Category Archives: Chris Wideman

Weekend Preview: CCHA Semifinals and Finals

This weekend marks the final weekend of conference play in all of college hockey, with the final positioning for the NCAA tournament at stake and conference championships waiting to be won. Your 4th seeded and defending Mason Cup Champion Miami RedHawks take to the ice at 4:35 pm Friday afternoon against the #3 seed Western Michigan Broncos in the first CCHA Semifinal and #2 seed Michigan takes on the #11 seed Bowling Green in the late game.

Semifinal 1: #3 Western Michigan vs. #4 Miami 4:35
TV: Fox Sports – Ohio (DirecTV 660), Fox Sports Detroit Plus (DirecTV 664 SD, 664-1 HD) and Fox College Sports-Atlantic (it’s out there somewhere)

This season, the Broncos and RedHawks faced off twice, and Miami took both games in Oxford by scores of 3-1 and 4-0. Connor Knapp started both games and  made 48 out of 49 saves on the weekend, and Reilly Smith started his torrid second-half streak with a hat trick on Friday night, and added another goal on Saturday night.

On Friday, expect to see a showdown of Knapp, a senior, and Rookie of the year candidate Frank (the big) Slubowski in opposing nets. Knapp, as we know, has been absolutely on fire in 2012. Here’s the low-down on Knapp’s unbelievable season from muredhawks.com:

  • Connor has not allowed an even-strength goal since Feb. 4, 2012 against Michigan, a span of seven starts.
  • In those 7 games: four goals allowed, all on the power play.
  • Knapp has allowed one or fewer goals in 13 of his last 15 games, during which he has a 0.89 goals against average and .964 save percentage (since the start of 2012).
  • Knapp leads the NCAA with a 1.43 GAA and is second in save percentage at .943.
  • His 5 shutouts this year (all since 1/7/12) are a career high, and he broke the school’s career shutouts record with his 13th last Friday.
Slubowski, on the other hand, has been WMU Head Coach Andy Murray’s goaltender of choice this season, compiling a 15-10-4 record, and a stingy 2.03 Goals Against Average. The Big Slubowski, as he is nicknamed by his teammates, joins teammate Garrett Haar (Defense) and Miami’s Austin Czarnik on the CCHA All-Rookie team this season, and is a finalist with Czarnik and Michigan’s Alex Guptill for the conference’s Rookie of the Year Award.

Miami comes in with an 8-game winning streak, second longest in the nation to Boston College who has won 13 straight contests. In those games, Miami has outscored their opponents 32-5. Western Michigan is unbeaten in its last 4 games, including a win and a tie against the previously bounced Ferris State Bulldogs, and last weekend’s sweep of Lake Superior State in round 2.  While the Friday game is the first time Miami and WMU have met in the CCHA Semifinals, it is a rematch of the CCHA Championship game from 2011, a contest won handily by the RedHawks for Miami’s first Mason Cup title.

More notes for the weekend:

  • Reilly Smith is carrying an 8 game point streak into this weekend. He had previously scored goals in 7 straight until Saturday night’s game. He continues to lead the NCAA with 8 game winners and is second in the NCAA with 27 goals scored.
  • Jimmy Mullin has scored in 5 straight games – his career long – and has 11 points in those games.
  • Western Michigan Head Coach Andy Murray will coach in his 22nd game at Joe Louis Arena in Friday’s CCHA Semifinals. As a head coach of the Los Angeles Kings he went 1-9-1 against in Joe Louis Arena, with the lone win coming as a playoff series clinching victory over the Red Wings in 2001. (Source: wmubroncos.com)
  • Miami will want to stay out of the penalty box this weekend. WMU is 3 for 5 on the power play during the CCHA playoffs, and were performing at a 20.1% clip in the regular season. Miami’s penalty kill stands at 6th in the nation at 85.9% of penalties successfully killed, and also ranks 6th with 16.4 penalty minutes per game.
  • As the games go final on the weekend, keep your eye on USCHO’s PairWise rankings. Miami sits tied with Boston University for the #4 spot at this moment, meaning if  the season had ended and today we were watching the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, Miami would be a #1 seed. After every final score of the weekend, these standings are going to jostle ever so slightly, and almost every game is important.
  • Senior Goalie Cody Reichard was named one of 5 finalists for the NCAA’s Wooden Citizenship Cup. The award is  presented annually to two distinguished athletes, one collegiate and one professional, for their character and leadership both on and off the field and their contributions to sport and society. (source: muredhawks.com)
  • For your reading pleasure, check out USCHO blogger Elliot Olshansky’s Hobey Baker picks for 2012, where he picks Reilly Smith as a finalist.
  • And for your viewing pleasure, take a gander at the CCHA’s 20 Questions with Miami Senior Defenseman Chris Wideman, and their CCHA Now feature for 3/14/12.

Semifinal 2: #11 Bowling Green vs. #2 Michigan; approx 8:05PM Eastern
TV: Fox Sports-Detroit Plus, and Fox College Sports-Atlantic

Coming off of a 2-1 series victory over Northern Michigan 2 weekends ago, Bowling Green got 5 more goals from Freshman Dan DeSalvo and took down top-seeded Ferris State in dramatic fashion last weekend. Ferris State led 3-0 after 1 period of play in Sunday’s round 2 finale, but 4 straight goals from the Fighting Chris Bergerons, and they move on to Detroit for the first time since 2001. Consider these facts about BG’s improbable run:

  • BG was the first team to win a playoff series from the last place seed in 2011. They repeated that feat in 2012, and in doing so, knocked off the #6 and #1 seeds in the CCHA tournament in the process
  • BG won 5 CCHA conference games all season, and have now won 4 of their last 6 in the tournament. Throw in a win over Michigan in the last series of the season, and they’re 5-3 in the last 3 weeks of play
  • Freshman Dan DeSalvo scored 4 goals all season in 17 games, and missed the last 4 games of the season with an injury. Against NMU, he had 5 goals in the 3 game series, and he scored another 5 in the three games against Ferris State.
  • DeSalvo scored the first hat trick for BG since Jan. 18, 2008, and DeSalvo’s 10 playoff goals are already a new CCHA Tournament record, with 2 more games to play.
The primetime matchup of Friday night is sure to be a crowd pleaser, and we’d just love it if BG were able to pull of the upset of Michigan. Just 3 weeks ago, BG took down Michigan at the BGSU ice rink in a 4-3 decision, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility to think that BG could advance to the CCHA Championship win a win on Friday night.

Third place game: The losers of the semifinal games will meet at 3:35PM Eastern Saturday.

CCHA Championship game: winners of the 2 semifinal games, 7:35PM Saturday; Fox Sports-Detroit, Fox Sports-Ohio (Alternate channel)

If you’re looking for your hockey fix tonight and can’t wait until tomorrow, catch 3 future Miami conference-mates in action from the WCHA’s Final Five tournament (that consists 6 teams). Denver takes on Michigan Tech at 3:07 Eastern today and St. Cloud State takes on North Dakota at 8:07 Eastern. You can catch both with the “sports packages” on Fox Sports-North (DirecTV ch. 668) out of St. Paul, Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center tonight.

After all the dust settles on the entire weekend, jump over to ESPNU on Sunday at high noon. John Buccigross, Barry Melrose and Aaron Ward will announce the NCAA Tournament Field on the NCAA Hockey Selection Show, and we’ll find out exactly where Miami is heading for its first round NCAA tournament game.

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Preseason All-CCHA teams announced

The CCHA has released its 2011-2012 preseason All-CCHA teams.

Reilly Smith heads up the 1st-team with 10 first place votes – only he and Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan received 10 first team votes, earning them both unanimous decisions. Cody Reichard makes the first team as the league’s top goaltender. Defenders Chris Wideman and Will Weber made the 2nd-team as well.

>Miami defeats Alaska 4-1

>Oxford, Ohio – Andy Miele and Reilly Smith scored in a decisive third period as #7 Miami defeated Alaska 4-1 at Steve Cady Arena.

Chris Wideman and Patrick Tiesling also scored for the RedHawks who outshot the Nanooks 36-18 in stretching their unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3).

After falling behind 1-0 through one period, Miami evened the score on a powerplay goal by Wideman, his third of the year at 5:06 of the second period.

Miami dominated the third period as Tiesling, Miele and Smith found the back of the net. Tiesling’s goal would stand as the game-winner, just his second of the year, with assists to freshman Max Cook and senior Justin Vaive at 3:15.

Miele and Smith added insurance goals at 11:11 and 17:35 as the big guns got in on the action. For Miele it was his career best 20th goal and 62nd point of the season while Smith tallied his CCHA best 25th marker on the campaign.

Junior netminder Cody Reichard surrendered a goal on the first Nanook shot on goal, but shut down Alaska from that point forward to earn the win.

Miami goes for the series sweep tomorrow night at 7:05pm at Steve Cady Arena. The game will be televised around Ohio on the Ohio News Network and is also available online via Miami All-Access.

>INCH Features Wideman in A-Z Preview

>“Wideman is a well-rounded defenseman with great hockey sense and strong abilities in all areas of his game. Because he moves and distributes the puck so well, the sophomore-to-be is an integral part of Miami’s power play, where he notched 17 of his assists.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

>RedHawks’ Survive First Round of Cuts

>Connor Knapp and Chris Wideman have survived the first round of cuts at the USA Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, New York. The RedHawk sophomores are just two of the remaining 29 players selected by USA and UNO head coach Dean Blais to remain in camp. The original roster of 42 players was trimmed on Sunday evening.

“We kept five defensive pairs and five forward lines, and all of them will have a chance to show what they can do against Russia,” Blais said. “Even after this camp ends, we will continue to evaluate all of these players…”

Team USA will take on Russia four times this week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) at the Olympic Center, in Lake Placid. Invitees are hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team that will take part in the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009, in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan.

To view the current US roster, click here.

(Photo Credits: Rachel Lewis)

>There’s A Draft In Here…

>The 2009 NHL Entry Draft has wrapped up from Montreal and four future, or present RedHawks had their names called.

The first to go, was 2010 commit Reilly Smith, a winger, drafted by the Dallas Stars in the third round (69 overall). Smith, who played last season for the St. Michael’s Buzzers in the OJHL, was originally ranked at number 158 on the NHL’s Central Scouting list. His selection at 69 is a jump of 89 spots. AT 6’0, 157 Smith has good size, but desperately needs to fill out a his frame. Dallas made it clear that the wing was an area of concern, selecting 4 wingers out of 5 picks.

Next to go, was sophomore defenseman Chris Wideman, selected by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round (100 overall). Wideman, who quarterbacked the CCHA’s second best powerplay in 2009, will surely be on the Sens “watch list,” as they’re steadily rebuilding a solid D-corps. His puck moving abilities are a must have on every NHL roster. Look for Wideman to continue to improve in the following years.

No action for Miami in the fifth round, however another winger, Curtis McKenzie, set to join the ‘Hawks in the Fall, was also taken by the Dallas Stars, only in round 6 at 159 overall. He led the Penticton Vees of the BCHL in scoring this season, with 33 goals and 41 assists. McKenzie is considered to be a two-way power forward who is strong in front of the net and in the corners, but can also score goals and has great size for that, at 6’2, 192.

Last to be taken was sophomore goaltender Connor Knapp, by the Buffalo Sabres in round 6, 164 overall, just five spots down from McKenzie. Knapp was ranked number 19 on the list of 31 North American goalies that are draft eligible. In his freshman campaign, Knapp posted a 13-5-3 record and a 2.09 goals against average and will fit nicely in a Buffalo organization with a dwindling supply of ‘tenders in the system. Knapp, along with Wideman, will be attending the USA World Junior Evaluation Camp in August.

>Knapp Ranked 7th Best College Prospect

>With the NHL draft just two short weeks away, Hockey’s Future has once again reviewed the top 10 NCAA draft-eligible prospects. While Minnesota forward Jordan Schroeder is the unanimous top prospect (and a top 15 pick, at least), Miami sophomore goaltender Connor Knapp cracks the list at number 7. Here’s the writeup:

Knapp was half of one of the nation’s best goaltending tandems this season. Though he played in just one post-season game, Knapp was an integral part of the RedHawks success this season. He was named to the CCHA All-Rookie team after posting a 13-5-3 record that included three shutouts in 23 games.

Knapp is a towering goaltender that is remarkably agile. He utilizes his large frame very well and is excellent in his positioning. Knapp’s rebound control, especially on second and third opportunities, is also quite good. He possesses good lateral movement too. Knapp is very focused and poised in playing his position. Though his puck handling has improved over the course of the season, it is an area that he will need to continue to work on to be successful at the next level.

Miami assistant coach Brent Brekke on Knapp: “The one thing that Connor did a great job in was just changing his habits. Connor’s very dedicated in all aspects of his life. He’s a pretty detailed kid, which I think really indicates why he has made such big strides. He’s also taken that extra step in getting himself into peak condition to become a better goalie. Connor is a kid that takes care of the little details like a pro.”

I should also point out that Knapp was ranked 19th out of 30 North American goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting. Miami sophomore defenseman Chris Wideman was listed as a “notable.”

Click here to see which other NCAA players made the list.

>Wideman, Knapp Make All-Rookie Team

>The CCHA All-Rookie team has been announced…and two RedHawk newbies have made the cut. Freshman defenseman Chris Wideman (my personal favorite) and goaltender Connor Knapp were selected to the annual squad.

Here’s the book on Wideman:

Chris Wideman, a 19-year-old defenseman from St. Louis, Missouri, and Miami University led all CCHA rookie rearguards with 22 points, finishing third among all rookies and third among all CCHA defensemen. Wideman’s 22 assists in 27 conference games was best among rookies and tied for second place overall. He finished second among rookies with 14 power-play points, sixth overall, and was named CCHA Rookie of the Week once.
And Knapp:

Connor Knapp, a 18-year-old goaltender from York, New York, and Miami University, posted a 12-3-2 record in conference games, third among CCHA netminders and first among rookies with a .765 winning percentage. Knapp’s 2.02 goals-against average was second among rookies, fifth overall and he placed third among freshmen netminders with a .908 save percentage.

Congratulations to both! I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Knapp get more time between the pipes next season, and the remainder of this season as well. As for Wideman, this kid can run a power play with the best of them. I love watching his play on special teams.

>What a First Half!

>Wow…what a conclusion to the first half to the season, with a 7-1 win over RPI today. I think the question of “is this a rebuilding year or a reloading year” has most certainly been answered, given our play thus far. I for one would have never thought we’d be one point out of first place in the CCHA, with a 12-3-3 record and four consecutive weekend sweeps going into the New Year. What a nice surprise that is!

So now, without further ado, here are my first half awards, complete with cheesy names:

Gary DeLonge Most Valuable Player Award: Carter Camper, SO, 11 goals, 15 assists

Top Newcomer Award: Chris Wideman, D, 0 goals, 15 assists, +8 rating

Bobby Marshall Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Roeder, 1 goal, 1 assist, + 6 rating

SDS Pizza Most Improved Player: Gary Steffes, JR, 6 goals, 5 assists, + 13 rating

Rich Shulmistra Goaltender of the Year Award: Connor Knapp, FR, 7-1-1, 1.77 GAA

So, there you have it. Our ‘Hawks are off until 2009, where they’ll meet the Clarkson Golden Knights, along with Army or Ohio State at the Ohio Hockey Classic, in Columbus. In the new year, the RedHawks get right back into it with a weekend series at Michigan, followed by a Michigan State homestand and then a trip out west to Omaha to take on the Mavericks. Another thing to keep in mind: The end of season home and home with Ohio State may indeed have meaning this year, as the Buckeyes, led by the stellar play of Dustin Carlson, are lurking in 6th place in the CCHA with a record of 11-6-1. I certainly didn’t see John Markell getting 11 wins out of that team the entire season. It’s sure to be a great matchup, come late February.

The CCHA standings have also been updated on the top left corner of this page. As you’re aware, there are some major surprises this season in the league. Here are my top three:

1. Michigan State (4-11-3)
– The Spartans were picked to be near the top of the CCHA, led by veteran goaltender and team captain, Jeff Lerg. This young MSU squad is 0-9-1 in their last 10 games. Next up for the Spartans, the Great Lakes Invitational on December 26.

2. Northern Michigan (3-10-3)
– The Wildcats have also been struggling as of late, going just 1-7-2 in their last 10 (not counting an exhibition win over the USNDTP this weekend). Projected fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll, Walt Kyle’s ‘Cats have quickly fallen out of CCHA title contention and will most assuredly go on the road for the first round of the playoffs.

3. Ohio State (11-6-1)
– One of the hottest teams in the country now…imagine that, the Buckeyes! OSU has strung together a 9-1 record in their last 10 with a solid weekend sweep in November over a very good Nebraska-Omaha squad. In the new year, conference play for the ‘Bucks has tight matchups at Bowling Green, at Ferris State, home with Western Michigan, and a long trip to Alaska. OSU is certainly a team to watch and very well could make it’s way into a top 4 finish.

Who would you hand out awards to, based on first-half play?

>Wideman Named Defenseman of the Week

>Freshman defenseman Chris Wideman has been named the CCHA Defensive Player of the Week. Here’s the league release:

Wideman (0-4-4) assisted on the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 4-2 win at WMU before setting up three more goals in Sunday’s 7-3 victory over the Broncos.

Congratulations Chris!