Category Archives: Northern Michigan Wildcats
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.)
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.
nice HUGE weekend sweep of Western Michigan, where 3 RedHawks made the CCHA Player of the Week roll, Miami welcomes the Northern Michigan Wildcats to Oxford. The ‘Cats swept Miami on December 2-3, 2011 with a 2-1 victory on Friday night and a dominating 5-1 victory the following night.
The standings look a little different for this week’s matchup than they did just 1 week ago, but let’s take a look back where things stood on December 2. On that date, Northern Michigan stood 2-5-1 plus an additional 2 shootout wins. NMU was reeling, having come off of a pair of 4-1 losses at Ohio State, as well as a split at home against Michigan State. The Wildcats were getting pushed around, and Walt Kyle’s team was heading towards the bottom of the league.
Rico Blasi’s squad was also having an interesting go of it. After the 2-6 start of the season, Miami had turned things around, having won 2 games with a score of 2-1 in Alaska, then took 5 of 6 possible points against #4 Michigan, 4 of 6 against BGSU (both in Oxford), and then went to Denver to win the Denver Cup over Providence (6-2) and #9 Denver (4-2). The ‘Hawks had just finished November 6-0-2 and had swept the CCHA Monthly Awards for November. The first weekend in December was certainly one to forget for the Miami faithful, and after the holiday break, Miami sat in NMU’s position – 9th in the CCHA.
Flash forward almost 2 months, and you have the #17 ranked RedHawks on a tear. Miami comes off of a sweep of then #8 Western Michigan, a team previously on fire, and is 5-1 in 2012. Miami sits in a tie for 2nd, just 2 points behind Ohio State in the ever-crowded CCHA standings. #19 ranked Northern Michigan comes to Oxford stuttering, having gone 2-1-2-0 in the new year, with both ties being shootout losses. Having won last weekend at Michigan Tech in a non-conference matchup, the Wildcats have some catching up to do in the conference standings. Currently 9th, the Cats are sitting with 25 CCHA points, putting them just 6 points out of a tie for 5th and a first-round CCHA Playoff bye. Having played 2 less games than many of the top teams will help the Cats gain ground, but they will be need to be willing to throw all 9 lives out on the ice this weekend to gain those precious CCHA points.
With 16 underclassmen on the roster, NMU’s season has been successful thus far. Senior Captain Tyler Gron leads the way as expected with 11 goals and 16 assists on the year. He is the reigning RBC Player of the Month for the CCHA. The ‘Cats only current draft pick is Senior Justin Florek (Boston). He leads the team with 13 goals on the season and 21 points overall, and also has 8 career points in 11 games against Miami. Stopping this duo will certainly be a focus point for Rico’s boys this week in practice.
NMU Head Coach Walt Kyle is is 187-161-43 all time in his current post. Kyle has been doing his best Rico Blasi impersonation this season, rotating games between Senior Reid Ellingson and Sophomore Jared Coreau in between the pipes. Both have played 14 games, with Ellingson going 4-5-3 and Coreau sporting a 7-3-2 record. If ever there was a goaltending conundrum, this would be the game.
You’ve seen our take on the Miami goaltending situation, and Walt Kyle has a similar difficult choice ahead of him this weekend. Ellingson has started most Friday nights for Kyle, and Coreau most Saturday nights including last Saturday’s 5-2 non-conference victory at Michigan Tech. Ellingson last played on January 13th against Michigan State, where he allowed 4 goals before being pulled in favor of Coreau under 8 minutes into the second period. Don’t be surprised if Kyle goes with a hot hand in Jared Coreau, December’s Gongshow CCHA Goaltender of the Month, to try and take a few points out of Oxford.
Will Miami come off of the WMU weekend and slip up and lose focus with another big weekend ahead? Will Northern Michigan be able to show they belong in the CCHA playoffs discussion?
I don’t think so. I look for Connor Knapp to start both games again, and Miami has a weekend similar to the last time the Cats came to Oxford. Last year, Miami swept NMU back to Marquette by a combined 13-1 score.
Miami 4-1 and 5-1 and pulls to an even 12-12-2 against NMU all-time in Oxford.
– Here is Pete Conrad’s take on the weekend’s series at the Dayton Daily News
A look back:
The ‘Cats were picked 7th by media, 6th by coaches in 2010-11 and finished 6th. However, in their 1st round playoff series at home against Bowling Green – who had only won 8 games prior to that series – they were taken down 2-0 in game 2 and 2-1 in a 2OT thriller in game 3, ending NMU’s season early.
Where they stand:
NMU’s Top 3 scorers return as seniors, and one of them, Tyler Gron, was just named to the Preseason All-CCHA 2nd-team. Gron was not named as one of the captains of the team by head coach Walt Kyle (NMU class of 1981), however and those honors go to seniors Justin Florek, Andrew Cherniwchan, and junior Scott Macaulay. Kyle has a rather surprising record of 176-153-39 in his 10 seasons in Marquette, and will likely ride Reid Ellingson as the ‘Cats primary goaltender this year.
A look ahead:
The Wildcats start the season without an exhibition, but with 2 games in the Kohl Center vs. the Wisconsin Badgers. Although the Badgers won’t be there, this will be a small taste of the WCHA, and they’ll get a full dose starting in the newly reconfigured WCHA starting in the 2013-2014 season. A strong start could get this young team (16 underclassmen) on the right track.
Predicted Finish: This year looks to be more of the same from the Wildcats. In the CCHA preseason polls released 9/28, the coaches tabbed NMU at 6th and the Media in a tie for 7th.
>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.
>Oxford, Ohio – On the strength of their sweep of Lake Superior State, the Miami RedHawks have moved to 8th in this week’s USCHO.com poll. And, with their 9-game unbeaten streak intact, the RedHawks have moved up to a tie for 9th in the PairWise rankings that largely determine the field of 16 for the NCAA Tournament.
With a first round bye in the CCHA conference tournament, the RedHawks await the winner of a best-of-three series this weekend. If all the upper seeds hold, Miami would host Walt Kyle’s Northern Michigan Wildcats in another best-of-three series for the right to go to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich. to battle for the Mason Cup.
Earlier this season, Miami swept Northern Michigan in Oxford by scores of 4-0 and 9-1. That series was marred by the injury to junior defenseman Will Weber who was inadvertently cut in the neck by the skate of Wildcat captain Phil Fox when the two came together in the corner. Weber, of course, returned only a few weeks later and is the reigning CCHA Defensive Defenseman of the Year and is a stalwart of the Miami defense which allowed the fewest goals of any CCHA squad.