Category Archives: University of Denver

Photos: Denver at Miami

Images from the series played between Denver and Miami at Cady Arena on Feb. 17-18, 2017. All photos by Cathy Lachmann/BoB.

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Analysis: League tourney last hope for season

OXFORD, Ohio – Three seasons ago, Miami suffered through a 3-12-1 second half.

When it became obvious Miami Version 2013-14 would have to win the NCHC Tournament to earn a berth to the NCAAs, preparation for a difficult road series to the open that years’ conference tournament trumped results of the final few regular season games.

We’re almost to that point after the RedHawks’s 5-2 loss to No. 2 Denver at Cady Arena on Friday, as Miami is mired in seventh place in the league standings and would need to make up seven points with five games left in the regular season to earn home ice for the first round of the NCHCs, not to mention pass three teams.

And the RedHawks (9-14-6) are out of games vs. two of those three teams they would need to eclipse: Nebraska-Omaha and St. Cloud State. The other is North Dakota, which Miami hosts to close out the regular season in two weeks.

Moving ahead of at least one of those teams would be beneficial, as the RedHawks are currently seventh and would play the league runner-up between Minnesota-Duluth and Denver in a best-of-3.

Duluth didn’t work out particularly well last year, and facing the Pioneers in a long series at altitude isn’t particularly appealing either. Western Michigan appears the favorite for the three seed, and Miami didn’t come close to winning either of its games in Kalamazoo, either.

And while the four seed is up for grabs – St. Cloud State currently holds that spot after beating the RedHawks twice on its home ice last week – the five seed may be the toughest in the league, as that team’s opponent is not ensured a spot in the NCAAs and often has a lot more to play for than the relatively safe top three seeds in this league.

Denver (21-6-4) was the better team on Friday and was in both games in Colorado, which RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin singlehandedly flipped from losses to ties with his stellar play. We’ve seen first hand that Western Michigan > Miami. It’s not a stretch to assume to same about UMD, currently the top-ranked team in PairWise.

That’s where we are with five games left until the NCHC Tournament. It’s not pretty.

Then again, in 2013-14 the RedHawks went to St. Cloud and shocked the Huskies, sweeping them on their home ice and ultimately falling just short in the league’s championship game in Minneapolis.

So Miami’s season is still far from over, but the team’s path is similar to that of three years ago: Need a road series win against a top-10 team then a pair of wins at the Frozen Faceoff.

The odds are long, but the RedHawks have pulled rabbits out of their hats before when things looked their gloomiest.

Other thoughts…

– Denver’s game-winning goal by Will Butcher was a microcosm of Miami’s season. Offensive-zone faceoff win, check. Skate into the slot uncontested. Check. Fire a grade-A shot past a RedHawks goalie who has to be in need of a support group at this point. Check and mate. It was a 4-on-4 and no one picked up Butcher, who has a great shot and should’ve been a defensive priority on that play.

– Speaking of summing up this team on one play, on defense, there was a fairly routine situation in the first period that turned into another point-blank chance that Larkin turned aside in which Miami D-men Jared Brandt and Louie Belpedio failed to pick up the shooter despite being seemingly well positioned. BoB said the loss of three quality defensemen to graduation (Matthew Caito, Taylor Richart, Chris Joyaux) could be the toughest thing for this team to overcome. The current D-corps, with the exception of Grant Hutton, just isn’t making anyone pay the price for establishing prime real estate in Miami’s zone. A physical, shut-down set of blueliners has been a staple of RedHawks hockey for two cycles of classes, we’re not getting that, Nos. 1-6, on a regular basis. They have far too often freelanced deep into the offensive zone and gotten caught as well.

– The officials certainly didn’t cost Miami this game, but that played a major role by assessing a body checking penalty to Conor Lemirande along the benches (OK, technically they called it interference, but that player had just unloaded the puck, and aren’t those skaters still fair game for the first second at least?). Of course, that went into the net, and after the RedHawks failed to pick up yet another trailer who skated into the slot without paying any kind of price, Colin Sullivan took a penalty right after, and that also ended up in a waved off Denver goal. That was overturned after an eight-minute delay, and there’s a 2-0 lead for the Pioneers with Tanner Jaillet in net. The calls weren’t very good either way, and the linesmen were awful at dropping pucks for faceoffs and in their judgment of kicking playoffs out of the circles.

– These lengthy reviews have gotten ridiculous. We saw a 14-minute delay vs. Western Michigan and another eight-minute stopped in this one. Yes, Friday’s call went Denver’s way, but there really needs to be a limit on these stoppages. If a pregnant pause is long enough that players need to skate to keep their legs fresh, as was the case in both of these instances, it needs to be shut down. Of course we want to see all calls made correctly, but most reasonable people realize that college hockey isn’t the pros, or even Division I football or basketball with unlimited HD angles. If a call can’t be overturned in two minutes, the call on the ice stands. Originally that was a good enough stance for the NFL (actually it was 90 seconds), so it should be fine for hockey at this level.

– Some positive? Josh Melnick had the presence of mind to grab the puck before the linesman got it after Brandt scored the tying goal, realizing it was the first of the freshman’s career. And it was a beautiful shot. Brandt has gone from the NAHL to playing on the top pairing, facing opponents’ top forwards as a freshman, which is an incredibly difficult role in this league.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D. The Gordie Green-to-LaValle hook up was nice, but this corps did little else. Denver has an excellent coach in Jim Montgomery, and clearly his staff figured out how to shut down Kiefer Sherwood and Anthony Louis, who combined for three shots. Carter Johnson was 6-5 on faceoffs, but overall Miami was an embarrassment on draws, finishing 25-47. Melnick was 9-17 and Sherwood was 5-16. Twelve forwards, 13 shots.

DEFENSEMEN: D+. The Brandt goal earns this corps the plus. Too many Pioneers skated around defenseman en route to the net. Too many times Denver skaters took direct lines toward high-percentage scoring areas without being challenged. Too many times we’ve seen this exact MO.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

GOALTENDING: B. Yes, Larkin allowed four goals on 31 shots, but he got almost no help. The first two Denver markers were both on the power play. Goal No. 1 was on a rebound after he had stopped two point-blank chances from the side of the net, and the puck leaked into the slot. Goal No. 2 was tipped at the top of the crease because a player was left there uncontested. Goal No. 3 was on a wide-open shot from the slot because – say it with me – no one picked up the shooter. Goal No. 4 pinballed but again the scorer was allowed to camp out at the top of the crease. Larkin made the save of the year by coming across the crease and shutting down an A-plus chance. If his D-corps isn’t going to show physicality, maybe he should take a page from Jay Williams take matters into his own hands. An occasional penalty for laying a little lumber is a small price to pay to end this trend of seeing high-caliber scorers practically have their mail delivered to the top of Miami’s crease. This has not been a strong regular season, but imagine how much worse it would’ve been if Larkin wasn’t this team’s primary goalie?

LINEUP CHANGES: Defenseman Grant Frederic was back after sitting for four straight games, as Miami went with the seven-defenseman approach with Sullivan cryptically listed as a forward. Forward Alex Alger did not dress. Forward Justin Greenberg missed his eighth straight game with a lower-body injury and was still in a boot. His faceoff prowess was sorely missed.

Analysis: Series big for MU confidence

Just when it seemed like Miami had pulled off a surprise by tying No. 1 Denver once on its home ice at elevation, the RedHawks did it again a night later.

MU and the Pioneers skated to a 2-2 tie in a series that Miami entered as a huge underdog, having lost its previous five.

Like Friday, the RedHawks were severely outshot, 51-26 including 22-3 in the first period (that’s a 37-6 first-period shot advantage for DU on the weekend).

As we’re constantly reminded, especially with a young team, the season is a process, and hanging with the top team in NCAA for six period in a hostile rink a mile above sea level will do wonders for Miami’s confidence.

And let’s face it, that confidence couldn’t have been in a great place after a pair of demoralizing losses at home to UNO last weekend.

At the same time, confidence builder or not, the RedHawks (3-6-4) are still winless in league play with two of a possible 18 points a quarter of a way through their NCHC schedule. They have three wins in 13 games and haven’t picked up a victory in November, with their last coming on Oct. 28.

Youth breeds inconsistency, something we’ve been reminded of often the first two months of this season, and while it can be incredibly frustrating, weekends like this show that at least Miami appears headed in the right direction overall.

Other thoughts…

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– You know what is consistent for Miami? Ryan Larkin. He posted a .963 save percentage this weekend, making 87 saves on 90 shots. The RedHawks have certainly had rough patches this season, but imagine if Larkin wasn’t between the pipes.

– Willie Knierim hasn’t looked completely confident at times this season, but hopefully his rebound goal will springboard his overall game. After the puck hit goalie Tanner Jaillet, it popped into the air and Knierim banged it home before it hit the ice. It was a goal-scorer’s goal and from in close, and area the wide-body could have a lot of collegiate success as he adapts to this level.

– With injuries and such plaguing a Miami team that was never terribly deep, Colin Sullivan played forward on Friday and shifted back to defense on Saturday. Coach Enrico Blasi loves guys he can play anywhere, and Sullivan can do just that, plus the fifth-year senior provides experience on a team lacking in that department. Defenseman Bryce Hatten sat out on Saturday after playing Friday, and forward Alex Alger returned to the lineup sheet.

– The upcoming off weekend is bittersweet, as Miami would probably like to capitalize on the momentum it built this weekend, but at the same time it can certainly use another week to heal. Louie Belpedio should be ready and will fortify the blueline substantially, and Carson Meyer may be ready to go as well.

Miami's Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Justin Greenberg (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

– Justin Greenberg has really stepped up not only on the PK but in the faceoff circle. He was 11-5 on draws Saturday and 20-10 for the weekend.

Miami ties top-ranked Denver

It’s a pretty safe bet to say that Miami was happy to have Ryan Larkin back.

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami goalie Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Larkin was pulled from last Friday’s game with an injury and missed Saturday’s contest as a result, but returned to stop a career-high 38 shots as the RedHawks salvaged a 1-1 tie at No. 1 Denver on Friday.

Miami extended its winless streak to six games but it had lost its last five and was 0-4 against its first two NCHC opponents, neither of which were ranked.

The RedHawks (3-6-3), who received one point after DU won the sudden-death shootout, were outshot, 39-21.

Miami’s only goal came just 1:59 into the game when Anthony Louis stole the puck in the defensive zone, slid a pass to a streaking Grant Hutton, and the sophomore defenseman ripped one by goalie Tanner Jaillet on the stick side.

Denver (7-2-2) trailed by a goal after the first period despite leading on the shot counter, 15-3.

But the Pioneers tied it in the middle stanza. With 16:02 left in that frame, Troy Terry stole a Bryce Hatten defensive zone pass, went in alone and beat Larkin stick side to tie it.

The RedHawks generated 11 of their 21 shots in the second period.

After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game was officially ruled a tie. In the second OT for a conference point, Denver outshot Miami, 7-2 in the 3-on-3.

Henrik Borgstrom converted his sudden-death penalty shot but Kiefer Sherwood was denied.

Miami's Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Miami’s Grant Hutton (photo by Cathy Lachmann/BoB).

Hutton’s goal was his third of the season after he did not record a marker in his first season with Miami.

Louis picked up the lone RedHawks assist, giving him helpers in three straight and points in nine of his last 10 games. He now has 102 career points, moving him into sole possession of 49th place on Miami’s all-time leaderboard.

The RedHawks remain in last place in the NCHC, as they picked up their first league point of the season.

These teams wrap up their two-game weekend series at 9:07 p.m. on Saturday.

Analysis: Margin for error low for Miami

OXFORD, Ohio – The better team won both games this weekend at Cady Arena.

Unfortunately for Miami, that meant after winning the series opener against Denver, the RedHawks fell to the Pioneers, 5-3 in the finale on Saturday.

The strange thing about Game 2 was Miami was badly outplayed in the first period but came away from that frame with the lead.

The RedHawks were much improved in the second and third periods but were outscored in both.

Typically in the ultra-competitve NCHC, teams splitting against a ranked in-conference team is OK, so long as they are beating the bottom dwellers.

The problem for Miami is it dug itself such a deep hole that 1-1 weekends are no longer suffice if it hopes to get back into NCAA Tournament contention.

At 24th in the PairWise, the RedHawks still have much work remaining before any serious NCAA talks can begin. And Miami now will play the majority of its nine remaining games away from Cady Arena.

As mentioned before, strength of schedule will help Miami if it gets to .500 or above, but one caveat as we move forward: The NCAA now requires teams to post at least a .500 winning percentage to qualify for an at-large bid.

But judging from its positioning in PairWise (24th) vs. its record (two games under .500), this looks like it will probably be a self-policing situation. Just wanted to throw it out there.

A 6-3 finish to the regualar season would suffice the winning percentage requirement, assuming Miami can win at least one in the best-of-3, and there’s a good chance that in that scenario that series would be played in Oxford.

It may take a 7-2 mark plus a trip to Minneapolis to get into the top 14 in PairWise, which is probably where Miami would need to advance to for a fairly safe NCAA berth.

The RedHawks’ small margin for error makes next weekend so important and such a high-risk, high-reward series, since wins will be tough to come by against the second-ranked (in the PairWise) Huskies but could be very lucrative.

Other thoughts…

– Back to the game…too many turnovers, especially in the first period when Miami seemingly was essentially in penalty kill mode for 20 minutes. Forwards didn’t seem to get back on D or backcheck very well, and after standing on his head for the first four periods of the weekend, senior goalie Jay Williams led in a couple of outside shots he normally stops. The flip side of that is: Denver is a very good team that played a very good game in most facets (goalie Tanner Jaillet wasn’t that great would be the only knock on the Pioneers in this one).

– Jack Roslovic’s set-up of Kiefer Sherwood was world class and was shown repeatedly on the big screen, as it should have been. A world-class play by a world-class player. He still needs to stop trying to carry the puck through three and four players, which he was probably able to get away with at the last level.

– Obviously skaters cannot record saves, but both Alex Gacek and Chris Joyaux kept pucks from going into the net by sprawling across the crease. Great effort by both on their respective “saves”.

– Our nightly GoalieGate update: There is no update. Ryan McKay was scratched again on Saturday, and it’s unknown if/when he will return. One thing of note regarding goalies: Ryan Larkin is with the team but is recovering from an upper body injury and is out for the season. Larkin, the cousin of Detroit Red Wings star Dylan Larkin, came to Oxford earlier this month to start on classwork and will be a freshman this fall. Good move by him and by the program.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C. They scored all three goals, but as mentioned above, the backchecking and defense by this group left much to be desired, and they turned the puck over way too much. Nice to see the Roslovic-Sherwood combo generating offense as well as Kuraly scoring by driving the net. So glad to see Alex Gacek having a solid senior season.

DEFENSEMEN: C. Kind of a comme ci, comme ca game for this group. No standouts for either good or bad reasons. It does bear mentioning that Louie Belpedio has been much more solid overall since returning from Finland.

GOALTENDING: C-. Tough call here. Williams was the difference in the first period but was 16 of 21 the final 40 minutes. To be fair, he had zero chance on the first goals, and on the fourth one Shore ended up with puck all alone in the slot for multiple seconds after an unfortunate bounce for Miami. And Williams made the initial save on the third goal. The second and fifth ones were two he would’ve wanted back, but the fifth one was a laser that found the top corner of the net.

LINEUP CHANGES: None again. This is the fifth straight game Coach Enrico Blasi has gone with these 18 skaters plus Williams in net.

Denver snaps Miami 4-game win streak

OXFORD, Ohio – Miami did come back from a two-goal deficit to tie it but ultimately saw its four-game winning streak snapped.

Denver netted a pair of third-period goals en route to a 5-3 win over the RedHawks at Cady Arena on Saturday, handing MU its first loss since Jan. 9.

Despite being severely outplayed in the first period, Miami freshman forward Jack Roslovic went in on a 2-on-1, faked a shot and slid a pass across the slot to freshman forward Kiefer Sherwood, who buried it with 1:42 left in the frame.

The Pioneers would record the next three markers in a seven-minute window.

They tied it on a tic-tac-toe passing play, capped off with a tap-in from the side of the net by Trevor Moore 7:04 into the second period.

Matt Marcinew slipped one through traffic from the blue line, beating RedHawks senior goalie Jay Williams with 9:38 left in that stanza.

Denver went up 3-1 over three minutes later when Quentin Shore beat three Miami players, put a shot on that was saved by Williams and followed it up with the tap-in.

The RedHawks cut the lead to one with 4:56 left in the middle frame on a shot by senior forward Alex Gacek from the top of the faceoff circle that snuck inside the far post.

Miami's Sean Kuraly fends off a defender and eventually scores the tying goal in the third period (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Sean Kuraly fends off a defender and eventually scores the tying goal in the third period (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Senior center Sean Kuraly evened it at three when he drove strongly the net and beat goalie Tanner Jaillet on the forehand less than two minutes into the third period.

But the Pioneers went ahead for good less than three minutes after the tying goal when a Miami clearing attempt deflected to a wide-open Shore in the slot, and he shot over Williams’ glove for the go-ahead tally.

Denver’s Nolan Zajac capped off the scoring on a blast from the blue line that found the far top corner of the net with 3:32 remaining in regulation.

It was Williams’ first loss since Oct. 31. He stopped 26 shots.

Kuraly led Miami with two points (1-1-2), giving him eight points in his last five games. Freshman forward Josh Melnick and junior forward Anthony Louis saw their five-game points streaks snapped.

Miami is now in a three-way tie for fourth place in the NCHC with Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota-Duluth at 19 points.

The loss also dropped the RedHawks to 24th in the PairWise rankings.

Miami hosts St. Cloud State next weekend. Game times are 7:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Miami wins fourth straight vs. Denver

OXFORD, Ohio – The .500 mark is finally just a win away.

After a 6-11-3 start capped off by a seven-game winless streak, Miami has won four straight games, including a 3-1 win over No. 13 Denver at Cady Arena on Friday, to put itself back in NCAA contention.

Miami's Jack Roslovic celebrates his go-ahead goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Miami’s Jack Roslovic celebrates his go-ahead goal (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Freshman forward Jack Roslovic broke out of a mini-funk, scoring for just the second time in 11 games, while senior forward Kevin Morris and junior forward Anthony Louis stayed hot.

Morris found the net for the third straight game and Louis has recorded a goal in three of his last four contests.

The Pioneers (12-8-5) took the early lead, as Troy Terry slid a pass to Danton Heinen through the slot, and Heinen went to his backhand to slip the puck past RedHawks senior goalie Jay Williams just 7:06 into the first period.

But 90 seconds later, Louis dug a puck out of the corner, skated around the back of the net and stuffed it past goalie Evan Cowley on the far side to tie the score.

Roslovic gave Miami (10-11-3) the lead when he hammered a centering pass from Morris home on the power play with 2:14 remaining in the second period.

With just over a minute remaining in that period, senior forward Sean Kuraly was assessed two minor penalties, and Miami was forced to kill off four minutes of power play time.

Williams made eight saves in the final period – two in spectacular fashion – and 20 overall to pick up the win, his fourth in a row and 41st of his career. That moves him into solo control of fifth place all-time on the team’s career leaderboard, ahead of Richard Shulmistra and five behind Connor Knapp.

Morris skated in and tapped home an empty netter with 23 seconds to play, sealing the RedHawks’ win. He finished with a goal and an assist, and sophomore defenseman Scott Dornbrock picked up a pair of helpers.

Louis and freshman forward Josh Melnick extended their points streaks to five games. Louis has three goals and three assists in that span, and Melnick has five helpers.

Morris has a three-game goal streak, going 3-2-5 after picking up five points the first 21 games this season.

Senior defenseman Matthew Caito has also recorded points in three consecutive tilts (1-3-4). Dornbrock, who had one assist the first 22 games, has three in the last two games.

Miami vaulted Nebraska-Omaha and moved into a tie with Minnesota-Duluth for fourth place in the NCHC standings. UNO fell, 5-1 to Colorado College and UMD played an out-of-conference game.

The RedHawks have a game in hand vs. Minn.-Duluth, against whom they finish the regular season on the road.

Miami surged into a tie for 18th in the PairWise rankings, which determine the teams that make the NCAA Tournament.

These teams wrap up their weekend series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at Cady Arena.

Preview: Denver at Miami

WHO: No. 13 Denver Pioneers (12-7-5) at Miami RedHawks (9-11-3).

WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.

WHEN: Friday–7:05 p.m.; Saturday–7:05 p.m.

TV: Friday–CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 221); Saturday–Fox Sports Alternate (DirecTV Ch. 608-1).

DENVER RADIO: Friday–KEPN-AM (1600), Denver, Colo.; Saturday–KKFN-FM (104.3).

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights–WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.

NOTES: Miami has six home games left on its schedule with four to be played in the next nine days.

The RedHawks are coming off a huge sweep at then-No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha and have won three straight games after a 6-11-3 start.

But Denver is also on a hot streak, unbeaten in its last eight contests (5-0-3), as the Pioneers have surged into third place in the NCHC.

DU goalie Tanner Jaillet was pulled last Friday after surrendering two goals on seven shots, and the Pioneers came back to win with Evan Cowley in net. Cowley is 73 of 74 since, so there’s an excellent chance he’s in net for the series opener, especially since Jaillet has an .897 save percentage vs. Miami.

No one on Denver’s roster has scored 10 goals, but seven skaters have five or more makers.

Dylan Gambrell – a freshman – leads the Pioneers in points with 24 on seven goals and 17 assists, and Trevor Moore leads the team in assists with 18 and has 21 points.

Danton Heinen has a team-best nine goals and has nine assists for 18 points.

The Pioneers have two blueliners who create offense as well. Will Butcher, a Colorado Avalanche draftee, has five goals and 11 assists, and Nolan Zajac – younger brother of NHLer Travis Zajac – has notched a goal and 12 helpers.
Freshman forward Josh Melnick has recorded points in four straight games, and senior forward Sean Kuraly and junior forward Anthony Louis have points in three consecutive tilts. Kuraly has notched six points during his run, including five assists.

Jay Williams.

Jay Williams.

Senior Jay Williams has been in net for all three of Miami’s wins during its current run. Classmate Ryan McKay has been scratched for all those games, and it’s unclear if he will return to the lineup this weekend.

These teams are 9-9 all-time against each other. They split their four regular season games in 2014-15, and Miami beat Denver in the NCHC Tournament. The Pioneers ended the RedHawks’ 2013-14 season by winning in the NCHC final.

>Game #26 – Miami v. Alaska

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Knapp earns third shutout of the season as Miami blanks Alaska 5-0


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

Notes

  • 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.

>RedHawks 1, Adversity 0

>They never trailed. The RedHawks defeated No. 1 seed Denver 4-2 on Friday afternoon, punching their ticket to the quarter-finals of the NCAA Tournament. Miami jumped out to a quick lead in the first period, when senior Justin Mercier made a nice toe-drag and fired a wrist shot past Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie. It was the 50th of his Miami career. As time ticked down in the first period, the RedHawks struck again. This time, it was Alden Hirschfeld, netting his fourth goal of the season. The result? 2-0 Miami, end of the first period.

They never trailed.

The second period was much of the same. Uptempo, with the ‘Hawks seeming to take advantage of Denver’s defense and Olympic size ice surface and solid puck moving ability. They seemed to get behind the defense frequently on this day and their hard work paid off. Miami struck early again. Bill Loupee potted his second goal of the season, now giving the Red & White three goal lead. Denver finally found the scoreboard late in the second, when Joe Colborne deflected a shot past Miami goaltender Cody Reichard. It was a power-play tally that cut the Miami lead to two. Momentum was high on the Denver bench. They were…back in it, one could argue, but the momentum went the other way. A great effort by the hard working Andy Miele gave MU it’s fourth goal of the contest on a controversial play. Denver argued that the puck went out of play, hitting the netting above the glass behind the goal. Miele stuck with the play and buried the puck, despite the Pioneer protest. The goal stood after a short conference by the officiating crew, and the Miami lead was once again three goals. 4-1 Miami, end of the second period.

They never trailed.

Denver would score the only goal of the third period, when the returning Tyler Bozak scored another power play tally for the Pioneers. This was a curious decision by Denver bench boss George Gwozdecky, as he pulled goaltender Cheverie in favor of the extra attacker with around six minutes left in regulation. It was a 5 on 4 Denver advantage, with Miami’s Vincent LoVerde and DU’s Brandon Vossberg serving co-incidental minors. The move paid off and Denver once again only trailed by two. That’s the way it would end after some big saves late by Reichard, Miami found itself advaning in the NCAA tournament to take on the winner of the nightcap game- Minnesota-Duluth vs. Princeton.

They never trailed.

This game was Miami hockey. This looked like the team that we saw in the first half of the season, which is a very good sign. One issue of concern, was the powerplay. 0 for 5. Have to capitalize on man-advantage chances, but with the offense running like a well-oiled machine and the defense carrying it’s share of the load, things worked out for the better. Gwozdecky said after the game that coaching against Rico was “a little bit like coaching against your son.” I’m sure that even in defeat, Rico made “dad” proud. What a classy guy George Gwozdecky is. He is still revered by many in the Miami community and will forever be.

This program has been here before…the regional finals. Never, in the soon to be storied history of Miami hockey has the team been past this stage. Teams with guys named Jones, Martinez, and Zatkoff didn’t make it past the quarter finals. This young Miami team, with no true nationally recognized “superstars” has a chance to do something great. Once again, we are one win away from the Frozen Four. Is this the year the chips get cashed in? We’ll know in 24 hours from now.

Looking ahead to tomorrow night, the RedHawks have a very tough test, once again. They’ll face a very good, very solid, University of Minnesota-Duluth squad. These guys are unreal. They’ve won five games in a row, after scoring twice in the last minute of regulation (including the game tying goal with 0.8 seconds left) and then netting the OT winner to defeat Princeton on Friday night. In my opinion, this is the hottest team in the country right now. They bring the third best power play in Division I hockey and a very good netminder, in Alex Stalock to the contest. These two teams are very similar…both play a very fast paced game, have a share of small forwards, and move the puck very well. It is, however, a home game for the Bulldogs. Not literally, of course, but the distance from Duluth to Minneapolis…2 hours, 20 minutes. Oxford to Minneapolis? 11 hours, 16 minutes.

Yikes.

If Miami plays “Miami hockey” (see: 3/27 vs. Denver), things will take care of themselves and the RedHawks will be D.C. bound. Expect a tough contest, folks. We’re one win away. One.

Go RedHawks. The puck drops at 9:00pm ET on ESPNU.

Post game comments: Justin Mercier/Tommy Wingels, Coach Enrico Blasi and DU Head Coach George Gwozdecky