Category Archives: Michigan State

Going the Distance – Game 3 tonight

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After Friday night, there was some panic around Oxford in regards to the Miami Hockey program after being shut out by the 11th seeded Spartans in game 1. “Was the whole season a waste?” “Was the regular season a fluke?” “Why did a team with such firepower get shutout 7 times this year?”

Well, I think Enrico Blasi and the RedHawks turned all of those doubts into more hope for this young team with a 4-1 victory that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated last night. Let’s take a look at the two nights’ work.

On Friday, Michigan State came out firing with their first goal at 8:04 of the night. Miami couldn’t counter punch at all. A usually stout Austin Czarnik was just 5 for 21 in the faceoff circle, and Miami’s scoring chances were minimal. Ryan McKay stopped 21 of 24 shots on the night, but on the other end, Freshman Jake Hildebrand blocked all 34 shots Miami fired at him and MSU skated away with the shutout win.

Turn the page to Saturday night, and we saw the team that has been in the top 10 for the entire season, currently stands as the #3 team in the land and the team that is second in the country in scoring defense at 1.63 Goals per game.

To start the game, Miami wasn’t messing around. Senior Captain Steven Spinell, having not played entirely up to his potential over the last several weeks, decided to set the tone. The very first time MSU tried to cross the red line at center ice, Spinell laid out MSU’s Kevin Walrod. In the post-game press conference, Spinell said he “saw the opportunity and took it to send a message and set the tone for our team. We’re here to battle, and that was our focus.” (courtesy: Rick Cassano, Hamilton Journal-News) Spinell took a 2 minute penalty for and Indirect contact to the head – elbowing infraction, but the tone was set.

Last night, Miami held Michigan State to just 4 shots in the first period, 5 in the second and 8 in the third. Unfortunately, scoring chances isn’t an official stat, but I’d venture a guess that Miami had around 17 scoring chances compared to those 17 actual shots by Michigan State. In the second period alone, Miami outshot MSU 20-5 and really made the game look like it was theirs without question.

Once again, Blasi pulled the right strings and added some extra strokes to his masterpiece of a season. Blasi took Blake Coleman out of the game as a healthy scratch and inserted Bryon Paulazzo seemingly on a whim. To make the lines fit, he also dropped Cody Murphy down to the fourth line. Murphy was centered by Max Cook and also had Jimmy Mullin on his line for the night. Murphy had a goal and an assist, and Mullin scored the first Miami goal of the series that really turned the momentum in favor of the Hawks.

Miami was clearly the better team, and after Mullin opened the scoring, the rout was on. Austin Czarnik scored the game winning goal – his NCAA leading 4th shorthanded goal – off of a fantastic effort from Riley Barber, and Miami never looked back. In all, 4 RedHawks had multi-point nights: Czarnik would add a second goal in the 3rd period, Matthew Caito (team high 6 shots) and Barber had 2 helpers each, and Murphy had his spectacular goal and added an assist to go along with his 4 shots on the night.

Tonight, we find out if the momentum gained in the first period of Saturday’s game will carry into Sunday’s deciding game 3. If Miami can win, they will head to The Joe and will face the hottest team in the NCAA in Michigan (7-0-1 in their last 8). If MSU wins, Miami still likely has a #1 seed wrapped up, but will not have the opportunity to win the final CCHA Tournament Championship in Detroit next weekend.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s game. Tickets are $3 for students and $18-23 otherwise. Puck drop is at 7:05 once again, and the game can be seen in HD on Miami All-Access.

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Where have you been for 2 weeks?

We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving with your families and didn’t miss us and the Miami RedHawks too much. You guys should have been asking “where are you guys” because we’ve been MIA for a bit. We’re sorry for leaving you hanging, and we’re back at it this week as Miami is already en route to Alaska for a 2 game set in The Last Frontier. For now, here’s what you’ve (we’ve?) missed in the last 2 weeks.

First of all, and most importantly, Miami took 5 more points against the Spartans way back on the 16th and 17th of November. On Friday night, Miami held a 2-0 lead and let MSU tie the game before taking the shootout. It was Miami’s 2nd shootout win in a row and 3rd of the season (Providence, NMU, MSU). In the three shootouts, Miami still has not allowed even one goal, as Ryan McKay has stopped the 2 shots he has seen and Jay Williams has stopped all 4 shootout attempts in his 2 wins. John Doherty played in his first game for Miami, Alex Wideman scored to continue his point streak and Alex Gacek scored his 2nd of the year.

In Saturday’s game, Miami again went up 2-0, but this time played some outstanding defense and Williams posted the shutout. Miami held MSU to 13 shots on the night, with 9 of them coming from 2 players. Freshman Taylor Richart recorded his first career point as he helped Wideman continue his blazing hot scoring streak in the third period. McKenzie recorded his 3rd goal of the season and Jay Williams got his first career shutout.

For the effort on the weekend, Williams took home the CCHA Rookie of the Week award – his first such honor. Jay is the second Miami freshman to win the award (Riley Barber has won it twice), and it’s the 4th weekly award for Miami.  He stopped 19 shots and 2 shootout attempts on Friday as well as all 13 shots on Saturday. The wins ran his season record to 6-2-2, while allowing 2.18 goals against and a save percentage of .915. Get to know Jay a little better by reading muredhawks.com’s “In the Crease with Jay Williams.”

Even though Miami didn’t play this past weekend, the top of the CCHA standings is still in the hands of the RedHawks at 16 points. Notre Dame had a weekend series against North Dakota (and split). For now, Miami holds a 1 point lead on the Irish, Ferris State and Ohio State. Alaska is just 2 points behind at 14 and Lake Superior State is in 6th at 12 points. The next 3 weekends have Miami playing three of those teams (at Alaska, Lake State, at Ohio State), so to say they will be an important 3 weeks is an understatement.

Alex Wideman missed three weeks of play with mono, and since his return has been lights out. He now has 4 goals and 3 assists on the season – good enough for 3rd best on the team. He has also scored the shootout clinching goals in each of Miami’s 2 CCHA shootout wins and is looking better and better on the ice every night out.

After the MSU weekend, Miami dropped a spot from #4 to #5 in the polls. We’ll reserve judgement, but Really, that’s stooooopid. The voters made up for their poor choices last week to bump Miami up 1 spot in this week’s (November 26th) polls, but Denver, who lost AT HOME to Yale and New Hampshire, dropped just 3 spots to #5 behind the Hawks. The PairWise is the important ranking, and we’re still a few weeks away from knowing where Miami really stands compared to the rest of the NCAA.

In addition, Miami’s All-1990’s CCHA team was announced. In the decade where Miami earned its first ever CCHA Championship in the 1992-93 season and gained momentum throughout, this team looks fantastic. Some guys named Kevyn Adams, Brian Savage, Enrico Blasi, Dan Boyle, Bobby Marshall and Mark Michaud made the first team. The second team has forwards Chris Bergeron, Randy Robitaille and Ken House, defensemen Joe Cook and Steve Wilson and goaltender Richard Shulmistra. The only thing I’d change is putting Shulmistra on the first team and Michaud on the second. You can vote for the all-2000s team on muredhawks.com.

And finally, but certainly not least important, Steven Spinell was named a Senior CLASS Award Candidate.

Stay tuned for our Weekend Preview before Miami takes on Alaska at 11:00pm Eastern time on Friday and Saturday nights!

#4 Miami hosts Michigan State for 2 game set

Another week, another Michigan team for the RedHawks to play. This week will mark the 4th straight week that Miami has played a team from Michigan, this time welcoming the Michigan State Spartans to Steve Cady Arena.

The last 3 Michigan teams Miami has played were all ranked teams at the time, having split with Michigan and Ferris State on the road and taking 5 points over Northern Michigan last weekend. (In case you were wondering, Miami heads to Alaska in 2 weeks, but plays the 5th of 6 CCHA schools from the state of Michigan in the Lake Superior State Lakers the first weekend of December, and we have to wait until February to see the 6th such team – Western Michigan.)

As we scout the unranked Spartans, the first thing we notice is that they just beat Michigan 7-2 last Saturday night. In fact, Sparty has won their last 3 Saturday night games and lost each of those series’ 3 Friday night games. Not only that, but they have outscored their opponents 17-5 in those Saturday games. Each of these series has been against CCHA teams, and Michigan State stands in a tie for third in the logjammed CCHA standings at the start of the week (ND beat Michigan Thursday night to jump to the top of the CCHA and push Miami to 2nd and MSU to 4th currently).

Second year coach Tom Anastos had only good things to say about the RedHawks.  “I’ve watched them on video half a dozen times,” Anastos said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I’d like to see them in person now. They play really hard, and they’re a good team. They’ve done a good job building a culture that, in spite of bringing in a lot of new (players), they are coming into a culture. That’s what we want to establish here.” (source: The State News)

Michigan State will be led by Sophomore Matt Berry, who currently stands 4th in CCHA scoring with 6 goals and 5 assists (behind RedHawks Riley Barber, 14pts and Austin Czarnik, 13 pts). Berry had a hat trick in the 7-2 victory over Michigan and looks to lead the Spartans over another ranked CCHA foe.

Anastos, the former CCHA Commissioner, seems a bit unsettled on his goalie situation at the moment. Junior Will Yanakeff has played in 7 games, compiling just a 2-4-1 record and is allowing 3.71 goals per contest. Freshman Jake Hildebrand was in net for MSU’s big win against Michigan, and is 2-1 on the season, and has only allowed 1.8 goals in his 4 games played.

In the Miami net, we will likely see the return of Ryan McKay as he returns from injury. Coach Blasi remains quite secretive on who will play: “He’s going,” Blasi said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play this weekend or not, but he’s 100 percent and ready to go if called on.” (source: The Miami Student)

Jay Williams has performed fantastically while McKay has been nursing some sort of groin or leg injury, and we’ll likely see the rotation kick back up again now that he’s healthy. McKay sports a 1-0-1 record with the tie being a shootout win against Providence. After that shootout win, McKay started the Friday night game at Michigan and that is when he quickly came out of the game. Just 5 minutes in, McKay injured himself, came out of the game, and even went into the locker room for a stretch. He was the only other goaltender dressed that night, so he did come back on the bench and was also the only goalie dressed for the other 5 games Miami has played (2 at Ferris and 2 at home against NMU) as well. In any event, it will be nice to see this freshman back on the ice and fighting off the frozen rubber again.

We like repeating it, so we’ll fill you in on the leading scorer in the CCHA – Miami’s Riley Barber. Barber leads all scorers as a rookie with 14 points and Austin Czarnik is just one point behind him. Czarnik leads the RedHawks with 6 goals and leads the country with 3 shorthanded goals. The new “super duo” as coined by CBS College Sports’ Dave Starman will look to continue their hot play this weekend.

As we mentioned in last week’s wrap up, the Hawks will need to stay out of the box this week. Michigan State clearly has the ability to put the puck in the net, it’s a matter of when (Friday or Saturday?). MSU is scoring on 25% (11 of 44) of their power plays and Miami will need to make sure they aren’t caught in the box for a sudden outpouring of goals like MSU had against Michigan last Saturday.

As we wind down towards puck drop, I can’t help but think Miami is going to sweep the weekend and the boys will again sit atop the CCHA standings after 4 weeks of CCHA play. Miami has owned Michigan State of late, having won the last 5 contests including 2 CCHA tournament games last season. Overall, Miami is 31-68-5 against MSU and Coach Blasi looks to improve his record above .500 as he is currently 19-20-0 against the Spartans. Miami is 4-0-2 at home this season, and 2-2 when allowing 3 or more goals. Team defense will again be the name of the game to keep MSU off the scoreboard.

While 5 points is nice, 6 points is nicer. Let’s get a sweep, RedHawks! See you at the game on Saturday night!

Analysis: One Warrior’s take on the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend

For this Redskin Warrior, a sense of optimism and hope comes along with the tournament brackets for once. Teams like the evil empires BC and BU are nowhere to be found (until the finals, anyway), other teams are missing key components, and momentum from a strong finish seems to be on our side. There are 9 teams that made the tournament in 2011, and 6 teams that have never won the whole thing.

Here are my picks and thoughts on the weekend ahead…

Northeast Region: #1 overall – Boston College, Minnesota-Duluth, Maine, Air Force

Let’s start in Worcester, where BC will undoubtedly have issues with Air Force. The Atlantic Hockey Champion has given teams fits in the last few NCAA tournaments. Last year, the Air Force Academy took the #1 overall seed Yale to overtime. 2 years ago, RIT took down another #1 seed in Denver, then blew out New Hampshire to make its first ever Frozen Four.

Even though BC has won 15 in a row, I still think Air Force comes in with the experience of last year’s tournament and gives them quite a fight. They are over sized and over matched on paper, but you can never discount the heart of the Falcons on the field or on the ice. BC in a tight one, maybe even in overtime again.

On the other side, you have the defending National Champions in the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs taking on the Maine Black Bears – Hockey East’s runner-up. If Maine’s Hobey Baker candidate and the nation’s top goal-scorer Spencer Abbott doesn’t play, I think they are 1 and done. If he plays (his status is currently “questionable”), this is a game to watch. I think the ‘Dogs come out on top in either scenario, however.

In the regional final, look for a titanic battle between the last 2 National Champions. BC’s size and speed will overpower UMD and make it to the Frozen Four again.

West Region: #4 overall – North Dakota, Minnesota, Boston University, Western Michigan

Congratulations, Western Michigan! You’ve won the CCHA Tournament, arguably the best conference in NCAA hockey this year. Here’s the Mason Cup, and you get North Dakota as your victory prize!

All kidding aside, I think the Broncos ride their Mason Cup win to a good showing. However, North Dakota has won 3 straight WCHA Playoff tournaments – something no other team has ever done, and they’ve been here before. NoDak moves on in this matchup.

In the early game in St. Paul, the home town team is matched up with Boston University. The Minnesota Golden Gophers make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. For one of the flagship programs of college hockey, this is somewhat remarkable, and in that time, 29 teams have made the NCAA tournament since Minnesota last did. Can you beat my score of guessing 24 of those 29 teams?

Minnesota, this region’s host, should have about 15,000 of the capacity 18,064 fans in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and I have no doubt this will help propel them to a victory.  Don’t count out BU, however. In a battle between head coaches who have 5 total national championships between them (Lucia – 2, Parker 3), I’ll take Minnesota.

This creates a rematch of a conference tournament that we just saw last week, and ironically, it happens in the exact same building.  Last Friday, North Dakota quickly went down 3-0, but rallied and scored 6 unanswered goals to move on. This coming Friday, I predict a different story, and Minnesota heads to Tampa.

Midwest Region: #2 overall – Michigan, Ferris State, Denver, Cornell

Michigan extends its NCAA tournament appearance streak to 22 years in a row – all of them under head coach Red Berenson – and will face the Cornell Big Red, whom Michigan met in the first year of the streak. While Cornell has 18 total wins on the season, Michigan has 18 wins against TUC’s this year. ‘Nuff said. Michigan big.

On the other half, a much depleted Denver squad comes in for its 5th straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers could be missing their best player in Jason Zucker, and head coach George Gwozdecky is preparing for the weekend as if they do not have their leading goal-scorer. They will take on a Ferris State squad that was unexpectedly bounced by Bowling Green in round 2 of the CCHA Playoffs, and has only been to the NCAA tournament one other time (2003) in their history. I’m taking Ferris State, here, but they’ll run into a much more stern task in the regional final.

If the 2 CCHA teams prevail in Green Bay, this pits the #1 vs #2 teams from the conference against each other. Ferris State lost 7 times during the CCHA regular season this year, and two of them were to Michigan. I don’t think Ferris State has the star power to overcome Michigan, and Michigan makes it to their second straight Frozen Four.

East Region: #3 overall – Union, Miami, UMass – Lowell, Michigan State

Of the 4 brackets in this year’s tournament, I don’t think Miami could have drawn a better grouping. They don’t have to face Michigan, North Dakota, or either of the Minnesotas OR Bostons. Nice work, selection committee!

In the early game, Michigan State – the last team in the tournament – takes on the ECAC winner, the Union Dutchmen. A school of only 2,000, who is lead by first-year coach Rick Bennett, looks for their first-ever win in the NCAA tournament.  I think they get it this year, as Michigan State is reeling. As we know, they fell 6-0 and 4-1 in Oxford 2 weekends ago, and have a bit of a goalie controversy. Also in his first year, Head Coach Tom Anastos will need to find something for either Drew Palmisano or Will Yanakeff to build on from those embarassing losses. Michigan State is going to be coming off of a bye, those 2 big losses, and another “bye” week, so they are going to be rusty as well. The ECAC Champs from Schenectady, NY (that’s fun to say) take this one handily.

We’ll have some more for you on the Miami vs. UML game later in the week, but I will tease you with this fact from our Sunday #SixPack from this past weekend. Despite the youth on this team, Miami will be the bigger and stronger team. UML’s largest player is just 6′ 1″ tall. Miami averages that in height, with 13 players plus Connor Knapp coming in at 6′ 1″ or taller. It might look like a scene from one of my favorite hockey movies with the size advantage Miami will have on the ice. In any event, the New York Rangers RedHawks take down the scrubs from Mystery, Alaska River Hawks and move on to face Union.

The Regional Final will be a hard fought battle, but I’m confident that Miami will be back on track after a big win on Friday night and will carry the momentum to Tampa where I’ll get to see the RedHawks take on Michigan in the National Semifinals.

To recap, that’s BC against Minnesota on one side, and Michigan vs Miami in the other half of the bracket. Post your picks in the comments below and we’ll see how things turn out this weekend. IS IT FRIDAY YET?!?!?!

CCHA Playoffs – First Round

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Farmington Hills, Mich. – Though Miami is sitting this weekend out, there are three best-of-three first round CCHA tournament matchups that begin tonight. Here is an overview of each series.

(11) Bowling Green at (6) Northern Michigan
Chris Bergeron’s first year with the brown and orange certainly wasn’t as easy as former Miami assistant Jeff Blashill’s with Western Michigan. The Falcons won just three conference games and finished 8-24-4 overall in the former Miami captain and assistant coach’s first stint as a head coach.

The good news is the Falcons finished a respectable 1-2-1 including a shootout win against the Wildcats, and split a pair of games in Marquette back in November.

But, the bad news is the Falcons enter the conference tournament on an eight game winless streak. And, Northern Michigan has gone 26-13 in the CCHA playoffs since Walt Kyle took over as head coach in 2002 and the Wildcats have advanced to the Joe in seven of Kyle’s eight seasons.

If all the top seeds win, Northern Michigan will travel to Oxford to face Miami next weekend to play for the right to advance to Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA Conference Semifinals.

Prediction: NMU sweeps

(10) Michigan State at (7) Alaska
The Spartans make their second trip to Alaska in the past three weeks as they battle the Nanooks in Fairbanks. Michigan State won the regular season series 2-1-1 splitting two games Februrary 18th and 19th at the Carlson Center.

Despite junior goaltender Drew Palmisano’s Twitter pleas to Miami’s Andy Miele (he asked the RedHawks assistant captain to “lose one to Lake Superior State” to avoid a return trip to Fairbanks), the Spartans are once again heading to the great white north.

Michigan State is 39-13-3 all-time against Alaska and has a 4-0 record in first round CCHA tournament games. The Spartans lead the all-time conference tournament series by a 6-2 count and are 15-7-2 all-time in Fairbanks.

If all the top seeds win, Alaska will fly to South Bend to take on Notre Dame next weekend.

Prediction: Alaska in three

(9) Ohio State at (8) Lake Superior State
Coming off a sweep at the hands of Miami, the Lakers limp into a home playoff series against the Buckeyes on a four game winless streak. Ohio State won the series 1-0-1 despite dropping a shootout just two weeks ago in Columbus so the teams are familiar with each other.

Given the way the Lakers played against Miami, I think Ohio State has the upper hand in this series. Should the top seeds hold serve, the winner of this series will face Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend.

Prediction: Ohio State sweeps

>Friday Night Lights – March 12

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Red and White Wall – Miami defeats Ohio State (photo: cnati.com)

Oxford, Ohio (March 12) – Led by two goals apiece from Carter Camper and Andy Miele, the top seeded Miami RedHawks overcame a one-goal first period deficit to defeat Ohio State 6-2 in a CCHA second round tournament game at Steve Cady Arena.

Miele would get the RedHawks on the board first before Ohio State’s Hunter Bishop would score his fourth and fifth goals in the last two games as the Buckeyes took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room at the end of 20 minutes.

But Camper would tie the game for Miami just 17 seconds into the second period on a one-timer from Miele and get the game-winner on the powerplay a few minutes later firing up the better-than-expected crowd of 3,141 at the Goggin Ice Center (Miami students are still on spring break). The RedHawks would score twice more in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead heading into the final stanza.

On the night, Miele had 2 goals and 2 assists for his third career four point game while linemate Jarod Palmer had a goal and an assist. Junior captain Tommy Wingels chipped in with two assists and added a massive, clean open ice hit on OSU assistant captain Peter Boyd which resulted in a cheap retaliation spearing penalty to Wingels’ nether-region. After the intent to injure penalty was assessed, Boyd was escorted to the locker room and the Buckeyes did not muster much of a comeback even when awarded a late third period two-man advantage.

After a slow start, Miami goaltender Cody Reichard made 26 saves and Buckeye netminder Dustin Carlson was pulled for the second consecutive start at Steve Cady Arena.

Game two of the best-of-three second round series is tonight at 7:05pm from Oxford. You can find an additional game recap at MURedHawks.com

Around the CCHA

Michigan 5, MSU 1 – Don’t look now, but maybe, just maybe, Michigan is about to turn it on. They overwhelmed their in-state rivals with three first period goals and rolled in front of super-sub Shawn Hunwick who is still manning the crease while Bryan Hogan recovers from a groin injury. I believe the Wolverines will have to win the CCHA Championship in order to make the NCAA Tournament for a 20th consecutive year.

Ferris State 3, UNO 1 – Solid performance from the Bulldogs in shutting down one of the hotter offenses in college hockey.

Northern Michigan 4, Alaska 3 – After jetting to a 4-0 lead, the Wildcats had to hang on to defeat the Nanooks in Marquette, Mich.

Around the Country

Niagara 5, Bemidji State 4 – With the Beavers loss, it means that the four-team CHA will likely get two teams into the NCAA tournament spoiling the hopes of an at-large bubble team from a power conference. Currently, Bemidji is 6th in the Pairwise Rankings. I find it highly unlikely they would slide far enough to miss out on an at-large bid. The Purple Eagles will go for the final CHA Tournament title tonight on home ice vs. Alabama-Huntsville.

Quinnipiac 3, Union 2 – Why include this score, you ask? Because it took 5 OT periods for the Bobcats to pull out the victory in the longest game in NCAA history! The two teams meet again tonight in just a few hours.

>Friday Roundup/Weekend Preview – Feb 26 & 27

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Last year’s Miami seniors went out with a bang

NOTE: OK, so epic fail on my part for not getting this finished yesterday, but here it is today with updated playoff implications.

Oxford, Ohio (Feb. 26) – With 106 wins, a CCHA regular season title, a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and an appearance in the NCAA title game in the bag, LAST season’s Miami seniors were the most decorated of any class in school history. However, THIS season’s senior class, including Jarod Palmer, Gary Steffes, Brandon Smith and Dane Hetland have an opportunity to surpass those accomplishments. Consider they already have a second CCHA regular season title to their credit, they possess the CCHA’s top tournament seeding, another #1 NCAA tournament seed is a possibility as is the opportunity to capture the school’s first-ever Mason Cup, awarded to the winner of the CCHA tournament, and perhaps, a second Frozen Four appearance. Additionally, this senior class’ win total of 104 makes them the second winningest in school history. And, with (likely) at least five games remaining, they have an opportunity to leave Oxford as the school’s most successful class ever. Incidentally, NEXT year’s senior class which has driven much of the success of the past two years is already at 80 wins meaning they too will have an opportunity to rewrite the Miami hockey record books and could complete their time at Miami with an unprecedented four players in the career 100-point club.

With the first-round of the CCHA tournament starting next weekend, this is the last weekend of regular season play and, aside from the top spot, the league is tightly packed from second through tenth place. In fact, first-round byes and first-round home ice slots are still up for grabs.

Here’s a quick rundown of the weekend’s action.

Miami v. Ohio State
Miami’s 4-2 loss last Saturday vs. UNO saw the RedHawks 23-game league unbeaten streak end as well as its school record 11 game overall unbeaten streak. With the loss and Denver’s sweep of WCHA bottom-feeder Michigan Tech, the pollsters saw fit to move the Pioneers ahead of Miami in all three media polls. While Miami will continue to play for the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes are clinging to the final first round home ice playoff spot which they possess by three points over ninth place Lake Superior. Should the Lakers sweep the Wildcats, they could easily pass Ohio State should they struggle this weekend against the RedHawks.

Update: Miami scored SIX second period goals to overwhelm the Buckeyes 6-2 on senior night. Six different RedHawks scored goals including a goal and an assist for senior Jarod Palmer in his final regular season game at Steve Cady Arena. Sophomore Cody Reichard made 33 saves to improve to 17-2-3 on the season. The teams will conclude the regular season tonight at 8pm from Value City Arena where Ohio State will need at least a point to assure themselves of having home ice next weekend when the CCHA playoffs begin. The Buckeyes got a break when Northern Michigan defeated Lake Superior in OT meaning the Lakers are still three points behind Ohio State for the final home ice slot. But, should the Buckeyes lose and the Lakers win tonight, Lake Superior will take the tiebreaker and host Ohio State next weekend.

Ferris State v. Western Michigan
The Bulldogs find themselves in a tie for second place with Michigan State in the league standings and face a difficult challenge in last place Western Michigan. Last week, the Broncos announced that head coach Jim Culhane would not return to the WMU bench next season meaning you can undoubtedly expect them to play hard for Culhane during final weekend as head coach. With a second place finish, Ferris State would have its highest league finish since winning the CCHA regular season title in 2002-03.

Update: Ferris State secured a first round playoff bye with a shootout victory over the Broncos. It was the fourth shootout win for Ferris State this season. The Bulldogs are currently 14th in the Pairwise rankings that largely determine the NCAA tournament field,

Michigan State v. Bowling Green
Like Ferris State, the Spartans have an opportunity to lock up the #2 seed in the CCHA tournament which would enable them to avoid a matchup with Miami until the CCHA Championship game in Detroit. While MSU won’t see a big boost in the Pairwise this weekend, their NCAA hopes are hanging by a thread so two wins this weekend are an absolute must.

Update: Michigan State secured a first round bye and moved into sole possession of second place with a 5-2 win over Bowling Green. MSU is currently tied for 11th in the Pairwise rankings.

Northern Michigan v. Lake Superior State
The aforementioned Lakers are hoping they can sneak into eighth place in the league and steal the final first round home ice playoff spot from Ohio State. However, NMU has an opportunity still to claim a first round bye so this series between the two “U-P” rivals takes on additional importance this weekend.

Update: NMU can clinch the fourth and final first round playoff bye with two points tonight against Lake Superior. The Wildcats defeated the Lakers 2-1 in OT last night.

Michigan v. Notre Dame
These two teams played Thursday with Michigan earning a 4-0 win at Yost Ice Arena. Junior goaltender Bryan Hogan left the game with an apparent groin injury early in the first period, but seldom-used junior Shawn Hunwick picked up the slack and carried the Wolverines to the shutout.

Update: After Friday’s games, Michigan sits in seventh place in the CCHA just two points behind Northern Michigan for the final first round bye. If Michigan defeats Notre Dame in South Bend tonight and NMU takes one point or less against Lake Superior, Michigan will earn the fourth position.

UNO and Alaska

Both teams will play non-conference series against Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage, respectively. UNO can enhance their NCAA tournament resume with a sweep of the Beavers while Alaska can continue to affirm their place in the top 16 of the Pairwise.

Update: Bemidji State defeated UNO 3-1 and Alaska defeated archrival Alaska-Anchorage 7-4 last night. Currently, UNO sits 20th in the Pairwise and out of the NCAA tournament field of 16. Alaska is currently tied for 11th.

>Games 23 & 24 – Miami v. Ferris State

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#2 Miami sweeps #6 Ferris State, regains command in CCHA

Big Rapids, Mich. – What a difference a week makes.

Stripped of their #1 national ranking and coming off two non-conference losses to lowly Robert Morris University where their offense generated just two goals, the #2 Miami RedHawks took to the road to take on #6 Ferris State in a battle of the top two teams in the CCHA. Both squads entered the weekend with 34 league points and the Bulldogs brought a 12-game league unbeaten streak and a perfect 11-0 record at Ewigleben Ice Arena to the table.

On Friday, Miami rode the excellent goaltending of sophomore Cody Reichard in posting a 4-0 victory. With the win, Reichard improved his record to 11-2-2 in registering his fourth shutout of the season stopping all 23 Bulldog shots. The shutout tied Reichard with David Burleigh for the most in a single season in Miami history in just 16 games.

Seniors Jarod Palmer and Brandon Smith and junior Andy Miele and sophomore Trent Vogelhuber (CBJ draft pick) scored for Miami as they received scoring from throughout the lineup and dominated the play from start to finish.

Saturday’s game started slowly as the first period ended with a scoreless tie. However, in the second period, Miami would trail 2-1 before erupting for three-straight goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third. Miami would score first in the third period and lead 5-2 before allowing a late powerplay goal and extra-attacker goal to make the score much closer than the RedHawks would have preferred. It was the first time this season that Cody Reichard allowed more than three goals in a game as he made his first back-to-back starts in more than two months. Still, you have to be concerned about Miami’s inability to kill late game, extra-attacker situations. This really hasn’t improved since last season’s debacle in the national title game.

With the victory, Miami (15-4-5, 12-1-3-1 CCHA) leads now second place Michigan State (15-7-4, 10-4-4-1) by five points and Ferris State (16-6-2, 10-4-2-2) by six points (remember, CCHA regular season victories are worth 3 points) in taking the season series 2-0-2 against the Bulldogs. Miami has two games in-hand over the Spartans in the race for the CCHA regular season championship. Miami received two goals from junior captain Tommy Wingels (San Jose draft pick) and single goals from Jarod Palmer, sophomore defenseman Chris Wideman (Ottawa draft pick) and sophomore Alden Hirschfeld in scoring five goals for the first time in the past five games.

Though Cody Reichard allowed a season’s-high four goals in Saturday’s game, his stats remain spectacular. In 17 games, Reichard is 12-2-2 with four shutouts, a 1.54 goals-against average and a save percentage of 93.2. In conference games, Reichard is 10-0-1 with a 1.18 goals-against average with a save percentage of 95.0. He is a legitimate Hobey Baker Award candidate, and if he continues his pace, will easily shatter most of the Miami single-season records for goaltending excellence.

Next week, Miami makes its longest road trip of the year with a trek to the land of the Midnight Sun, from where you can purportedly see Russia from your house, Alaska. In fact, the RedHawks will be playing the University of Alaska in Fairbanks which is actually north of North Pole, Alaska and just 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The Nanooks will enter the weekend in fifth place in the CCHA with an overall record of 10-7-5 and a league mark of 7-7-4-4. Alaska picked up two points in Ann Arbor this weekend losing 6-0 on Friday before bouncing back with a shootout win on Saturday, which was technically a 3-3 tie with the Wolverines. Interestingly, the Nanooks have won all four league shootouts in which they have participated this season.

Here’s a quick look at the rest of the Top 10 and how they fared this weekend.

#1 Denver – off
#3 Wisconsin – split at #8 Colorado College
#4 North Dakota – tied and lost at unranked Minnesota – The Gophers appear to be pulling it together with the help of Bowling Green transfer, and Ohio native, Jacob Cepis who has provided instant offense with four goals and five points in his first six games. The Gophers are now 7-1-1 in their past nine games.
#5 Yale – beat Brown 8-5
#7 Michigan State – lost and won shootout over unranked Notre Dame who is also beginning to show signs of life
#9 Cornell – tied St. Lawrence 1-1
#10 Minnesota-Duluth – Swept Minnesota State moving into first place in the WCHA with Denver’s bye week.

>Game #19 – Red Bull Gives You Wing(el)s

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Miami captain Tommy Wingels scores four goals in 6-0 rout of Buckeyes


Columbus, Ohio (Dec. 11, 2009) – With all due respect to Red Bull, maybe their tagline should be revised. Junior captain Tommy Wingels netted #1 Miami’s first four goals including three on the powerplay as the RedHawks cruised past Ohio State 6-0.

Wingels, who entered the game with six goals on the season, also added an assist for a final line of 4-1-5 enabling him to assume the team lead in goals (10) and forge a tie with junior forward Carter Camper for team points supremacy (18). It was Wingels first four-goal game of his college career and he couldn’t remember a time in recent history that he’d had a similar performance.

“It hasn’t happened in a while, maybe not since the squirt leagues,” Wingels said. “We’re all happy to come out with the win, no matter who scores. Our goal was just to finish with three more (CCHA) points for the team tonight.” (Ohio State Buckeyes)

Three other RedHawks enjoyed three point evenings as Camper (0-3-3), junior forward Pat Cannone (1-2-3) and freshman forward Curtis McKenzie (0-3-3) helped set up Wingels and senior Jarod Palmer who scored the sixth and final goal of the night for Miami at 15:49 of the third period.

Lost among the offensive fireworks was the solid defensive job Miami was doing in holding the Buckeyes to just 17 shots on goal. The team effort enabled sophomore goaltender Cody Reichard to notch his second consecutive shutout and lower his nation’s best goals-against average to 1.34 as he improved to 10-1-2 on the season. Miami has not allowed a goal since November 28 as they have recorded shutout victories in their last three games. In fact, the scoreless streak has now reached 202:14 minutes which is a school record.

For the Buckeyes, the loss had to be disheartening as head coach John Markell thought he was settling in on a starting goaltender in sophomore Cal Heeter that he could ride during the second half of the season. Heeter came into Friday’s game with a 2.75 GAA and 91.4 save percentage. However, the native of St. Louis, Missouri was average at best surrendering all six Miami goals and perhaps had a case of the jitters. With the performance, Heeter earned himself a spot on the bench for tonight’s series finale in Oxford. Junior goaltender Dustin Carlson will apparently return to the Buckeye crease to face the always creative Miami student section in Steve Cady Arena.

“(Heeter) is not too happy with himself,” Markell said. “I thought he had some freshman moments there… He made some saves in the second period just couldn’t sustain it.” (USCHO)

With the win, Miami improved to 12-2-5 on the season and 9-1-3-1 (31 points) in the CCHA. Miami will need to continue to win as both Michigan State (26 points) and red hot Ferris State (25 points, two games in-hand) continued to post league W’s and are in the RedHawks rear view mirror for the top spot in the conference.

Ohio State will be looking for a better effort in tonight’s rematch in Oxford as they saw their record drop to 7-11-1 overall and 5-7-1-1 in the league. The Buckeyes’ 17 points is good enough for 8th place and the final home ice slot if the CCHA playoffs began today.

Notes

  • Reichard’s shutout was his third on the season which is a new career high. Last year, Reichard posted two shutouts during a stellar freshman season.
  • Given the winter break begins after tonight’s game, it will be interesting to see if Miami coach Enrico Blasi goes with his typical Saturday goaltender (sophomore Connor Knapp) or if he goes with the red-hot Cody Reichard as this is the final league game for about a month, and as such, is very important for Miami.
  • Wingels is just five goals behind his career high of 15 that was established during his freshman season with more than 18 games to play. He has responded both on and off the ice in his new role as RedHawk captain.
  • Camper recorded the 100th point of his career with his assist on Wingels’ second goal.
  • The Buckeyes have been shutout three times this season and are averaging just 2.31 goals per game.
  • Miami was 4 for 6 on the powerplay while Ohio State was 0 for 6.
  • Miami has now successfully killed 23 consecutive opponent powerplays and Ohio State has not converted in their last 24 man advantage situations.
  • Heeter made 27 stops as the RedHawks outshot the Buckeyes 33-17.
  • A pro-Miami crowd of 4,496 was in attendance at Value City Arena.
  • Tonight’s game will be televised live across the great state of Ohio on ONN at 7pm.

>Spartans, Lay Down Your Arms

>These ain’t your father’s Spartans.

Okay, so maybe that reference is a bit of a stretch. Off to a hot start at 3-1-0, the Michigan State Spartans will look to plunder 6 points from Miami this weekend, but the MSU team that the RedHawks will host for the beginning of conference play is, at least through the first two weeks of the season, vastly different than last year’s platoon.

Last season was atypical in every way for Rick Comely’s program. A slew of injuries and several off the ice issues led to a poor on ice performance and an embarrassing season for one of the nation’s more respectable programs. The Spartans were near to last in several NCAA categories, including offense (1.63 goals per game, 57th/58 NCAA teams), defense (3.21 goals allowed, 46th/58), and power play percentage (11.0 %, 55th/58). Just two years removed from a Division-1 NCAA Championship, Michigan State finished 10th in the CCHA (after being picked to finish 3rd in the pre-season coaches’ poll), with a 10-23-5 overall record, the school’s worst showing since the 1977-1978 season, when the team finished 7-27-2 under legendary head coach Amo Bessone. They weren’t even in the CCHA yet.

But that was then and this is now.

Gone from the program is diminutive goaltender Jeff Lerg, an outstanding netminder who owns more awards and records than Snoop Dogg. The pipes now belong to Drew Palmasino, a sophomore with a 2-1 record and a 2.61 GAA coming into this weekend’s action. Also gone is last season’s leading scorer, Matt Schepke, a winger that tallied 24 points for the Green & White last year. He was the only Spartan to hit the double-digit mark in goals (14) and one of two in assists (10). Sophomore Daultan Leveille, a highly regarded Atlanta Thrashers’ prospect who was second in scoring last season, is back too. MSU also has a solid crop of freshmen, including Dean Chelios, son of NHL great and current Chicago Wolf, Chris Chelios.

Expect the firepower this weekend from MSU, too. Junior Corey Tropp and freshman Derek Grant rank first and fourth respectively in NCAA scoring. Tropp has 5 goals, 4 assists for a total of 9 points in the first four games and Grant has 2 goals, 5 assists for points through the first two weekends. Yikes. The Spartans are tied for third in the country in team offense (scoring 4.50 goals per game) and own the nation’s second best power play at 28.6%.

Miami (3-0-1) has won six of the last eight meetings with the Spartans (including three of four last season), but still trails 66-25-5 in the all-time series. With a great MSU power play and a superb Miami penalty kill, special teams will be where the game is won or lost and will play large this weekend. All signs point to two exciting matchups at the Cady, starting Friday night at 7:05pm, with Saturday night’s action beginning at 8:05pm.

Both games will be televised by ONN, with “Diamond” Dave Allen and Neil Sika calling the action. Saturday night’s contest will also be televised by Comcast Local.