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Miami Advances to Regional Final

Miami earns first NCAA tournament victory since 2010

Happy to be proven wrong, Miami easily dispatched Minnesota State thrashing the Mavericks by a 4-0 score. It’s been a long time since we’ve won big in this tournament and freshman Ryan McKay was back on top of his game earning the fourth shutout of his career and Miami’s first-ever NCAA tournament whitewashing of an opponent.

Curtis McKenzie, Marc Hagel, Cody Murphy and Max Cook notched goals for Miami as they advance to their third regional final since 2009. The RedHawks will face WCHA regular season champ, St. Cloud State (24-15-1) in today’s final at 4pm EST from Toledo.

Miami (25-11-5) will need even more balanced scoring today as they face a talented Huskie squad coached by former Miami assistant Bob Motzko. It is a preview, of sorts, of next year’s NCHC conference as Miami and SCSU will likely be the favorites to capture the first championship in the new league.

The Huskies took Notre Dame behind the woodshed yesterday exposing the slow and plodding Irish by a final of 5-1. SCSU looked strong, tough and fast in handing it to the Irish as I predicted here and other places. The Huskies have notched 136 goals this year and will provide yet another loaded offensive challenge for Miami.

Led by seniors Ben Hanowski (17-14-31 plus his rights were just traded for Jarome Iginla) and Hobey Baker finalist Drew LeBlanc  (13-37-50), freshman Jonny Brodzinski (22-11-33) and junior Nic Dowd (14-24-38), the Huskies can score with the best of them. In net, sophomore Ryan Faragher is 23-14-1 with a respectable 2.26 GAA and .915 save percentage. The defense corps is led by Nick Jensen and Kevin Gravel – Jensen is particularly effective offensively. The Huskies are deep and talented and will pose a significant challenge to the RedHawks.

With another victory, Miami will reach the Frozen Four for the third time in five seasons. They would face the winner of today’s Quinnnipiac/Union regional final if they are fortunate enough to win.

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Miami v. Minnesota State – NCAA Tournament, Round 1

The RedHawks will face the Mavericks of Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

Late last night, the Miami RedHawks (24-11-5) learned their NCAA tournament fate as they received an at-large bid to compete for a national championship in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. The RedHawks were seeded second in the Midwest Regional and will face third seeded Minnesota State of the WCHA on Saturday at 5pm EST. The game will be played in Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center, home of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. This is the eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Miami, and the 11th in school history. On the other hand, this is just the second appearance all-time for MSU in the national tournament, and first since 2003 when they lost a first round game to Cornell.

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Michigan thumps Miami 6-2

In yet another forgettable performance in a big game at Joe Louis Arena, the Miami RedHawks hockey program concluded its run in the CCHA by being thoroughly embarrassed by Michigan. Final score…6-2.

What does this mean?

It means Miami will await the outcome of tomorrow afternoon’s CCHA championship game pitting Notre Dame and Michigan to determine whether the RedHawks are a #1 seed or #2 seed in the national tournament. If Notre Dame wins, Miami will be a two seed, but if Michigan takes the final Mason Cup, Miami will back its way into a #1 seed. Regardless, Miami should be slotted in Toledo and will probably face St. Cloud, Denver or Wisconsin (or the like) from the WCHA.

All that said, we’d seen today’s movie a thousand times. We knew how it would end before the teams set foot on the ice. Miami is now 0-6 all-time against Michigan in the CCHA playoffs and we simply do not show up against them in big games. Ryan McKay looked, perhaps, like a tired goaltender having played three games in three nights last weekend and he simply did not do enough to keep his team in the game. It will be interesting to see who Rico starts next week in the NCAA tournament. But, certainly, McKay does not deserve all the blame. Again, this was something we’ve seen time and time again with this program over the years. It was the same game I’d seen a hundred times.

The good news? Miami will have at least one more game in the tournament. But, we have been “one and done” in 2011 and 2012 and have not won a game in the tournament since 2010 when Miami defeated UAH and Michigan en route to the Frozen Four.

The NCAA tournament selection show will air tomorrow night at 9pm EST on ESPNU. If nothing else, it will be an interesting week for this hockey program.

Miami v. Michigan – CCHA Semifinal #2

The RedHawks face streaking Michigan at Joe Louis Arena

On the strength of series’ victories over Michigan State and Western Michigan, respectively, the Miami RedHawks and Michigan Wolverines will meet once again at Joe Louis Arena for the right to advance to tomorrow night’s last-ever CCHA championship game.

Today’s semi-final matchup smells precisely like the one the teams played in 2010 when the regular season champion RedHawks faced seventh seeded Michigan who had gotten hot late in the year needing to win the conference tournament to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Of course, Michigan would go on to win the Mason Cup but Miami would have another chance to face the Wolverines in the Midwest regional final in Fort Wayne where the RedHawks would gain revenge by earning their second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four.

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News You Can Use

Five members of the 2012-13 Miami RedHawks were honored this week with CCHA recognition of their efforts on and off the ice.

Freshman Riley Barber was named first-team All-Conference and was also named to the All-Rookie team on the strength of his 15-21-36 line and +13 rating. Barber led the RedHawks in goals, the CCHA in scoring, collected a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship and has a earned a regular season title with Miami. So far, so good for the native of Livonia, Mich. In addition, Barber was the only unanimous selection to the All-Rookie team, was a four-time CCHA Rookie of the Week recipient including Rookie of the Month for the months of October and November and led the nation in assists and points among all freshman. It is certainly reasonable to believe that Barber will be a finalist for CCHA Player of the Year which will be awarded next week in Detroit.

Freshman Matthew Caito was also named to the CCHA All-Rookie team finishing with five goals and 16 points, leading Miami defensemen in all three scoring categories. Playing in one of Miami’s top defensive pairs, Caito finished with a +9 rating and was named the CCHA Defenseman of the Week twice.

Freshman Ryan McKay was named the CCHA All-Rookie team’s goaltender by posting a league best 1.32 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, while earning an 8-3-1 record with two shutouts. In overall play, McKay’s 1.17 goals-against average and .957 save percentage were the best in the country among all goaltenders. He was recently named the CCHA Goaltender of the Month for February as he recorded a 4-1-0 record with one shutout, helping the RedHawks to a 6-2-0 record on the month. His 1.20 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage led all goaltenders in the nation for February, as he allowed just six goals and made 148 saves.

Joining Barber on the CCHA All-Conference first team, was his sophomore linemate, Austin Czarnik who notched an 11-22-33 season’s line and +18 rating. Czarnik, who tied for the most first-place votes with eight and earned the most total vote points (46), finished the season in fourth place in both conference scoring (8-18-26) and overall scoring.

Lastly, Miami senior captain Steven Spinell was nominated as the team’s designee to become the 2012-13 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be chosen from the group of nominees with the winner announced at the 2013 CCHA Awards on Friday, March 22.

Congratulations to all five student-athletes and best of luck in the playoffs!

Miami v. Michigan State – CCHA Playoffs Round Two

On the strength of a 2-to-1 road series victory over Alaska, the Michigan State Spartans (13-24-3) advance to face the CCHA regular season champions, Miami (22-9-5), in round two of the CCHA playoffs. The Spartans, who finished dead last in the CCHA, won games 1 and 3 of the close fought series against the Nanooks to advance to challenge Miami in Oxford for the second consecutive year in the playoffs.

Last year Miami dominated MSU by 6-0 and 4-1 scores to end the Spartans CCHA season and advance to the league championship weekend in Detroit. However, head coach Tom Anastos’ MSU squad squeaked into the NCAA tournament where they were ousted in the first round by Union en route to a Frozen Four appearance.

Since 2005, Miami is just 13-8-1 against Michigan State, showing the Spartan program is still dangerous and that Miami must take them seriously this weekend. In the CCHA playoffs, Miami owns a 2-1 record against MSU (since 2005) with the lone loss coming in the CCHA championship game in March of 2006 at Joe Louis Arena.

This weekend’s series is a best-of-three second round matchup that pits the league’s top defensive squad, Miami, against the lowest scoring team in the conference in Michigan State. Needless to say, if the Spartans have any chance this weekend, they must hold Miami to 2 goals or less to have a realistic chance of winning a game, much less the series. The RedHawks meanwhile will be looking to get to the three goal plateau. When the Hawks score three goals or more, they are unbeaten at 17-0-1. However, when they net two goals or fewer, Miami is just 5-9-4 showing they can be vulnerable to low scoring affairs. Of course, that plays into the hands of the Spartans who have two capable netminders in junior Will Yanakeff (3.13/.901) and freshman Jake Hildebrand (2.33/.929). Earlier this year, the teams played a series in Oxford resulting in a 2-2 tie (SOW win for Miami) on Friday and a 2-0 Miami win on Saturday. This is notable because Hildebrand and Miami freshman Jay Williams faced off in both games as Ryan McKay was on the shelf due to his injury suffered in the Michigan series. On Saturday, Williams had to make only 13 saves to record his first career shutout with the Red and White. It will be interesting to see if head coach Enrico Blasi goes with McKay both nights or if he reinstates the rotation. As of late, Rico has been favoring McKay, but as we all know, that can change at a moment’s notice. With Williams having success against MSU earlier this year, it’s certainly conceivable he goes back to the freshman from McLean, Va. this weekend.

The best-of-three series faces-off at 7:35pm EST on Friday night from Steve Cady Arena. Game two will be played at 7:05pm EST from SCA and game three, if necessary, will also face-off at 7:05pm EST.

With the students out of town on Spring Break, seats should be available all weekend by calling the Miami ticket office at 1-866-MUHAWKS (1-866-684-2957), logging on to MURedHawks.com or stopping by the Goggin Ice Arena ticket office. Currently, the games are scheduled to be broadcast on Miami All-Access but not nationally televised.

CCHA Champions!

photo: MURedHawks.com

2012-2013 CCHA REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONS!

On the strength of a 4-2 victory over duhOSU, the Miami RedHawks claimed the final CCHA regular season championship and fourth in program history. Curtis McKenzie, Riley Barber, Blake Coleman and Cody Murphy netted the Miami goals while Ryan McKay earned the victory in net.

It is the RedHawks third regular season title in the past eight seasons earning Miami a bye in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The RedHawks will host a second round, best-of-three playoff series at Steve Cady Arena March 15-17 against the lowest remaining seed after the completion of the three first round series. Speaking of which, here are the first round match-ups.

#6 Alaska vs. #11 Michigan State

#7 Michigan vs. #10 Northern Michigan

#8 Lake Superior vs. #9 Bowling Green

All series’ will be played at campus sites with the higher seed hosting the best-of-three playoff round.

As for the second round, one matchup is locked in as #4 Ohio State will host #5 Ferris State in Columbus while Miami, #2 Notre Dame and #3 Western Michigan await their second round opponent.

If I were to wager a guess tonight, I could easily see Miami facing #11 Michigan State but more likely, the winner of the Lake/BG series in round two.

We’ll have more on tonight’s game as well as the CCHA playoffs in the days to come.

Senior Night, with the CCHA title on the line

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After last night’s disappointing result, Miami takes to the ice tonight in what will certainly be an emotional night no matter what the outcome. Tonight, we say goodbye to 6 seniors who will move on to the pro ranks, possibly even the NHL ranks, and others will become working men like many of us. Let’s take a look back at their time as RedHawks. (photos courtesy of http://www.muredhawks.com)

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Miami Sweeps, Moves Closer to Regular Season Crown

Light the Lantern! Miami sweeps Lake State

On the strength of 44 saves from freshman phenom Ryan McKay and goals from classmates Riley Barber and Matthew Caito, the #3 Miami RedHawks defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

In doing so, the RedHawks are now just one point away from clinching a share of the final CCHA regular season title and two points from an outright championship to close the league. Frankly, going into this season with so many new faces and young players, I would not have predicted a regular season title. But this team, coached so well by head man Enrico Blasi and his associates Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia have molded the 2012-13 RedHawks (21-8-5, 16-6-4-4 1st CCHA) into an intense, system-based and fast squad that is a nightmare to play against. The RedHawks lead the nation in team defense and are sixth in penalty killing despite an offense that has just one point-per-game player (Barber) and no skaters ranked higher than 14th (Barber) in the national scoring race.

Last night, the ‘Hawks were carried by their talented freshmen as they served up a hard-fought victory. Though frankly, you never really felt as if Lake would be able to get past the one-goal barrier with McKay back between the pipes and the Miami defense stinging a bit after allowing four Laker goals the night before. Read the rest of this entry

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

So, it would be an understatement to say that we’ve been a little distracted here over the past couple weeks. Previews? Nah. Recaps? What?

Well, here’s a little Saturday update to tide you over til tonight.

What’d we miss?

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