Category Archives: Wisconsin Badgers
In front of Miami’s 6th consecutive sellout crowd at Steve “Coach” Cady Arena, Miami played a gritty style of hockey and came away with a thrilling 2-0 victory over the 12th ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
From the start, Miami was flying around the puck. It was quickly evident that Miami wanted to use their speed tonight to overwhelm Wisconsin and much of the evening was dominated in this fashion. From top to bottom, Miami was the better team tonight and it started with their speed. “They’re a good team,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “They have waves coming at you and you have to back check. You have to collapse and make sure you’re strong in front of the net.”
Blasi was very positive after the game saying “it was like that when we played them last year in their building. It was a real good college hockey game. They had their chances and it could have gone either way. They have 3 full lines that can hurt you.”
Miami and Wisconsin would play a scoreless first, with Wisconsin really having the better of the few chances there were to go around. Late in the first, Wisconsin forward Joseph LaBate fed a pass across the slot and the entire arena thought it was 1-0 Wisconsin. As the puck got over to linemate Matt Zengerle, the puck skipped, however, and the scoreless tie was in tact.
Halfway through the second period, after being kicked out of the faceoff circle, Blake Coleman scooped up a puck and fed Anthony Louis in the slot and Louie didn’t miss, scoring his 4th goal of the season. “[This was] Louie’s best game tonight,”said Blasi. “He’s a skill guy but he’s starting to get a little grit to his game which helps. When he starts to chances, he becomes really dynamic.”
Ryan McKay was quick to point out that despite his 3 consecutive Friday night shutouts, it’s not all him. “It’s a credit to our team defense. Compared to the beginning of the season it’s a dramatic difference.” McKay never really looked to be in danger of letting a goal in, and Miami’s team defense was stifling all night. In his last 4 starts, McKay has 114 saves on a possible 116 shots. In addition, he hasn’t allowed a goal on Friday night this season (he was swapped with Jay Williams for the Canisius series 2 weeks ago), and now leads the NCAA with 3 shutouts.
Wisconsin’s leading scorer Nic Kerdiles was held without a shot until late in the 3rd period. Blasi was stern in saying that he wasn’t playing a shut down defense type of game against him: “We were just aware of him, no different than they are aware of Barber and Czarnik. You have to play a good brand of 60-minute hockey when you play Wisconsin beacuse if it’s not him it’s going to be someone else. To key in on one guy, that’s not how we do it. Whether it’s him or someone else, you have to play good team defense.”
From beginning to end, it seemed that come hell or high water, Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik were going to be held off the score sheet. Wisconsin took one penalty stopping Barber in front of the net, and could have had 2-3 more because of his strong play.
On the other end of special teams, Miami is now perfect on their last 15 penalty kill chances. Miami killed their last 2 penalties against Canisius, followed it up with 5 kills each night in St. Cloud and killed all 3 chances tonight.
Despite the goaltending and defense, the line of the night was the Cody Murphy, Coleman and Louis line. The three RedHawks posted a combined 10 shots, were +3, and were seen killing penalties seemingly at will.
These two teams lace up the skates again tomorrow night. There’s certainly no reason for Coach Blasi to bench Ryan McKay at this point, but in his press conference after the game, there was no indication that he would or would not make the switch. In fact, when asked, Blasi said “I’m going to have a sleepless night tonight.”
Well, rest easy Coach. Tonight’s win, while out of conference, runs Miami’s record to 7-3-1 and relieves some of the pressure from their shoulders for tomorrow night, allowing them to play loose and free once again. Expect more of the same from the RedHawks they try to sweep the Badgers in Oxford.
There are a lot of similarities between Miami and Wisconsin this weekend: Red and White as team colors; “Jump Around” as the unofficial team songs (for Bucky Football, anyway); size, speed and strength as their defining characteristics on the ice. But after that, Miami and Wisconsin are 2 very different teams. This weekend, the two teams face off in non-conference action in Oxford.
Wisconsin comes in as the number 12 team in the nation, just itching to break into the top ten. While the conference schedule hasn’t started yet, the Badgers play in the newly formed Big Ten Conference. Miami comes in having played the 8th toughest schedule in the country this weekend. After last weekend’s games at St. Cloud, the RedHawks have now played against 3 then-top 10 teams (current #3 St. Cloud, #5 Providence and now #13 North Dakota). Head Coach Enrico Blasi had these words of praise for the visiting Badgers:
“Another tough weekend for our team. We’ve grown accustomed to that right now. Wisconsin is very deep up front with some high-end forwards. They are very well coached. We need to focus and continue to get better and be ready on Friday night. I know our team got better last weekend and that’s really our goal every time we step on the ice.”
Blasi will have his hands full as the Badgers come in scoring 3.83 goals per game – just a touch ahead of Miami’s 3.70 goals per game, and 9th in the country in scoring. On the other hand, Wisconsin does allow the same 3.83 goals per game and is currently 52nd in the country in scoring defense, while Miami comes in at number 11, allowing just 2.2 goals per game.
Another point of emphasis will be the special teams this weekend. Miami is currently killing 84.3% of power plays, including killing all 10 chances in St. Cloud last weekend. Wisconsin is 6 for 24 (24%) on their power play, so limiting the man advantage situations will be key for Miami. On the other hand, Miami’s power play, currently 7th in the nation at 27.3% will look to continue it’s torrid streak against Wisconsin’s 40th ranked penalty kill, stopping just 79.3% of their opponents’ power play chances.
Who’s in Net?
Wisconsin’s Goalie situation is one to be wary of. Over the last 2+ seasons, Joel Rumpel is 29-21-6 in net for the Badgers, but was injured during the second game of the season and will not play tonight. Backup Landon Peterson has stepped in nicely and sports a 2-2-1 record. He will likely start in Rumpel’s place for both games this weekend.
On the Miami end of the ice, you can’t say that Ryan McKay has been anything short of fantastic so far this season. When called upon, he has been stellar and sports a 4-1-1 record including a split last weekend at St. Cloud State. We have to guess on the rotation or non-rotation status every week, so we’ll see who Coach Blasi sends out for the weekend series.
“Jay and Ryan play extremely well,” he said at this week’s press conference. “It’s really tough to make a decision who to play in net. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them split again. How do you go against Ryan when he pitches 2 shutouts back to back? Just a gut feeling more than anything, but we’ll re-evalutate from day to day.” Lately, Blasi has been going with McKay on Friday nights, but who plays on Saturday is anyone’s guess. With another solid performance Friday, it very well could be McKay for his 4th start in a row on Saturday.
Shaking Off the Rust
Wisconsin comes in to the series having played just 6 games overall, and has had off weeks every other week it seems. They played October 18-19 at Boston College and at Boston University (2 losses and 16 goals against on the weekend), had a week off, and then hosted Lake Superior State (3-3 tie and 8-1 win). After another week off, they come to Oxford still trying to get on a roll, and will have another off week next weekend before playing their first Big Ten games the last weekend of November.
Head Coach Enrico Blasi likes to get his team moving and keep them rolling. I’m guessing Wisconsin’s Mike Eaves wants to get his team rolling as well. Shaking off the rust over the first 6 weeks of the season isn’t exactly the way to do it, so this weekend, the Badgers will certainly be looking for blood.
Miami won’t have it easy this weekend, but if the Badgers cannot stay out of the penalty box, they’re going to be in trouble. According to tonight’s play-by-play man Dave Starman, Wisconsin likes to pack it in on the penalty kill and this will leave the 5-forward line including Czarnik, Barber and Wideman wide open on the blueline during power plays. Look for several power play goals on the weekend from the specialty units.
I can’t help myself. Miami 4-1 and 3-1.
Where to Watch
Friday’s game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network with Dave Starman, Ben Holden and Shireen Saski calling the action. Saturday’s game can be caught on Miami All-Access.
Enjoy the action and GO REDHAWKS!
Keep calm, RedHawk fans.
Miami hockey is back and better than ever!
Miami is in Madison, WI for a set of 2 games against the WCHA’s Wisconsin Badgers this weekend. It will be the last out-of-conference series on the season and afterwards, the story of the standings will be a lot clearer. With all of the other 10 CCHA schools facing off against each other, Miami will come back to the pack a bit in terms of games played. Miami can only fall to 3rd in the CCHA standings, but Notre Dame, Western Michigan and Ohio State – all within striking distance – will have the same amount (16) of games played after having 2 games in hand for much of the season. The Irish(1st place and +1 point on Miami) hosts Alaska and Western Michigan (3rd, -2 points) heads to Bowling Green.
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The #11 Miami RedHawks took care of business in a big way defeating the Lake Superior State Lakers 8-1 on Friday night. Eight RedHawks notched multiple-point games with senior captain Carter Camper and his classmate Justin Vaive each tallying two goals. National points leader and Hobey Baker candidate Andy Miele had yet another stellar game as he recorded a goal and two assists bringing his season totals to 18-41-59 with one game to play in the regular season. Meanwhile, Camper is “just” the nation’s third leading scorer and his two goals brought his tremendous senior campaign numbers to 17-32-49.
While the offense was humming, junior netminder Cody Reichard was solid in recording his 12th win and continued his stellar second half play. Reichard is making a bid to be the #1 goaltender down the stretch for Miami. Since December 29, Reichard has allowed three or more goals just twice (at MSU 1/21, vs. WMU 2/11) and is 6-1-2 during that stretch including a shutout of Michigan. In fact, Reichard has allowed one goal or less in six of nine starts and is playing his best hockey of the year. For the season, Reichard is 12-4-2 with a 2.11 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. With the victory, Miami has moved into a tie for 7th in the PairWise rankings. Here’s a rundown on the scores that helped boost Miami last night.
- Fairbanks over Anchorage – Dropped the weak Seawolves from TUC status pulling some inflated numbers down for WCHA teams (can’t say that too often) such as Duluth and Denver who were 2-0 and 3-0-1 respectively against UAA.
- CC over Duluth – Second time the Bulldogs are mentioned. Miami jumped them last night as a result of their loss and the Nanooks win (above).
- SCSU over Wisconsin – Miami’s 1-1-1 record against the Huskies is currently better than Wisconsin’s (0-1) flipping a comparison.
- Ferris over Ohio St. – Miami’s 0-2 record against the Buckeyes doesn’t hurt as much when they drop from TUC status. We’ll be rooting for OSU to lose in their first round CCHA series – for more than one reason.
- Quinnipiac ties Union – Miami jumped the Dutchmen (didn’t even have to look up Union’s mascot — though I did double check) as a result.
It will be interesting to watch as things change over the coming few weeks.
Fairbanks, Alaska (Jan. 23) – #2 Miami earned five points on their longest road trip of the year defeating the Alaska Nanooks 5-0 in Fairbanks, Alaska last night. Sophomore Connor Knapp stopped all 19 shots in registering his third shutout of the season. It was Knapp’s first game action since a 2-1 loss to Robert Morris on January 10 where he made just 13 saves. His goals-against average is now a sparkling 1.95 with a 91.8 save percentage as he improved his record to 4-2-3 on the year.
This weekend saw the reunion of last year’s top line of juniors Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels and sophomore Alden Hirschfeld that was so good throughout the NCAA tournament. And, they didn’t disappoint managing five points between them for the weekend. It was also nice to see Hirschfeld pick up his game as he seemed much more involved and active than I can remember seeing over the past several weeks. In addition, Trent Vogelhuber seems to have picked up some of that energy as he was also much more visible, working much harder than I have seem him. It’s good to have those two sophomores helping contribute to take some of the scoring pressure off senior Jarod Palmer and the juniors (e.g., Camper, Pat Cannone, Andy Miele, Wingels, etc.).
The RedHawks jumped to an early 1-0 lead at 6:42 of the opening period when freshman Reilly Smith redirected a Tommy Wingels shot past Nanook goaltender Scott Greenham. The goal was scored 6×5 during a delayed penalty as Miami was able to control the puck in the offensive zone and find a quality chance. Miami would tally just six minutes later when sophomore Matt Tomassoni found the net off a chance on the right side. Tomassoni took a pass from senior Brandon Smith and wristed a high, hard shot that appeared to hit Greenham’s right shoulder and bounce up and over the sophomore. The RedHawks would complete their highest scoring first period of the season when Palmer scored off a feed from Andy Miele that chased Greenham from the net at 14:50 of the first period.
Steve Thompson would enter the game and keep the Nanooks in it, but Miami would finish off the evening on third-period goals from Wingels and Brandon Smith to secure a five-point weekend and an enjoyable flight back to Ohio for the Red and White.
Head coach Enrico Blasi succinctly summarized his thoughts on the 5-0 victory.
“It was a good effort by all of our guys tonight,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “Connor played well (in) net and we came in with a determined effort. It was nice to get the win.” muredhawks.com
- Knapp’s shutout was the third of the season and his fifth in just 33 career games. He has already surpassed last year’s two shutouts which was his first season at Miami.
- Wingels’ goal was his team-leading 13th of the season. He is just two goals off his career high of 15 that came during his freshman campaign in Oxford.
- Miami’s fourth line of Brandon Smith, Justin Vaive and Matt Tomassoni includes a fifth-year senior (Smith), the 6’6″ son of an NHL legend (Vaive) and a defenseman (Tomassoni). The line combined for 2-2-4 on the evening.
- Miami (16-4-6, 13-1-4-2 1st CCHA) has opened a seven point lead over second place Michigan State with two games in-hand. The RedHawks ran their league unbeaten streak to 16 games.
- Miami is once again atop the Pairwise and KRACH rankings and are positioning themselves for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament should their good play continue.
- One of the key components of the Pairwise Rankings that effectively determine the 16-team NCAA Tournament, is record against Teams Under Consideration (TUC’s). The top 25 teams in the Pairwise are ranked and defined as “under consideration.” Miami has played 26 games this season with 18 of them coming against TUC’s. They are 12-2-4 in those games having played the 7th most difficult schedule in the nation and have achieved the 2nd best winning percentage in the country. However, only Miami’s series with Lake Superior State is against another TUC for the remainder of the regular season meaning it will help Miami’s Pairwise if the top teams they have already played, and beaten, such as Ferris State, Michigan, Notre Dame, New Hampshire and St. Cloud State continue to win.
- Miami returns home for the next two weekends starting with a two-game series against the CCHA’s last place team, Western Michigan January 29-30 followed by what is shaping up to be a big series against fourth place Lake Superior State. The Lakers are having a surprisingly nice season and are in line for a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs.
- After two weeks on the road, Miami will not leave the state of Ohio until at least the CCHA championship weekend in Detroit in late March.
- Ohio State’s victory over Michigan State coupled with Miami’s win in Fairbanks enabled the RedHawks to open a seven-point spread over the second place Spartans in the CCHA. It’s roughly a 2 1/2 game lead since CCHA league wins are worth 3 points each.
Other Games of Interest
#8 Ferris State 3, Michigan 2 – Ferris earns the split in the second half of the home-and-home from Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
#3 Wisconsin 4, #1 Denver 3 – The Badgers take 3 of 4 points from the Pioneers in Madison opening the door for #2 Miami to return to the top of the polls this week.
#14 Bemidji State 5, #4 Minnesota-Duluth 4 – The Beavers of the CHA sweep the first place team in the WCHA. The sweep effectively silences the noise-makers from that western conference whom as we know, can do no wrong…for a few minutes at least.