Six former Miamians made their NHL debuts in 2016-17, bringing the total number of ex-RedHawks to play in the world’s best hockey league to 33.
Scoring their first NHL goals were rookies Austin Czarnik and Blake Coleman, who became the 18th and 19th players to hit the net in that league after playing their collegiate hockey in Oxford.
Miamians have logged a total of 5,831 NHL games, tallying 798 goals and accounting for 2,205 points.
BoB takes a look at ProHawks’ milestones and highlights of the 2016-17 NHL season:
FIRST LOOKS: Dressing in their first NHL games this season were Czarnik, Coleman, Riley Barber, Sean Kuraly, Pat Cannone and Jack Roslovic.
Czarnik had the best rookie year from a points perspective, scoring five times and dishing for eight assists for 13 points in 49 games for the Boston Bruins.
Coleman played in 23 games for the New Jersey Devils, finishing 1-1-2 in 23 games.
Kuraly picked up a lone assist in eight games with Boston, but he scored twice in the same game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the tying goal with under three minutes left in the third period and the overtime game winner in a 3-2 win over Ottawa.
Cannone (Minnesota) debuted at the age of 30, and both he and Barber (Washington) logged three games without a point, while Roslovic (Winnipeg) took the ice for one game and was held off the scoresheet.
CALLING IT A CAREER: Dan Boyle called it quits prior to the season, ending his career with 1,093 games played, 163 goals and 442 assists for 605 points. He is tops all time among ex-Miamians in games, helpers and points and is second only to Brian Savage in markers.
SCORING LEADER: Los Angeles D Alec Martinez was tops among former RedHawks in NHL scoring with 39 points, including nine goals. F Reilly Smith was No. 1 in goals, scoring 15 times for Florida.
PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?!?! While 13 players who spent time in Oxford logged NHL games in 2016-17, only three participated in the Stanley Cup playoffs: Kuraly, Tommy Wingels and Chris Wideman. Kuraly scored two goals in four games, including a game-tying goal and an OT winner. Wideman made his NHL postseason debut, and notched a goal and three assists in 15 contests. Wingels dressed for nine games but did not tally a point. Wideman and Wingels both played for the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa eliminated Boston in the first round before being knocked off in the conference final.
HEADING TO CANADA: Wingels was traded to Ottawa mid-season and rolled up four points including two goals in 36 games after his move. He had eight points (5-3-8) in 37 games with San Jose, but that team was bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
IRON MAN: For the fourth straight season, Smith played in at least 80 games. He dressed for exactly 80 in 2016-17, which actually represented a four-year low for the forward. He has also recorded at least 20 assists and 35 points in each season during that span.
MILESTONES: Andy Greene moved into second place on the all-time games-played list by former Miamians, and dressed for the 700th time in his career, all with New Jersey. He also earned his 150th career assist in 2016-17.
Martinez moved into sixth in games played, eclipsing the 400 mark, and passed Kevyn Adams to move into sixth place in career points.
Wingels became the sixth former RedHawk to scored 50 NHL goals. He had eight in 2016-17, giving him 53 total. Wingels has now played in 54 postseason contests, fourth-most by a former Miamian.
On deck: BoB takes a look at Miamians in the AHL.
FINAL 2016-17 REGULAR SEASON STATS
|Alec Martinez||Los Angeles Kings||D||82||9||30||39||-17||24|
|Reilly Smith||Florida Panthers||F||80||15||22||37||-13||17|
|Chris Wideman||Ottawa Senators||D||76||5||12||17||7||46|
|Curtis McKenzie||Dallas Stars||F||53||6||10||16||5||72|
|Austin Czarnik||Boston Bruins||F||49||5||8||13||-10||12|
|Andy Greene||New Jersey Devils||D||66||4||9||13||-15||8|
|Tommy Wingels||Ottawa Senators||F||73||7||5||12||-11||27|
|Blake Coleman||New Jersey Devils||F||23||1||1||2||-7||27|
|Sean Kuraly||Boston Bruins||F||8||0||1||1||-1||2|
|Pat Cannone||Minnesota Wild||F||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Riley Barber||Washington Capitals||F||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jack Roslovic||Winnipeg Jets||F||1||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Jeff Zatkoff||Los Angeles Kings||13||555||2||8||2.94||.879||0|
FINAL 2016-17 PLAYOFF STATS
|Chris Wideman||Ottawa Senators||D||15||1||3||4||4|
|Sean Kuraly||Boston Bruins||F||4||2||0||2||4|
|Tommy Wingels||Ottawa Senators||F||9||0||0||0||4|
ALL-TIME NHL STATS
ALL-TIME PLAYOFF STATS
|Player||S. Cups||Games||Min.||W||L||SHO||GAA||Sv %|
This evening at 6:30 PM EDT the Miami RedHawks, champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, are set to mark their return to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.
The top seed in the East Region, the RedHawks (4th overall seed) will face fourth seeded Providence College (15th) of Hockey East in their hometown.
The Friars last played two weekends ago when they were ousted by New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East conference tournament. The two squads went the distance in the best-of-three weekend series in Providence playing three low-scoring 2-1 games.
We could end this post right here, because a low-scoring game is precisely what Miami should expect this weekend.
The Friars rank in the top 5 nationally in many defensive categories including goals allowed (3rd) and save percentage (4th) led by junior goaltender Jon Gillies, who’s .931 save percentage and 1.95 GAA each rank 6th best nationally. That said, Miami will run out junior Jay Williams, who’s numbers aren’t too shabby either. Williams actually has a better GAA (1.89, 5th nationally)) than Gillies and his .922 save percentage (29th nationally) ranks just a few spots lower.
Meanwhile, Miami is much more offensively inclined boasting three players with 18 or more goals (Blake Coleman and Riley Barber (20 each) and Sean Kuraly 18) but they will be without Coleman, and likely, Barber for the game against the Friars. In fact, the Friars leading goal scorers, Nick Saracino and Trevor Mingoia have just 13 goals each, but Providence does run out five players with 11 or more goals. Maybe not as dynamic as Miami’s top end forwards, but they certainly have depth. That could be a problem for a Miami team suddenly without a lot of it.
This is not the first time Miami has seen Gillies. The two schools have met four times over the last three seasons playing, amazingly, four consecutive overtime games. Last year, Miami traveled to Providence and put up a four-spot against Gillies on Saturday night scoring six goals on the weekend. Miami should have some confidence against one of the nation’s best.
With both Coleman and Barber likely missing this game, obviously the Crash Cousins, and their size, can play a larger than usual role. Like most Hockey East squads, Providence is relatively small. Miami should use their blend of size and speed to jump on the Friars right away. I’d love to see Rico have the guys throw the body around, but they’ll have to mindful of east coast refs. The NCHC is a big, physical league and the RedHawks are one of the most physical teams in the country. If the refs don’t let the boys play, Miami could find themselves killing far too many penalties despite the Friars woeful powerplay which is converting at a paltry 14.7% clip this year.
Ultimately, this game is Jay Williams’ to win. He has to step up and hold Miami in the game. The RedHawks should expect to have to win a 2-1 style game because, 1) we’re missing 40 goals from the lineup, and 2) it’s how the Friars play.
Despite missing huge parts of the lineup, this is not your father’s Miami. This is not the team from the CCHA that was hardly challenged over the past decade and then, at times, unprepared for the rigors of the NCAA tournament. But, these RedHawks are the champions of the NCHC, a conference that sent six of its eight teams to the Dance. A conference that is currently 3-0 in the 2015 tournament. After last year’s adjustment to life in the National and life on the road, Miami has figured out how to win in the most dominant college hockey conference in the land. That has to account for a lot.
The RedHawks, though missing some big-time talent, have guys that can step up. Miami’s depth will certainly be challenged.
As much as I want to pick Miami, overcoming the losses of Coleman and Barber, along with the need to win a tight 2-1 game just doesn’t seem to fit Miami’s run, gun and bang style.
But, there is just something different about this team. They’re more battle tested. They’re deep. I think Miami finds a way to get it done but the goal scoring will surprise you. Look for a Kevin Morris or Crash Cousin dirty goal to be the difference. Miami wins.
– Williams and the RedHawks’ defense will have to be big tonight because Miami cannot afford to fall behind the Friars and expect to be able to come-from-behind facing such an intensely defensive team.
– Unless Miami wins, we MAY have seen the last of Coleman and Barber in the red and white which would be an unbelievable shame considering how their Miami careers could end. Barber is just a junior, but could decide to sign with Washington. However, if his knee injury is severe, the Capitals could be inclined to see how he does in a comeback situation with Miami meaning, perhaps, Barber could also come back to finish his degree. Something I’d assume his family would be quite happy with given his father, Don Barber, collected his degree from Bowling Green before embarking on a successful pro career. When Miami’s season is finished, I’d expect the New Jersey Devils to sign Coleman (a senior) as quickly as possible.
– Gillies, Kuraly and Barber know each other well having played together on the US U20 team that won gold in 2013 and then again Barber and Gillies returned for the 2014 team when Barber was captain. Gillies was the main netminder that year for Team USA.
– Despite playing at “home,” the Friars have not played a game at the Dunkin Donuts Center since 2004. And, with Providence having a fairly small fan base, the advantage Providence will have shouldn’t really affect the RedHawks. Certainly, this team is road tested playing in hostile environments like the Ralph (UND), Amsoil (UMD) and Lawson (WMU) to say nothing of having made long road trips all year, twice in fact, to Colorado to play at altitude. In other words, Miami has seen and heard it all.
On the strength of three Blake Coleman goals, solid goaltending from Jay Williams and spectacular penalty killing, the Miami RedHawks won the second Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis. The RedHawks defeated a stingy St. Cloud State team 3-2 and have earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Concerning however, is that Blake Coleman was issued a game misconduct, his third of the season, meaning he will be suspended and miss Miami’s first round tournament game next weekend. And, Riley Barber was injured late in tonight’s game and was seen being helped on the ice by teammates to join the celebration following Miami’s victory. Barber had an ice pack on his left knee as he hopped across the Target Center ice.
Coleman was named tournament MVP and Austin Czarnik and Louis Belpedio joined him on the all-tournament team.
More to come later, but tune in tomorrow at noon EDT for the NCAA selection show on ESPNU. USCHO.com will have a bracket projection up soon I’m sure so check out Jason Moy’s excellent analysis there as well.
Love and Honor!
As Miami returns home for the final two games of the regular season, could there be more drama in the air than what’s flying around in Oxford, Ohio?
Fifth ranked Miami (20-11-1, 13-8-1-1 2nd NCHC) will close out the season against #1 North Dakota (24-6-3, 15-5-2-0 1st NCHC) in a battle of two teams that have spent the majority of the year ranked in the top 10. Should the RedHawks sweep, they will claim a share of the NCHC regular season title and the #1 seed in the NCHC playoffs. Though the teams will be tied atop the standings, Miami would claim the top seed by virtue of its 3-1 record against UND.
Saturday is senior night and six RedHawks (Austin Czarnik, Blake Coleman, Anthony Jacaruso, Cody Murphy, Alex Wideman and Ben Paulides) will skate in their final regular
season games at Steve Cady Arena with a chance to earn their second regular season championship of their remarkable careers.
No Miami class has won more than one regular season championship in program history.
Yep, you read that right.
No Miami class has EVER won two regular season championships in any four year period in the history of the university, which of course, dates back to 1809. Probably overly dramatic since the hockey program has only existed since 1978 — pure semantics. This class could become the first to do so after capturing the CCHA’s final regular season title at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
North Dakota is a storied program that’s won seven national championships and fifteen, now sixteen, regular season titles. Getting a share of the NCHC title in our second year in the conference would be fantastic. It took Miami 15 years of program existence and 13 CCHA seasons to win a regular season title in that now defunct league.
And, to do it against North Dakota would be even sweeter.
Last Time We Met
Like most of the top teams in the NCHC when pitted against one another, and certainly Miami has seen this, the squads split a series in Grand Forks back in November with Miami winning 3-2 on Friday before dropping the finale 4-1. In the Miami win, Jay Williams had to make just 21 saves and Sean Kuraly had two goals to lead the RedHawks. Ryan McKay struggled in the Miami net in the loss as North Dakota started junior Zane McIntyre both nights.
Certainly Miami would like to replicate the Friday victory as they limited UND to just 23 SOG and controlled the green and white with tight checking defense.
UND comes to Oxford on a roll having won four in a row. Their last non shootout loss was a 3-2 OT setback to Omaha way back on January 30. And, their last regulation loss? January 9 to UMD.
However, UND suffered a loss in a sweep last weekend (yeah, I see what I did there). The loss to which I am referring was that of senior assistant captain and leading goal scorer Mark MacMillan (16-9-25) to a lower body injury which required surgery earlier this week. MacMillan, a fourth-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadians (one of 14 NHL picks — I think — I lost count at 10) had already set a career high in goals before being injured Saturday night while blocking a shot off the stick of SCSU’s Jonny Brodzinski. Presumably, MacMillan
fractured his foot and I’m assuming surgery was required to fix what was likely an ugly injury. But, I’m speculating. Regardless, MacMillan won’t play this weekend, and I’d find it hard to see him returning for the remainder of his college career, but never say never.
UND is led by its d-corps which boasts numerous NHL draft picks and junior netminder Zane McIntyre who shared the USHL’s goaltender of the year award with Miami’s Ryan McKay just over three years ago.
Up front, speedy Drake Caggiula (15-16-31) leads an attacking set of forwards including Michael Parks (12-19-31) that are a handful but perhaps not as talented as Miami’s crew led by Czarnik, Coleman, Murphy, Kuraly, Anthony Louis and Riley Barber. That said, UND will want to slow things down. Miami, on the other hand, should look to run the green and white out of the building. Forty shots on net each night should be the goal.
Well, here we are. The end of another solid regular season and the end of a bounce-back year for the program. While it’s too early to hand out accolades, the team has played hard and well enough to have earned the chance to win a regular season title on home ice.
Last weekend in Denver, Miami split its series with the Pioneers, but one thing that really stood out? The rejuvenated play of junior forward Riley Barber who had three goals on the
weekend playing hard, inspired hockey. If Barber is ready to roll, look out this weekend and for the rest of the year.
However, questions abound in net as neither Ryan McKay, and most certainly Jay Williams, looked overly strong. McKay allowed three goals in Friday’s win, but Williams was ineffective surrendering four goals in less than one period of play. McKay steadied the ship when he came into the game, but still gave up two goals after Miami attempted to crawl back into the contest at 4-2. Whomever Blasi goes with (I’ll bet it’s McKay on Friday) has to give this team a chance to win by scoring three goals because getting more than that against UND just isn’t realistic. Miami has to be prepared to win two slugfests.
These two teams are very evenly matched with the defensive and goaltending edge belonging to UND. That said, I’d probably give the RedHawks an advantage up front with, in my opinion, more top-end guys, more game-breakers than UND which really has a grinding offensive mentality. Miami could earn a significant size advantage this weekend, especially if head coach Enrico Blasi chooses to dress both Crash Cousins. Even with one or the other in the lineup, and Miami’s size on the blueline, they match up quite well in both the size and speed categories.
But, with UND missing one of their best players, the excitement around the weekend, senior night, and what it means to Miami (home ice, #1 seed in the NCHC, Penrose Cup, redemption for last year, NCAA seeding on the line, etc., etc.), I’m going to call a MIAMI SWEEP and watch the RedHawks skate off Saturday night with the Penrose Cup.
How to Listen/Watch
The Voice of the RedHawks, Greg Waddell, will be back on the radio this weekend as both games will be available at MURedHawks.com and over the air at 1450-AM (Saturday only) and 1490-AM. Friday’s game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network which unfortunately means no NCHC.tv for Friday. Saturday’s regular season finale will be streamed through the league’s package and also available on Time Warner Cable (Chan. 311 & 1311) and on Fox College Sports Pacific (DirecTV Chan. 608, Time Warner Chan. 321).
From the League Office
- This weekend marks the final weekend of the NCHC regular season before beginning NCHC Tournament play next weekend. No. 1/1 North Dakota has already clinched a share of the Penrose Cup, awarded to the NCHC regular-season champion. UND needs just one point at No. 5/5 MIAMI this weekend to win the title outright. The RedHawks need to sweep UND to also get a share of the title, which would then give MIAMI the No. 1 seed in the NCHC Tournament and make UND the No. 2 seed.
- North Dakota enters the top-five series with MIAMI riding a four-game win streak and seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1), which is the longest active unbeaten streak in the NCAA. With its share of the Penrose Cup, UND has secured its 16th conference championship in program history, the most of any NCAA Division I men’s program.
- Four teams (MIAMI, Omaha, Denver and Minnesota Duluth) are separated by just five points with two games to play, while only three of those teams will get home ice for the NCHC Quarterfinals. UMD currently sits in fifth place on the outside looking in, but can make that up with at least three points and some help this weekend. UND has already secured home ice. Tiebreakers for seeding, should they be needed, are listed on page 8 of the release. More information on possible place finishes for these teams are listed below.
- According to the KRACH Ratings, the eight NCHC teams have played the eight toughest schedules in the country this season, led by Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State at No. 1 and 2, respectively. Omaha, Denver, MIAMI, CC, WMU and UND round out the top eight, respectively.
Possible place finishes for each team entering this weekend:
- North Dakota – 1,2 (needs just 1 point at Miami to clinch 1 seed/outright title, already has share of regular season title)
- MIAMI – 1,2,3,4,5 (needs 2 points to secure home for sure, needs sweep of UND to share regular season title and get 1 seed)
- Omaha – 2,3,4,5 (needs 4 points to secure home ice for sure)
- Denver – 2,3,4,5 (needs 5 points to secure home ice for sure)
- Minnesota Duluth – 2,3,4,5,6 (needs just 1 point to secure 5 seed, needs at least one team ahead of them to lose/tie to have a chance to get home ice)
- St. Cloud State – 5,6 (SCSU has to sweep DU and UMD has to get swept by WMU for SCSU to move up to 5 seed)
- Western Michigan – locked in to 7
- Colorado College – locked in to 8
Watch as the coach and the captains talk about the importance of Miami’s home ice advantage.
Enrico Blasi, Blake Coleman and Austin Czarnik address the media following Miami’s 3-0 victory over North Dakota.
Well, hello there!
You probably didn’t miss us even though we haven’t posted since Miami got pretty boring to watch about six weeks ago. We haven’t found this season easy to watch, either.
Anywho, Blake Coleman is back! And the junior from Texas netted his 11th and 12th goals of the season to lift Miami to an emotional win over fourth-ranked St. Cloud State at Steve Cady Arena last night.
Coleman, who had not seen action since injuring himself (we believe he broke his collarbone) in a game on December 6 against Denver, was easily the best player on the ice. He added an immediate boost of energy and seemed to infect the RedHawks with his sense of purpose and leadership — something that’s been sorely lacking since he left the lineup. He was hitting, backchecking, hustling, creating turnovers … and scoring. Frankly, it was one of his best games since his freshman year. If he can raise his level of play, and lift the team around him, this could be a good sign as the season nears completion.
Austin Czarnik also seemed affected by Coleman’s presence in the lineup. On the first line with regular mate Riley Barber, Coleman was inserted alongside the two of them creating matchup nightmares for SCSU as that line accounted for three of Miami’s four goals and was a handful all night for the Huskies. For Czarnik he scored his 11th goal of the season and assisted twice giving the junior captain a season’s line of 11-30-41. Barber also assisted on Coleman’s first goal of the night, his 20th, in an otherwise quiet night for the sophomore sniper from Pittsburgh.
Sophomore goaltender Jay Williams earned just his fifth win of the season evening his record at 5-5. He wasn’t great, but he did enough to enable Miami to record its second win over SCSU this year. Consider. Miami has only 11 wins this season but they have beaten an impressive list of teams with far better records than the RedHawks. Miami has beaten North Dakota, St. Cloud (twice), Wisconsin, Denver and Ohio State (twice) who is somehow 15-10-3. Oh, wait. I know. It’s because duhOSU has the 46th ranked strength of schedule in college hockey. For the record, Miami has played the 15th most difficult schedule in the nation and sits at 11-15-3.
Can one player make a difference?
Well, it certainly looked that way last night. Miami put forth a level of effort, a much higher “compete level” to paraphrase CBS Sports analyst Dave Starman, that I haven’t seen in months. Will this be the start of a late season run that could carry this team into the NCHC playoffs and save the entire campaign? Or will this just be a blip on the radar? While I’m not completely sold on this as a bellwether moment, I’m at least curious for one more night to see how this team responds.
The Miami RedHawks headed to Kalamazoo last weekend in search of an identity. They were starting off the second half of the season against a familiar foe, with a lot to work on. The defense needed shoring up, the penalty kill needed improvement and most of all, the power play was struggling in the first half, and it was time to figure things out.
Going in, Coach Blasi most certainly wasn’t going to say that the trip to Western Michigan was going to be an easy weekend. In fact, as we said in our weekend preview, he was very complementary to the Broncos. But in the back of his mind, Rico had to be thinking of 6 points. Western Michigan is a team that Miami is very familiar with and has played well against in recent past. The Broncos were expected to have a down year, and were tied at the bottom of the standings with the RedHawks coming into the weekend. Miami was predicted to finish at the top of the conference and started the year as the #2 team in the country.
As we are reminded of time and time again, matchups on paper mean nothing. “That’s why you play the games,” as they say. Miami allowed 3 shorthanded goals against, went just 1 for 13 on the power play (1 PPG on 5 chances on Friday, 0 for 8 on Saturday), and lost 2 heartbreaking 1-goal decisions. 0 points. Last place in the NCHC.
In our time cheering for Miami sports, I know we’ve all drank the
Drain-O kool-aid. This was one of those weekends for us here at the Blog of Brotherhood. Having taken our annual guys trip to Kalamazoo for the weekend, I can certainly say the beer and company were better than the hockey. There were many times where we all looked at each other in disbelief as the events transpired on the ice before us.
Friday night was just a night of missed opportunities and lackluster play. The shots after 1 period were 19-5 in favor of Western Michigan Friday night and the ice was heavily slanted in their favor. Scoring chances isn’t an NCAA statistic, but Western must have had 6 or 7 grade A chances that they couldn’t put past Miami’s Ryan McKay in net in addition to the one that did find paydirt. They played well the rest of the way, but a soft goal allowed by McKay and a controversial goal with 8.3 seconds left, and Miami was headed to the hotel with a sour taste in their mouths.
I actually think the RedHawks played better on Saturday night, even with several stats showing otherwise. First, they went 0 for 8 on the power play and were behind by 2 goals for a long chunk of the game (the only time that either team was ahead by more than 1 goal, by the way). Criticisms of the power play and lack of effort rained down from various RedHawks fans in attendance at times due to the out-of-character performance by several on the ice.
One thing that I did see this past weekend was excellent leadership and guts by Sean Kuraly. Before the weekend, Kuraly was given an A on the newly minted sweaters for the RedHawks (more on the jerseys to come). I can’t say enough about the hustle, determination and sheer disregard for his body that Sean showed all weekend, and Sean certainly earned his Assistant Captain position last weekend. From our vantage point, it was clear that Sean was the best player on the ice for either team both nights.
On Friday night, Kuraly had 2 goals on 4 shots, went 11 for 24 on faceoffs, and I’m certain would have recorded 5 or more hits on the night if it was a recorded statistic. Saturday’s line would only see Kuraly receive an assist with 5 shots, but he did have a goal that would have been unassisted had the referees not overturned the call on the ice (due to goaltender interference).
Max Cook was also awarded an Assistant Captain’s “A” on his sweater for the weekend. The senior from Frankfort, IL is just 7 games away from playing in 100 in a RedHawks sweater and has 19 hard-earned points over those 93 games, playing mostly on the 2nd and 3rd lines during his time at Miami.
As you can see from the recent tweet from The Brotherhood (link), the RedHawks donned new sweaters last weekend. These are a return back to the jerseys of the last several years.
There have been many (unconfirmed) rumors about the jerseys over the course of the first half of the season, and it appears that the bedazzled look of the first half of the year wasn’t cutting it for the RedHawks. In the end, after a color issue for the first weekend of the year (see: jersey sale in the Goggin Pro Shop) and a general dislike for the jerseys from many fans, it seemed that the jerseys were not doing the job and Miami made a switch off of the Nike jerseys to these new Adidas jerseys. This also aligns the hockey team with the rest of the university in terms of their outfitters – a wise choice on all fronts.
The Weekend Ahead – Nebraska-Omaha in Oxford for 2-Game Set
For a while this week, I thought of writing this piece with the thought that the 2 one-goal losses didn’t seem indicative of how the games were played this week. In the end, I really didn’t like how Miami played, with the exceptions of Kuraly and Cody Murphy, who is always hustling, the RedHawks didn’t impress me much last weekend.
This weekend, Miami welcomes the Mavericks of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. These will be the first games in Goggin since December 7th and 8th – a span of 7 weeks. Welcome home, indeed.
If you remember, the weekend before Thanksgiving, Miami traveled to Omaha and got spanked by scores of 6-3 and 3-1. At that point, Miami was starting to realize life in the NCHC was going to be tougher than they thought, and after the 2 wins, UNO found themselves in first place in the new conference.
On Friday night back in November, Miami was up 1-0 after the first, but UNO scored 5 second period goals en route to the 6-3 win and Miami was shell-shocked the rest of the weekend. There was no coming back from that devastating period and Miami’s slide had begun.
At present, Miami sits in the cellar of the NCHC, a conference they were picked to win at the start of the season, and are a whopping 13 points behind first place St. Cloud State. At 3-7-0 in the NCHC, there’s a lot of work to be done over the last 14 games of the season. UNO is in a tie for 3rd in the conference – a position not many expected to this point in the 2013-14 campaign. There are 14 games left for the RedHawks, and this weekend is critical to their success in the conference as well as their hopes to make the NCAA tournament come March.
If you remember this past weekend, Austin Czarnik was hit high during the second period of the Friday night game in Kalamazoo. It was a hit that didn’t really look to cause any grief for Miami’s Captain at the time, but Czarnik didn’t play a whole lot in the second and was not on the bench for the third when Miami let the game slip away. Then on Saturday, Czarnik was in his Miami warm-ups and was a spectator in the stands and would disappear into the locker room with the team at each intermission.
We cannot confirm nor deny what happened to Czarnik (because we simply don’t know), but he was out with an undisclosed upper body injury. While a concussion is still a serious injury, I’m hopeful that this is all it was, as this usually means a short turnaround time. With a shoulder, collarbone or other upper body injury, he could miss an extended period of time. We will see tonight whether Czarnik is on the ice or not.
Blake Coleman also didn’t play last weekend, as he is still recovering from a suspected collarbone injury suffered on Friday December 6th against Denver (he was seen in a sling in Goggin also spectating that Saturday’s game before the holiday break). Again, no confirmation if that’s what the injury is/was, but Blake may also make return this weekend against UNO.
Both games will be televised on Miami All-Access, and Friday’s Game is Televised Locally on Time Warner Cable.
Enjoy the games RedHawks. Let’s get a W (or 2?) this weekend!
After one period of play from Omaha, Neb., #8 Miami leads Nebraska Omaha 1-0. Bryon Paulazzo had the Miami goal on the powerplay assisted by Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber.
Some thoughts from the pressbox…
- Blake Coleman is strong. He threw his weight around the ice and can seemingly protect the puck with just one hand on his stick.
- Austin Czarnik is the real deal. There is a zip on his passes. He doesn’t just make a pass, he means it. It’s impressive to see how accurate, and powerful, his passes are. Additionally, he has a very active stick always getting it in the passing lanes and is really impressive with the puck.
- Good defensive period for Miami. UNO’s top line of Zombo, Archibald and Walters were relatively invisible.
- Taylor Richart is a silent assassin. He is everywhere and he is no where. Always in position, always on the puck. His 150 foot slapper that drew a faceoff on the PK was impressive.
- Riley Barber looks more aggressive tonight. There does appear to be more space tonight than previous games and he is making the most of it getting shots to the net. His shot and subsequent rebound found Paulazzo’s stick for Miami’s goal.
- Max Cook and Ben Paulides look a little shaky. I think they could both use a boost of confidence.
- UNO’s transition game might be the only way they score tonight (aside from a powerplay). Their speed is challenging Miami’s D to be alert and the Hawks’ forwards to backcheck — which Czarnik, in particular, has done well.
More to come!
With apologies to Adam Duritz and “Counting Crows,” Miami hits the road for Omaha to take on old CCHA foe Nebraska Omaha in a weekend NCHC series.
The Mavericks, you may recall, were conference mates with Miami from 1999 until leaving the CCHA in favor of the WCHA in 2010. That, of course, was an ill-fated and perhaps short-sighted move, as college hockey underwent enormous realignment after the announcement that the Big Ten would field its own hockey conference in spring 2011. And, after all was said and done, UNO and Miami, along with charter schools Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota would announce the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in summer 2011.
After two more seasons in the CCHA and WCHA respectively, Miami and UNO once again find themselves facing off as conference rivals. This weekend marks the first time the programs have met since February 20, 2010 in Oxford when UNO knocked off then #1 Miami 4-2 in head coach Dean Blais’ first trip to Steve Cady Arena.
The ‘Dean’ of the NCHC
Speaking of Dean Blais, his resume speaks for itself. But, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi summed it up nicely during his weekly press conference.
“The one thing I know about Dean Blais’ teams is they’re going to play hard and they’re going to be in your face and you’re going to have to be ready to compete for 60 minutes.”
One of the most decorated American amateur coaches in recent history, Blais spent 10 seasons behind the bench at North Dakota, where he compiled a record of 262-115-34 and won two national titles (1997, 2000) before leaving to take an associate head coaching job with the Columbus Blue Jackets. After spending four years in Cowtown, also serving as director of player development, Blais went back to his amateur roots where he was hired by the Fargo Force of the USHL to be their head coach, and was eventually lured back to school in 2009 by new Omaha AD Trev Alberts. In going to Omaha, he took over the reins of the program from long time head man Mike Kemp, who is largely regarded as the Father of UNO hockey. Blais has also long been involved with USA Hockey winning a gold medal in 2010 with the U-20 World Junior team. The two-time Spencer Penrose winner (1997, 2001) has an all-time record of 342-189-49 over nearly 15 seasons in college hockey.
Whom to Watch
On the ice, the Mavericks (6-6, 3-1 T2nd NCHC) are led by 2013 Hobey Baker finalist, senior Ryan Walters, who finished last season with 52 points (which tied for 2nd in program history for a single season) after scoring 22 goals. Listed at 6-0/190, Walters has started strong and is tied for the team lead in points (13) on three goals and has helped the Mavs rebound from a 2-4 start to win four of their past six including last weekend’s split with then #2 Michigan in Omaha. Along with Walters, Miami much watch
junior forward Josh Archibald who leads the team in goals (9) and is tied with Walters atop the team’s scoring list. Archibald’s name should be familiar to some as he skated on Team USA’s 2012 U-20 team which failed to medal a year after earning bronze in Buffalo. Others to make note of include junior forward Dominic Zombo (5-5-10) and senior Brock Monpetit (6-3-9) who rank third and fourth in team scoring for UNO.
Overall, the Mavericks are second in the NCHC in scoring averaging 3.08 goals per game. Miami at 3.42 goals per game leads the way in the league with 41 goals though St. Cloud is averaging just a shade more at 3.50 goals per game in two fewer contests played.
Who’s in Net?
Defensively, the Mavericks are allowing 3.25 goals per game as they have struggled to find consistency in net. Lately however, UNO has gotten better goaltending from junior Ryan Massa and freshman Kirk Thompson having allowed more than three goals just once over their past six games. Massa and Thompson are very similar goaltenders. Both are around six feet tall and possess nearly identical numbers. For instance, both goaltenders are 3-2 with goals against averages north of 3 and save percentages below .900. In contrast, Miami allows just 2.08 goals per game and sophomore Ryan McKay leads the nation with three shutouts and has posted sterling 1.74/.943 numbers. However, because McKay has played the last four games for Miami, I would not be at all surprised to see McKay in net Friday night and fellow sophomore Jay Williams (2-2/2.75/.905) between the pipes on Saturday.
For Miami (7-4-1, 2-2 T5th NCHC), the eighth ranked RedHawks enter the weekend having faced two top 15 teams in a row after splitting series with NCHC foe St. Cloud State and Big Ten opponent Wisconsin just last weekend in Oxford. That stretch has catapulted Miami’s strength of schedule to the top of the heap. This week’s KRACH ratings show Miami’s SOS sitting at #1 having played the most challenging schedule in the land.
Overall, the offense is simply not delivering against top teams as they have managed just 13 goals in their last six games against ranked opponents including just seven goals total over the past two weekends.
As teams focus on shutting down the top line of Riley Barber, Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin, Miami must have secondary scoring from throughout the lineup. To this point, most of that scoring has come from junior Blake Coleman as he has netted seven goals which ties him with Czarnik for second on the team. Last season, Coleman scored nine goals so he’s well on his way to surpassing that total as his game continues to improve. But, outside of Coleman’s efforts, only two other RedHawks have scored at many as four goals (Alex Wideman and Anthony Louis).
And, as head coach Enrico Blasi said earlier this week, Miami needs to have all four lines contributing in order to play their game and be successful. Said Blasi,
“We need everybody in our lineup doing the same thing. Everybody’s got to be on the same page. This is not a team that’s going to rely solely on one or two players.”
All-time, Miami is 17-7-3 against Omaha including a 7-4-1 mark in the self-proclaimed, “Gateway to the West.”
Tired of splitting, I think Miami gets a much-needed league sweep this weekend in Omaha. And, we’ll be live tweeting from the press box of the Century Link Center @miamihockeyblog and will have updates and recaps immediately following Friday night’s game. Miami All-Access has the call both nights along with local radio coverage at 1450-AM (Friday only) and 1490-AM (both nights).