Category Archives: 2014-15 Recaps

A wasted weekend

In one of the uglier performances in recent memory, #5/6 Miami was swept in St. Cloud by the Huskies this weekend by 3-1 and 3-2 scores.

Offensively, Miami could generate little against a team that came in 7-10-1 and looked listless with the exception of the first period of Friday night’s game when they registered 17 shots on goal and should have buried the Huskies for the weekend. Alas, the RedHawks did not dent the scoreboard and gave SCSU hope and momentum, dangerous living indeed against a desperate team.

In fact, this weekend looked a lot like last year when the travel-weary RedHawks could generate little energy. We said in our preview the weekend would be tough. Miami has now played six consecutive games away from home since December 28. They MUST get back to the winning side of things when they welcome in another road-weary opponent, Denver, who was swept themselves in a road series at Omaha after playing in a holiday tournament in New Hampshire (v. Dartmouth, v. Brown) the weekend prior. Before heading out to play Miami January 23-24 in Oxford, the Pioneers have a home series against SCSU meaning they’ll have flown to New Hampshire, Omaha and back to Denver before again flying to Oxford. Miami should take advantage of that heavy travel schedule and get an important home sweep of a league opponent.

The RedHawks will have a much needed week of rest and need to refocus their game before the Pioneers come to town.

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#4 Miami 8, #12 Nebraska-Omaha 2

Thoughts after last night’s 8-2 whipping of #12 Omaha.

Overall, it was a thorough beat down as Miami rattled off seven consecutive goals after actually surrendering the first goal of the game just 4:14 in. Six different RedHawks combined for the 8 goals with senior Cody Murphy notching a natural hat trick (3 consecutive goals) while Kevin Morris, Matthew Caito and Michael Mooney found the net for the first time this season. For Mooney, it was his first career goal, shorthanded, while the Omaha net was mysteriously vacated by Omaha head coach Dean Blais, despite trailing 7-2. Bit of a bush league move if you ask us. Senior captain Austin Czarnik recorded four assists, including his 100th and gave up an opportunity to record his first goal of the season when he passed the puck to Mooney on a 2-on-1 break. On the year, Czarnik has a 0-16-16 line in what can only be described as a bizarre start to his senior season.

Miami captain, Austin Czarnik, is now 13th on the RedHawks all-time scoring list. (photo: Miami University)

Thinking more about Czarnik’s scoring line, I wonder if it’s something having to do with last season when this team seemed to be all about individuals rather than the greater good. I wonder if it’s a sign of maturity as a leader on this club that Czarnik isn’t trying to do to much. That he’s more comfortable with the ‘C’ on his sweater? While I still have some leadership concerns with the ‘C’ I think the formal addition of Sean Kuraly and Blake Coleman as assistant captains was an appropriate move.

Coleman was a bit out of his mind last night, but you have to like the combination of skill and snarl he brings. He’s tough to play against and will make his presence known to the opposition when he doesn’t like something.

Other thoughts and notes:

Depth: This team has it. It didn’t last year. I believe Tim Bray said 14 Miami skaters have tallied goals this year and that, amazingly, does NOT include senior captain Austin Czarnik who entered 2014-15 with 37 career goals.

Goaltending: Jay Williams was good, not great last night. I’m sure he’d like to have the first goal back scored off an ugly rebound of a harmless point wrist shot that hit him square in the chest. But, with this offense (and really any offense), two goals or less should get a W and Williams now has 11 of them this year. Those 11 wins are just one short of his career high set his freshman year, the last year of existence for the CCHA. Despite his success, I could see Miami head coach Enrico Blasi give Ryan McKay a start tonight since he hasn’t played in a few weeks. However, this is another important league game. I’d rather see Williams again tonight and then give McKay a start in the Florida College Hockey Classic on either December 28 or 29. There’s certainly no fatigue issue with Williams, or shouldn’t be, because Miami is coming off a bye week, and will have two off-weeks for exams and Christmas before heading south.

Attendance: 2,006? For a matchup of top-15 top-12 squads? I really don’t know what’s going on in the SW Ohio area. The Reds don’t draw. The Bengals don’t draw. And now, Miami hockey doesn’t draw.

Admittedly, I live in Denver and my partner-in-crime Miamibeef04 lives in Columbus. However, Beef was there last night making the two hour drive south. Just because it’s no longer Michigan and Ohio State is no reason that building isn’t full. Here’s a rundown of Miami’s home attendance this year. Because capacity has never really been settled — is it 3,200? 3,642? 4,000? — I’m going with 3,200 to qualify as a sellout.

vs. Bowling Green – 1,860

vs. Ohio State – 3,554 (sellout)

vs. St. Lawrence – 2,589 and 2,663

vs. Colorado College – 3,153 (sellout) and 2,878

vs. Western Michigan – 2,633 and 2,470

Frankly, this is pathetic. You have a top-5 team again. It was one bad season last year. That there aren’t at least 3,000 butts in seats (seriously, it’s not a big building to fill) each night is embarrassing. I don’t want to hear about the new seat licenses, though surely that hasn’t helped. Tickets are available. If you don’t want your season tickets anymore, fine. Walk up and buy a ticket. Good seats still available.

I can guarantee you I will be at Magness Arena here in Denver and World Arena in Colorado Springs when Miami visits the Centennial State twice in February.

Get to the games, people!

Highlights: Here is a link to the highlights from last night courtesy of NCHC.tv

http://www.nchc.tv/omaha/video/omaha-miami-vs-omaha-highlights—12-5-14

And, check out John Lachmann’s analysis at http://www.wcpo.com/sports/redhawkey

Tonight: Miami and Omaha will complete their NCHC weekend series, and the season’s series, tonight at 7:05 PM at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford.

Miami drops series finale vs UND

There’s a lot to talk about regarding Miami’s 4-1 loss to UND in Grand Forks last night. Suffice it to say, we’ll be watching these over the coming days and weeks.

Consider:

– Goaltending: Ryan McKay was again average at best in net for Miami. His season line now looks like this – 0-3, 3.59 GAA and .897 save percentage. Simply not good enough to be considered a top flight goaltender in the NCHC and certainly not good enough for a team that has national title aspirations. While that’s a relatively small sample size, to the eye, McKay hasn’t looked like what we’ve come to expect out of a Miami goaltender in over a year.

– Officiating: We don’t complain about the officials because it’s pointless and comes off as whining, BUT, how the heck did they determine that Cody Murphy’s goal that would have put Miami up 1-0 in the 2nd period should be overturned? To me, the puck was over the line before the contact and it looked as if UND’s McIntyre kicked it in of his own accord. There were certainly some other questionable calls that went against Miami last night, but again, it’s pointless to whine about it. It’s the same for each team over the course of the season.

– Coaching: Starting Ryan McKay in a HUGE road series as hot as Jay Williams has been, has to be questioned. I know what Blasi was thinking (you have to give McKay another chance if he’s healthy) but it was a costly decision because McKay did little to further the cause outside of a good 1st period. UND started their best on both nights.

– The stars: Senior captain Austin Czarnik and sniper Riley Barber returned to campus for a reason. Their play thus far has me confused as to what that reason is. Both players were shutout, read – didn’t record a point, this weekend. That can’t happen. The two of them have to carry this team especially against top competition. Czarnik was absolutely invisible all weekend and Barber looks lost. They must be Miami’s best players — along with junior Sean Kuraly who certainly did his part on Friday night and senior Blake Coleman who while held off the scoresheet was his usual disruptive self at times returning after a week off due to illness.

– Defensive zone turnovers/losing puck battles: Yep, those reared their ugly heads last night as Miami was losing puck battles and turning the puck over in their own zone. Sooner or later, we need to be taking the body rather than allowing players like Drake Caggiula to embarrass the team over and over. Caggiula is a player that had 19 goals in his first two seasons at UND. This isn’t Johnny Hockey and we continually make him look like he’s a top flight prospect.

All is not lost. But, Miami must begin to pick it up as we get closer to the new year. Thankfully, they’re in a good spot at 8-4 overall and 4-2 in the NCHC. But, as you may recall, it was at about this point last season that things went awry and the wheels fell off big time. Will they avoid some of the same mistakes that plagued last year’s team, or was last night a predictor of things to come?

Miami defeats North Dakota 3-2

In a battle of top 10 teams, the seventh ranked Miami RedHawks outlasted second ranked North Dakota in Grand Forks by a 3-2 score.

The RedHawks (8-3, 4-1 NCHC, t1st) were once again led by the tandem of junior forward Sean Kuraly (2-1-3) and junior net minder Jay Williams (21 saves) as Miami has now won three in a row for the second time this season. For Kuraly, it was his sixth game-winning goal. Miami has eight wins on the season. That’s a pretty amazing stat this early in the year. And, for Williams, it was his eighth win of the season as he pushed his record to 8-1 as Miami’s primary keeper of the crease so far this season. Michael Parks and Drake Caggiula scored for North Dakota (7-2-1, 2-1 NCHC, t4th).

This game featured a total of 20 penalties (12 by Miami) including game misconducts to UND’s Colten St. Clair and Miami’s Matthew Caito each for grasping the facemask during a first period scrum that was essentially started when Miami senior forward Blake Coleman was called for goaltender interference at 16:45.

The teams settled down after that and played hard throughout the remainder of the night.

Miami opened the scoring in the first period by striking quickly for two goals to take a 2-0 lead. Junior forward Alex Gacek scored at 3:09 after an offensive zone

UND’s Drake Caggiula (9) attempts to skate past Miami’s Taylor Richard (2). (photo: UND Sports)

face-off when he pounced on a puck in the corner and beat UND junior Zane McIntyre inside the post. Kuraly and Anthony Louis assisted on Gacek’s first goal of the season.

Sean Kuraly was involved again scoring his 8th goal of the season when he and Gacek executed a 2-on-1 to perfection while shorthanded. Gacek brough the puck up the left wing and moved the puck to Kuraly who easily beat McIntyre to give the RedHawks a 2-0 lead with 15:45 left in the first period.

North Dakota would get on the board late in the period, but Miami carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Striking quickly, UND’s Drake Caggiula tied the game shorthanded just 1:22 into the second period. But Kuraly would strike again for Miami on the power play at 6:50 when he was the recipient of a perfect bounce of the back wall following a point blast by freshman defenseman Scott Dornbrock and he quickly beat McIntyre who was recovering from the point shot.

In the third, Miami simply packed it in. I might say they packed it in a little early as the ice was tilted in UND’s favor. However, Miami blocked several good UND shots and though Jay Williams was credited with only five saves, it seemed that he was busier than that as North Dakota pushed for an equalizer they would not find.

In his postgame press conference, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi was pleased with his team’s overall effort on the night.

“We came to play tonight,” he said. “I thought we got a pretty good team effort from everyone. This was one of those games we knew would come down to the wire and our guys sacrificed their bodies all night, especially at the end, to get the job done.”

Miami was close to putting the game away late in the third.

With UND’s Zane McIntyre to the bench for the extra attacker, Miami did a good job of moving the puck quickly and getting clears. Junior Riley Barber and senior Austin Czarnik both had looks at the open net, but somehow UND got bodies in front of the net and kept the puck out.

UND’s Connor Gaarder (13) looks to make a play in front of Miami’s Ben Paulides (28), Jay Williams (1), Austin Czarnik (7) and Louie Belpedio (58) in Miami’s 3-2 win over North Dakota. (photo: Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)

“Our penalty kill did a good job of blocking shots tonight,” Blasi said. “Jay also made saves when we needed him to. Sean’s line got the bounces and took advantage, but this was a good team win from top to bottom. We had good performances from everyone tonight, but we know they are going to come out hard again tomorrow and we’ll have to be ready.”

The RedHawks will go for their first-ever sweep of North Dakota tonight at 8:07 PM. The game might be on Fox College Sports and will definitely be available via NCHC.tv. Greg Waddell will have the Miami call at Miami All-Access, 1490-AM WKBV and via the Tune In app on your smartphone.

Notes:

– UND saw the return of both sophomore defenseman Paul LaDue and senior Mark MacMillan to the lineup after playing games about their availability all week.

– Miami once again hit the 30 SOG mark firing away, especially during the first and second periods when they rang up 15 and 11, respectively. But, the four shots in the third period was an indicator of just how much control of the game UND seized as Miami held on for the victory.

– The RedHawks held UND to just 23 SOG after blocking a whopping 19 North Dakota shots. Can anyone say “hot tub?”

– With the win, Miami snapped UND’s 8-game unbeaten streak since dropping their opener 5-1 to Bemidji State.

– Miami snipers Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber were held off the scoresheet last night seeing a rare goose egg thrown at them by the UND defense. However, Barber led Miami with 5 SOG.

– Miami announced before Friday’s game that sophomore Trevor Hamilton has elected to leave the team and return to junior hockey. Not sure if that means USHL or if he’s going to try the CHL, but based on his play at Miami, I can’t believe the CHL would be interested. If the early lines were any indicator, he wasn’t likely to play much this season, but shortsightedness (e.g., get your damn education — unless there are other college aspirations) appears to have claimed another one.

Butthurt in Duluth

Miami’s Riley Barber (11) and Louie Belpedio (58) push for a RedHawk goal during last night’s 3-2 victory over UMD. (photo: UMD Athletics)

By the sound of things emanating from Duluth’s Amsoil Arena last night, the officiating was the only difference in Miami’s 3-2 victory over UMD.

Never mind the 38-28 shots advantage for the RedHawks. Disregard that power plays were relatively even – 8 chances for Miami, 6 for UMD. Forget the ridiculously lucky no-look, behind-the-back glove save on a sure goal from Miami’s relentless Cody Murphy. Deny the 5 of 6 penalty kills from the RedHawks defense. And, surely wipe Jay Williams’ 12 saves on 13 first period shots from your memory when Miami was struggling to find their legs.

Yeah, it was all officiating.

But, if you read the comments from the Bulldogs in this poorly written Duluth News Tribune article, well, that’s the only reason Miami was lucky enough to win.

Not a great showing from the home team, its empty rink, its television team

Apparently, the Bobcats of Ohio University were UMD's opponent in front of dozens of fans last night at Amsoil Arena.

Apparently, the Bobcats of Ohio University were UMD’s opponent in front of dozens of fans last night at Amsoil Arena.

and its beat reporter. But, that’s what Saturday’s are for and Duluth is 3-0 on Saturday nights this year. Of course, Miami is too, but that’s beside the point.

UMD will have an opportunity to show that it was all officiating. Miami will have a chance to a get a NCHC road series sweep. I don’t think I have to tell you that they didn’t do that all of last season.

The puck drops at Amsoil Arena at 8:07 PM EST.

Pass the popcorn. Enjoy the butthurt!

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.

http://www.nchc.tv/embed?id=3077569

Here is Coach Blasi’s post-game presser from Sunday as well.

Size

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.

Injuries/Games Missed

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.