Category Archives: Bowling Green

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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Weekend Preview: CCHA Semifinals and Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

More notes for the weekend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2011-12 Season Preview: Bowling Green

With former Miami captain and assistant coach Chris Bergeron taking the reins, last season the Bowling Green State University Falcons finished in the basement of the CCHA winning just three league games and ten overall. However, the ten wins were a dramatic improvement from 2009-10 when they won just five games in an absolutely forgettable season.

With the continued uncertainly surrounding the Falcons once proud hockey program, this off season hasn’t been anything to write home about. And, without a conference affiliation for 2013 and beyond (they have been extended an invitation to join the WCHA but have not yet accepted), the Falcons saw their best player, junior Jordan Samuels-Thomas, transfer to Quinnipiac. Samuels-Thomas led Bowling Green in scoring each of his two seasons in the orange and brown. Sadly, the program once again looks unsteady even with recent improvements made to their home rink and having professed a desire to be included in the new NCHC with MAC brethren Western Michigan and Miami.

The latest rumor surrounding the Falcons was first published by Bruce Ciskie, the voice of the defending champion UMD Bulldogs on his Twitter feed, and then again on his blog. Ciskie is reporting the Falcons have asked the WCHA for more time as they consider the league’s invitation, but that they have met with four Atlantic Hockey schools, Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris, about potentially starting yet another new college hockey league. In addition, the Buffalo Bulls, who currently field a club hockey team, could be convinced to move to Division I, and perhaps even UAH could be included in discussions. If this pans out, this league would actually make a ton of sense for all involved. First, the Falcons would have a far greater chance of competing, the geography and travel would be much better than making trips to Minnesota and Alaska, and it would not only save a program (Alabama-Huntsville), but even add one in the University at Buffalo. More on this as the story develops.

On and off the ice, the story continues to be somewhat bleak as BG lost their best player, then had two incoming freshmen declared non-qualifiers by the NCAA and the recruiting pipeline does not appear to be loaded with top-end talent. But, they do return junior goaltender Andrew Hammond who posted respectable numbers (2.67 GAA, .915) and three of their top five scorers. However, those three combined for just 48 points (Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele had 71 for Miami last season), but it’s something.

Generally speaking, BG’s recent recruiting classes feature kids from second tier junior leagues and do not possess the depth as top tier teams that are pulling the best from the USNTDP, USHL, BCHL and the east coast. Of course Bergeron has been working with the specter of their program folding, marginally renovated facilities and now the problem of not having a conference. Looking at their incoming recruits, at first blush, there doesn’t appear to be a ton in the tank, but hopefully for the Falcons, some of these guys are late bloomers. On the positive side, Bergeron’s first recruiting class seems to have landed more size for the Falcons, which would follow the trend of when he recruited larger players at Miami to fit a tough, physical style that both he and Enrico Blasi utilized successfully behind the RedHawks’ bench.

Overall, I think 2011-12 is going to be another tough season in northwest Ohio.

Season Prediction

Ceiling — 9th

Floor — 11th

Bowling Green Close to Accepting WCHA Invite?

Looks like the Bowling Green State University Falcons are inching closer to accepting the WCHA’s invitation to join the conference beginning with the 2013-14 season. Frankly, I’m not sure what the hold-up is.

If the Falcons try to wait out the NCHC for an invite, they could do themselves a disservice by turning off their benefactors with open arms — even if the man behind the invite, WCHA commissioner Bruce “Not Some Kind of Merger” McLeod has made it clear the CCHA teams are now subordinate to the WCHA.

Again, I like that Miami and Bowling Green are conference mates and in-state rivals in every other sport. And, it’s been fun beating up on the Falcons over the past ten years as they’ve ignored their once proud hockey program. But in saying that, I just don’t see what BG provides the NCHC, especially as they offer non-qualifiers, even if Notre Dame declines to join the league and they invite Western Michigan. I think it would be better for the NCHC in the near term to go with seven teams and keep searching for an eighth before I’d invite the Falcons in their present state. That in no way precludes the league from later extending an invitation to Bowling Green should their circumstances dramatically change.

For me, offering NQ’s right now wasn’t a smart move by former Miami captain and assistant coach, Chris Bergeron.

>Miami to Host Alaska in 2nd Round of the CCHA Tournament

>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.

CCHA Playoffs – First Round

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Farmington Hills, Mich. – Though Miami is sitting this weekend out, there are three best-of-three first round CCHA tournament matchups that begin tonight. Here is an overview of each series.

(11) Bowling Green at (6) Northern Michigan
Chris Bergeron’s first year with the brown and orange certainly wasn’t as easy as former Miami assistant Jeff Blashill’s with Western Michigan. The Falcons won just three conference games and finished 8-24-4 overall in the former Miami captain and assistant coach’s first stint as a head coach.

The good news is the Falcons finished a respectable 1-2-1 including a shootout win against the Wildcats, and split a pair of games in Marquette back in November.

But, the bad news is the Falcons enter the conference tournament on an eight game winless streak. And, Northern Michigan has gone 26-13 in the CCHA playoffs since Walt Kyle took over as head coach in 2002 and the Wildcats have advanced to the Joe in seven of Kyle’s eight seasons.

If all the top seeds win, Northern Michigan will travel to Oxford to face Miami next weekend to play for the right to advance to Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA Conference Semifinals.

Prediction: NMU sweeps

(10) Michigan State at (7) Alaska
The Spartans make their second trip to Alaska in the past three weeks as they battle the Nanooks in Fairbanks. Michigan State won the regular season series 2-1-1 splitting two games Februrary 18th and 19th at the Carlson Center.

Despite junior goaltender Drew Palmisano’s Twitter pleas to Miami’s Andy Miele (he asked the RedHawks assistant captain to “lose one to Lake Superior State” to avoid a return trip to Fairbanks), the Spartans are once again heading to the great white north.

Michigan State is 39-13-3 all-time against Alaska and has a 4-0 record in first round CCHA tournament games. The Spartans lead the all-time conference tournament series by a 6-2 count and are 15-7-2 all-time in Fairbanks.

If all the top seeds win, Alaska will fly to South Bend to take on Notre Dame next weekend.

Prediction: Alaska in three

(9) Ohio State at (8) Lake Superior State
Coming off a sweep at the hands of Miami, the Lakers limp into a home playoff series against the Buckeyes on a four game winless streak. Ohio State won the series 1-0-1 despite dropping a shootout just two weeks ago in Columbus so the teams are familiar with each other.

Given the way the Lakers played against Miami, I think Ohio State has the upper hand in this series. Should the top seeds hold serve, the winner of this series will face Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend.

Prediction: Ohio State sweeps

>Bowling Green Hires Bergeron

>It was bound to happen sooner or later. Longtime Miami assistant coach Chris Bergeron has been hired by Bowling Green State University and will be officially introduced as the school’s seventh head coach this afternoon at 4 P.M. ET.

“I’m very excited to be a part of putting Bowling Green back where it belongs in the hockey world,” Bergeron said. “My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Bowling Green community. What excites me the most, though, is seeing how hungry everyone is to make Bowling Green hockey successful again — from Dr. (Carol) Cartwright to (AD) Greg Christopher to everyone I talked to during the interview process.” (BG News Release)

Bergeron is the second former Miami assistant coach to be hired by a CCHA program this off-season, as Jeff Blashill was hired as the next Western Michigan head coach earlier this month. Congratulations and best of luck to Berg, his wife Janis and the rest of their family. His numerous contributions to the Miami Hockey program will be sorely missed.

To read the official BG release, click here.

>Game #32 – Miami v. Bowling Green

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Miami crushes Bowling Green 10-2

Bowling Green, Ohio (Feb. 13) – Two Saturday nights in a row, the Miami RedHawks have participated in a game that featured over 100 combined penalty minutes. And, two Saturday nights in a row, Miami put up 10 goals on an overmatched opponent.

In an ugly game in all senses of the word, the Miami RedHawks completely overwhelmed the smaller, slower and much more poorly attired Bowling Green Falcons 10-2. In doing so, Miami notched yet another series sweep as nine RedHawks had multiple point games including two-goal nights for freshman Reilly Smith and senior Brandon Smith, plus four helpers for junior Andy Miele. Miele’s assist on sophomore defenseman Chris Wideman’s shorthanded goal in the second period was the second of two spin-o-rama’s on the play with senior Jarod Palmer also showing off the nifty feet and hands. Palmer carried the puck into the BG zone to the right of goaltender Nick Eno, spun and left the puck for Miele who spun drawing two defenders to him. Miele dropped the puck to Wideman who walked down the slot and fired a wrister past Eno. At that point, it was 6-1 Miami late in the second period.

While the action had been chippy but controlled to that point, things would get out of hand following Wideman’s goal.

When a BG player ran Miami sophomore goaltender Connor Knapp at full speed with 37 seconds remaining in the second period, both teams, including Knapp, would meet behind the Miami net. The ensuing melee saw helmets, sticks, gloves and sweaters litter the ice as two Falcons and Miami’s Alden Hirschfeld (from nearby Sylvania, Ohio) were shown the gate. As the officials sorted it out, they ultimately awarded Miami a bizarre 7 minute powerplay that would carry into the final period. The total tally for the incident was a whopping 67 penalty minutes and freshman defender Joe Hartman would notch a powerplay goal early in the third to keep Miami rolling.

As if things weren’t bizarre enough, at 8:57 of the third period, following another minor dust-up, head coach Enrico Blasi was shown the gate. Blasi took his time walking along the boards toward the BG student section and band waving to the crowd as he exited. And, with one final parting shot, turned and executed a flawless bow to referees Brian Hall and Dean Sanborn. The Romanian judge awarded him a 9.0. To say the scene was surreal might not describe it enough. As an aside, I do think it was a bit classless of Rico, however, he’s sending a message to the league and to his team that he has their back no matter what. As a player, I couldn’t ask for more from my head coach.

A kneeing major assessed to BG’s Robert Shea at 11:09 was the “perfect” ending to an ugly display by the Falcons in all facets of their game. They are now 4-22-4 on the season.

Next week, the RedHawks play host to Dean Blais and Nebraska-Omaha at Steve Cady Arena. The Mavericks are fresh off a sweep of Michigan and have ascended all the way to fourth in the CCHA with an overall record of 16-12-6.

Notes

  • Miami prevailed 3-2 on Friday
  • With the victory, Miami improves to 22-4-6 overall and 19-1-4-2 CCHA.
  • The RedHawks have an astounding 20 point lead over both Ferris State and Michigan State who are tied for second in the conference. That’s like leading the standings by roughly seven games.
  • Miami now has a season’s best seven game winning streak and is unbeaten in 22 consecutive CCHA contests.
  • Miami has put up 25 goals over the past two weekends while allowing just eight.