Category Archives: Miami RedHawks
The Miami RedHawks headed to Kalamazoo last weekend in search of an identity. They were starting off the second half of the season against a familiar foe, with a lot to work on. The defense needed shoring up, the penalty kill needed improvement and most of all, the power play was struggling in the first half, and it was time to figure things out.
Going in, Coach Blasi most certainly wasn’t going to say that the trip to Western Michigan was going to be an easy weekend. In fact, as we said in our weekend preview, he was very complementary to the Broncos. But in the back of his mind, Rico had to be thinking of 6 points. Western Michigan is a team that Miami is very familiar with and has played well against in recent past. The Broncos were expected to have a down year, and were tied at the bottom of the standings with the RedHawks coming into the weekend. Miami was predicted to finish at the top of the conference and started the year as the #2 team in the country.
As we are reminded of time and time again, matchups on paper mean nothing. “That’s why you play the games,” as they say. Miami allowed 3 shorthanded goals against, went just 1 for 13 on the power play (1 PPG on 5 chances on Friday, 0 for 8 on Saturday), and lost 2 heartbreaking 1-goal decisions. 0 points. Last place in the NCHC.
In our time cheering for Miami sports, I know we’ve all drank the
Drain-O kool-aid. This was one of those weekends for us here at the Blog of Brotherhood. Having taken our annual guys trip to Kalamazoo for the weekend, I can certainly say the beer and company were better than the hockey. There were many times where we all looked at each other in disbelief as the events transpired on the ice before us.
Friday night was just a night of missed opportunities and lackluster play. The shots after 1 period were 19-5 in favor of Western Michigan Friday night and the ice was heavily slanted in their favor. Scoring chances isn’t an NCAA statistic, but Western must have had 6 or 7 grade A chances that they couldn’t put past Miami’s Ryan McKay in net in addition to the one that did find paydirt. They played well the rest of the way, but a soft goal allowed by McKay and a controversial goal with 8.3 seconds left, and Miami was headed to the hotel with a sour taste in their mouths.
I actually think the RedHawks played better on Saturday night, even with several stats showing otherwise. First, they went 0 for 8 on the power play and were behind by 2 goals for a long chunk of the game (the only time that either team was ahead by more than 1 goal, by the way). Criticisms of the power play and lack of effort rained down from various RedHawks fans in attendance at times due to the out-of-character performance by several on the ice.
One thing that I did see this past weekend was excellent leadership and guts by Sean Kuraly. Before the weekend, Kuraly was given an A on the newly minted sweaters for the RedHawks (more on the jerseys to come). I can’t say enough about the hustle, determination and sheer disregard for his body that Sean showed all weekend, and Sean certainly earned his Assistant Captain position last weekend. From our vantage point, it was clear that Sean was the best player on the ice for either team both nights.
On Friday night, Kuraly had 2 goals on 4 shots, went 11 for 24 on faceoffs, and I’m certain would have recorded 5 or more hits on the night if it was a recorded statistic. Saturday’s line would only see Kuraly receive an assist with 5 shots, but he did have a goal that would have been unassisted had the referees not overturned the call on the ice (due to goaltender interference).
Max Cook was also awarded an Assistant Captain’s “A” on his sweater for the weekend. The senior from Frankfort, IL is just 7 games away from playing in 100 in a RedHawks sweater and has 19 hard-earned points over those 93 games, playing mostly on the 2nd and 3rd lines during his time at Miami.
As you can see from the recent tweet from The Brotherhood (link), the RedHawks donned new sweaters last weekend. These are a return back to the jerseys of the last several years.
There have been many (unconfirmed) rumors about the jerseys over the course of the first half of the season, and it appears that the bedazzled look of the first half of the year wasn’t cutting it for the RedHawks. In the end, after a color issue for the first weekend of the year (see: jersey sale in the Goggin Pro Shop) and a general dislike for the jerseys from many fans, it seemed that the jerseys were not doing the job and Miami made a switch off of the Nike jerseys to these new Adidas jerseys. This also aligns the hockey team with the rest of the university in terms of their outfitters – a wise choice on all fronts.
The Weekend Ahead – Nebraska-Omaha in Oxford for 2-Game Set
For a while this week, I thought of writing this piece with the thought that the 2 one-goal losses didn’t seem indicative of how the games were played this week. In the end, I really didn’t like how Miami played, with the exceptions of Kuraly and Cody Murphy, who is always hustling, the RedHawks didn’t impress me much last weekend.
This weekend, Miami welcomes the Mavericks of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. These will be the first games in Goggin since December 7th and 8th – a span of 7 weeks. Welcome home, indeed.
If you remember, the weekend before Thanksgiving, Miami traveled to Omaha and got spanked by scores of 6-3 and 3-1. At that point, Miami was starting to realize life in the NCHC was going to be tougher than they thought, and after the 2 wins, UNO found themselves in first place in the new conference.
On Friday night back in November, Miami was up 1-0 after the first, but UNO scored 5 second period goals en route to the 6-3 win and Miami was shell-shocked the rest of the weekend. There was no coming back from that devastating period and Miami’s slide had begun.
At present, Miami sits in the cellar of the NCHC, a conference they were picked to win at the start of the season, and are a whopping 13 points behind first place St. Cloud State. At 3-7-0 in the NCHC, there’s a lot of work to be done over the last 14 games of the season. UNO is in a tie for 3rd in the conference – a position not many expected to this point in the 2013-14 campaign. There are 14 games left for the RedHawks, and this weekend is critical to their success in the conference as well as their hopes to make the NCAA tournament come March.
If you remember this past weekend, Austin Czarnik was hit high during the second period of the Friday night game in Kalamazoo. It was a hit that didn’t really look to cause any grief for Miami’s Captain at the time, but Czarnik didn’t play a whole lot in the second and was not on the bench for the third when Miami let the game slip away. Then on Saturday, Czarnik was in his Miami warm-ups and was a spectator in the stands and would disappear into the locker room with the team at each intermission.
We cannot confirm nor deny what happened to Czarnik (because we simply don’t know), but he was out with an undisclosed upper body injury. While a concussion is still a serious injury, I’m hopeful that this is all it was, as this usually means a short turnaround time. With a shoulder, collarbone or other upper body injury, he could miss an extended period of time. We will see tonight whether Czarnik is on the ice or not.
Blake Coleman also didn’t play last weekend, as he is still recovering from a suspected collarbone injury suffered on Friday December 6th against Denver (he was seen in a sling in Goggin also spectating that Saturday’s game before the holiday break). Again, no confirmation if that’s what the injury is/was, but Blake may also make return this weekend against UNO.
Both games will be televised on Miami All-Access, and Friday’s Game is Televised Locally on Time Warner Cable.
Enjoy the games RedHawks. Let’s get a W (or 2?) this weekend!
In front of Miami’s 6th consecutive sellout crowd at Steve “Coach” Cady Arena, Miami played a gritty style of hockey and came away with a thrilling 2-0 victory over the 12th ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
From the start, Miami was flying around the puck. It was quickly evident that Miami wanted to use their speed tonight to overwhelm Wisconsin and much of the evening was dominated in this fashion. From top to bottom, Miami was the better team tonight and it started with their speed. “They’re a good team,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “They have waves coming at you and you have to back check. You have to collapse and make sure you’re strong in front of the net.”
Blasi was very positive after the game saying “it was like that when we played them last year in their building. It was a real good college hockey game. They had their chances and it could have gone either way. They have 3 full lines that can hurt you.”
Miami and Wisconsin would play a scoreless first, with Wisconsin really having the better of the few chances there were to go around. Late in the first, Wisconsin forward Joseph LaBate fed a pass across the slot and the entire arena thought it was 1-0 Wisconsin. As the puck got over to linemate Matt Zengerle, the puck skipped, however, and the scoreless tie was in tact.
Halfway through the second period, after being kicked out of the faceoff circle, Blake Coleman scooped up a puck and fed Anthony Louis in the slot and Louie didn’t miss, scoring his 4th goal of the season. “[This was] Louie’s best game tonight,”said Blasi. “He’s a skill guy but he’s starting to get a little grit to his game which helps. When he starts to chances, he becomes really dynamic.”
Ryan McKay was quick to point out that despite his 3 consecutive Friday night shutouts, it’s not all him. “It’s a credit to our team defense. Compared to the beginning of the season it’s a dramatic difference.” McKay never really looked to be in danger of letting a goal in, and Miami’s team defense was stifling all night. In his last 4 starts, McKay has 114 saves on a possible 116 shots. In addition, he hasn’t allowed a goal on Friday night this season (he was swapped with Jay Williams for the Canisius series 2 weeks ago), and now leads the NCAA with 3 shutouts.
Wisconsin’s leading scorer Nic Kerdiles was held without a shot until late in the 3rd period. Blasi was stern in saying that he wasn’t playing a shut down defense type of game against him: “We were just aware of him, no different than they are aware of Barber and Czarnik. You have to play a good brand of 60-minute hockey when you play Wisconsin beacuse if it’s not him it’s going to be someone else. To key in on one guy, that’s not how we do it. Whether it’s him or someone else, you have to play good team defense.”
From beginning to end, it seemed that come hell or high water, Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik were going to be held off the score sheet. Wisconsin took one penalty stopping Barber in front of the net, and could have had 2-3 more because of his strong play.
On the other end of special teams, Miami is now perfect on their last 15 penalty kill chances. Miami killed their last 2 penalties against Canisius, followed it up with 5 kills each night in St. Cloud and killed all 3 chances tonight.
Despite the goaltending and defense, the line of the night was the Cody Murphy, Coleman and Louis line. The three RedHawks posted a combined 10 shots, were +3, and were seen killing penalties seemingly at will.
These two teams lace up the skates again tomorrow night. There’s certainly no reason for Coach Blasi to bench Ryan McKay at this point, but in his press conference after the game, there was no indication that he would or would not make the switch. In fact, when asked, Blasi said “I’m going to have a sleepless night tonight.”
Well, rest easy Coach. Tonight’s win, while out of conference, runs Miami’s record to 7-3-1 and relieves some of the pressure from their shoulders for tomorrow night, allowing them to play loose and free once again. Expect more of the same from the RedHawks they try to sweep the Badgers in Oxford.
Once in a while you have to play the little guys and put a whooping on them to make yourself feel good about life. This past weekend, Miami did just that, posting 2 3-goal wins over Canisius. The RedHawks completed their second sweep of the season, handily beating the Golden Griffins 3-0 and 5-2 in Oxford. As we mentioned in our weekend preview, it was Canisius could have been a team that jumped up and stole a win from Miami. They’re not a bad hockey team, and Miami did well to remain focused and earn two solid victories on the weekend.
Recapping the Canisius Series
“Ryan was a huge difference in the first period,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said after the game, “and the third period was our best period. I thought we played well, made some good plays, were intense on loose pucks. We started off a little too loose, but we got better in the second period.”
With no scoring from the top line, the star of the night was Alex Wideman, who had two laser shots over the shoulder of the Canisius goalie to score his 3rd and 4th goals of the season. Wideman was quick to give credit to his teammates on both goals: “The first goal was all (Blake) Coleman and (Cody) Murphy. I’m usually a passer, but I decided to shoot on the first one.” He was also in the right spot at the right time and gave credit to Anthony Louis on his second goal for making a great play.
Coming into this season, there was some trepidation as to where the secondary scoring was going to come from. Of course, Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik were expected to score buckets of goals, but Friday was a typical night for these two that they can expect for the rest of the season in the NCHC. Guys like Wideman, Coleman, Jimmy Mullin, Louis and Alex Gacek will need to continue to score to keep the RedHawks at the top of the polls and NCHC standings.
Ryan McKay stopped just about everything thrown his way and was named the second star of the night. However, I tweeted it during the game and after watching the replay, this shutout really falls to the defense. They played great as a team, blocked 13 shots overall, and allowed 9 shots in the final 2 periods combined.
On Saturday, Blasi was pleased with the performance in the defensive zone, and the RedHawks continued their streak of single-digit shots in a period, allowing just 5 in the first.
“We came out strong tonight. Austin’s goal got us going. Once they made it 1-1 we scored twice and that was real important in the game. We were doing a great job of relieving pressure and putting pressure on them. Any time you can sweep in college hockey, that’s a big deal. They play a different style – trying to slow you down because they are real big and strong. You have to be patient and disciplined and our guys did that fairly well all weekend long. We played well for about 5 of 6 periods this weekend. We possessed the puck extremely well. Our power play was very good again. We started to get better with the D-zone and some of the decision making with the puck especially in the neutral zone.”
Blake Coleman dished out 4 assists on the night. “We emphasized coming out hard and jumping all over them early. Everyone else was kind of wheeling, but we made the most of our opportunities. I feel like everyone could have had four assists tonight.”
Jay Williams looked spectacular in net. He only had to face 23 shots, and sure, he let in 2 of them. But really, this could have been a track meet and a 5-5 game if it wasn’t for Williams spectacular saves throughout the game. On top of looking good in net, Williams was credited with an assist on Anthony Louis’s goal – the eventual game winner.
Three Stars of the Weekend
3. The Goaltending Super-Duo of Ryan McKay and Jay Williams – McKay shutout Canisius on Friday night, and Williams followed that up by stopping 21 of 23 and added an assist on Saturday.
2. Alex Wideman – When the top line doesn’t score, Wideman is there picking up the slack and now has 4 goals and 2 assists on the year.
1. Blake Coleman – 4 assists on Saturday night. Throw in a goal on Friday night and Blake Coleman is one of the hottest scorers for Miami right now.
Scouting the Huskies
There’s another big matchup on the schedule this weekend, and the #7 RedHawks are in northern Minnesota for the matchup with #3/4 St. Cloud. This weekend’s opponent will be the third Miami foe that has been ranked in the top 10 of the national rankings. Miami earned a split at home against North Dakota, then lost and tied at Providence a week later. 3 out of the last 4 weekends and 3 of 5 overall against top 10 teams is quite a strong schedule – currently the 6th hardest in the country. Second on that list? St. Cloud State.
In the all time series, Miami is 8-3-2 all-time against St. Cloud State. However, St. Cloud has owned the series lately, and Miami is 0-2-1 in the last three meetings. Coach Blasi is preparing his team for an epic struggle, but when he was asked if last year’s NCAA Regional Final matchup carried any weight, he was quick to say that it will play no bearing this weekend:
It’s a huge weekend for us. They are playing extremely well, sweeping North Dakota in Grand Forks. They went to the Frozen Four and they are well coached. This will be one of the most complete teams we’ll play all season and it’s coing to be a big challenge this weekend. This is just another step. We have to go in ready to go against a veteran experience team that is playing extremely well. Probably the most complete team I’ve seen in this early season. We’re going to have to play our best.
Last year was last year. They have some guys that have graduated and so do we – it’s a new season, we won’t coach that way. We’ve got a lot of things to work on and we know how good SCSU is. We’re going to put our best foot forward and we have to play well. Any time you go on the road in our league it’s gonna be tough. You have to be sure you’re doing all the little things right.
The Hawks won on Friday night despite not getting a single point from Riley Barber or Austin Czarnik. Blasi had this to say about their performance: “They had some great chances, but that’s going to happen. If you watch the game, our opponent is going to key in on those two guys. Every time they touch the puck, there are three guys on them. It’s not that they didn’t have their chances, they just didn’t go in. As they got better throughout the game, our team started to roll.” You can expect a whole lot more of the same this weekend in St. Cloud, and getting a solid start on Friday night will be crucial.
“Saturday have not been our issue. Friday first periods have been, and I’m not sure why,” Blasi said. “We’re in the process of changing things in practice and how we do things during the week. Really it has been Friday and that needs to change, no question. Maybe it’s a focus thing, but we have to change that.”
This weekend, Miami will need to be on point with their power play. SCSU (5-0-1 overall, 2-0-0 in the NCHC) just doesn’t take penalties, having only 21 penalties (50 minutes) in their first 6 games. That’s an average of just 8 minutes a game, so if Miami expects to continue to stay near the top of the NCAA with their power play, it won’t be because they will have a lot of chances.
Here’s the special teams story:
Miami Power Play: 30.8% (2nd in the nation)
St. Cloud Penalty Kill: 84.2% (21st in the nation)
Miami Penalty Kill: 80.5% (38th in the nation)
St. Cloud Power Play: 13.6% (47th in the nation)
I am hopeful that the Miami penalty kill will be fixed this weekend, but St. Cloud’s numbers can be deceiving. They played North Dakota in their only other NCHC matchup to date, and North Dakota is tops in the nation on the penalty kill – having killed 28 of 29 penalties this year. I’m not so much concerned with the power play, but if there aren’t any chances, then Miami is going to need to get the job done on 5-on-5 play.
The action starts tonight at 8:30 Eastern Time and Saturday at 8:00 pm. Miami coverage for All-Access subscribers will be available (audio only), and St. Cloud’s video service will also be available for a fee.
Guess what…another potential top 10 matchup! Miami hosts Wisconsin who is currently ranked 13 in the USCHO poll and 12 in the USA Today poll. Friday’s game is a rare 6:30pm start time to make way for CBS Sports TV coverage. Saturday’s puck drop is the normal 7:00 pm start time.
Enjoy the action, RedHawks!
This Saturday, Miami’s NCAA tournament run takes a trip through Toledo, Ohio, as the RedHawks take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. There are some interesting storylines that my co-blogger redhawk95 laid out for you: Miami can’t win the big games and a “one and done” is forthcoming. Well fear not, RedHawks. I think Rico Blasi and the youngest Miami team in decades have more going for them this weekend than previously expressed.
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.
Miami faces OSU with the final CCHA
Championship just 2 points away.
Miami’s long road to the last-ever CCHA Championship didn’t come without struggles, growing pains and scoring droughts. However, this group of 26 student-athletes is on the brink of the 4th ever CCHA Regular Season Championship in Miami Ice Hockey History. We haven’t been huge on weekend previews this season, so why start now? Take a look at Rick Cassano’s preview, as well as the Official Miami Hockey preview for those. Here’s a recap of an action packed last week of February as we look forward to a possible celebration in Oxford. Read the rest of this entry
The march to Pittsburgh is nearly upon us.
When we were looking at the PairWise back in December, it didn’t really make sense. Now, however, it’s very meaningful. Let’s take a look at what’s happening keeping travel in mind. First, there are 2 regionals that Miami would love to be at: Toledo and Grand Rapids. Light travel, meaning no big trips out east to play eastern teams that are hosting, even when Miami is a #1 seed (UNH, 2011). And secondly, Miami could end up staying within 302 miles of Oxford (Grand Rapids: 298 mile drive, Pittsburgh, 302 mile drive) from the CCHA tournament through the Frozen Four if things happen to fall correctly. It’s certainly not a lock, and there’s a long way to go, but let’s take a deeper look at the current PairWise.
Tonight, Miami unveiled their uniform for the 2013 Hockey City Classic, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen from the RedHawks. Or maybe it’s a combination of a lot of what you’ve seen in the past from them? Either way, I can’t say they are the prettiest jerseys I’ve ever seen, but they do look pretty darn special.
Here’s Miami’s release on the new jersey design, with Steven Spinell showing off the new unis. Spinell is a Chicago-born and raised kid, who will certainly relish this weekend’s game against Notre Dame in Soldier Field.
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.
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.
“Red hot” just wouldn’t be fitting for the fighting polar bears from Alaska at the moment. The Nanooks come to town on a 6-game win streak with each of the 6 wins coming at a critical time in the race to the CCHA playoffs. Behind the
EZAC’s ECAC’s Quinnipiac (15-0-2) and Hockey East’s UMass-Lowell (10-0-1), they are one of the hottest teams in the country. Looking at those team’s opponents, it’s safe to say that Alaska is truly that hottest team.