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Weekend Preview: Miami at Michigan

As the RedHawks head to Ann Arbor this weekend, they’ll have memories of recent series against Michigan in their minds.  5 of 6 points in November.  A 4-2, 3-0 sweep to honor Brendan Burke this same weekend 1 year ago in Oxford.  A double overtime victory in Fort Wayne, Indiana to head to the 2010 Frozen Four.  Another epic sweep with 3-1 and 5-1 wins in Michigan in November 2009 – Miami’s first ever in Yost Ice Arena.

That’s right folks. Miami hasn’t lost to Michigan since the CCHA Semifinal game against Michigan on March 19, 2009 in Detroit. 6-0-1 in the last 2+ seasons with the one tie being a shootout win earlier this season after a longstanding series of losses for the Red and White. With the all-time series tilted heavily in Michigan’s favor 69-26-4, the recent swing for Miami is a welcome change.  Don’t miss HappyGirl2525’s thoughts about the hated Wolverines and the ongoing rivalry.This week should be another fantastic measuring stick for the recently hot RedHawks, as they head to Ann Arbor to face the equally hot #7/8 Michigan squad that has only lost twice since the start of December. Michigan split an intense series last weekend losing 3-1 at Notre Dame before coming back for a 2-1 win last Saturday.

In addition to a stellar 8-1-2 record since December 3rd, Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick was named Gongshow CCHA Goalie of the month for January and Freshman Alex Guptil won the Gongshow Rookie of the Month as well.

Perhaps someone can explain to us why Hunwick won the monthly honor instead of Connor Knapp?  Hunwick posted a 4-1-0 record, with one shutout, a 1.08 goals-against average (9 total goals allowed) and a .971 save percentage as he played in 5 of 6 games for the Wolverines in January.  On the other hand, Knapper went 5-1 in January, allowed just 5 goals in 6 games, was named the INCH National Player of the Week for the first weekend of the year, won 2 of the 4 CCHA Weekly awards for goaltenders, had a minuscule 0.83 goals-against average and equally impressive .964 save percentage in his 6 contests.

Guptill recorded five goals and five assists in six games for a team-best 10 points in January. According to CCHA.com “the Newmarket, Ont., native leads Michigan in scoring and his 14 goals place him in a tie for second in the CCHA and his 26 points are good for a tie for fifth in the league. Nationally, Guptill ranks first in goals and third in points among freshmen.”

Stopping the Wolverines will require Miami to slow down Guptill, as well as Senior captain David Wohlberg who is second on the team in points with a line of 11-14-25 but is currently nursing an injury and his playing status is unknown. Even if Wohlberg does play, how effective will he be?  Michigan’s style has them constantly looking for an odd man rush with long passes through the zone. Miami will need to limit these chances and will rely on great goaltending all weekend long.

In addition, don’t be surprised if the ‘Hawks try to get in Hunwick’s head early. Perhaps an accidental run into the crease? Ring a shot off the facemask? Anything to get Hunwick off of his game, and perhaps get him to pull a Hacksaw Jim Duggan clothesline like he did here:

If you’re like us and like to keep a close eye on the nightly scoreboards and CCHA standings, you’d be interested to know that currently 7 teams stand within a weekend sweep of the CCHA lead.  Any of the 7 teams other than Lake State could find themselves in first after this weekend if the dust settles correctly.

  • Ferris State (20 games played) – 37 points – at Northern Michigan
  • Miami (22), Western Michigan (20), OSU (20) – 36 – MU at Michigan, WMU vs. Alaska, OSU vs. MSU
  • Lake Superior State (22) – 35 – vs USNTDP (no CCHA games)
  • Notre Dame (20) – 33 – vs. BGSU
  • Michigan (20) – 32 – vs. Miami

In addition, the CCHA has 7 teams in the USCHO Top 20 rankings (the above 7, minus LSSU, plus NMU). Michigan State and Lake State are in the “others receiving votes” section at #21 and 22 respectively.  Ferris State even picked up a #1 vote in this weeks poll.  While we’re at it, take a gander at this week’s CCHA Now show.

Both games this weekend are at 7:30 and both will be televised. If you get the “sports pack,” look for Fox Sports Detroit Plus on Friday, and CBS College Sports on Saturday.

You won’t want to miss action like this from Miami’s latest victory over Michigan, so if you’re anywhere near Ann Arbor, join miamibeef04 at Yost – tickets are still available for both games.

Go RedHawks!

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Miami Steady in National Polls

Coming off a weekend that saw the RedHawks play and deserve better than a series split against Northern Michigan, here’s a quick look at where Miami checks in the national polls. This week, the RedHawks are #16 (Inside College Hockey), #18 (USCHO), and effectively, #17 (USA TODAY) in all three major polls. They can’t seem to crack the top 15 of the USA TODAY poll which only ranks fifteen teams unlike the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings and the USCHO poll which rank the top twenty.

And, after a weekend shakeout of the PairWise, Miami checks in tied for 10th in the all-important rankings that largely determine the field for the NCAA tournament. The PairWise rankings also tell us that Miami has the most wins in the country against Teams Under Consideration (TUCs) with 14. Alaska’s win over Notre Dame on Friday night enabled the Nanooks to reenter the rankings as a TUC, and on the strength of Miami’s two wins earlier in Fairbanks, the RedHawks have a nice exclamation point to add to their NCAA tournament resume. That said, it will certainly help Miami if Alaska can continue to play well and win a few more games down the stretch.

As for Miami, they’ll have a chance to improve upon that win mark as six of their remaining eight games are against TUCs (Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State). The only exception is the home series with Alabama-Huntsville in Oxford later this month.

Lastly, Miami is holding down the 11th position in the KRACH rankings that, by many prognosticators estimates, are a truer way to rank teams than is the PairWise. The KRACH tells us that Miami has played the fourth most difficult schedule to date which makes Miami’s 15-11-2 record that much more impressive when you consider the level of competition the RedHawks have faced this season.

If the RedHawks can win five of their final eight regular season games, they’ll finish with 20 victories for the seventh consecutive year and the ninth time in ten seasons. The last time Miami finished with fewer than 20 victories was the 2004-05 season when they finished 15-18-5.

This weekend, Miami travels to Ann Arbor for the final road series of the regular season (that’s hard to believe, but it’s true) to take on 7th ranked Michigan. The teams met in Oxford back on November 11 and 12 as the RedHawks gutted out a 2-1 victory on Friday and had to settle for a 3-3 tie and shootout win after they surrendered the tying goal late in the third period. We’ll have a full preview up later in the week.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s Bryon Paulazzo’s sick shootout winner as he does the spin-o-rama and roofs the backhand over Shawn Hunwick.

Miami and Michigan Skate to 3-3 Tie

Reilly Smith scored a pair of goals and Cody Reichard made 25 saves as Miami settled for a 3-3 tie with Michigan on Saturday night.

After spotting then #4 Michigan (7-3-2, 3-3-2-1 CCHA) a 2-0 first period lead, Miami (5-6-1, 3-4-1-1 CCHA) stormed back to salvage a 3-3 tie earning the extra point in the league standings with a 1-0 shootout win. More on that in a moment.

Overall, Miami dominated the Wolverines for a second consecutive night winning the battles along the boards and controlling play while outshooting Michigan 41-28. The 41 shots marked a season’s best number for the Red and White. Further, Miami was so dominant, they erased the 2-0 deficit when junior Reilly Smith scored his second goal of the night on the power play with just over 12 left in regulation to take a 3-2 lead. Arguably, this should have been a regulation win for Miami if not for two disallowed goals, one of which was incredibly controversial, and a fluke goal from Michigan freshman Zach Hyman that tied the game at 3 late in the third period.

Perhaps this game should be our 2010 West Regional Final since Michigan fans can’t seem to let that one go and Miami had one stolen away last night. One thing’s certain, Miami looked nothing like the team we’d seen through the season’s first ten games this weekend as Miami had all facets of their game working. The only really negative thing I took away from the weekend is the RedHawks are still guilty of being too aggressive at times. Last night we saw several overplays from nearly every group on the squad that led to Michigan goals. Nothing wrong with working hard, but Miami needs to find that line of aggressiveness that doesn’t result in pucks in their net.

The real highlight of the night might not have been the nice redirection by Reilly Smith that gave Miami a brief lead, but rather, the winning shootout goal from sophomore Bryon Paulazzo.

Paulazzo, shooting fourth for Miami, started to his right and skated toward the Baby Goalie. Knowing that BG had just poke-checked Reilly Smith from close range, Paulazzo kept his distance and at the last moment spun with the puck on his backhand and roofed a shot above the fallen Baby. Here’s video courtesy of Miami All-Access and ONN.

After Paulazzo’s goal, Miami senior netminder Cody Reichard stopped Michigan’s leading scorer, Lindsay Sparks, to give the RedHawks the additional point in CCHA play. Reichard stopped all four Michigan shooters while Baby Goalie stopped three of four RedHawks including Smith, Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin before surrendering Paulazzo’s highlight reel goal.

Next weekend, the RedHawks look to extend their four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) as they remain home to face Chris Bergeron’s Bowling Green Falcons in a two-game CCHA series.

Notes

– Miami is now 8-3-1 against the Wolverines in their last 12 meetings and is unbeaten in the last five (4-0-1).

– Cody Reichard has been in net for the previous four Miami games as Connor Knapp recovers from injury. Reichard is 3-0-1 in those four games.

– Reilly Smith now has seven goals on the year in just 10 games as he picked up his second multi-goal game of the year. He had 28 goals last year for Miami.

– The two teams will meet again in the regular season in Ann Arbor on February 3-4.

– Miami freshman Austin Czarnik set a career high with 3 points on the evening (1G, 2A).

– Miami has moved to 19th in the Pairwise and 16th in KRACH. They have played the 5th most difficult schedule in the nation thus far.

RedHawks Sweep Nanooks, face Michigan this Weekend

After finishing a sweep over the Alaska Nanooks in Fairbanks on Saturday night, the Miami RedHawks (4-6 overall, 2-4 CCHA) come home to face their fiercest rival, the #4 Michigan Wolverines, in a two-game CCHA series at Steve Cady Arena on Friday and Saturday night.

In earning their first two CCHA victories, the RedHawks used a familiar formula of stout defense, solid goaltending and timely scoring. Though this Miami team is still spending way too much time in the penalty box, at least they began to showcase the sort of mettle that’s going to be necessary for this team to win. In short, they aren’t going to win too many pretty games.

On Saturday, junior forward Curtis McKenzie got Miami off and running with a power play goal at 6:25 of the first period, senior Cody Reichard made 24 saves and sophomore forward Max Cook scored the game-winner at 8:32 of the third period as Miami held on to sweep the weekend series. For his weekend efforts, freshman forward Tyler Biggs was named the Gongshow CCHA Rookie of the Week on the merits of his two helpers, +1 rating on the weekend with one blocked shot against the Nanooks. Hopefully, this is but the first of many such awards for the highly regarded first round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the season, Biggs is 1-4-5 with a -3 rating, good enough for a tie for third in scoring for the RedHawks. And, the aforementioned Reichard played both nights in allowing just two goals all weekend.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the RedHawks have no time to recover, nor revel in the sweep of the Nanooks as Miami will welcome the Michigan Wolverines to Steve Cady Arena. The Wolverines (7-2-1 overall, 3-2-1-1 CCHA) split a two-game series in Ann Arbor with Western Michigan last weekend delivering the first loss of the season to the Broncos on Saturday night. Unlike Miami, the Wolverines have found immediate replacements for lost scorers including Carl “That Miele Guy” Hagelin and Louie Caporusso, and have received major contributions from rather unknown upperclassmen such as Lindsay Sparks (13 points) and A.J. Treais (10 points) who lead the team in scoring. In fact, Michigan is averaging 4.6 goals per game, good enough for third in the nation while Miami is averaging just 2.3 goals per night.

Back in net is the “Baby Goalie” himself, senior Shawn Hunwick. Hunwick is off to another strong start with one shutout, a 1.62 goals-against average and sterling .941 save percentage. But, as we know, the Baby Goalie uses a rattle can be rattled. We need the Miami student section to get all over him and hope he loses his cool and “goes Caruso” like he’s done in the past. This season he’s already punched a player (above) earning a 5 minute major and a game misconduct in a loss against Northern Michigan in Marquette. Let’s be loud and get the Baby Goalie off his game this weekend. Rattles in the crowd would be outstanding!

Unfortunately, this is not a good matchup for Miami. Our undisciplined play this season could really hurt us against another talented Michigan squad that’s playing good hockey. While their power play is only converting at a .196 click, they already have seven skaters with at least 9 points meaning they’re getting contributions from everyone. By contrast, Miami does not have a single scorer with more than 7 points (Alden Hirschfeld) and cannot get into an up and down game with the talented Wolverines. To steal a game, we’ll need to clog the neutral zone, play stout defense and get great goaltending from our two senior leaders in net. If last weekend’s performance against Alaska is a sign of things to come, this series could be close. But, in the end, Miami doesn’t seem to have enough right now to build on it’s 7-3 record against the Wolverines over the last 10 games.

As much as I’d like to see Miami improve it’s 1-3 home record this season, I think Michigan sweeps.