Category Archives: College Hockey

Miami Cruises through Pool Play, will Play for All the Marbles

The Miami University Women’s Club Hockey team headed to Delaware this weekend with hopes of wrangling a National Championship. Tonight, they sit on the verge of a title. After a thrilling 1-0 victory over Liberty today, the RedHawks will take on UMass in the National Championship game Sunday afternoon.

What a trip has been. Just 3 years ago, Miami’s women’s club team started their program. The first year didn’t see much success, but Head Coach Scott Hicks grew the program from nothing – you couldn’t expect success in year one. Last year, the team played a whole lot better and nearly made the national tournament, garnering their first ever national ranking and making great strides.

Coach Scott Hicks (dark suit, center) leads the Lady RedHawks.

Tonight, the Miami RedHawks Women’s Hockey Team will try to bring home a National Championship to Oxford.

But the 2013-14 season has seen unprecedented success. The RedHawks have been the #1 ranked team in the country for the entire season. They entered the CCWHA tournament with the top seed and demolished the competition, allowing just 2 goals across 5 games. Next up: the National Championship tournament.

It has been a great trip so far. According to Head coach Scott Hicks, “the girls have been playing well. As the tournament has gone on our level of play has picked up. Having played Michigan and Michigan State prior this year we knew what we were getting. We didn’t play our best, but against Rhode Island, it was ratcheted up a notch.”

Even through the third game of pool play, Miami kept it together in the face of adversity. They were down to the University of Rhode Island 1-0 for almost 2 periods. “Rhode Island is just a great hockey team. It was a back and forth game and when you play good teams they will cause you to make mistakes,” Coach Hicks said.  “The message down 1-0 was all it takes is one shot. Keep plugging away, keep moving our feet and get shots towards the net. We got a lucky bounce to keep a puck alive in the zone and Kaley Mooney buried it.”

One shot indeed. Miami scored just 58 seconds into the third period and held on to the tie to take the top seed in the championship round by way of goal differential against Rhode Island. “The big point of emphasis between the 2nd and 3rd against URI and again against Liberty was not to over coach. The message was keep it simple. Don’t try and do too much, take the simple play they give you and move your feet.”

In the semi-finals, Miami made life extremely difficult for Liberty.

It was a tight game the entire night, but Dana Lovin stood tall in net. Despite a shot that rang off the post with under a minute to go, Miami prevailed 1-0. The Lady RedHawks will now head to their first ever National Championship game, just 3 years after the inception of the program.

Hicks is ready for the challenge Sunday. “We get UMass tomorrow. It’s a battle of the top two teams in the country. We know they are skilled, physical, and have great goaltending. The message is similar, keep it simple, move your feet and make them have to go 200 feet to score.”

Today’s National Championship game starts at 2:00 pm Eastern time. You can catch the game on http://www.fasthockey.com for a nominal fee. Don’t miss it!!

GO REDHAWKS!!!

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The Penalty Box: 2 Minutes with Scott Hicks

About 2 years ago, we sat down with Miami Women’s Club Hockey Head Coach Scott Hicks to discuss the newly formed Women’s team on campus. Over the last 2 years, a lot has happened with his team and today, the Lady RedHawks are on fire.

Miami finished atop the CCWHA Women’s Division 1 standings, earned their first ever #1 national ranking and headed into conference tournament play with a record of 21-2-2. Five games later, the Lady RedHawks had allowed just 2 goals and had 4 shutouts in their utter annihilation of the competition in the CCWHA postseason tournament. They finished the season with a 26-2-2 record and are headed to Newark, Delaware for the National tournament for their shot at a national title, which starts today.

Blog of Brotherhood (BoB): Last time we interviewed you we wanted to know how you got your start. This time, you’re an established team and headed to nationals this week as a likely favorite to take home the whole thing. Give us an update on how the team looks 2 years later.

The Miami Women's hockey program has grown into CCWHA Champions in just a few short years.

The Miami Women’s hockey program has grown into CCWHA Champions in just a few short years.

Scott Hicks (SH): The make up of our program is completely different than it was just two short years ago. We are heavily involved in the recruiting process and have made some changes to how we operate to give these kids the best experience we can and something that they deserve. We are finally starting to get kids who are not only great hockey players, but great people and great students. These kids are coming to Miami to play hockey. Without it they wouldn’t be here, and that makes a big difference on the mindset of your program.

BoB: Despite being a club hockey program, you are now recruiting a good number of young women to the team and the quality of play is climbing quickly. How are you growing the program so well?

SH: The one thing we always tell people is we won’t be out-worked. This is the #1 reason why we have gotten to where we are. We put a lot of time in traveling to showcases to watch players, and recruit. We make ourselves as visible as possible. This has made a lot of people more aware of us for one thing but has also given us credibility.

Our biggest asset is the University itself. The academics make us extremely appealing to several high end players. There really isn’t anything for Women after college, so academics is extremely important to these kids – as it should be. They are starting to realize that there are very few differences between us and any NCAA D-III program.

Some of the biggest differences are that the NCAA level is several hours each day, where we put a program in place to go just an hour a day. Along with that, the fact that a majority of the D-III schools don’t have the academic prestige of a Miami or the campus life of a Miami, it gives us a big edge in the recruiting and is the big reason why we have been able to get some of the players that we have. More kids are starting to realize that we are a better option and other programs like us around the country are better options. That only helps increase the level of play and makes the game much better.

The other big plus is our facility. It’s better than any other option you could get at the D-III level.

BoB: Rachael Booth and Katie Augustine are your leading scorers. Talk to us about their success this season.

Coach Scott Hicks (center, dark suit) leads the Lady RedHawks.

Coach Scott Hicks (center, dark suit) leads the Lady RedHawks.

SH: Both girls are just tremendous people. They work hard on and off the ice and they are extremely talented. These are two that fit the mold of what I just talked about in your previous question. Both had looks from D-I NCAA schools but wouldn’t have gotten a lot of playing time. Both could have gone to any D-III school they wanted to, but the saw the value in a Miami education and fell in love with the campus when they visited.

Both continued their tremendous success and are our top two scorers. Rachael is a point shy of the 50 point plateau and Katie has been just as consistent. We leaned heavily on both of these two during the conference tournament, that’s for sure!

BoB: In addition, your group of 10 freshmen has been pretty incredible as well. How much have they made an impact on the team already this year?

SH: Every single freshman we have brought in has made a tremendous impact on our program. Every single one of them has contributed. Our defense has been given a big upgrade with the additions of Lily Christensen and Catie Karpinski. Our forward group got a big shot in the arm with the addition of those 6 up front.

Besides Augustine and Booth, Kaley Mooney has been on a tear in the second half. She is a kid who was injured early in the year and missed a lot of time in the first half. She benefited from having the holiday break and came back lighting the league on fire. She was named freshman of the month for January and has added some big jump to our offense.

Cassidy Guthrie has also been a huge addition, she has a tremendous motor and has really fit in well with fellow freshman Jordan Hanson and Sophomore Izzy Smith who is continuing to add to her great freshman year with a solid start.

I can’t talk about the freshman class without talking about Emalee Wills. She has been better than advertised. She has been sensational this year. Just to give you an idea of how good she has been, she let in one goal one weekend and her goals against average went UP.

With Mooney getting healthy it has really allowed us some options up front to mix things up and has really been able to give us balanced scoring. We are no longer a one line team or a team where you can shut down one or two players and stop us.

BoB: Speaking of Emalee, your goaltending has also been outstanding this season.

SH: We have a great situation in net. We have a Senior in Dana Lovin who has been our horse the last 3 years and she will most likely see more time than Emalee. But Emalee is making that decision harder and harder each week with her play.

Those are things we want, tough decisions. She knows the situation and has embraced it. The best thing is the two of them get along so well, and Dana has sort of taken Emalee under her wing and that will be big for us in the future.

Dana has continued to be a rock for us and as the season has wound down she has elevated her play. Picking up 3 shutouts out of 4 games played at our conference tournament and lowering her GAA more than a half a goal in the second half.

BoB: What do you think about being the #1 ranked team? You’ve held that spot all season, so is it something you forget about and just play?

SH: Its something that we have decided to embrace. We know the target is on us and to the girls credit, they have constantly risen to the challenge, taken the best our opponents have and answered the bell. We are extremely proud to have carried the #1 ranking throughout the season and to have the top seed at the National tournament.

BoB: Morgan McGrath and Katie Augustine were named to and played on Team USA for the World University Games in December. Rachael Booth was named as an alternate. This has to be a great recruiting tool for you and your coaching staff?

SH: We talked about Katie a little before and she earned this spot. For a freshman to be named to this team is an unbelievable accomplishment and one I know she is extremely proud of and very deserving of.

The Lady RedHawks take on Michigan State, Michigan and Rhode Island in pool play at the National tournament, where they are the #1 seed.

The Lady RedHawks take on Michigan State, Michigan and Rhode Island in pool play at the National tournament, where they are the #1 seed.

Morgan has been a staple for us in her first year and half on campus. She is our shut down defenseman who we really try to match up against the opponent’s top player. She sees about 40 minutes of ice a night and her condition level is tremendous. She is coming off a First team all-conference selection as a freshman. She was a unanimous selection to Team USA and it couldn’t of happened to a better person.

Rachael got on the radar late and it is tough for freshman to get on the roster but it was hard to ignore her performance to start the year and she earned the alternate position. The great thing for her is she has a tremendous opportunity to make the roster in 2015 because of her performance.

BoB: In 2011 we interviewed you in November and on the eve of your game against Michigan State – then the defending national champions. This year, I spoke with you just before you took on Minnesota – another powerhouse program. What kind of example have teams like this been to your program?

SH: This is a great question. We have tried to model our program after Michigan St. and Grand Valley St. They have done things the right way in recruiting and how the operate. 2 years ago I got a little inside look at that. You get to know the coaches and I was fortunate to form a relationship with former Grand Valley St. head coach Corey Whitaker (who is now an assistant at Lindenwood University – an NCAA Division I program). He was a tremendous help in educating me on how things operate at his level and what it takes to compete at this level.

Most of it? I had no clue. It was an eye opening conversation and something I am extremely grateful for. I owe a lot to Corey and his insight but it helped us from our program and put things in place that we feel has made us better and a much more desirable place to come.

BoB: You’ve beaten Minnesota, Adrian College and Grand Valley State – several times each, I might add. How are you going to finish it out this year?

SH: Ha! I guess we will find out. I know one thing – we set 3 goals this season. We have accomplished two of them by winning the regular season title and the CCWHA conference title. Adding a National tournament title to that would just be a spectacular ending to what has only been a magical season. We know we can compete, we have gone up against the cream of the crop and knocked them off going 10-1-2 against the teams that will be at Nationals. Our mission now is to make sure we are well rested and prepared to face what will be our toughest challenge of the year!

Well there you have it. 2 minutes (okay maybe 3-4) with Scott Hicks.

In the National Tournament, Miami will face off against Michigan St. on March 13th at 11:00 am. Later that night, they take on Michigan at 8:30 pm.

We’ll keep you updated as much as we can on @MiamiHockeyBlog, but give a follow to @MiamiWHockey for live updates this weekend.

Welcome to The Skate – Frozen Four Predictions

F4Logo

The road to the Frozen Four – “The Skate” rather than The Dance – starts in about 45 minutes. 4 Regions, 4 teams each. 5 Conference Champions, 11 at-large berths. 1 Championship.

Miami begins in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, OH tomorrow, as we’ve already previewed. And previewed again… But what about those other teams in the Midwest? And who else is in this thing anyways? Let’s break it down and give you our 2013 Frozen Four predictions in the process.

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Miami vs. Minnesota State – Another take

F4Logo
The road to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh
begins this weekend for 16 NCAA teams.

This Saturday, Miami’s NCAA tournament run takes a trip through Toledo, Ohio, as the RedHawks take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. There are some interesting storylines that my co-blogger redhawk95 laid out for you: Miami can’t win the big games and a “one and done” is forthcoming. Well fear not, RedHawks. I think Rico Blasi and the youngest Miami team in decades have more going for them this weekend than previously expressed.

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Hawks finish first half, get 5 points in Columbus

Lantern

The RedHawks lit the lantern and earned
5 points
against OSU this weekend.

This past weekend’s game had me singing “takin’ care of business” after the RedHawks took 5 points from Ohio State in their own barn in 2 hard-fought contests. We expected some gritty hockey with lots of big hits and a whole lot of energy, and what we received for the weekend was well worth the admission price. Both games were very intense, with Friday night’s game going all the way to a shootout, and Saturday’s coming down to some staunch defense in the third period for an exciting 3-1 victory. Here are some game notes and our weekend recap.

Friday Night

  • Miami had only 5 shots in the entire first period. Ohio State had 10 for the first, but didn’t register their first shot until 6:45 into the game. After the slow start and subsequent slow second period, the Hawks had us thinking that we were headed for a “Rico Swoon.” We’re also happy it didn’t end up that way.
  • It wasn’t until the third period until any scoring happened, with OSU’s Devin Krogh scoring 3:52 in to put Ohio State up 1-0. Jay Williams made a big save, but kicked out a rebound to the right side, and on an awkward angle, Krogh snuck the puck through his legs for the first tally of the season
  • At 11:25 of the third, Krogh then took what would turn out to be a very costly penalty. At 12:43 of the period, Riley Barber made a slick pass into the slot area and Curtis McKenzie drilled a 1-timer that found twine, and the game was tied. The power play goal was McKenzie’s 3rd goal of the season, and it earned him the #1 star of the game. It was nice to see Curtis was flying around the ice throwing body blows all night. He ended the night with a team-high 5 shots and also recorded 2 blocked shots.
  • The defense and goaltending were the stories of the night on both sides.
    • Miami was limited to 5 first period shots and just 7 in the third.
    • Ohio State had more shots in overtime (4) than they did in the third (3), and had just 23 total on the night.
  • Somehow, Ohio State goalie Brady Hjelle was named the #2 star of the game ahead of Jay Williams, who won his 8th game in Oxford and stopped all 3 shootout attempts. For the season, Miami has now faced off with 4 different opponents in shootouts and has not allowed even one attempt to find the back of the net (3 wins for Williams and 1 win for Ryan McKay).
  • In a somewhat troubling statistic, Miami’s record in the faceoff circle was a paltry 22-41. Austin Czarnik had a rough night all around, and won just 2 of the 19 faceoffs he fought for. Ohio State’s Tanner Fritz was 19-3 on the night, and this was likely a big contributing factor to the sloppy looking play for the first half of the game.
  • Czarnik made up for his rough night on faceoffs with yet another sweet move in the shootout. He beat Hjelle with a forehander that had it all: speed, deception and creativity… AND he roofed it over the goalie’s shoulder. We’ve got the video of the goal (and the game winning save from Williams) below.
  • Blasi put a somewhat strange lineup on the ice for the night. Bryon Paulazzo, Jimmy Mullin and Taylor Richart got the night off, possibly because of finals week. There were no indications of injuries, and only Paulazzo did not play on Saturday.

Here’s Czarnik’s shootout winner:

And here’s the save and celebration from Jay Williams:

Saturday night

  • Ryan McKay was the story on Saturday and almost came away with his 3rd shutout in just his 5th career start. Unfortunately, after spotting OSU a 2-0 lead, he did allow a goal 6:20 into the third, but he stood tall and stopped the flurry of shots Ohio State threw at him the rest of the way, stopping 22 of 23 on the night.
  • McKay allowed just 1 goal on the night, the third ever of his young 5-game career, and it was the first even strength goal he has allowed.
  • Alex Gacek scored his 3rd goal of the season in the first period, and from there Miami settled into their shell and just stifled Ohio State the rest of the way.
  • Blake Coleman returned to the scoring sheet, as he assisted on Gacek’s 1st period goal and scored the eventual game winner in the second.
  • Miami was 5 for 5 on the penalty kill, and did not allow any shots on the power play until the 5th and final kill, which started with 12:39 left in the third period.
  • Once again, no mention of a Miami goalie in the 3 stars of the game, where Coleman, Hjelle (!?!?!?!?!) and Riley Barber took those honors. There is no explanation other than being a home game for Ohio State that Hjelle got the 2nd star of the game nod each night. It’s clear once again that Ohio State can’t seem to get over themselves when they were outclassed on the ice on Saturday night.

For his efforts this weekend, Riley Barber once again earned the CCHA Rookie of the week award. Barber is the 2-time reigning CCHA Rookie of the Month, and this is his 3rd rookie of the week honor. On Friday night, he had an assist on McKenzie’s goal. He had the OSU goalie beat on his shootout attempt, but his shot hit the knob of the goalie’s stick and didn’t trickle in. He also tallied a goal (the empty net clincher that sent Ohio State fans to the exits) and an assist on Saturday night in Miami’s 3-1 win. Barber now has 8 points and 14 assists on the season, and leads the CCHA in scoring. He has left Oxford and is now in New York in hopes of playing for Team USA with teammate Sean Kuraly in the World Junior Championships.

Speaking of the WJC, tryouts will start in Finland tomorrow the 19th, and you can keep an eye on Team USA during the tournament on the NHL Network. The 2013 World Junior Championships will be held in Ufa, Russia Dec. 26, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013. (We’ll post any roster updates and the upcoming schedule when we know more.) The only other CCHA players headed overseas are Michigan freshman Jacob Trouba and Notre Dame freshman Mario Lucia.

After this weekend, Miami is in a tie with Notre Dame for the top spot in the CCHA. Looks can be deceiving, however, as the Irish have 3 games in hand on Miami. In fact, the RedHawks have played the most games in the CCHA, and 3rd place Western Michigan has 2 games in hand on them and sit just 4 points behind. Meanwhile, Michigan, selected #1 by the media and #2 by the coaches of the CCHA in the preseason polls, sits in a tie for 7th with Alaska and behind teams like Ohio State, Lake Superior State and Ferris State. It should be an interesting second half, that’s for sure. Miami will need to keep taking 5 and 6 points a weekend and also play well in their non-conference games to be well positioned in the PairWise rankings, which will lead to a berth in the NCAA tournament.

And finally, let’s take a quick look at the polls. Miami now sits in the #5 spot in both polls, staying exactly where they were last week. Seeing as though it’s the half way point of the season, now is a good time to take a good look at the PairWise, and Miami is currently 9th there. Not a bad place to be, especially considering the recent opponents. Teams like Dartmouth, Yale and Quinnipiac should drop a smidge, and Miami should be able to move up with upcoming opponents like Wisconsin (in Madison January 18-19), Western Michigan (in Kalamazoo February 8-9) and Notre Dame (home and in Chicago on February 15th and 17th).

The Hawks will be off for 2 weeks, adn return to action December 28th in the Three Rivers Classic. Miami plays the same Ohio State squad on Friday night, and Saturday’s games will be determined by Friday’s results. It will be Robert Morris or Penn State on Saturday night.

Miami looks to rebound with next 3 games against Ohio State

Wait what? 3 games against Ohio State?

Well, let’s lump them all in together. Miami plays this weekend at Ohio State in what could be the last games in Columbus in a good while, and follows that up with a game in between Christmas and New Years in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh against the same team. That makes 3 in a row. And I want to throw up now.

In the effort of having our lunches remain inside of us for now, I’ll spare you the gruesome pictures of Ohio State’s uniform choices in the past, but remind you that they are hideous. We’ll see enough of that on the ice in the next 35 hours or so. Let’s jump in with some comparisons, shall we?

Brady Hjelle will be in net for Ohio State, most likely for both games this weekend. He is 5-3-3 on the season with a 1.46 GAA. Not to shabby until you look at Miami’s Fab Freshmen Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. McKay has still only allowed 2 goals in his 4 starts (2-1-1) and Williams is a stellar 8-2-2 on the season, having filled in for McKay for a stretch. On the other hand, Hjelle has started 40 games already in his career, while Miami’s duo is still at only 16 combined games. There will be rubber flying around the rink the next 2 nights, but it may not tickle the twine too often for either side.

Where Miami MUST be strong this weekend is on special teams. Last weekend against Lake Superior State, all three goals the Lakers scored were on the power play, and LSSU was 3 for 7 overall. On the season, Miami’s scoring pretty well on their own power play at 15%, but are operating at just 86.2% efficience on the kill. That’s quite the low number compared to years past from the RedHawks under Head Coach Enrico Blasi. On paper, Miami shouldn’t have to deal with too much on the Ohio State side of special teams. OSU is scoring just 11.4% of the time on the power play and is a paltry 85.7% on the kill. Austin Czarnik will look to cheat the penalty kill and get another SHG – he currently leads the NCAA with 3 shorties so far this season.

Ohio State is also in the midst of possibly playing the same team three times in a short span. They had a home and home series against Robert Morris last weekend, and came away 0-1-1. Everyone A team like Ohio State should be able to roll over RMU easily. Instead, OSU lost at home to them 3-2, and then tied them 2-2 in Pittsburgh.

As we know, Miami’s young core of talent leads the way, and only 2 returning upperclassmen are in the team’s top 10 in scoring (Curtis McKenzie is 4-6–10 and Bryon Paulazzo is 2-2–4, Senior Marc Hagel has 2-3–5 in his first season in Oxford). Ohio State is led by Ryan Dzingelberry, who has 6 goals and 8 assists on the season. He is undoubtedly the Ohio State leader and is often seen skating all out and hustling on every play. Stopping him will be another key to the extended series.

Tonight’s game will will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network. They are also the first games of the Ohio Cup series for Miami among the 3 Ohio teams  (Ohio State won and BGSU won a shootout in their series earlier this year). Wouldn’t it be nice to deal a crushing blow to Ohio State on their network? I think so too. Hawks tonight. Other guys tomorrow for the split.

If you are travelling to Columbus or are attending with the Miami group, be sure to say hi and drive safely! Enjoy the games, and Happy Holidays everyone!

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?!?!?!

Both Miami Goalies Take Home CCHA Hardware, Smith a Hobey Finalist

At last Thursday’s CCHA Awards Banquet, 2 RedHawks took home some hardware on the night. Miami didn’t take home some of the awards we’ve grown accustomed to winning (defensive defenseman, CCHA POTY), but last night was still a success for 2 Miami Seniors.

For the on-ice awards, despite only receiving Honorable Mention for the All-CCHA teams, Senior Connor Knapp took home the goaltender of the year. Somewhere along the lines, the voters changed their minds and moved Knapp from the third best goalie in the league to the best, jumping over .  With his stats in 2012, you can understand why – I would have changed my mind as well. 16 games, 10-5-0 record, 1.41 goals against average, .945 save percentage, and don’t forget those 5 shutouts on the season and 13 career shutouts – a Miami record.

Reilly smith won this year’s Perani Cup, given to the player with the most nominations as one of the “3 stars of the game” in conference play. Check out the standings here, and you’ll see that he beat out this weekend’s opposing goalie Frank Slubowski for the award.

Jumping off of the ice now, we turn to Senior goaltender Cody Reichard. We know about Cody’s efforts with Swoop’s Stoop, and his hard work off the ice has also payed of. Reichard won the prestigious Ilitch Humanitarian Award, which is given to a player “who had tremendous philanthropic efforts.” Tremendous philanthropic efforts… that doesn’t even begin to describe Cody’s work with Swoop’s Stoop. Congratulations Cody on this award, and we hope we get to see a Lowe’s Senior CLASS award on your mantle as well!

In addition to yesterday’s CCHA Awards Banquet, the Hobey Baker Award Committee announced its 10 Finalists for the 2012 Player of the Year Award. Reilly Smith made the top 10 list, marking the 5th time in the last 6 years that Miami has had a Hobey Baker Award Finalist. Of the 10 finalists, 3 will be named to the Hobey Hat Trick, invited to Tampa Bay and the Frozen Four, and will be eligible to win the award.

Here’s a list of the finalists all-time for the Redskins/RedHawks.

  • Reilly Smith, 2012
  • Andy Miele, 2011 Winner
  • Carter Camper, 2011
  • Cody Reichard, 2010
  • Ryan Jones, 2008 – also a Hobey Hat Trick member
  • Nathan Davis, 2007
  • Andy Green, 2006
  • Derek Edwardson, 2004
  • Dan Boyle, 1998
  • Randy Robitaille, 1997
  • Brian Savage, 1993

Sorry for the late posting on this…It was a long weekend for the Warriors!