Blog Archives

RedHawks announce commemorative jersey for Hockey City Classic

Tonight, Miami unveiled their uniform for the 2013 Hockey City Classic, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen from the RedHawks. Or maybe it’s a combination of a lot of what you’ve seen in the past from them? Either way, I can’t say they are the prettiest jerseys I’ve ever seen, but they do look pretty darn special.

Here’s Miami’s release on the new jersey design, with Steven Spinell showing off the new unis. Spinell is a Chicago-born and raised kid, who will certainly relish this weekend’s game against Notre Dame in Soldier Field.

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#3 Miami at #6 Western Michigan

First place Miami clashes with second place Western Michigan in the nation’s premiere weekend series

It’s a #MACAttack weekend as long-time MAC rivals Miami (17-6-5, 12-4-4-4 1st CCHA) and Western Michigan (17-6-5, 13-4-3-1 2nd CCHA) renew their hockey rivalry that’s heated up over the past two years. The schools have met twice at Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA tournament over the past two seasons.

Two years ago, Miami defeated the upstart Broncos in the CCHA title game to capture the program’s only Mason Cup, while last year, the Broncos returned the favor in the semifinals en route to their first Mason Cup championship. However, during the regular season, Miami swept Western in Oxford.

It has to be especially heartening to new NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr to see the two CCHA squads at the top of the league just 8 months from the inaugural puck drop for the new league.

But, to the weekend at hand…

10 goals last weekend? And, 15 over their past four games? Could it be that Miami’s offense is finally waking up at precisely the right time? With just 8 regular season games left, the time is now for this team to find its offensive game, keep playing stout defense and come together down the stretch.

Well, the stretch starts tonight in Kalamazoo where Miami will face it’s most difficult road series of the year at Western Michigan and the Lawson Lunatics, whom, to put it mildly, comprise the most vulgar “rowdiest” student section in all of college hockey. And, we poke fun because it’s true in both good ways and bad.

Leading the charge for the Broncos is a familiar cast of characters led by senior Dane Walters who leads WMU with 21 points (12-9-21) and junior Chase Balisy with 20 (8-12-20). Western’s power play is best in the league at 22.9 percent but it will be without junior powerplay specialist Dennis Brown (1-13-14) who was suspended for tonight’s game following Saturday night’s shootout loss against Ferris State. Additionally, the Broncos will be without two other players including injured sophomore defenseman Garrett Haar (3-3-6), who scored a goal in the CCHA semifinal win over the RedHawks, and sophomore forward Justin Kovacs (1-5-6) who was also suspended following the Ferris State game.

In net for Western will be “The Big Slubowski,” sophomore Frank Slubowski who has started every game this season for the Broncos. Slubowski, a finalist for last season’s CCHA Rookie of the Year, has returned with a vengence notching 16 wins, a 1.78 GAA and .922 save percentage so far. It goes without saying that beating Slubowski will be challenging for Miami, a team that has struggled to score this year.

For the RedHawks, well, expect more of the same.

The top line has to continue to execute and carry the team offensively. In moving sophomore forward Alex Wideman alongside sophomore center Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber, head coach Enrico Blasi has gone for speed and creativity out of his top three. This has enabled players like Blake Coleman, Curtis McKenzie and Sean Kuraly to use their blend of speed and size to give Miami a more balanced and dynamic top six look.

Defensively, the RedHawks lead the nation in total defense and freshmen goaltenders Jay Williams and Ryan McKay will be tested, not so much by Western’s offensive prowess, but rather to keep their composure on the road in a rink that is difficult to play in. This will be an excellent test for Miami and if they are fortunate to split this weekend’s series, that would be huge as we move toward the playoffs.

Notes

– Miami is coming off its second straight CCHA sweep as the RedHawks downed then No. 20 Alaska, 4-1 last Friday before completing the sweep, 6-2, on Saturday and have won 5 straight overall. (source: MURedHawks.com)

– Western enters the series on a five-game unbeaten streak going 4-0-1 during that stretch including a sweep of 8th place Michigan (it ain’t what it used to be). Last weekend the Broncos won at Ferris State, 3-1 on Friday before dropping a shootout to Ferris on Saturday. (source: MURedHawks.com)

#6 Miami earns two league points at Northern Michigan

RedHawks lose and tie at CCHA’s last place team

Well, let us hope this year’s edition of the “Rico Swoon” is short-lived because  yet again, Miami has failed to hold momentum over the holidays as they are now 0-2-1 in their past three games after dropping Friday’s game 2-1 and tying Northern Michigan 3-3 (won shootout) last night. Further, the losses to teams Miami should beat continue to pile up just as the loss to Robert Morris has become a seemingly annual event. Miami is something like 0-4 in their last four meetings against the Colonials.

But, to come back to earth, the problem with this team right now is that they simply are not scoring goals. The nice thing? There is no quit as they rallied from a 2-0 hole last night to take a short-lived 3-2 lead which was inexplicably lost with a blueline turnover on a Miami powerplay that NMU turned into a shorthanded goal.

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#6 Miami at Northern Michigan

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.

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Miami v. duhOSU and Bob Morris/PSU

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.

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Miami looks to rebound with next 3 games against Ohio State

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 Dzingelberry, 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!

#3 Miami splits with Lake Superior

Last night, Lake Superior junior goaltender Kevin Murdock out-dueled Miami freshman Ryan McKay by making 46 saves and dealing Miami its second shutout loss of the season as the Lakers defeated the RedHawks 1-0. The loss snapped Miami’s 8-game unbeaten streak and continued a stretch of frustration for the RedHawks against the Lakers. Miami is now just 2-4 against Lake Superior over the past two seasons.

On Friday, Miami again trailed 1-0, but netted two in the second as freshmen Kevin Morris and Sean Kuraly both scored their third goals of the year. In the third, freshman Riley Barber found the net with an impressive wrister on the rush from the left circle for his 7th goal of the season – and the eventual game-winner. Barber’s tally gave Miami a 3-1 lead and they held on to defeat the Lakers 3-2. Freshman goaltender Jay Williams earned the start and his team-leading 8th win of the season as he made 21 saves on the night.

The words of the weekend were “special teams” as Miami’s units were anything but. All three Laker goals came on the powerplay as they went 3-for-7 on the weekend while Miami’s powerplay was a dismal 0-for-10. In Saturday’s loss, Miami outshot the Lakers 46-29 including 19-3 in the first period, but Murdock stood tall in net and denied the RedHawks at every chance.

Frankly, Saturday looked more like Miami teams of the past rather than what we’d seen so far this season. There’s clearly no reason for panic as the RedHawks sport a 10-3-3 overall record (7-3-3-2/2nd CCHA) to this point but losses to teams like Lake Superior can hurt down the road in terms of the final CCHA standings. This game while certainly a shooting gallery, did not feature Miami’s skill, nor did they move the puck from side-to-side settling for shots around the perimeter and from bad angles. Doing that certainly makes the goaltender’s job easier even when stopping 46 shots on goal. Of course, some of that can be attributed to Lake’s style of play – collapsing and protecting the net – but Miami did a much better job of getting to the net on Friday night getting a couple grittier goals. I call this out simply because we’ve seen this over and over from Miami teams in the past and it’s strange that we never seem to see an adjustment to these tactics regardless of the roster. I believe it’s a major reason why we struggle against Ferris State and Lake Superior who play a very similar style.

Fortunately for Miami, they’ll have an opportunity to get back on the winning track in their final CCHA league series before the winter break as they head to Columbus to take on duhOSU in a two-game series at Cheap Furniture Arena. The OSU series will be the first of three consecutive games against the Buckeyes (7-5-4, 6-2-2-1/4th CCHA) as they will face them after a bye week in Pittsburgh in the first game of the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center.

McKay’s Return Lifts Miami to Weekend Sweep

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Light the lantern!

Fueled by the return of freshman goaltender Ryan McKay and the first two goals of senior transfer Marc Hagel’s Miami career, the fourth ranked Miami RedHawks (9-2-3, 6-2-2-2 CCHA) completed the weekend sweep of the Alaska Nanooks 4-0 at Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska on Saturday night.

McKay, who had missed Miami’s last eight games due to injury, recorded his second career shutout in just his fourth career start. In 3+ games (he was injured early in his start against Michigan on October 26 and played just five minutes), he has allowed only one goal and sports some outrageous numbers. In four games, McKay is 2-0-1 with a 0.32 goals against average with an astounding .989 save percentage. Last year’s co-USHL goaltender of the year has most definitely come in “as advertised.” And, that’s to take nothing away from classmate Jay Williams who has been very good in his own right. Williams has carried Miami over the past month and is 7-2-2 on the season with a 2.16 goals against average with a very strong .918 save percentage.

After a scoreless first period that featured an Alex Wideman disallowed goal, the sophomore from St. Louis would get on the scoreboard as he converted a pass from Austin Czarnik for a 5×3 powerplay tally to give Miami the only goal it would need.

From there, the teams traded powerplays and quality chances, but McKay and the RedHawks stood strong taking 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

Miami broke the game open in the third period with two goals in a three minute span as Hagel took advantage of a Blake Coleman rebound to beat Nanook netminder John Keeney for his first as a RedHawk at 8:20. Then, at 11:24, Czarnik found sophomore Jimmy Mullin on a breakaway and the Cincinnati native made it look easy in beating Keeney for just his second goal of the season.

For Coleman and Mullin, it was nice to see them rewarded on the scoresheet, and in Coleman’s case, he was very involved in the game finishing with a team-high four shots on goal and a +2 rating. Though he did not put the puck in the net, he was all over the place creating offense notching his third assist of the season. Hopefully, Mullin and Coleman will continue to pile up the points providing additional scoring threats to complement Riley Barber and Czarnik. Speaking of ‘the Czar,’ the sophomore center collected two more points with assists on Hagel’s first goal and the Mullin breakaway. He has now taken over the team and league lead in points with 19, one ahead of Barber in both categories and 10 more than senior Curtis McKenzie for Miami’s top honors.

To close the scoring, Hagel collected his second of the night with a shorthanded empty-netter with 47 seconds left as Alaska attempted to capitalize on a late powerplay by pulling Keeney. Freshman defenseman Matthew Caito and McKenzie were credited with assists. Caito leads all Miami defensemen in scoring with 1-5-6 on the year.

Next weekend, the RedHawks return home to face the Lakers of Lake Superior State on Friday and Saturday at Steve Cady Arena. Over the weekend, the Lakers (7-9, 4-6 CCHA) were swept by Notre Dame in South Bend and will again face a lengthy bus trip south as they head to Oxford.

Notes

– Mullin’s goal was his first since October 27 in a 4-3 win at Michigan.

– Coleman’s assist was his first point since November 9 when he registered an assist against Northern Michigan in a 5-2 Miami victory. He has not scored a goal since October 20 in a win against Providence.

– McKay’s two shutouts are good enough for fourth nationally though he has started just four games.

– Czarnik continues to pour on the points. His five-point weekend gives him points in Miami’s last three games and his 19 points ties him for eighth nationally in the overall scoring race.

– Miami is now unbeaten in its last seven games (5-0-2) with the RedHawks’ last loss coming on November 2 when they were shutout 3-0 at Ferris State.

Miami rolls Space Bears 5-2

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Light the lantern!

Behind three points from sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and two goals from sophomore forward Cody Murphy, the #4 Miami RedHawks defeated the Alaska Nanooks 5-2 in a CCHA conference match in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Miami’s first line of Czarnik (7-10-17), freshman Riley Barber (6-11-17) and senior Curtis McKenzie (4-4-8) once again led the way for the RedHawks as the trio combined for three goals and seven points on the evening. Meanwhile, Murphy (4-5-9) was busy notching his first multiple goal game of the season and the second of his career as he dominated special teams by scoring Miami’s lone powerplay goal and netted his second of the night during a Miami penalty kill as he now has four goals on the season. The RedHawks were just 1-of-7 with the man advantage but killed all eight Nanook powerplays.

Freshman goaltender Jay Williams was once again in the Miami net as he stopped 31 of 33 Nanook shots to improve his record to 7-2-2. Williams has now started each of Miami’s last eight games going 5-1-2 in those contests helping the RedHawks maintain a slim hold on first place in the CCHA. The RedHawks (8-2-3, 5-2-2-0 CCHA) lead second place Notre Dame (10-4, 6-1 CCHA) by one point in the league standings though the Irish have played two fewer league contests than Miami. Ferris State and Ohio State are each one point behind Miami each having played the same number of league games as the RedHawks.

Miami goes for six league points and the weekend sweep tonight as they take on the Nanooks at 11:05pm EST from the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. Greg Waddell has the call on Miami All-Access and on 1450 and 1490-AM around the Miami listening area.

Notes

– Miami senior captain Steven Spinell and junior forward Bryon Paulazzo were scratched from last night’s lineup. No immediate word on injuries.

– Relegated to the fourth line, sophomore forward Jimmy Mullin has just one goal and four points on the year after notching 11-15-26 in 37 games last year.

– After a 3-1-4 opening weekend, sophomore forward Blake Coleman has just one goal and one assist in Miami’s last 11 games.

– Miami will need scoring from Mullin and Coleman to help take the pressure off the first line as the season progresses and Miami begins playing more formidable competition with the personnel that’s able to slow the first line.

#4 Miami hosts Michigan State for 2 game set

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!