Category Archives: Austin Czarnik

AHL report: Vets, rookies shine

Miami continued its strong presence in the AHL in 2016-17.

Seventeen former RedHawks logged games in the NHL’s top development league, with Andy Miele finishing 14th in points and Jack Roslovic ending up sixth in rookie scoring.

Blake Coleman tied for 11th in rookie goals with 19, and Roslovic tallied 35 assists, tied for second among first-year players.

BoB takes a look at ProHawks’ milestones and highlights of the 2016-17 AHL season.

Andy Miele (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

MODEL OF CONSISTENCY: In Miele’s last four seasons, his assist totals have been 45, 44, 44, 44.

In his first season with Lehigh Valley, Miele led all former Miamians in points with 57. He has now logged 420 career games, racking up 119 goals and 249 assists for 368 points.

RATED ROOKIES: Roslovic was second in points by an ex-RedHawk with 48, scoring 13 goals and setting up 35 more for 48 points, and he finished second in the entire league in rookie helpers with Manitoba.

Coleman went 19-20-39 and was tied for third in rookie plus-minus at plus-21.

Blake Coleman (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

OTHER NEWCOMER HIGHLIGHTS: Sean Kuraly scored 14 goals and picked up 12 assists for 26 points in his first season with Providence, recording a plus-10 rating.

FIRSTS: Speaking of rookies, Anthony Louis and Matthew Caito scored their first career AHL goals in 2016-17.

After wrapping up his Oxford career in March, Louis found the net in Milwaukee on April 8, putting Rockford ahead, 2-1 in an eventual 4-2 win for the IceHogs.

Caito picked up his first two league points the same night in a 6-0 home win vs. San Antonio, earning the primary assist on the third goal and finding the net on the Griffins’ final tally.

MILESTONES: Pat Cannone is tops in games played among current former RedHawks pros with 421, edging Miele out by one. Three current skaters have logged over 300 AHL games.

– In addition to being called up to the NHL for the first time in 2016-17, Cannone notched his 150th career assist. He has 89 goals, 152 assists and 241 points in 421 AHL games.

– Defenseman Vincent LoVerde eclipsed the 300-game and 100-point mark, racking up a career-best 35 points for Ontario. He is plus-89 in five AHL seasons and plus-105 in six pro campaigns.

– Forward Carter Camper surpassed the 250-point mark by putting up six goals and 29 assists for 35 points in his seventh AHL season and his first with Albany. He reached the 30-point mark for the sixth straight season.

Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?!?!?!? No ex-Miamian won the Calder Cup this season, but Austin Czarnik’s Providence Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference final, with the former captain logging 17 postseason games. Czarnik notched three goals and four assists for seven points, tops among former RedHawks skaters.

The P-Bruins eliminated Hershey in the second round, ending the season of former teammate and close friend Riley Barber, who was second in Miami Calder Cup scoring with five points.

Kuraly also played part of the playoff season with Providence, dressing six times and dishing for an assist. He was the only ex-Miamian to skate in both the Stanley Cup playoffs and Calder Cup playoffs, combining for two goals and a helper in 10 postseason games.

See also: NHL report: 6 made debuts in ’16-’17

On deck: BoB takes a look at Miamians in the ECHL.

A look at all RedHawks that appeared in AHL games this season:

2016-17 AHL REGULAR SEASON STATS

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Andy Miele Lehigh Valley F 65 13 44 57 -15 54
Jack Roslovic Manitoba F 65 13 35 48 -17 22
Blake Coleman Albany F 52 19 20 39 21 56
Pat Cannone Iowa F 73 9 29 38 0 26
Vincent LoVerde Ontario D 61 9 26 35 5 68
Carter Camper Albany F 47 6 29 35 -3 18
Riley Barber Hershey F 39 13 14 27 4 12
Sean Kuraly Providence F 54 14 12 26 10 37
Cameron Schilling Ontario D 72 8 18 26 -2 49
Austin Czarnik Providence F 22 6 17 23 0 4
Marc Hagel Binghamton F 53 2 8 10 -11 39
Justin Vaive Rochester F 66 3 6 9 -6 90
Matthew Caito Grand Rapids D 13 1 1 2 1 6
Anthony Louis Rockford F 13 1 1 2 -9 4
Trent Vogelhuber San Antonio F 15 0 2 2 -2 8
Kevin Morris Syracuse F 2 0 0 0 -1 5


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Jeff Zatkoff Ontario 8 458 2 4 3.01 .900 0

2016-17 AHL PLAYOFF STATS


Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Austin Czarnik Providence F 17 3 4 7 -2 10
Riley Barber Hershey F 12 1 4 5 2 4
Andy Miele Lehigh Valley F 5 1 2 3 -1 4
Carter Camper Albany F 4 2 0 2 1 2
Cameron Schilling Ontario D 5 0 2 2 3 0
Blake Coleman Albany F 4 0 1 1 -1 6
Sean Kuraly Providence F 6 0 1 1 0 23
Vincent LoVerde Ontario D 5 0 0 0 -1 6
Advertisements

Czarnik makes NHL debut for Boston

Austin Czarnik became the 28th former Miamian to log an NHL game when he made his debut for the Boston Bruins in Columbus on Thursday.

Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Czarnik, tied for fifth on the RedHawks’ all-time points leaderboard with 169 and second in team history with 123 assists, logged 15 minutes in his first game in the world’s premier hockey league.

The center from Washington, Mich., scored 20 goals and picked up 41 helpers in his first full pro season with AHL Providence in 2015-16. He turned professional immediately following his senior season at Miami in March of 2015 and notched two assists in three games for the P-Bruins.

Czarnik was Miami’s captain his final two seasons and tallied at least 37 points in all four of his seasons in Oxford.

RedHawks Rewind: Recapping Week 1

Sing a song! Miami Sweeps Ohio State on opening weekend!

Sing a song! Miami Sweeps Ohio State on opening weekend!

We partied too much on Saturday night and you have permission to give us a tongue lashing when you see us in Oxford this weekend for skipping out on the Twitter SixPack and our new Three Stars feature. We’ll be more diligent with the SixPack in the future. Promise. Time for some news you can use after last weekend’s games.

After the win, here are a few things Coach Blasi had to say:

That’s obviously the first weekend of our season against our huge in state rival and its a huge start for us.  We’ve been opportunistic with our chances and if we’re going to play with this intensity, scoring will come. But we still have to clean things up. We’ve got to manage the puck a little bit better and be more determined away from the puck.

I thought our defense handled themselves well – I thought we saw a lot better gap control tonight but we’re still a work in progress, and we have to get better. We’ve got to forget about what happened and get ready for our next game.

Saturday’s 3 Stars

Riley Barber currently leads the NCAA with 7 points after 1 week. (Michael Griggs/Miami University Athletics)

Riley Barber currently leads the NCAA with 7 points after 1 week. (Michael Griggs/Miami University Athletics)

3. Enrico Blasi and the Power Play unit. On Friday night, Blasi deployed 5 forwards on their 2 early 5-on-3 power plays, and why not? They scored twice, so it was clearly the right move. On Saturday, Miami again scored a power play goal, this time on just a normal 5-on-4 scenario. On the ice were Riley Barber who scored the goal, Austin Czarnik, Blake Coleman and Max Cook, plus Matthew Caito – Miami’s best offensive defenseman. Miami is now 4 of 10 on the power play in 2 games, having scored in both games. Sat’s PPG came in just 14 seconds of PP time as well.

2. Austin Czarnik had 4 points (1-3–4) on the night. Add in a goal from Friday and he still wasn’t even close to our #1 star for the weekend. But Czarnik was, as usual, all over the ice and looked like the best player on either squad and an early season Hobey Baker favorite.

1. Was there any question that Riley Barber would get this slot? Barber had 3 assists Friday and 4 goals Saturday (let’s see if he can keep up 3.5 points per game this season!). Barber becomes the first RedHawk to score 4 goals since Tommy Wingels did so in December of 2009.

Check out the Saturday night highlights from Miami All-Access and Rachel Lewis’s Photo Gallery of Saturday’s game.

Press Clippings

By now you know that Miami sits firmly atop the National Polls. What you may not remember is that the last time Miami played North Dakota on November 28, 2009, they were amidst a 12-week run (their longest ever) at #1. North Dakota was #4 at the time.

Barber and Hamilton garner two of the four first-ever NCHC weekly awards. You know what Barber did – basically undressed Ohio State for two nights, notching 3 assists and 4 goals, to earn the first NCHC Player of the Week. Trevor Hamilton is one of the new faces in Oxford, and had 3 assists and was a +4 on the weekend to earn Rookie of the Week. Read all about it from the NCHC.

Upcoming

North Dakota heads to Oxford for their first ever visit. Miami is 0-2-1 vs North Dakota all time. The three matchups were in 1999 in Milwaukee, WI, in the Lefty McFadden Invitational to start the 2005-06 season and the aforementioned 5-5 tie in 2009. Get used to seeing North Dakota, as we see them twice more this year (Happy Valentine’s Day), and a whole bunch more as we move forward in the NCHC. Most likely, the NCHC Tournament will have to go through them as well. We are reminded by Brad Schlossman – writer for North Dakota at the Grand Forks Herald – how good Miami has been at home recently:

After playing UND this weekend, Miami then heads out to Providence, RI for a return date with the Friars after they came to Oxford last year.

RedHawks 2013-14 Wish List: We Want It All

For 2013-14, I can’t help but be hopeful for big things. A new conference that will provide new rivalries, new teams coming to Oxford and new barns to visit. Today, we give you our 3 wishes for the new season that has us thinking big. Be sure to comment below with your wish list items or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter by using the links above.

Open in Style

(Flickr/Billy V)

A strong start against OSU and North Dakota will be crucial. (Flickr/Billy V)

There isn’t much more that I like seeing out of the RedHawks than crushing Ohio State. It will be very important for this young team to gel in the Exhibition game against Windsor on October 5th. Miami will – as usual – have all it can handle with OSU on October 11 in Columbus and October 12 in Oxford.

It will be nice to have the home and home series back with Ohio State even though they have joined the Big Ten Hockey Conference. But a series is just a series when you’re not in the same conference any more. With that said, don’t expect a walk in the park on opening weekend.

Following the Ohio State series is what may be the biggest series of the season in week 2, as Miami welcomes North Dakota to Oxford for just the third time ever. The first game of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference will be on national television on CBS Sports Network, and Miami will look for its first ever win against North Dakota during the series in Steve Cady Arena. Miami has lost 3-0 and 3-2 to North Dakota in Oxford and tied them 5-5 in Grand Forks just a few years ago. It will be important to gain at least a split in the series that should match up 2 top 10 teams in the first month of the season.

Avoid the Rico Swoon

Blasi

Enrico Blasi comes into the season with a record of 311-196-53, good for 71st all time in NCAA wins.

We all know it seems to happen around the middle of the year. Perhaps this is why Miami scheduled a game against the US National Team Development Program on New Year’s Eve instead of a tournament trip to play games that count. The game will be in Oxford, so there won’t be any extended travel, and the game will be a nice bridge to keep the team fresh between NCHC games against Denver on December 6 and 7 and the second half opener against Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on January 10 and 11.

For year’s we’ve been complaining about the Swoon, and with good reason. In 2011-12, the Swoon came pretty early with an overtime loss to Colgate, 2 losses at Ferris State and another 2 losses to Lake Superior State in Oxford – all of which came in October. At the end of the year, Miami would go on to win 9 out of their last 10, before losing to UMass-Lowell in the NCAA East Regional.

In 2012-13, the Swoon hit in December and continued into early January. Losses to LSSU and Ohio State, a 1 goal performance in the Three Rivers Classic (1-0 win against OSU and 1-0 loss to Robert Morris) finished 2012 and then Miami opened 2013 with a loss and shootout win in Northern Michigan, and another 1-0 loss at Wisconsin. The story repeats itself once again as the Hawks got hot down the stretch and ended up winning the final CCHA Regular Season Championship.

We could go back and back and back and just about every year find a stretch such as the above. It always turns out okay for the Hawks, as Enrico Blasi has led the Hawks to 8 straight seasons with at least 23 wins, all of which also led to NCAA Tournament appearances.

National Title or Bust

Jonathan Biles/www.bloguin.com

Can the RedHawks hoist this bad boy in April? (Jonathan Biles/www.bloguin.com)

This was a foregone conclusion with this wish list, right? While many think that a regular season championship and tournament championship are possibilities in the first year of the NCHC, those championships are small potatoes compared to what this team has the potential to do. I’m certainly not going to be upset if we win one or the other, but these RedHawks have a real shot at greatness.

With a quick glance down the roster, you’ll find just 2 seniors and 8 juniors including a candidate for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in Austin Czarnik. The 11 Sophomores are part of what may become the best recruiting class that Miami has ever had, and the Freshmen are arguably the second best class ever, at least on paper.

The defense may have a little work to do after losing seniors Joe Hartman and Steven Spinell – guys who played a combined 307 games as RedHawks. However, replacing them are 3 great recruits: 2 brothers of current/former players (Matt Joyaux, brother of sophomore Chris, and Johnny Wingels, brother of former Miamian and current San Jose Shark Tommy) and one of the more highly regarded defensive recruits in the country in Trevor Hamilton. The defense was the second best in the country last year only allowing 1.74 goals a game over 42 games, so the new guys will certainly have big skates to fill.

But… Losing those 2 star defensemen isn’t all bad when you look who is in net for Miami. Behind the blue liners are not just one, but 2 goalies in the top 10 in the NCAA. Ryan McKay was statistically the 2nd best goalie in the country with a ridiculous 1.39 goals against average and a .946 save percentage – both numbers just whispers away from the number 1 spot.

This team is going to be good. How good? Well, I can’t predict the future. But with a new conference and a bunch of unknown foes, who says the RedHawks can’t take advantage of the unfamiliarity, run off a bunch of wins, gain the confidence they need to roll off 4 all-important season-ending wins and take home the NCAA Championship? There’s only one thing that Miami hasn’t done, and that’s win the last game of the season and hoist THAT trophy. This year, more than ever, the RedHawks have all the pieces to take the Frozen Four by storm and win it all. We start the wild ride on October 11th. See you there!

Going the Distance – Game 3 tonight

keep-calm-and-redhawk-on

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.

Recap: Hawks cool off Alaska, head to Western Michigan

lanternLight the Lantern!
RedHawks sweep again!

Before we recap the week, we remember Brendan Burke. Burkie died 3 years ago today (February 5, 2010). Each and every RedHawk, including those freshmen who didn’t know him miss him like a brother. His legacy will live on in Oxford and throughout hockey and sports through the You Can Play project. We encourage you to support You Can Play at http://www.youcanplayproject.org, and always remember Brendan as an important part of The Brotherhood.

BurkePatch

For the second week in a row, Miami has swept their opponent out of Oxford, this time sending the Alaska Nanooks back to Fairbanks significantly cooler than they were coming in. The 2 wins snapped a 6 game win streak for the Nanooks, who fell back out of the polls, but still remain as a TUC in the PairWise – a good thing for Enrico Blasi’s talented young squad. Here’s what you missed so far this week.

Read the rest of this entry

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.

#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!

16th-ranked Wildcats visit Oxford for 2 game set

Northern Michigan logo

Miami welcomes the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend

Coming off of a 4 game roadtrip against two other ranked Michigan teams, the RedHawks return to Oxford for a two-game set with the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend. Miami got out of Michigan with hard earned splits the last 2 weekends, and come in to the weekend second in the logjammed CCHA standings. 5 teams are 2-2-0 in the CCHA standings, and Northern Michigan is in a tie for 9th (1-2-1, 5 points and 1 shootout loss) in the early going of the CCHA schedule.

Northern Michigan will be led by Senior forward Matt Thurber, who leads the league in scoring with a goal and 10 assists.  Miami’s sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber are both at 10 points on the season, just 1 point behind the CCHA leader. This week’s CCHA Now production features the National Rookie of the Month (in case you’ve been living under a rock, that’s Barber), who is also the nation’s leader in points by a rookie.

Walt Kyle leads the Wildcats from behind the bench, and is in his 11th year in Marquette, where he stands 198-170-46. NMU comes to Oxford having blown a 4-1 3rd period lead on Friday night against Michigan (where they lost the shootout), but did pick up a 4-3 win on Saturday night – both games being played in Marquette. The Wildcats have had a truly impressive start to the season, having won twice against Wisconsin (in a non-conference neutral-site series in Green Bay), and splitting a series at Nebraska-Omaha. They were, however, swept at home by Notre Dame before last week’s tilts with the Wolverines.

Miami is just 20-34-3 all-time against Northern Michigan, including going 1-3-0 last year. Kyle has a chance to reach 200 wins at the helm of NMU this weekend, but the RedHawks will certainly have something to say about that. Coach Blasi may return to the goalie rotation this weekend after starting Jay Williams for both games in Big Rapids. Ryan McKay has yet to see action since being injured with a leg or groin injury in the Friday night game at Michigan, and Williams has played all 235 minutes since McKay went down. McKay was still dressed on the bench last weekend as the backup, however, but did not see any game action.

Look for another weekend of play similar to what Ferris State showed us last weekend. NMU likes to pack in a bunch of players in the defensive zone to block as many shots as possible. Their defensive style constantly frustrates the ‘Hawks, as evidenced by Miami’s 1-3 record against them last year. Miami’s talented group of freshmen will have to be smart and stay out of the penalty box – something they have done quite a bit this season. 17 of Miami’s 51 penalties (33%) have come from the freshmen group that has seen ice time. Miami has also been called for 2 misconducts and one more 5 minute major on the season. While Blasi’s Miami teams have always been physical and have always taken a lot of penalties, some that we have seen this season have been a tad on the cheap side, and have often come at just the wrong time.

This weekend, keep an eye on our twitter feed, as we’ll have a Miami-themed trivia contest during Saturday night’s game. The first response to our question, only asked on our twitter feed, will receive a Miami game puck, signed by Coach Blasi.

I’ll take another split this weekend and we’ll stay in touch with the other teams in the league, and will hope that we’re pleasantly surprised if we sweep the Wildcats out of Oxford. Both games will be available for viewing on the Miami All-Access feed (good luck logging in), and on AM 1490 in the Oxford/Hamilton/Cincinnati area.

Other weekend notes:

Alex Wideman returned to practice this week. After a couple weeks off due to being sick with mono, we could see Alex return to the ice this weekend.

On this date 34 years ago:
November 10, 1978: Miami hockey notches its first-ever victory against an NCAA opponent. Miami beat the University of Illinois-Chicago 7-4 at the old Goggin Ice Arena.

In Miami’s “In the Crease” feature, the 11 freshmen will be featured. Meet Matthew Caito this week on the Miami Athletics home page.

Barber, Czarnik earn Player of the Month Honors

It is becoming “old hat” to see RedHawks taking player of the week or month honors (think Reilly Smith – 3 POTM awards in 2011-12, Andy Miele twice and Carter Camper once in 2010-11, Czarnik as rookie of the month last season, and Cody Reichard AND Connor Knapp were each Goalie of the month winners last year). This afternoon, we continue that trend as the CCHA has announced that 2 young RedHawks have earned awards in October.

Riley Barber, sporting a 5 game point streak with 4 goals and 4 assists earned the Gongshow Rookie of the Month award. Barber is tied for the league lead in scoring through 3 weekends, and has been the leader of the RedHawks 11 freshman – 10 of which have seen ice time already in this young season. Seeing as though this is his first month in the CCHA, it’s also his first monthly CCHA honor – not a bad start for the youngster. Barber was also named CCHA Rookie of the week for the week of October 22nd.

In addition to Barber’s honor, Austin Czarnik earned the CCHA Player of the Month award for his outstanding play in October. “Z” has also tallied 8 points on the season, with 3 goals to go along with his league leading 5 assists. His three goals are of three different varieties, having scored one even strength goal, a power play goal and a short-handed goal thus far. The Sophomore didn’t earn any player of the week honors for the month, but was clearly the RedHawks leader on the ice, looking very Andy Miele-like all month.

Our Congrats go out to Riley and Austin!