Category Archives: 2012-13 Weekend Previews
Keep calm, RedHawk fans.
Miami hockey is back and better than ever!
Miami is in Madison, WI for a set of 2 games against the WCHA’s Wisconsin Badgers this weekend. It will be the last out-of-conference series on the season and afterwards, the story of the standings will be a lot clearer. With all of the other 10 CCHA schools facing off against each other, Miami will come back to the pack a bit in terms of games played. Miami can only fall to 3rd in the CCHA standings, but Notre Dame, Western Michigan and Ohio State – all within striking distance – will have the same amount (16) of games played after having 2 games in hand for much of the season. The Irish(1st place and +1 point on Miami) hosts Alaska and Western Michigan (3rd, -2 points) heads to Bowling Green.
The RedHawks return to CCHA play after a week off as WJC gold medalists Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly rejoin team
Coming off a lull in the schedule that has seen the RedHawks play just two games since mid-December, a 1-0 victory over duhOSU and a 1-0 loss in the championship game of the Three Rivers Classic to surging Robert Morris (who always beats us anyway), Miami returns to CCHA action this weekend at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich. as the Northern Michigan Wildcats and Miami RedHawks play their final CCHA regular season series. Frankly, it’s likely the last time in a while that Miami visits them in the U.P. with conference realignment coming next year.
Miami returns to action this weekend in the Three Rivers Classic at CONSOL Energy Center
Despite two of Miami’s heralded freshmen (Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly) playing in the World Junior Championship in Russia this week, the #5 Miami RedHawks (11-3-4, 8-3-3-3 T1st CCHA) return to action to face a familiar foe, the Ohio State Buckeyes (7-6-5, 6-3-3-1 4th CCHA) Friday at 7:30pm in the second game of the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. Miami tied and defeated the Buckeyes in the final two games before the two-week winter break at Cheap Furniture Arena in Columbus on December 14 and 15. Friday’s game will be the RedHawks third consecutive game against their in-state rivals who will meet at least five times this year. This game will not count in the overall CCHA standings as this will be considered a non-conference affair.
Wait what? 3 games against Ohio State?
Well, let’s lump them all in together. Miami plays this weekend at Ohio State in what could be the last games in Columbus in a good while, and follows that up with a game in between Christmas and New Years in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh against the same team. That makes 3 in a row. And I want to throw up now.
In the effort of having our lunches remain inside of us for now, I’ll spare you the gruesome pictures of Ohio State’s uniform choices in the past, but remind you that they are hideous. We’ll see enough of that on the ice in the next 35 hours or so. Let’s jump in with some comparisons, shall we?
Brady Hjelle will be in net for Ohio State, most likely for both games this weekend. He is 5-3-3 on the season with a 1.46 GAA. Not to shabby until you look at Miami’s Fab Freshmen Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. McKay has still only allowed 2 goals in his 4 starts (2-1-1) and Williams is a stellar 8-2-2 on the season, having filled in for McKay for a stretch. On the other hand, Hjelle has started 40 games already in his career, while Miami’s duo is still at only 16 combined games. There will be rubber flying around the rink the next 2 nights, but it may not tickle the twine too often for either side.
Where Miami MUST be strong this weekend is on special teams. Last weekend against Lake Superior State, all three goals the Lakers scored were on the power play, and LSSU was 3 for 7 overall. On the season, Miami’s scoring pretty well on their own power play at 15%, but are operating at just 86.2% efficience on the kill. That’s quite the low number compared to years past from the RedHawks under Head Coach Enrico Blasi. On paper, Miami shouldn’t have to deal with too much on the Ohio State side of special teams. OSU is scoring just 11.4% of the time on the power play and is a paltry 85.7% on the kill. Austin Czarnik will look to cheat the penalty kill and get another SHG – he currently leads the NCAA with 3 shorties so far this season.
Ohio State is also in the midst of possibly playing the same team three times in a short span. They had a home and home series against Robert Morris last weekend, and came away 0-1-1.
Everyone A team like Ohio State should be able to roll over RMU easily. Instead, OSU lost at home to them 3-2, and then tied them 2-2 in Pittsburgh.
As we know, Miami’s young core of talent leads the way, and only 2 returning upperclassmen are in the team’s top 10 in scoring (Curtis McKenzie is 4-6–10 and Bryon Paulazzo is 2-2–4, Senior Marc Hagel has 2-3–5 in his first season in Oxford). Ohio State is led by Ryan Dzingel
berry, who has 6 goals and 8 assists on the season. He is undoubtedly the Ohio State leader and is often seen skating all out and hustling on every play. Stopping him will be another key to the extended series.
Tonight’s game will will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network. They are also the first games of the Ohio Cup series for Miami among the 3 Ohio teams (Ohio State won and BGSU won a shootout in their series earlier this year). Wouldn’t it be nice to deal a crushing blow to Ohio State on their network? I think so too. Hawks tonight. Other guys tomorrow for the split.
If you are travelling to Columbus or are attending with the Miami group, be sure to say hi and drive safely! Enjoy the games, and Happy Holidays everyone!
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?).
Another week, another Michigan team for the RedHawks to play. This week will mark the 4th straight week that Miami has played a team from Michigan, this time welcoming the Michigan State Spartans to Steve Cady Arena.
The last 3 Michigan teams Miami has played were all ranked teams at the time, having split with Michigan and Ferris State on the road and taking 5 points over Northern Michigan last weekend. (In case you were wondering, Miami heads to Alaska in 2 weeks, but plays the 5th of 6 CCHA schools from the state of Michigan in the Lake Superior State Lakers the first weekend of December, and we have to wait until February to see the 6th such team – Western Michigan.)
As we scout the unranked Spartans, the first thing we notice is that they just beat Michigan 7-2 last Saturday night. In fact, Sparty has won their last 3 Saturday night games and lost each of those series’ 3 Friday night games. Not only that, but they have outscored their opponents 17-5 in those Saturday games. Each of these series has been against CCHA teams, and Michigan State stands in a tie for third in the logjammed CCHA standings at the start of the week (ND beat Michigan Thursday night to jump to the top of the CCHA and push Miami to 2nd and MSU to 4th currently).
Second year coach Tom Anastos had only good things to say about the RedHawks. “I’ve watched them on video half a dozen times,” Anastos said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I’d like to see them in person now. They play really hard, and they’re a good team. They’ve done a good job building a culture that, in spite of bringing in a lot of new (players), they are coming into a culture. That’s what we want to establish here.” (source: The State News)
Michigan State will be led by Sophomore Matt Berry, who currently stands 4th in CCHA scoring with 6 goals and 5 assists (behind RedHawks Riley Barber, 14pts and Austin Czarnik, 13 pts). Berry had a hat trick in the 7-2 victory over Michigan and looks to lead the Spartans over another ranked CCHA foe.
Anastos, the former CCHA Commissioner, seems a bit unsettled on his goalie situation at the moment. Junior Will Yanakeff has played in 7 games, compiling just a 2-4-1 record and is allowing 3.71 goals per contest. Freshman Jake Hildebrand was in net for MSU’s big win against Michigan, and is 2-1 on the season, and has only allowed 1.8 goals in his 4 games played.
In the Miami net, we will likely see the return of Ryan McKay as he returns from injury. Coach Blasi remains quite secretive on who will play: “He’s going,” Blasi said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play this weekend or not, but he’s 100 percent and ready to go if called on.” (source: The Miami Student)
Jay Williams has performed fantastically while McKay has been nursing some sort of groin or leg injury, and we’ll likely see the rotation kick back up again now that he’s healthy. McKay sports a 1-0-1 record with the tie being a shootout win against Providence. After that shootout win, McKay started the Friday night game at Michigan and that is when he quickly came out of the game. Just 5 minutes in, McKay injured himself, came out of the game, and even went into the locker room for a stretch. He was the only other goaltender dressed that night, so he did come back on the bench and was also the only goalie dressed for the other 5 games Miami has played (2 at Ferris and 2 at home against NMU) as well. In any event, it will be nice to see this freshman back on the ice and fighting off the frozen rubber again.
We like repeating it, so we’ll fill you in on the leading scorer in the CCHA – Miami’s Riley Barber. Barber leads all scorers as a rookie with 14 points and Austin Czarnik is just one point behind him. Czarnik leads the RedHawks with 6 goals and leads the country with 3 shorthanded goals. The new “super duo” as coined by CBS College Sports’ Dave Starman will look to continue their hot play this weekend.
As we mentioned in last week’s wrap up, the Hawks will need to stay out of the box this week. Michigan State clearly has the ability to put the puck in the net, it’s a matter of when (Friday or Saturday?). MSU is scoring on 25% (11 of 44) of their power plays and Miami will need to make sure they aren’t caught in the box for a sudden outpouring of goals like MSU had against Michigan last Saturday.
As we wind down towards puck drop, I can’t help but think Miami is going to sweep the weekend and the boys will again sit atop the CCHA standings after 4 weeks of CCHA play. Miami has owned Michigan State of late, having won the last 5 contests including 2 CCHA tournament games last season. Overall, Miami is 31-68-5 against MSU and Coach Blasi looks to improve his record above .500 as he is currently 19-20-0 against the Spartans. Miami is 4-0-2 at home this season, and 2-2 when allowing 3 or more goals. Team defense will again be the name of the game to keep MSU off the scoreboard.
While 5 points is nice, 6 points is nicer. Let’s get a sweep, RedHawks! See you at the game on Saturday night!
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.
Miami travels to Big Rapids to battle the Bulldogs
Another week, another road test against a ranked opponent.
It doesn’t get any easier for the youthful Miami RedHawks (4-1-1, 1-1 CCHA) this weekend as they travel to Big Rapids, Mich. to take on the national runners-up from a season ago, the #19 Ferris State Bulldogs (2-2-2, 1-1 CCHA).
Last weekend, the Bulldogs split a home series with Alaska winning 6-3 on Friday, but dropped Saturday’s finale 3-2. Sophomore goaltender C.J. Motte stopped 76 shots on the weekend, the most for a Ferris goaltender in a two game weekend set since 1992. The shots on goal is significant because Ferris is notorious for clogging the neutral zone and passing lanes. Historically, the Bulldogs have simply collapsed down low to protect their goal – a tactic that has frustrated even the best Miami squads. In doing so, Miami has struggled against FSU despite holding a slim 44-42-16 advantage all-time against the Bulldogs. In fact, dating back to the 2007-08 season, Miami is just 3-6-4 against Ferris including one win at Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA consolation game at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season. Under head coach Enrico Blasi, Miami is 16-11-6 against the Bulldogs but was swept last year in Big Rapids and are winless in four straight at FSU, last winning January 16, 2010 (source: MURedHawks.com).
Offensively, the Bulldogs saw a large chunk of scoring leave campus with the loss of Jordie Johnston and his 20 goals to graduation. Looking to pick up the scoring slack, FSU is led by senior captain Kyle Bonis (4-3-7) who netted 19 goals last year, super pest and senior Travis Ouelette (1-3-4) and junior center Cory Kane (2-4-6). Bonis, who has seen his share of battles in this rivalry, netted two goals in Friday’s 6-3 win over Alaska and has generally performed well against the RedHawks throughout his stellar career in Big Rapids.
The Bulldogs blueline also lost quite a bit from last year’s Frozen Four squad. Gone are last year’s team captain, Chad Billins, Brett Wysopal and Aaron Schmit who accounted for 53 points between them. And, Billins was an instrumental cog in front of departed senior goaltender Taylor Nelson as they led Ferris to the national title game a year ago. Accordingly, the Bulldogs are breaking in or expanding the role of three young defensemen, Simon Denis, Jason Binkley and Travis White. Denis has provided an immediate spark as he has already surpassed last year’s goal total (1 in 30 GP) with two goals in his first six games this year.
In net, you can feel pretty good about seeing sophomore C.J. Motte both nights. Last year, Motte was one of the best freshmen goaltenders in America posting a 5-5-2 record with 1.98 GAA and .925 save percentage backing up senior Taylor Nelson. Motte, who was highly regarding entering college, has started this year strong. His numbers show a 2-2-2 record, 2.57 GAA and .908 save percentage. He will provide a stiff challenge for Miami, but at least initially, it appears the Bulldog defense is still adjusting to new names in new places meaning the RedHawks should be able to get plenty of rubber on the St. Clair, Mich. native.
For Miami, the RedHawks enter the weekend with a 4-1-1 record after splitting a pair at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Offensively, the squad continues to be led by super sophomore Austin Czarnik (3-5-8), who was named the CCHA’s Player of the Month for October and freshman linemate Riley Barber (4-4-8), who was the recipient of the CCHA’s Rookie of the Month award for October. Sophomores Blake Coleman (4 goals) and Cody Murhpy (1-3-4) have also contributed as Miami appears deep and talented, but young, in the early stages of the season.
Senior captain Steven Spinell has done a tremendous job leading the very young Miami blueline and I have been particularly impressed with the play of freshmen defenders Chris Joyaux and Matthew Caito. Both have jumped in and provided shutdown minutes immediately. If Miami verbal commit Matt Joyaux is supposed to be the “better” of the two brothers, the blueline is set for the next few years with the USNDTP’s Trevor Hamilton also scheduled to come to campus soon.
The unsung hero thus far in the season has been freshman goaltender Jay Williams who was called upon on short notice last week with the injury to fellow freshman Ryan McKay who started Friday’s game, but left after just 4:59 making one stop on one shot against. Williams stopped 30 shots while allowing four goals on Friday night as he kept his team in the game. And, on Saturday, he stopped 37 of 40 Wolverine shots earning his first collegiate road victory as the RedHawks won 4-3. It will be interesting to see if McKay plays this weekend or if the coaching staff will be cautious with him so early in the season. Williams has been very good so far registering a 3-1 record with a 2.77 GAA and .909 save percentage. If McKay can’t go, Miami should be in good hands with Williams on both nights.
Like last week, these will be Miami’s final games with Ferris at Ewigleben Ice Arena as conference mates as the CCHA completes its final season of existence. Next year, Ferris State will join the WCHA along with four other CCHA schools while Miami moves to the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05pm EST and can be heard (hopefully) on 1490-AM and Miami All-Access via MURedHawks.com.
To win this weekend, Miami will have to use their speed to counter Ferris’ trapping system. Dumping the puck at the blueline and making it do the work will be key to beating the Bulldogs defense. Miami should have a speed advantage, but mustn’t stay so true to its puck possession game to allow FSU to overwhelm the puck carrier resulting in neutral zone turnovers and odd-man rushes the other way. And, making Motte move around with crisp passes while causing havoc in front of him will enable Miami to get good looks at the sophomore.
This Miami team seems oblivious to some of the falls of prior teams. Some of that comes with youth, but the RedHawks speed and overall offensive talent, including the ability to roll three truly offensive lines, gives them an edge. Still, Ferris has been very good at home and Ewigleben has been a very difficult place for Miami to play. I would be happy with a weekend split.
The RedHawks open the final season of CCHA play this weekend
with a 2-game set at Michigan.
Miami will open CCHA play this weekend, and it marks the last time we’ll be able to say those words. We start our “celebration of the legacy” by travelling to Ann Arbor to face Red Berenson and his band of misfits the Michigan Wolverines. (Oops… I did it again.)
Head coach Rico Blasi has had recent success against Michigan, but is still just 12-23-2 in his 14 years in Oxford. Overall, Michigan leads the series 71-26-4, but Miami is making a smidge of progress, as they are 8-5-1 since 2008-09. With a renovated Yost Ice Arena welcoming in their first CCHA opponent, expect the Michigan students to be in full voice this weekend. And let me tell you…it’s not a fun place to be an opposing team.
On the ice, the Wolverines have a similar goalie situation as Miami does, and have yet to finalize who will be their number one guy, if anyone. It may be becoming apparent on who that might be however, as Red Berenson will start Freshman Steve Racine in net on Friday night. Racine is 2-0-0 on the season and has allowed 5 goals in those two games. Another freshman, Jared Rutledge has also seen time in net, but allowed 5 goals in just one game against RIT in Michigan’s 5-4 OT loss to open the season – and he hasn’t been on the ice since. Michigan held a 4-1 advantage in that game, so nothing is outside the realm of possibility this weekend if the Michigan netminders cannot hold their own against Miami’s high-flying attack.
However, in order to get even one tie or win, Miami will get out to a fast start, and they have to be staunch in net and on defense. Michigan has played 4 games so far this season: an exhibition against Windsor, 2 against RIT and one against Bentley last weekend. It’s safe to say they haven’t seen the likes of Miami’s speed and skill and will need to step it up a notch or three to take the series. On the other hand, Michigan has done what they needed to against these teams, and have not scored less than 4 goals in any of the games, including the 4 goals in the OT loss to RIT.
As expected, Senior Captain A.J. Treais leads Michigan on the young season, with 3 goals and 2 assists. Highly touted freshman Jacob Trouba has also started the season strong with 2 goals and 2 assists thus far. The Wolverines’ best defenseman, Jon Merrill has been injured to start the season and likely won’t play. Another D-man Kevin Clare sustained an injury in the win over RIT in the second game of the season, and could return to action this weekend. Both blue-liners are Juniors and are sorely needed for this Michigan team to succeed this season.
On the Miami side of things, Riley Barber (4G-1A—5 Total Points) comes in with a 3 game goal scoring streak, and looks to continue his hot start after earning CCHA Rookie of the week last weekend against Providence. Barber, Blake Coleman (3-2—5) and Austin Czarnik (2-3—5) lead the offensive attack for The Brotherhood. Keep an eye on surprising freshman Taylor Richart on the blue line. Richart has blocked 18 shots in 4 games this season.
Expect Blasi to rotate goalies again this weekend, and I’d expect to see McKay first and Williams second again. So far, the rotation has been magical for Blasi…wait… can we say “so far” any more? For the last 6-8 years, the rotation has worked magically for Blasi. McKay is the big presence we thought he would be in net, and despite only being on the ice for half of Miami’s game time this season, Jay Williams is the firecracker on the bench. The guy never sits still and is quite a presence for the Hawks.
Michigan has 7 freshmen on the squad at the moment, compared to Miami’s 11, and they will look to push the pace as Red Berenson’s teams always do. Miami will need to keep its composure and due to Michigan’s inexperience could skate away with up a bucket of points this weekend. I’ll take Miami 4-2 tonight and Michigan 4-1 on Saturday.
The RedHawks entertain another school with a sweet logo
this weekend, as Providence comes to Oxford.
The RedHawks are back in action tonight and tomorrow, as the Providence Friars come into Coach Cady Arena. After several months off that we thought we couldn’t endure, we finally have hockey back. I don’t know about y’all, but to me it seemed like it was another couple of months since Miami’s sweep of undermanned Colgate just last weekend. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t been inside The Goggin since the end of last season, but it feels like FOREVER since I’ve made the trek from Columbus to Oxford to see the RedHawks in action.
This week, the Friars come in after a split last weekend against two very different foes. In their season opener at home, Mark Jankowski and sophomore Stefan Demopoulos each scored two goals to lead this young squad to an 8-2 victory over Sacred Heart. Saturday, however, was a very different story, and Boston University took the Friars behind their barn and came out with a 4-2 whipping. Ross Mauermann is Providence’s leading returning point scorer (10G, 15A as a freshman last season), and the RedHawks will also be shadowing Junior Derek Army and Senior Captain Tim Schaller this weekend, as both were among the Friars top 5 scorers last season.
The Friars will be led by the freshman Jankowski, who was chosen by Calgary with the 21st pick in the NHL draft last April. Jon Gilles was picked 75th in the same draft, and will be in net for at least one of the 2 games this weekend. Last week, he was named Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week after posting a .936 save percentage while he stopped 14 shots against Sacred Heart (in 2 periods) and 30 of 34 shots against BU. Several RedHawks will be seeing Gilles again, as they were teammates with the Indiana Ice over the last few years. John Doherty, Max Cook and Blake Coleman were all teammates of Gilles.
On the RedHawks side of things, Alex Wideman will not be appearing this weekend due to illness. As we reported on our twitter feed, Alex has been battling mono and will be out at least a couple weeks. Other than that, the RedHawks remain healthy.
Don’t forget that 11 of the 26 RedHawks are Freshmen, and 3rd string goalie Anthony Jacaruso is also a rookie, although he has sophomore eligibility. Not to worry, however. 12 of the 21 points scored last weekend were from the super sophomore class (including 4 points from Blake Coleman), and 4 of the 13 total new faces appeared on the score sheet including Senior transfer Marc Hagel. Only 2 freshmen didn’t see action last weekend, and with Wideman out, we could see John Doherty see his first action this weekend. With all of the goal scoring leaving Oxford last season, Coach Blasi will need players like Coleman, Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin to continue their progress and provide a much needed scoring touch. Save for maybe Bryon Paulazzo, the 8 upper classmen on the roster aren’t exactly known for their scoring touch, and Blasi will need more production from the new kids on the block.
In net, expect to see the “new” rotation of Ryan McKay (1-0-0, 1 shutout, 24 saves) and Jay Williams (1-0-0, .952 save percentage, 1.00 GAA) split the weekend once again until a clear front-runner emerges, if ever. Both goalies looked more than capable in last weekend’s sweep, and it will certainly be a fun few years in Oxford if they continue to play like they did last night. McKay recorded his first career shutout in his first start in Oxford, and also earned Miami’s first ever season-opening shutout as well. Right from the start, these two have put Connor Knapp, Cody Reichard and David Burleigh on notice that their old records are already in jeopardy with these 2 highly touted recruits tending the twine.
This week will pale in comparison to what we can expect next weekend, as Miami travels to #5 Michigan to take on Red Berenson’s hacks crew of misfits Wolverines. Miami must continue its strong special teams play – 13 for 13 on the penalty kill is 2nd in the nation, and 3 for 10 on the power play is also a very strong start. They must still apply pressure on a physical Providence team and this weekend will be a success. Look for 2 tough grind-it-out type of victories: I’m predicting a solid “Paula Weston” finish for the weekend: 3-1 and 3-1 Miami.
Friday’s contest is a white out. For those of you joining me in Oxford, be sure to wear white to the game. Go RedHawks!