huntsville really continue to field a Division I program? Will college hockey continue in Alaska now that they are kind of “isolated together?” Is the Big 6 plan sustainable? Will they have to add other Big 10 schools to make this interesting? Will they pressure the Illinois’ and Indiana’s of the world to step up? And, will the schools of the “like-minded” NCHC decide that maybe this whole thing wasn’t so great after all? Will the WCHA have the last laugh should the NCHC dissolve?

Whatever happens, it might not be good for college hockey. If this year is any predictor of the future, the game really didn’t seem to advance all that much. Well, at least not quite yet.

NCHC Frozen Faceoff – Miami v. North Dakota

It’s truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

With the NCAA basketball tournament starting in earnest today and NCAA hockey’s conference tournaments hitting full stride, this weekend is one of my most favorite sports weekends of the year.

Miami is unaccustomed to looking up in the standings, but they did this year.

Miami is unaccustomed to looking up in the standings, but they did this year.

And, in case you haven’t been paying attention, Miami is once again in the thick of it. But this time, the tables have been turned on the RedHawks. After a sub-par regular season that most certainly did not meet expectations, Miami decided to come together last weekend in St. Cloud upending

the Penrose Cup champions in a two-game weekend series sweep. Yet, Miami will not earn a berth to its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament without winning two more games this weekend.

First up? North Dakota.

A team that as recently as February 14-15 defeated Miami 3-2 in a game UND led 3-0 and then handed the RedHawks  a 9-2 whipping the likes of which this program hadn’t seen since the 1990s. The teams split their series in Oxford way back in October with North Dakota winning 4-2 and then Miami dishing out a 6-2 whipping of their own a night later.

However, the lost weekend in Grand Forks perhaps began to ignite a little spark in the RedHawks.

Buoyed by the return of Blake Coleman, Miami would begin to play a little better. Splits in two of the next three series marked by incrementally better play defensively and in net, set Miami up with a chance to go into St. Cloud and knock off the Huskies. Miami had split both regular season series with SCSU so last weekend’s outcome wasn’t all that surprising.

Miami is still not there yet.

Blake Coleman’s return from injury has given the RedHawks a spark.

If they have any dreams of winning the NCHC conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA tournament, they will have to find a way to shore up defensive lapses that have plagued the team all season. Dennis Green’s famous quote, “they are what we thought they were” most definitely applies here. As much as we’d like to think this team is better than it really is, the fact is they have played as poor defensively as a club as any Miami team in recent memory, and despite having all kinds of offensive talent, it still might not be enough. What’s clear is they are not going to win too many 2-1 games. But, if the offense can get to four, Miami will have a real chance to win two games this weekend and carry the dream forward.

That said, Miami will have to get past a team that has rounded into arguably the best team in the NCHC and one with a significant home-ice advantage tomorrow night in North Dakota. Gang Green (I don’t know what to call them) has one of the best traveling fan bases in all of college sports and you can figure they will have an overwhelming number of supporters all weekend long. But, rooting for the underdog, and against North Dakota, is always chic. I expect those in attendance from UMD, UMTC, SCSU and others to pull for the RedHawks and maybe just give them a little boost. The crowd will most certainly get behind Miami should they take the lead or keep it close.

And, I do believe this will be a close game.

Coleman’s return gives Miami four complete lines and gives head coach Enrico Blasi the abilty to split up snipers Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik pairing either Coleman or Sean Kuraly with them. Then with Alex Gacek, Alex Wideman and Cody Murphy set to offer scoring ability throughout the lineup, it does make Miami more difficult to defend. There is an awful lot of offensive talent on this team which simply makes this season that more perplexing. One theory I have, and that I’ll get into in another piece, is that Miami was unprepared for the toll that the new travel schedule would take on the team.

Anyway, this weekend rests on the shoulders of the offense. But, if Miami can get decent contributions from the blueline (in terms of clearing rebounds, playing without turnovers and making smart plays up the ice) and if Ryan McKay can be in top form, there’s reason to believe Miami can win two games this weekend and move on.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Second period thoughts…

What an exciting 2nd period in Omaha as there were SEVEN goals scored as Omaha leads #8 Miami 5-3 after two periods.

A few thoughts. First…

Also…

  • For the first 17 minutes, it seemed Miami was skating in sand. No life. No energy. And, getting beat back in transition.
  • Dean Blais can coach. The adjustments he made to send an extra forward wide…Miami had no answer. UNO was able to get out in transition and use their speed…and they are fast!
  • Jay Williams and Blake Coleman were both injured and left the game. Williams did come back out to the bench, but we’ll have to see if Coleman returns in the 3rd. He put no weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice.
  • Ryan McKay is extremely strong when he is down in the butterfly. However, his egregious, and careless, drop of an easy slapper from the point led directly to a goal that was unacceptable. He must focus and concentrate at all times. It looked as if he took it for granted.
  • UNO is putting three D back on Miami rushes up-ice. They are limiting Miami chances to the outside and Miami got gritty on the PP and at even strength to score the last two goals of the night. Miami did not get to the net much in the period until the final few minutes.
  • Ryan Massa’s save on Austin Czarnik’s penalty shot attempt was outstanding. He never moved. He out-waited Z and made the save look easy not biting on a decent head fake.

Well, it looked bleak, but if Miami can get the next goal in the 3rd and make it 5-4, who knows?

As it stands, UNO leads Miami 5-3 after 2 in Omaha.

First period thoughts…

After one period of play from Omaha, Neb., #8 Miami leads Nebraska Omaha 1-0. Bryon Paulazzo had the Miami goal on the powerplay assisted by Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber.

Some thoughts from the pressbox…

  • Blake Coleman is strong. He threw his weight around the ice and can seemingly protect the puck with just one hand on his stick.
  • Austin Czarnik is the real deal. There is a zip on his passes. He doesn’t just make a pass, he means it. It’s impressive to see how accurate, and powerful, his passes are. Additionally, he has a very active stick always getting it in the passing lanes and is really impressive with the puck.
  • Good defensive period for Miami. UNO’s top line of Zombo, Archibald and Walters were relatively invisible.
  • Taylor Richart is a silent assassin. He is everywhere and he is no where. Always in position, always on the puck. His 150 foot slapper that drew a faceoff on the PK was impressive.
  • Riley Barber looks more aggressive tonight. There does appear to be more space tonight than previous games and he is making the most of it getting shots to the net. His shot and subsequent rebound found Paulazzo’s stick for Miami’s goal.
  • Max Cook and Ben Paulides look a little shaky. I think they could both use a boost of confidence.
  • UNO’s transition game might be the only way they score tonight (aside from a powerplay). Their speed is challenging Miami’s D to be alert and the Hawks’ forwards to backcheck — which Czarnik, in particular, has done well.

More to come!

Jeff Zatkoff Notches First Career Win as Penguins Blank Blue Jackets

Jeff Zatkoff makes one of his 19 saves to earn his first career NHL victory. (Zanesville Times Recorder)

It was only fitting that former Miami goaltender, Jeff Zatkoff, notch his NHL first win in a town where he and the RedHawks have been so successful over the years.

The 26 year old Miami alum from Detroit, Mich. made 19 saves to record his first career win shutting out the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 behind goals from Derek Engelland, Jussi Jokinen and former Ferris State Bulldog, Chris Kunitz. The win moves Zatkoff’s season record to 1-2 with a 3.35 GAA and .865 save percentage as he has largely seen the pine behind Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury, who is 10-2 and has played 12 of Pittsburgh’s first 15 games, collected the victory on Friday as the Penguins swept a home-and-home series from their new division-mates.

With the loss, the bumbling Blue Jackets slip to 5-8 and have started what was supposed to be a breakout season very slowly.

Congratulations, Jeff, and Love and Honor! Here’s to many more victories in the future!

The NCHC’s Championship Trophy Arrives

Check out this bad boy! All we have to say is WOW.

Check out the entire photo gallery from the NCHC’s Colorado Springs Headquarters on Facebook.

Ironically, it is #1 Miami and #6 North Dakota this weekend in the first game of the NCHC season. If I was a gambling man, I’d say that these two will battle it out for this – the regular season championship trophy – all season.

The NCHC's Championship Trophy has arrived. (Photo: The NCHC)

The NCHC’s Championship Trophy has arrived. (Photo: The NCHC)

#2 Miami v. Ohio State

The #2 RedHawks start the season against in-state rival Ohio State

Dozens of fans pack duhOSU’s Cheap Furniture Arena. (photo: OSU/Schottenstein Center)

Ah, that unmistakable scent that can only be caused by the expulsion of gaseous by product waste from the inefficient internal combustion engine of a Zamboni machine is in the air! And, that means the Miami RedHawks are back on the ice for real beginning tonight in Columbus as #2 Miami faces Ohio State at Cheap Furniture Arena where fans dress as empty seats except when the Miami faithful show up in droves.

So, let’s get to it.

 

The Buckeyes

Though the coach is new (former associate head coach Steve Rohlik takes over for the departed Mark Osiecki), the Buckeyes return their top eight scorers from a year ago including junior forwards Ryan Dzingel (16-22-38),  Tanner Fritz (11-26-37) and Max McCormick (15-16-31). On defense, duhOSU by sophomore Craig Dalrymple (3-14-17) and senior captain Curtis Gedig (3-12-15).

Speaking of Rohlik, at his weekly press conference, he mentioned that his team will be tested right off the bat by Miami but referenced their confidence level and depth as two big assets entering the season. He believes that by rolling lines they’ll be able to wear down teams and rely on their returning scoring talent to separate them from opponents. Only time will tell.

The biggest question mark coming into the season, however, is how the Buckeyes will replace their graduated All-America goaltender, Brady Hjelle, who had a career year for the Red and Silver by going 14-14-6 with an outstanding 2.00 GAA and .935 save percentage.

My guess? I think we’ll see highly regarded sophomore Collin Olson take over for duhOSU. Last season, Olson saw action in nine games posting a record of 2-3-1 with a 3.09 GAA and .901 save percentage. He’ll have huge skates to fill and while this Buckeye team seems deep on paper, this is a team that scored only 95 goals last year (they allowed 96) good for an average of just 2.37 per game. The Buckeyes finished below .500 last year with an all-world goaltender. They’ll have to prove they can score more to pick up the slack in net after the departure of Hjelle unless Olson can come close to matching those numbers from a year ago.

Austin Czarnik and the RedHawks defeated Windsor 8-2 in their only exhibition match of the season. (photo: Rachel Lewis)

The RedHawks

For Miami, the RedHawks opened their season last Saturday night in an exhibition match at Steve Cady Arena where they dominated the Lancers from the University of Windsor by an 8-2 count. Sophomore Riley Barber and freshman Justin Greenberg both netted two goals while sophomore goaltenders Jay Williams and Ryan McKay both saw action in net. Overall, the RedHawks played a decent game though they benefitted from outclassing and outskating the Lancers on pure speed and talent alone leading to several breakaway situations for Miami. Rest assured, the Hawks will not see such lax play anytime soon and will have to prove they can set up goals the old fashioned way if they are to beat the NCHC’s best.

At his weekly press conference, head coach Enrico Blasi made mention that the team would have to play better than they did against Windsor to compete at a high level. Specifically, he mentioned his defense corps looked a little jittery at times and will have to catch up to the speed of the game. Frankly, that will be true for the freshmen especially as Miami jumps right into some tough games out of the gate.

 Blasi was excited about opening the season against duhOSU saying that he couldn’t think of a better way to get the season started than to play your in-state rival. He feels that both sides understand the importance of playing each other every year and that it makes both teams better. He said he’s looking forward to the weekend and expects a fun atmosphere in both buildings. There’s nothing better than a rivalry to get the season going.

With Miami returning twenty players from last season’s NCAA regional finalist squad including both goaltenders, CCHA Rookie of the Year Riley Barber, junior All-American and this year’s captain, Austin Czarnik, the RedHawks look primed for a huge season. And, with the additions of highly regarded freshmen (F) Anthony Louis and (D) Trevor Hamilton along with (F) Justin Greenberg, (D) Johnny Wingels – yes, that Wingels – and Matt Joyaux (D), this freshman class has an opportunity to make an immediate impact and help Miami live up to its lofty #2 preseason ranking.

So, expect to see Miami lean on Czarnik and Barber but I also expect bounce-back seasons from both Jimmy Mullin and Blake Coleman who were inconsistent at times last year. Assuming we get quality play on defense in front of McKay and Williams, and I think we will, we have a chance to have a special year.

At a glance, you look at this roster and you don’t see a lot of size. What I do see, however, is a ton of speed. Mullin, Barber, Murphy, Gacek, Greenberg, Louis, Czarnik, Kuraly, Wideman…they all have outstanding legs. The defense, led by sophomore Matt Caito, is smooth, mobile and can join the play. But, are they physical enough to withstand the pounding they’ll receive from the likes of North Dakota, Denver and UNO? This team will be defined by its speed and skill. I just hope there is enough grit to go around. They’ll have a nice test this weekend as Ohio State has always favored the body and I do not see that changing over the course of one weekend.

The Prediction

Anyway, in summary, I think we’ll see Miami come out looking to prove a point but will likely settle for a split with each team winning in its own building.

The Deets

Who?

#2 Miami (2012-13: 25-12-5, 1st CCHA) vs. Ohio State (2012-13: 16-17-7, 4th CCHA)

Where and when?

Tonight at Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio 7:05 PM EST

Saturday at Steve Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio, 7:05 PM EST

Prediction

Split

Introducing the Blog of Brotherhood!!!

Miami University Red Hawks Neon Sign

It’s time for a new identity!
(photo courtesy neonsigninc.com)

Since Alex started “RedHawkey” on June 11, 2008, we’ve had 3 names around these parts. It started with “RedHawkey” and after the addition of Mike to the staff, the guys changed it up to Redskin Warriors – a name that we owe a lot of our success and followers to. There was some discomfort at the name of the blog from the get go, along with some praise, but after a few years as “the warriors” we decided it was time for a new direction.

Read the rest of this entry