Category Archives: Alaska Nanooks
“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.
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.
Ahh Alaska. The Last Frontier. The place where it’s 86 degrees cooler than Oxford, Ohio today. Also the school furthest from
civilization Oxford and all other teams in the NCAA (other than Anchorage, of course and maybe Hawaii). Miami left home on Wednesday, didn’t get there until Thursday (3:00am, anyway) and takes on an Alaska squad that took NMU to overtime twice last weekend in Marquette and only took 1 point out of it.
The Nanooks come in at 6-5-3 on the season, and 4-4-2 in the CCHA. They are only 2 points behind Miami at the top of the standings and are doing something that Miami has prided itself on in seasons past – staying balanced. Alaska has 4 players tied at the top of their scoring charts – 2 seniors, and to underclassmen. Not surprising to see at the top of the list is Senior Andy Taranto. I feel like he’s a guy we’ve been seeing with the Nanooks for about 17 years.
In net, Freshman John Keeney has played 6 of the 14 games, and 3 goalies have seen significant time for the Polar Bears. Keeney is 2-2-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .935 save percentage – by far the best on the team for both. Senior Steve Thompson has played in 4 games this season and took home the October 22 CCHA Goalie of the week, but is struggling with just a 2-2 record, 3.24 GAA and .876 save percentage. Thompson only played in 3 games before this season, all coming last year, and Sophomore Sean Cahill played once last season, both getting mop-up duties while Senior Scott Greenham took ice time all season. It’s anyone’s guess who we’re going to see this weekend, but I’d suspect we see a lot of Keeney, as he has been the hot hand.
For Miami, Enrico Blasi continues his run to 300, and stands at 293 wins on his career. Miami has a 36-14-5 edge against Alaska and despite the 18+ hours of travel to get there every time, is still a surprising 16-7-3 in Fairbanks.
Leading the scoring for Miami is Riley Barber, but Sophomore Alex Wideman has been absolutely on fire the last few games. As we mentioned in our 2-week “Turkey Day hangover” recap, Wideman has goals in his last 3 games, has 4G and 3A in 6 total games, and has also scored the game winner in each of the 2 of Miami’s shootouts in which he has participated.
Look for more from Wideman, and let’s hope Miami scores first. Miami is 6-1-1 this season when doing so, and 6-0-0 when scoring thrice. I’m confident Miami brings home 6 points this weekend behind Jay Williams continued strong goaltending (and perhaps we see Ryan McKay return as well?).
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!
>Oxford, Ohio – Andy Miele and Reilly Smith scored in a decisive third period as #7 Miami defeated Alaska 4-1 at Steve Cady Arena.
Chris Wideman and Patrick Tiesling also scored for the RedHawks who outshot the Nanooks 36-18 in stretching their unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3).
After falling behind 1-0 through one period, Miami evened the score on a powerplay goal by Wideman, his third of the year at 5:06 of the second period.
Miami dominated the third period as Tiesling, Miele and Smith found the back of the net. Tiesling’s goal would stand as the game-winner, just his second of the year, with assists to freshman Max Cook and senior Justin Vaive at 3:15.
Miele and Smith added insurance goals at 11:11 and 17:35 as the big guns got in on the action. For Miele it was his career best 20th goal and 62nd point of the season while Smith tallied his CCHA best 25th marker on the campaign.
Junior netminder Cody Reichard surrendered a goal on the first Nanook shot on goal, but shut down Alaska from that point forward to earn the win.
Miami goes for the series sweep tomorrow night at 7:05pm at Steve Cady Arena. The game will be televised around Ohio on the Ohio News Network and is also available online via Miami All-Access.
The 2010-11 edition of the Miami RedHawks (19-9-6, 16-7-5-2, 3rd CCHA) finished second overall in team scoring and first overall in team defense in the CCHA. It was another stellar year for the program that continues to set the bar higher and higher.
Led by seniors Andy Miele (19-42-61) and Carter Camper (17-33-50), Miami boasts three of the top 17 scorers in the nation, and two of the top four, with sophomore Reilly Smith pacing the RedHawks with 24 goals.
Junior netminders Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp once again turned in solid seasons with each posting goals-against averages around 2.10 and save percentages near .910. Reichard leads Miami in minutes played, victories (12) and shutouts (3), while Knapp’s 1.76 goals-against average in conference play was best in the CCHA.
Under Dallas Ferguson, Alaska (16-15-5, 10-13-5-3, 7th CCHA) has taken a defense-first approach. It’s no understatement to say the Nanooks do not score much. But, while their offense ranked 8th overall in the CCHA, only Miami and Ferris State allowed fewer goals. Led by junior netminder Scott Greenham, Alaska allows an average of just 2.31 goals per game. In fact, Greenham played all but ten minutes of empty net time in goal this year for the Nanooks and earned second team All-CCHA honors for his efforts.
This weekend offers an opportunity for Miami to advance to Joe Louis Arena to play in the conference semi-finals for the third time in four years. Importantly, this series against Alaska offers the chance for at least two games against a current TUC and a chance for the RedHawks to improve their record in that PairWise category. If Miami can win this weekend’s series, and win at least one game in Detroit against another TUC, they will solidify themselves as a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Should the RedHawks finally capture the Mason Cup, it’s conceivable that Miami could earn a #1 seed in the national tournament.
Miami has played just two games since February 12. They will enter the weekend’s series rested, and presumably, healthy. But it’s possible there could be some rust. The RedHawks are playing their best hockey of the season. They enter the weekend riding a 9-game unbeaten streak. The seniors are leading by example and you know they want one more chance at a Mason Cup and I think they’ll get it.
Miami advances to the semifinals in two games, 2-1 and 4-1.
- Miami is 33-14-5 all-time against Alaska and 18-7-2 in Oxford
- Miami is 1-4 all-time as the #3 seed in the CCHA playoffs
- Miami and Alaska have split each of the last four regular-season series in Oxford
- Miami won the only other previous playoff meeting 2 games to 1 back in 1994 in Oxford
- The RedHawks haven’t made it to the Joe in an odd numbered year for the CCHA Championship weekend since 1997
- Hobey Baker Award front runner Andy Miele enters the weekend having notched a point in 13 consecutive games. During the streak, he’s scored 28 points
>Oxford, Ohio – It took until late Sunday night in Marquette, Mich. to finally determine the second round match ups in the CCHA Tournament, but after Bowling Green defeated Northern Michigan 2-1 in double overtime, we know Miami will face the Alaska Nanooks in the second round of the CCHA Tournament.
Congratulations to former Miami captain and assistant coach Chris Bergeron on winning his first ever playoff series as a head coach. As a reward for winning their first round series, the Falcons will now face the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor next weekend for the right to advance to the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Earlier this season, the RedHawks and Nanooks split a series in Oxford with Miami winning 4-0 on Friday. However, Alaska stole the second game as they scored two goals in the final five minutes of the third period to win 3-2. It was one of several third period meltdowns for Miami this year. Fortunately, the RedHawks seem to have put those problems behind them as they ride a nine-game unbeaten streak into the CCHA Tournament.
Alaska advanced to face Miami on the strength of two overtime victories over a game Michigan State squad in Fairbanks as they helped the Spartans close the book on the coaching tenure of Rick Comley. In doing so, Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson earned his 50th victory behind the Nanook bench.
Fairbanks, Alaska (Jan. 23) – #2 Miami earned five points on their longest road trip of the year defeating the Alaska Nanooks 5-0 in Fairbanks, Alaska last night. Sophomore Connor Knapp stopped all 19 shots in registering his third shutout of the season. It was Knapp’s first game action since a 2-1 loss to Robert Morris on January 10 where he made just 13 saves. His goals-against average is now a sparkling 1.95 with a 91.8 save percentage as he improved his record to 4-2-3 on the year.
This weekend saw the reunion of last year’s top line of juniors Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels and sophomore Alden Hirschfeld that was so good throughout the NCAA tournament. And, they didn’t disappoint managing five points between them for the weekend. It was also nice to see Hirschfeld pick up his game as he seemed much more involved and active than I can remember seeing over the past several weeks. In addition, Trent Vogelhuber seems to have picked up some of that energy as he was also much more visible, working much harder than I have seem him. It’s good to have those two sophomores helping contribute to take some of the scoring pressure off senior Jarod Palmer and the juniors (e.g., Camper, Pat Cannone, Andy Miele, Wingels, etc.).
The RedHawks jumped to an early 1-0 lead at 6:42 of the opening period when freshman Reilly Smith redirected a Tommy Wingels shot past Nanook goaltender Scott Greenham. The goal was scored 6×5 during a delayed penalty as Miami was able to control the puck in the offensive zone and find a quality chance. Miami would tally just six minutes later when sophomore Matt Tomassoni found the net off a chance on the right side. Tomassoni took a pass from senior Brandon Smith and wristed a high, hard shot that appeared to hit Greenham’s right shoulder and bounce up and over the sophomore. The RedHawks would complete their highest scoring first period of the season when Palmer scored off a feed from Andy Miele that chased Greenham from the net at 14:50 of the first period.
Steve Thompson would enter the game and keep the Nanooks in it, but Miami would finish off the evening on third-period goals from Wingels and Brandon Smith to secure a five-point weekend and an enjoyable flight back to Ohio for the Red and White.
Head coach Enrico Blasi succinctly summarized his thoughts on the 5-0 victory.
“It was a good effort by all of our guys tonight,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “Connor played well (in) net and we came in with a determined effort. It was nice to get the win.” muredhawks.com
- Knapp’s shutout was the third of the season and his fifth in just 33 career games. He has already surpassed last year’s two shutouts which was his first season at Miami.
- Wingels’ goal was his team-leading 13th of the season. He is just two goals off his career high of 15 that came during his freshman campaign in Oxford.
- Miami’s fourth line of Brandon Smith, Justin Vaive and Matt Tomassoni includes a fifth-year senior (Smith), the 6’6″ son of an NHL legend (Vaive) and a defenseman (Tomassoni). The line combined for 2-2-4 on the evening.
- Miami (16-4-6, 13-1-4-2 1st CCHA) has opened a seven point lead over second place Michigan State with two games in-hand. The RedHawks ran their league unbeaten streak to 16 games.
- Miami is once again atop the Pairwise and KRACH rankings and are positioning themselves for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament should their good play continue.
- One of the key components of the Pairwise Rankings that effectively determine the 16-team NCAA Tournament, is record against Teams Under Consideration (TUC’s). The top 25 teams in the Pairwise are ranked and defined as “under consideration.” Miami has played 26 games this season with 18 of them coming against TUC’s. They are 12-2-4 in those games having played the 7th most difficult schedule in the nation and have achieved the 2nd best winning percentage in the country. However, only Miami’s series with Lake Superior State is against another TUC for the remainder of the regular season meaning it will help Miami’s Pairwise if the top teams they have already played, and beaten, such as Ferris State, Michigan, Notre Dame, New Hampshire and St. Cloud State continue to win.
- Miami returns home for the next two weekends starting with a two-game series against the CCHA’s last place team, Western Michigan January 29-30 followed by what is shaping up to be a big series against fourth place Lake Superior State. The Lakers are having a surprisingly nice season and are in line for a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs.
- After two weeks on the road, Miami will not leave the state of Ohio until at least the CCHA championship weekend in Detroit in late March.
- Ohio State’s victory over Michigan State coupled with Miami’s win in Fairbanks enabled the RedHawks to open a seven-point spread over the second place Spartans in the CCHA. It’s roughly a 2 1/2 game lead since CCHA league wins are worth 3 points each.
Other Games of Interest
#8 Ferris State 3, Michigan 2 – Ferris earns the split in the second half of the home-and-home from Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
#3 Wisconsin 4, #1 Denver 3 – The Badgers take 3 of 4 points from the Pioneers in Madison opening the door for #2 Miami to return to the top of the polls this week.
#14 Bemidji State 5, #4 Minnesota-Duluth 4 – The Beavers of the CHA sweep the first place team in the WCHA. The sweep effectively silences the noise-makers from that western conference whom as we know, can do no wrong…for a few minutes at least.
After roughly 20 hours of travel for the RedHawks, Alaska would find the net first with just 28 seconds remaining in the first period as defenseman Aaron Gens scored a powerplay goal. Gens received a blind, backhanded pass from Dion Knelsen through the slot to convert a diving redirection that just slipped under Reichard’s glove as he moved from his right to his left in an attempt to make the save. Miami managed just four shots on goal in the first period as they struggled to regain their legs.
Miami would tie the score just 2:52 into the second period also via the powerplay as junior Pat Cannone scored his seventh goal of the season assisted by classmates Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels.
From a puck possession and territorial standpoint, Miami dominated the second and third periods but was unable to register many quality scoring chances, and when they did, Greenham was there for Alaska. On the night, Miami sent just 24 shots on net while holding the Nanooks to only 21. It was a typical defensive effort for two teams ranked in the top 20 nationally in team defense.
Tonight, Miami returns to the Carlson Center to face the Nanooks for the final time in the regular season and will benefit from Andy Miele’s return to the lineup after a one-game absence. Faceoff is 11pm EST from Fairbanks.
- With the shootout win, Miami extended its CCHA unbeaten streak to 15 games
- Freshmen Steve Mason and Devin Mantha benefited by Miele’s absence as both cracked the lineup and played well
- Freshman Curtis McKenzie was stopped on a breakaway opportunity in the third period by Greenham who made several big saves to keep his team in it
- Miami is now 15-4-6 overall, 12-1-4-2 CCHA. They are four points ahead of second place Michigan State with two games at hand on the Spartans who defeated Ohio State 5-2 picking up a point on the RedHawks in the CCHA standings.
Other Games of Interest
- #1 Denver at #3 Wisconsin – In the marquee matchup of the weekend, #1 Denver and #3 Wisconsin skated to a 3-3 tie in Madison. The Pioneers led 2-0 early in the third only to surrender three consecutive Badger goals to trail 3-2 late. Anthony Maini would tally with just 1:56 remaining to send the game to overtime where it ended 3-3.
- #8 Ferris State at Michigan – After dropping a pair of games last weekend vs. #2 Miami, Ferris State headed to Ann Arbor for the first of a home-and-home. However, the suddenly surging Wolverines sent the Bulldogs back to Big Rapids with their second shutout loss in the past three games as Michigan won 2-0. The teams will complete the series tonight in Big Rapids, Mich. Ferris State is suddenly eight points behind Miami after entering last weekend’s series tied with the RedHawks for first place in the CCHA.
- #9 Cornell 1, #5 North Dakota 0 – The Big Red mustered just 15 shots but came away with the victory at Lynah Ice Arena in Ithaca, N.Y. This was a big win for Cornell who is continually dismissed by writers and fans of the WCHA for being unworthy of their top 10 ranking.
- #12 St. Cloud State 4, Minnesota 3 – The Huskies get the win to continue their ascent up the Pairwise and WCHA standings.
- #14 Bemidji State 4, #4 Minnesota-Duluth 1 – The Beavers got back on track defeating the Bulldogs in their final meeting in Bemidji’s John Glas Fieldhouse before joining the WCHA as a full-time member in the new $44 million Bemidji Regional Events Center next year. The Beavers are fourth in the current Pairwise rankings which would earn them a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today.
It’s going to be a quick preview this week as I’ve been cavorting in Fabulous Las Vegas for the past several days. Thankfully, I’m still on Pacific time as the #2 Miami RedHawks take on the Alaska Nanooks at 11PM EST from frigid Fairbanks where it’s minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s going to be a late weekend of hockey.
Last week the RedHawks (15-4-5, 12-1-3-1 1st CCHA) rebounded from a pair of losses to Robert Morris by sweeping then #6 Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich. where the Bulldogs were 11-0 this season. After Friday’s 4-0 whitewash, Miami opened up a 5-2 lead early in the third period and held off a late Ferris State rally winning 5-4. However, in doing so, the RedHawks will be without fourth-leading scorer, junior Andy Miele (8-13-21, +11), who was assessed a game disqualification penalty for kicking during a scrum in front of the Ferris net on Saturday. The penalty carries an automatic one game suspension meaning Miele will make the trip to the Land of the Midnight Sun for just one game. Miele has played in 83 consecutive matches for the Red and White.
Alaska (10-7-5, 7-7-4-4 5th CCHA) enters the series coming off a two-point weekend against the Michigan Wolverines where they were blanked 6-0 on Friday, but managed a shootout win on Saturday at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. Upfront, the Nanooks are led by freshman Andy Taranto (9-15-24) and senior Dion Knelsen (11-9-20) and backstopped by sophomore Scott Greenham (10-7-5, 2.43, .911). Last season, the Nanooks surprised many by finishing in fourth place during the regular season earning a first-round playoff bye. They then dispatched the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round earning a trip to Joe Louis Arena where they were defeated by Notre Dame and Northern Michigan. Second year coach Dallas Ferguson has instilled a defense-first approach and the two teams split a series in Oxford last year.
- Miami leads the all-time series 31-13-4 including 14-7-2 in Fairbanks
- Miami leads 5-4-1 over the past 10 meetings
- The series wraps up a four game road swing for the RedHawks
- Saturday’s game will be the last game outside the state of Ohio for the RedHawks until, likely, the CCHA Championship semifinal in Detroit, should they advance that far
- Alaska is 4-0 in shootouts this season
Tomorrow, we’ll have recaps of Miami/Alaska and an overview of other action including #1 Denver and #3 Wisconsin from Madison.