Category Archives: Jay Williams

Williams finally in the spotlight

OXFORD, Ohio – Jay Williams’ career at Miami already had to be considered a successful one through his first three seasons.

He played a major role in the RedHawks’ regular season championship in the final year of the CCHA his freshman campaign, and he led Miami to an NCHC Tournament title in 2014-15.

But Williams allowed seven goals vs. Providence in this season’s opener before being pulled in the third period, miring him with an 8.70 goals-against average, and he saw action in just two more games the next three months.

As a result, Williams used Christmas break to reevaluate his priorities.

“It was certainly frustrating,” Williams said. “I think that Christmas break came at a really good time for me personally this year just to kind of get away from it and to get home and spend some time with my family. I had the approach that was going to come (back) and regardless of what happened with playing – I figured my hockey career will be over after this year anyway, and I’ll move on – so if I have three months left of doing this with a group of guys that I love, I’m just going to enjoy every day and try to get better and try to make the most of it because you don’t get these days back.”

Due to an on-ice blow up and subsequent suspension of senior goalie Ryan McKay – who played nearly every minute of the first half this season – Williams was relegated into full-time starter mode and has been in net for all but 39 minutes since.

And Miami and Williams have thrived with him between the pipes.

Despite being swept by Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, Miami is 9-5 in its last 14 games as it recovered from a 5-10-1 start, and in the team’s final home series of this regular season, Williams became the first goalie in RedHawks history to shut a team out in a two-game weekend series.

“Jay’s our guy – he’s been playing awesome,” senior forward and captain Sean Kuraly said. “We expect a lot from Jay. He’s good in practice, he’s a highly-touted kid, and just a really good teammate is a reason why the team is doing well.”

Williams is from McLean, Va., right across the border from Washington D.C. The mid-Atlantic region is not known for producing significant hockey talent, but Williams went to a Washington Capitals game on his eighth birthday and has been a rink rat since.

“I was hooked,” Williams said. “The next day, I found an old pair of rollerblades and a make-shift stick and a crushed Coke can and kind of never looked back from there.”

Williams said as badly as he wanted to play hockey, his mother, Rosie, made him take skating lessons for a year before playing competitively.

“She was like, you’re not playing hockey until you learn how to skate,” Williams said. “At the time I was miserable, but obviously looking back on it I feel like it’s something that’s helped me.”

Soon after he started playing, Williams said he was given a book on goaltending and he was fascinated with the equipment. But he had to sell his parents on the concept.

Finally they caved.

With goalie pads being pricey and kids growing out of their equipment on an annual basis, his parents wanted to trade in his first set for bigger pads, but Williams wouldn’t let them.

He told them that they would end up in the hockey Hall of Fame.

“I was dreaming big when I was nine years old – I had high aspirations,” Williams said. “I think they’re still somewhere (around the house). I don’t think they’ll going to quite make it to the Hall of Fame, but there will definitely be some sentimental value there. They’ll definitely be something that I keep around for the rest of my life.”

In 2009, Williams was 15 and had never attended a collegiate game.

His first one? Miami’s NCAA national championship game at the nearby Verizon Center, during which the RedHawks surrendered two goals in the final minute and another in overtime to lose, 4-3 in ultra-dramatic fashion.

And yet Williams still ultimately chose Oxford.

“For whatever reason, I was really pulling for them there, and the following summer I was in a goalie camp with Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp, and I got to skate with them and be with them,” Williams said. “And then the USA Hockey camp with Trags (assistant coach Nick Petraglia). It was the first visit I came on and I kind of fell in love right away, and I felt a strong connection and a bond. Everywhere else I went I was kind of comparing it to here. They offered and I knew right away this is where I wanted to go – I’m just fortunate that it worked out.”

His juniors experience was turbulent. Selected third overall in the USHL Futures draft at age 15, Williams went 7-10-2 with a mercurial 3.49 goals-against average and an .891 save percentage with Waterloo his first season.

In 2011-12 he was 11-5-4, 2.62 and .904 but was traded to last-place Sioux Falls at the deadline. He finished 2-8-2, 3.78 and .882 in 12 games there.

“Looking back on it, it’s certainly not how you would’ve wanted it to go, it wasn’t ideal,” Williams said. “First year, kind of up and down, adjusting, and then my second year started out great and kind of fizzled. Sioux Falls, who at the time were in last place, (was) a team that wasn’t in a great spot and a lot of guys had kind of packed it in. You learn from it all and I believe everything happens for a reason, and I guess I wouldn’t change anything.”

Jay Williams as a freshman (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams as a freshman (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Senior forward Alex Gacek knew Williams from when the two played in New England prep schools, and along with senior defenseman Matthew Caito, the trio immediately bonded upon arriving in Oxford.

“Both of those guys have made my transition here real easy,” Gacek said. “I talked about how nervous I was coming in, and they really softened everything up and helped me mature as well.”

Gacek and Williams also shared a not-so-memorable juniors experience. Gacek was thriving before blowing his knee out, and then he was rushed back, stunting his recovery.

“We were in kind of similar situations coming into school,” Gacek said. “(We) needed help building our confidence and just our mental state. He’s worked really hard at it, and I think now it’s showing up in his play and how he carries himself on and off the ice.”

Williams averaged just 26 games and logged fewer than 3,000 minutes in two full seasons in the USHL.

Then he headed to Oxford along with McKay, who had won Goalie of the Year with Green Bay his final season in that league as he led his team to a regular season title and a Clark Cup, the USHL’s championship trophy.

Jay Williams as a sophomore (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams as a sophomore (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

The pair rotated the first couple of weeks, but when McKay was injured in a game at Michigan, Williams shifted to a full-time role.

He beat the Wolverines the next night and won five of eight before McKay returned.

Williams and McKay alternated much of the season, and Williams tallied a 12-5-3 record, a 1.94 GAA and .924 save percentage in his rookie campaign.

“(The coaches) always said they want to have two guys that they can depend on, and two guys that can play – they had years where they rotated Connor and Cody up until the Frozen Four,” Williams said. “Certainly (McKay) had won just about everything you can win. He was incredible through juniors – he’s still incredible, he’s the best goalie I’ve ever been on a team with and had the opportunity to work with, day in and day out – but I just kind tried to come in, work hard, keep my head down and when I got the opportunity to play, do the best I can to give my team the chance to win.”

The RedHawks also won the final CCHA regular season title in 2012-13.

“There’s something special about that because it’s such a large body of work that goes into it to win that,” Williams said. “With the group of guys that we had, we kind of had the underdog mentality going in because we had such a large freshman class, and nobody really gave us a chance. To be able to win that championship, win a ring in my first year at school, and feel like I was able to contribute a good amount to it, it was certainly exciting and that group of guys you’ll remember forever, you share that bond.”

Sophomore year was forgettable for Miami overall, including the goalies. Williams recorded a 5-7 record, and his GAA and save percentage reverted to 3.30 and .882, respectively.

“Sophomore year, it was tough,” Williams said. “You learn a lot during those tough years about preparation, and really just the competition from Year 1 to Year 2. No disrespect at all to the teams we played the first year, but the NCHC with six teams in the national tournament, there’s no weekend you can take for granted. There’s so much parity and the margin for error is so, so small. A bad goal, a bad mistake, you used to be able to outscore that, and now you can’t.”

Jay Williams at the outdoor game in 2015 (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams at the outdoor game in 2015 (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

But he was rejuvenated in 2014-15, notching a 19-8 record and allowing just 2.04 goals per game, and his save percentage ended up at .917.

Williams was also in net for the stretch run, including the semifinal and final wins in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, as Miami won its first tournament title in the newly-formed conference.

And his five shutouts that season tied him with Knapp and Reichard for the school’s single-season record.

“Last year, again, was a special year because we were able to win a championship with those guys,” Williams said. “Especially with the senior class that my whole class was close with for three years because they were such a large part of the team. It was cool to send them out like that and to be a part of it.”

This year, Williams is 10-7-1 with a 2.41 GAA, .909 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. But heading into the break, he had a 5.35 goals-against average and a save percentage of just .812 to accompany an 0-2 record.

Since? He’s 10-5-1, 1.97 and .924.

Jay Williams as a junior (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams as a junior (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

“You can see now that he’s calm, cool and collected, and now that he’s got his confidence behind him, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the best goalies in the country, and he’s playing like it right now,” Gacek said. “It’s been great to watch. That’s what the big thing about The Brotherhood is, is that you get to see not only yourself grow but everyone else on the team, and Jay’s a perfect example of that.”

Williams will leave Miami with his name etched in several places on the team’s career leaders list. His 46 wins and nine shutouts both tie him for fourth all-time, he is fourth in GAA (2.32) and sixth in save percentage (.910).

“The biggest thing I look at as a goalie is trying to help your team win games and to win championships, and I think to say that you were part of two championship teams in four years is something that not a lot of guys can say,” Williams said. “It’s a testament to the rest of the guys and the coaching staff and the work that we’ve put in throughout the week and the summer and the off-season. If you told me this is where I’d be, I’d be thrilled with that, freshman year.”

But there’s more to Williams than just his statistics. His enthusiasm on the ice rubs off on his teammates, and even when he’s on the bench he’s one of the first to congratulate fellow players.

“I think we embody a little bit of that when he’s in the net,” Kuraly said. “He brings such energy and enthusiasm every day, but especially you can see it on game days. Definitely something the team feeds off of.”

His postgame celebrations are legendary, as he seems to have a secret greeting for each player that meets him in front of the crease after wins.

“Almost everyone on the team has a handshake with him or a little saying that they say, so he’s a spark plug for us, even though he’s a goalie – usually it’s a little different, it’s a (skater) – but Jay’s a great team guy that we need, and our success is really pivoted around him, going forward,” Gacek said.

Off the ice, Williams appears a bit too normal for a goalie, but Gacek can attest that he does possess some of those strange netminder attributes.

Jay Williams as a senior (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Jay Williams as a senior (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

“Jay can be quirky at times, he can be serious at times – whatever the situation calls for, he can adapt to it,” Gacek said. “That’s why I think he’s one of the big favorites in the locker room.

“He’s a character. Jay’s the type of kid that you could go to about anything. If it’s serious or if you need someone to pick you up, he’s the one to do it. He’s a real personable guy and he’s definitely one of my best friends. I love him to death and he’s just a great all-around guy.”

He will also depart Oxford with a degree in finance this spring. Williams was named to the NCHC All-Academic Team last month with a 3.38 GPA.

He will look into playing professionally after this season but is currently focused on enjoying his waning days at Miami.

Whether he goes pro in hockey or the business field after this season, he has set a high bar for the incoming freshmen goalies in 2016-17, both on and off the ice, and Williams has loved every minute he’s spent in Oxford.

“It’s been everything you could ask for in a college experience,” Williams said. “Everywhere you go, recruiting visits, they try to sell the program, sell the experience, sell everything, but to just hear from all of the older guys and all of the alumni who’ve played here how special the four years are. Even some of our worst, darkest moments in four years are things we’re able to laugh about now with the staff and the guys. We always joke about how we got thumped – 9-2 at North Dakota my sophomore year – that they ran out of fireworks in the third period, so even something like that is something you can laugh about. Just the whole experience: The friends I’ve made, the relationships I have, the opportunity to play against the best teams in the country and to have some success as well as develop in the classroom, it’s been incredible.”

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Miami’s Two-Headed Goalie Monster

The 2013-14 season is just about upon us, and we’re headed for another year of the two-headed monster in net. I want to preface what you’re about to read with a disclaimer that in no way do I think that either goalie that Miami currently has under scholarship is not good enough to be in a nubmer 1 goaltender position. But there is certainly a large part of me that would like to see either or both of these guys get their full-on shot at the #1 goalie spot for the Miami RedHawks.

In the last several years, Head Coach Enrico Blasi has employed the 2-goalie rotation. One of the two stellar goalies plays on Friday night, and the second will play on Saturday. Currently, that rotation is composed of Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. But what if things were different in Oxford? What if Enrico Blasi goes with an established top guy and has a trusted backup? We explore the topic as we prepare for the season that starts tonight.

The start of a trend

Brandon Crawford-West left school early, putting Miami in a situation to start the two-headed monster.

Brandon Crawford-West left school early, putting Miami in a situation to start the two-headed monster.

During the 2004-05 campaign, then-sophomore Brandon Crawford-West was the last clear-cut Number 1 goalie for the RedHawks. He played in 32 games, had a save % of .917 and allowed a fairly stingy 2.48 GAA for a team that went 15-18-5. It would be the last time Miami didn’t make the NCAA tournament before starting their current streak of 8 tournament appearances in a row. Crawford-West knew that Charlie Effinger was waiting in the wings, having posted a 4-2-0 record in 6 starts with 3 additional relief appearances. Crawford-West would then leave Miami after that sophomore campaign, and according to hockeydb.com, has not played any type of major hockey since.

During the offseason, Blasi would recruit and bring 6’2″ Jeff Zatkoff in to play between the pipes as his backup goalie. Only it didn’t turn out that way. Zatkoff actually played 4 of the first 5 games in 2005-06 (including the season-opening exhibition against Windsor) and won 3 of those 4. It seemed like Zatkoff was poised to be the #1 goalie, but would end up splitting games with Effinger. Zatkoff went 14-5-1 in 20 games and Effinger went 12-4-3 in 19 games.

The two would rotate for the rest of their time in Oxford until Effinger graduated in 2008, at which time also Zatkoff left Miami. He left with 1 year of eligibility remaining, and headed to the professional ranks. On a side note, Zatkoff is likely to get his first NHL game action this weekend, as the Pittsburgh Penguins play back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Two’s Company

Connor Knapp was part of the two-headed monster for Miami's 2 Frozen Four appearances.

Connor Knapp was part of the two-headed monster for Miami’s 2 Frozen Four appearances.

Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard were the two-headed monster from the 2008-09 season through the 2011-12 season. Having used Zatkoff and Effinger on a rotating basis, Blasi made no qualms about his rotation strategy, and rotated these two for their entire 4 years. Williams and McKay have continued that trend once again, having played their freshman season as a quite-potent 1-2 punch in Oxford.

Along the way, Coach Blasi has maintained that whomever plays best in practice during the week will play on Friday night, and the Saturday goalie will be determined based on the Friday night performance. In addition, Blasi is frequently quoted as saying that the two goalies are always good friends and truly push each other to be better in practice. But how far can that get you?

The Importance of Having a Number 1

Cody Reichard was part of the two-headed monster with Connor Knapp. (flickr: 560XLS)

Cody Reichard was part of the two-headed monster with Connor Knapp. (flickr: 560XLS)

In the 2008-09 season, Cody Reichard got hot at the end of the season and became the top goalie. He played in all 4 tournament games including the National Championship game against Boston University. He allowed just four goals and made 65 saves during the NCAA Regional in Minneapolis and during 21 period stretch ending with the 2 regional games, only allowed 12 goals. With a vote of confidence earlier in the season and being named “the guy”, I wonder what happens differently late National Championship game. Jump into the 2009 season, and the roles were reversed. Reichard was benched late in the season in favor of Connor Knapp. I’m not saying Knapp definitely gets us past Boston College in the Frozen Four/National Semifinal instead of getting pulled for Reichard in the 2nd period. But who knows?

A quick tale of the tape to illustrate where I’m going:

Reichard’s career: 92 starts and 53 wins; Named CCHA Player of the Year and a first-team All-CCHA selection in 2009-10 going 15-5-2.
Knapp: 84 starts and 46 career wins; 2010-11 CCHA Best Goaltender Award finishing with a 15-8-0 record, including 12 wins in his final 16 starts, allowing a goal or less in 13 of his final 17 appearance.

Let’s say that Reichard gets half of Knapp’s starts and keeps the same 57.6 win percentage, that extrapolates to 77 career wins in 134 games. If Knapp gets half of Reichard’s? 130 starts and 71 wins. Staggering numbers while one is the main guy and another is the backup.

The Situation at Hand

Jay Williams was stellar last season before Ryan McKay caught fire. (Columbus Dispatch: Eamon Queeny)

Jay Williams was stellar last season before Ryan McKay caught fire. (Columbus Dispatch: Eamon Queeny)

Fast forward to 2012-13 when Ryan McKay and Jay Williams split time in net. Williams was 12-5-1 in 21 games and was 13-7-2 in 23 games. Jay Williams filled in for McKay at the start of the season while McKay was injured. Later, it was McKay who went on an unbelievable streak and ended up starting 13 of the last 15 games in net. Does that mean McKay will be the #1 guy come Friday night?

Don’t count on it.

I’m only one guy, and Enrico Blasi is one of the best coaches in the NCAA. He has a Spencer Penrose award for the best coach in all of Division 1 hockey, 8 straight and 9 total NCAA tournament appearances, 2 Frozen Fours, 2 CCHA Regular Season Championships, 1 CCHA Tournament Championship and 5 CCHA Coach of the Year awards. You can’t argue with his resume. I just think there’s an opportunity awaiting him this season when it comes to that two-headed monster in net. Here’s my plan for success this year, and into the future.

Ryan McKay stops a shot by Minnesota State's Matt Leitner in NCAA Regional action. (Toledo Blade: Andy Morrison)

Ryan McKay stops a shot by Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner in NCAA Regional action. (Toledo Blade: Andy Morrison)

Ryan McKay starts as the top guy and plays the majority of the big games, including against teams such as Ohio State (2 games this year), North Dakota (4), St. Cloud State (4), and Wisconsin (2). Williams – by no means what you could call a “backup goalie” – can play the lesser foes such as Canisius, UNO, WMU, and the like. This allows that number one guy to be established. Blasi isn’t the type to encourage anyone to leave Miami early, but let’s say McKay leads the NCAA in GAA and Save % again, the leaves school early for the pros. This creates an ideal situation, and here’s why.

Williams, now a sophomore, will have his time for the next 2 years as a Junior and Senior. At the same time, Blasi is forced to recruit and bring in a goaltender, who is Williams’ protege and backup for 2 years. Barring any other early departures or injuries, at the very least, this gives Miami a succession plan as far as goalies go.

The Truth of the Matter

Turn no further than the season-opening exhibition against Windsor last Saturday night, and you’ll have your answer to the question of “what’s Rico’s goalie plan?” The RedHawks won, with Jay WIlliams getting the start, and Ryan McKay relieving him halfway through the game. Both looked good, although 2 turnovers cost Miami 2 goals in 10 seconds in the third period against McKay. While it has yet to come up during Blasi’s weekly press conferences, I’m sure  you’ll hear the same refrain when asked this season.

The two-headed monster returns to action tonight as Miami takes on Ohio State in the regular season opener, and returns to Oxford on Saturday against the same Buckeyes.

Enjoy the games, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @MiamiHockeyBlog for updates.

Rico gets 300th (and 301st), RedHawks Sweep

Lantern

Coming off of a weekend sweep in Oxford, the RedHawks look ahead to another (!?!?!) home series against Alaska to start off what looks to be a rugged February schedule. Miami hadn’t been at home for a game in 48 days before Friday night, and after the upcoming weekend will have played 4 home games in 9 days. Follow that up with the Western Michigan Broncos in Kalamazoo and Notre Dame on Friday 2/15 and Sunday in Chicago on 2/17, and Miami’s strength of schedule and RPI should be rising quickly. Here’s what you missed over the last week.

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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.

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!

Weekend Recap: RedHawks get 5 CCHA points on the weekend

Sing a song? Light the lantern? Sweepness? Well…almost anyway.

The Miami RedHawks came back to Goggin Ice Arena and despite a rough first period on Saturday night, got their season in full gear for a young team that is now atop the CCHA standings.

That feels good to say… “Atop the CCHA standings.” After opening the CCHA’s Celebrate the Legacy season with road trips to Michigan (now 6-46-3 all time) and Ferris State (always a tough place and opponent), to come out of the first 3 weekends of CCHA play on top feels real nice.

In the process, Miami has seen freshman goaltender Jay Williams take the spotlight in what we thought would be another 4 years of rotating goalies. While we still will likely see the rotation for a while, Ryan McKay stayed on the bench – a sweet sweet luxury that head coach Enrico Blasi will certainly enjoy. If Williams does continue to get the nod and later falters, a healthy, rested and eager McKay will be eager to get back out there. Knowing Blasi, however, McKay has healed up and will be back on the ice against Michigan State next weekend. In any event, Williams improves to 5-2-1 on the year, has a .911 save percentage and is allowing just 2.5 goals per game.

Last night, Jay stood tall in net (at 6’2″ I suppose he is always standing tall) despite a lot of untimely turnovers and 2 awful embellishment calls from the Referee combination of Steven McInchak and Rodney Tocco (did somebody say Taco?). They certainly cost Miami 2 power play chances that Miami could have turned into paydirt.. In addition, the 2 embellishment calls were widely contested by the raucus Miami crowd last night, and at the end of the night, may have earned coach Blasi a penalty on consecutive nights.

On Friday night, Miami was assessed a Bench Minor at 15:20 of the third period, and Blasi was less than pleased with McInchak and Taco Tocco. It may have been because NMU’s Kyle Follmer was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the whistle. That was Follmer’s 4th 2-minute minor of the night, and he continued some of his antics on Saturday night with another 2-minute minor in the 2nd period. Then, during Saturday’s handshake line, Blasi was seen having a civil conversation berating one of the linesmen and a 10 minute misconduct was added to Miami’s totals when everything was said and done. To say that Da Coach was upset would be an gross understatement.

An unnamed source has given us an inside scoop as to what happened this weekend from an officiating standpoint. Apparently Coach Blasi despises is less than friendly with McInchak, and because of it has even gone to CCHA head of officials Steve Piotrowski about the situation. Whether it be a history of awful calls or just a general distaste for the guy, McInchak hasn’t been to Oxford in over 4 years. Friday night’s call that cost Miami 2 minutes in the box was just the start, and it escalated on Saturday. Rico could be heard across the arena on one occasion (after the second of 2 embellishment calls), and to put the feud to rest, McInchak finished the weekend with a 10-minute misconduct for the bench (which was shaking hands at the time), primarily aimed at Rico.

In good news from the weekend, Alex Wideman made sure that we knew he was back on the ice last night as well. The shortest player on the team at 5’7″ can get lost out there sometimes due to his size. Last night, it came at the right time for him to reappear after missing a few weeks with an mono. With just 2:13 left in the night, Wideman knocked home the game-tying goal just over NMU goalie Jared Coreau’s pad as he tried to hug the post (It was eerily similar to the game tying goal that snuck past Cody Reichard against BU in Washington, DC in 2009).

“I didn’t really aim it; I just kinda threw it at the net just to see what happened,” said Wideman. “Good things happen when you throw pucks at the net. Luckily, it got in short side. In that kind of situation, you’re not going to get a pretty goal, not gonna get a back-door goal or anything like that. It’s gonna be hard. The ice is terrible. It’s gonna be a gritty goal or even a lucky goal like that.” (source: USCHO.com)

Then, Wideman streaked down the ice and put the game winner past Coreau in the shootout to delight the hometown crowd. You can view the 2 shootout goals at the bottom of this page!

To top it off, after the weekend, just 3 RedHawks have yet to score on the season: Michael Mooney, Paulides and Taylor Richart. To say that Richart has been unproductive, however, would be a gross understatement. He may just be the best defender on the ice, and I’ve yet to see him look nervous or rattled.

After holding the Wildcats to 4, 9 and 7 shots in the 3 periods on Friday, the defense was also stout Saturday night after allowing 2 goals in the first period. After being outshot 15-5 in that first period, they held NMU to 12 more shots: 8 in the second, just 2 in the 3rd and 2 more in OT. Williams knew that Miami was going to pull out the victory on Saturday: “Before the third period in the locker room, there was no doubt in our minds we were going to win that game,” Williams said. “We just had to keep going, keep fighting.” (source: muredhawks.com)

Usually Miami is a team that scores early and holds on for the victory. This year, however, Miami has evened things out and have 9 first period goals, 9 more second period goals and 11 third period tallies. On the other side of the puck, Miami has allowed 10 first period and 8 third period goals, and just 2 in the middle frame.

After taking 11 points against the first 3 teams from Michigan these last three weeks, Miami welcomes yet another team from that state up north in the Michigan State Spartans. MSU smashed Michigan on Saturday night by a score of 7-2 after betting slammed 5-1 on Friday night. To this point in the season, all 11 teams are still just one weekend sweep of 1st place, as Miami stands at 11 points and Northern Michigan is in 11th with just 5 points. There’s a long way to go in the season, but the Hawks are positioning themselves well to start things off.

Miscellaneous weekend notes:

After this weekend, Miami is now 2-2-1 on Fridays this year, having lost their last 2 Friday night games on the road, and compared to 4-0-1 (1 SO Win) on Saturdays.

On the injury front, Miami seems to be back at full strength. Ben Paulides, who had been out for a couple weeks returned to action for both games this weekend. As did Wideman (mono) and Joe Hartman (ankle).

After tallying a goal and 2 assists Friday, and adding an assist on Saturday, we think we’ll see another CCHA Rookie of the Week award for Riley Barber. Barber is now the CCHA’s leading scorer with 5 goals and 9 assists. Czarnik (6G, 7A) is just behind him, tied with Michigan’s A.J. Treais with 13 points.

In case you missed it

First of all, congratulations go out to @RedHawkCooch on Twitter. “Cooch” won our first ever trivia contest and is the winner of this puck, signed by Coach Blasi. Keep an eye out for future trivia contests, and thanks to those of you who participated and follow us on Twitter!

If you didn’t get a chance to see the shootout winning goals from Saturday night, here you go. (Sidenote: cellphone technology is amazing. These were taken with a phone.)

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.

RedHawks start 4-game roadtrip at Michigan

The RedHawks open the final season of CCHA play this weekend
with a 2-game set at Michigan.

Miami will open CCHA play this weekend, and it marks the last time we’ll be able to say those words. We start our “celebration of the legacy” by travelling to Ann Arbor to face Red Berenson and his band of misfits the Michigan Wolverines. (Oops… I did it again.)

Head coach Rico Blasi has had recent success against Michigan, but is still just 12-23-2 in his 14 years in Oxford. Overall, Michigan leads the series 71-26-4, but Miami is making a smidge of progress, as they are 8-5-1 since 2008-09. With a renovated Yost Ice Arena welcoming in their first CCHA opponent, expect the Michigan students to be in full voice this weekend. And let me tell you…it’s not a fun place to be an opposing team.

On the ice, the Wolverines have a similar goalie situation as Miami does, and have yet to finalize who will be their number one guy, if anyone. It may be becoming apparent on who that might be however, as Red Berenson will start Freshman Steve Racine in net on Friday night. Racine is 2-0-0 on the season and has allowed 5 goals in those two games. Another freshman, Jared Rutledge has also seen time in net, but allowed 5 goals in just one game against RIT in Michigan’s 5-4 OT loss to open the season – and he hasn’t been on the ice since. Michigan held a 4-1 advantage in that game, so nothing is outside the realm of possibility this weekend if the Michigan netminders cannot hold their own against Miami’s high-flying attack.

However, in order to get even one tie or win, Miami will get out to a fast start, and they have to be staunch in net and on defense. Michigan has played 4 games so far this season: an exhibition against Windsor, 2 against RIT and one against Bentley last weekend. It’s safe to say they haven’t seen the likes of Miami’s speed and skill and will need to step it up a notch or three to take the series. On the other hand, Michigan has done what they needed to against these teams, and have not scored less than 4 goals in any of the games, including the 4 goals in the OT loss to RIT.

As expected, Senior Captain A.J. Treais leads Michigan on the young season, with 3 goals and 2 assists. Highly touted freshman Jacob Trouba has also started the season strong with 2 goals and 2 assists thus far. The Wolverines’ best defenseman, Jon Merrill has been injured to start the season and likely won’t play. Another D-man Kevin Clare sustained an injury in the win over RIT in the second game of the season, and could return to action this weekend. Both blue-liners are Juniors and are sorely needed for this Michigan team to succeed this season.

On the Miami side of things, Riley Barber (4G-1A—5 Total Points) comes in with a 3 game goal scoring streak, and looks to continue his hot start after earning CCHA Rookie of the week last weekend against Providence. Barber, Blake Coleman (3-2—5) and Austin Czarnik (2-3—5) lead the offensive attack for The Brotherhood. Keep an eye on surprising freshman Taylor Richart on the blue line. Richart has blocked 18 shots in 4 games this season.

Expect Blasi to rotate goalies again this weekend, and I’d expect to see McKay first and Williams second again. So far, the rotation has been magical for Blasi…wait… can we say “so far” any more? For the last 6-8 years, the rotation has worked magically for Blasi. McKay is the big presence we thought he would be in net, and despite only being on the ice for half of Miami’s game time this season, Jay Williams is the firecracker on the bench. The guy never sits still and is quite a presence for the Hawks.

Michigan has 7 freshmen on the squad at the moment, compared to Miami’s 11, and they will look to push the pace as Red Berenson’s teams always do. Miami will need to keep its composure and due to Michigan’s inexperience could skate away with up a bucket of points this weekend. I’ll take Miami 4-2 tonight and Michigan 4-1 on Saturday.

Go RedHawks!!!

Great series ends with Miami OT Victory

Miami takes a 4-3 overtime victory behind 3 points each from Czarnik and Barber.

Entering the night, Miami was already the only unbeaten CCHA team, as all 10 others have at least one loss. After the night’s play was over, the Providence Friars proved they are going to be a team to watch in Hockey East, but Miami came out with a hard-fought 4-3 overtime victory and remain the CCHA’s only unbeaten team.

Freshman Riley Barber had a goal and 2 assists and Austin Czarnik did him one better with 2 goals and an assist, including the game winner, to lead the RedHawks. Czarnik had 5 shots and was a +2 on the night. Throw in 4 blocked shots and he earned the #1 star of the night, without question.

Barber has now scored goals in 3 straight games, not to mention 3 assists in the exhibition against Western Ontario. He had one assist on Austin Czarnik’s 2nd period goal – Czarnik’s first of the year – as well as another helper on the overtime winner. He is very quickly becoming a formidable scoring touch on the top line and will be certain to get more and more looks all season. We’ll be looking for Barber in a certain CCHA weekly release around Monday morning.

The Friars proved to the Hockey East front runners that they are not to be taken lightly with a shootout loss and overtime loss in hostile Coach Cady Arena. They went down 1-0 after Barber’s goal in the first, and were also down 2-1 and 3-2 in the game. It has to be tough to think you came back 3 times in the game, held a lead on Friday night, and didn’t leave Oxford with even a split, rather just a loss and a tie. Providence Head Coach Nate Leaman agreed: “What hurt us was a slow start,” said Leaman. “We played from behind all night. I’m proud of the guys coming back in the third period to tie the game, but it’s tough to play on the road from behind.” (source: USCHO) Miami now holds a 4-3-1 lead in the all-time series against Providence after this weekend’s highly entertaining series.

Providence didn’t have a shot on goal until 12:08 in the first, and they made it count. John Gilmore put the first PC shot in the back of the net on a 3 on 2 rush in the first period, and had 3 shots and 2 blocks on the night. Frehman Jon Gillies looked good in net again tonight, blocking 26 of 30 shots, and was again bailed out by his teammates as he was last night. The Friars recorded 13 blocked shots on the night and many of his saves were of the routine variety.

Heading down the closing stretch of the game, Miami looked like they were playing in their shell and doing a great job of applying a little pressure at the right times to try and get an insurance goal. Until, that is, Blake Coleman was called for a 5 minute major penalty. Coleman was called for charging with just 5:52 left in regulation – a call that just about everyone in the building thought was a very clean, shoulder to chest check. It must be his size advantage that the hit was considered dangerous, and Coleman may have left his feet for maximum effect. In any event, the Hawks killed the 5 minutes, but only 4 seconds after the penalty expired, Noel Acciari scored his first collegiate goal for Providence and the game was tied once again. The goal – of the 6 on 5 variety – would send the game to overtime where Miami would tally the game winner on Gillies.

On the other end of the ice all night was Miami’s Jay Williams. The firecracker looked good all night and probably could have stopped 2 of the 3 goals if it weren’t for well-timed screens. From my point of view on my computer, he had a great game and looked stellar in recording his second win in as many games.

Defenseman Matthew Caito gets on the score sheet for his first point as a RedHawk. Caito made a LASER of a pass about 100 feet up the ice to a streaking Blake Coleman for a goal at 18:59 of the first. Caito is proving to be a more than worthy pair for Captain Steven Spinell, and has been showing some great vision on the blue line.

In addition to Barber and Caito’s strong play, another freshman Michael Mooney appeared in his first NCAA game tonight. He was paired with yet another freshman Chris Joyaux on the blue line. Joyaux and Mooney were the third defensive pairing on the night, but each played solid minutes and should grow into a solid pairing, if they continue to play together for up to 4 years. Mooney took Ben Paulides spot on the ice tonight. We’ll look for some information on Ben, but after taking 2 penalties last night, we wonder how that played into tonight’s benching.

In this weekend’s matchup, the “Hawks certainly got more than they bargained for, and it turned into a good test as they head to Michigan next weekend. We’ll certainly have more on next week’s matchup later in the week, and keep an eye out for the Sunday #SixPack on our twitter page.

Thanks for reading, RedHawks fans, and BEAT MICHIGAN.

Miami Box Score and Game Notes.