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Miami’s Two-Headed Goalie Monster

The 2013-14 season is just about upon us, and we’re headed for another year of the two-headed monster in net. I want to preface what you’re about to read with a disclaimer that in no way do I think that either goalie that Miami currently has under scholarship is not good enough to be in a nubmer 1 goaltender position. But there is certainly a large part of me that would like to see either or both of these guys get their full-on shot at the #1 goalie spot for the Miami RedHawks.

In the last several years, Head Coach Enrico Blasi has employed the 2-goalie rotation. One of the two stellar goalies plays on Friday night, and the second will play on Saturday. Currently, that rotation is composed of Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. But what if things were different in Oxford? What if Enrico Blasi goes with an established top guy and has a trusted backup? We explore the topic as we prepare for the season that starts tonight.

The start of a trend

Brandon Crawford-West left school early, putting Miami in a situation to start the two-headed monster.

Brandon Crawford-West left school early, putting Miami in a situation to start the two-headed monster.

During the 2004-05 campaign, then-sophomore Brandon Crawford-West was the last clear-cut Number 1 goalie for the RedHawks. He played in 32 games, had a save % of .917 and allowed a fairly stingy 2.48 GAA for a team that went 15-18-5. It would be the last time Miami didn’t make the NCAA tournament before starting their current streak of 8 tournament appearances in a row. Crawford-West knew that Charlie Effinger was waiting in the wings, having posted a 4-2-0 record in 6 starts with 3 additional relief appearances. Crawford-West would then leave Miami after that sophomore campaign, and according to hockeydb.com, has not played any type of major hockey since.

During the offseason, Blasi would recruit and bring 6’2″ Jeff Zatkoff in to play between the pipes as his backup goalie. Only it didn’t turn out that way. Zatkoff actually played 4 of the first 5 games in 2005-06 (including the season-opening exhibition against Windsor) and won 3 of those 4. It seemed like Zatkoff was poised to be the #1 goalie, but would end up splitting games with Effinger. Zatkoff went 14-5-1 in 20 games and Effinger went 12-4-3 in 19 games.

The two would rotate for the rest of their time in Oxford until Effinger graduated in 2008, at which time also Zatkoff left Miami. He left with 1 year of eligibility remaining, and headed to the professional ranks. On a side note, Zatkoff is likely to get his first NHL game action this weekend, as the Pittsburgh Penguins play back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Two’s Company

Connor Knapp was part of the two-headed monster for Miami's 2 Frozen Four appearances.

Connor Knapp was part of the two-headed monster for Miami’s 2 Frozen Four appearances.

Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard were the two-headed monster from the 2008-09 season through the 2011-12 season. Having used Zatkoff and Effinger on a rotating basis, Blasi made no qualms about his rotation strategy, and rotated these two for their entire 4 years. Williams and McKay have continued that trend once again, having played their freshman season as a quite-potent 1-2 punch in Oxford.

Along the way, Coach Blasi has maintained that whomever plays best in practice during the week will play on Friday night, and the Saturday goalie will be determined based on the Friday night performance. In addition, Blasi is frequently quoted as saying that the two goalies are always good friends and truly push each other to be better in practice. But how far can that get you?

The Importance of Having a Number 1

Cody Reichard was part of the two-headed monster with Connor Knapp. (flickr: 560XLS)

Cody Reichard was part of the two-headed monster with Connor Knapp. (flickr: 560XLS)

In the 2008-09 season, Cody Reichard got hot at the end of the season and became the top goalie. He played in all 4 tournament games including the National Championship game against Boston University. He allowed just four goals and made 65 saves during the NCAA Regional in Minneapolis and during 21 period stretch ending with the 2 regional games, only allowed 12 goals. With a vote of confidence earlier in the season and being named “the guy”, I wonder what happens differently late National Championship game. Jump into the 2009 season, and the roles were reversed. Reichard was benched late in the season in favor of Connor Knapp. I’m not saying Knapp definitely gets us past Boston College in the Frozen Four/National Semifinal instead of getting pulled for Reichard in the 2nd period. But who knows?

A quick tale of the tape to illustrate where I’m going:

Reichard’s career: 92 starts and 53 wins; Named CCHA Player of the Year and a first-team All-CCHA selection in 2009-10 going 15-5-2.
Knapp: 84 starts and 46 career wins; 2010-11 CCHA Best Goaltender Award finishing with a 15-8-0 record, including 12 wins in his final 16 starts, allowing a goal or less in 13 of his final 17 appearance.

Let’s say that Reichard gets half of Knapp’s starts and keeps the same 57.6 win percentage, that extrapolates to 77 career wins in 134 games. If Knapp gets half of Reichard’s? 130 starts and 71 wins. Staggering numbers while one is the main guy and another is the backup.

The Situation at Hand

Jay Williams was stellar last season before Ryan McKay caught fire. (Columbus Dispatch: Eamon Queeny)

Jay Williams was stellar last season before Ryan McKay caught fire. (Columbus Dispatch: Eamon Queeny)

Fast forward to 2012-13 when Ryan McKay and Jay Williams split time in net. Williams was 12-5-1 in 21 games and was 13-7-2 in 23 games. Jay Williams filled in for McKay at the start of the season while McKay was injured. Later, it was McKay who went on an unbelievable streak and ended up starting 13 of the last 15 games in net. Does that mean McKay will be the #1 guy come Friday night?

Don’t count on it.

I’m only one guy, and Enrico Blasi is one of the best coaches in the NCAA. He has a Spencer Penrose award for the best coach in all of Division 1 hockey, 8 straight and 9 total NCAA tournament appearances, 2 Frozen Fours, 2 CCHA Regular Season Championships, 1 CCHA Tournament Championship and 5 CCHA Coach of the Year awards. You can’t argue with his resume. I just think there’s an opportunity awaiting him this season when it comes to that two-headed monster in net. Here’s my plan for success this year, and into the future.

Ryan McKay stops a shot by Minnesota State's Matt Leitner in NCAA Regional action. (Toledo Blade: Andy Morrison)

Ryan McKay stops a shot by Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner in NCAA Regional action. (Toledo Blade: Andy Morrison)

Ryan McKay starts as the top guy and plays the majority of the big games, including against teams such as Ohio State (2 games this year), North Dakota (4), St. Cloud State (4), and Wisconsin (2). Williams – by no means what you could call a “backup goalie” – can play the lesser foes such as Canisius, UNO, WMU, and the like. This allows that number one guy to be established. Blasi isn’t the type to encourage anyone to leave Miami early, but let’s say McKay leads the NCAA in GAA and Save % again, the leaves school early for the pros. This creates an ideal situation, and here’s why.

Williams, now a sophomore, will have his time for the next 2 years as a Junior and Senior. At the same time, Blasi is forced to recruit and bring in a goaltender, who is Williams’ protege and backup for 2 years. Barring any other early departures or injuries, at the very least, this gives Miami a succession plan as far as goalies go.

The Truth of the Matter

Turn no further than the season-opening exhibition against Windsor last Saturday night, and you’ll have your answer to the question of “what’s Rico’s goalie plan?” The RedHawks won, with Jay WIlliams getting the start, and Ryan McKay relieving him halfway through the game. Both looked good, although 2 turnovers cost Miami 2 goals in 10 seconds in the third period against McKay. While it has yet to come up during Blasi’s weekly press conferences, I’m sure  you’ll hear the same refrain when asked this season.

The two-headed monster returns to action tonight as Miami takes on Ohio State in the regular season opener, and returns to Oxford on Saturday against the same Buckeyes.

Enjoy the games, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @MiamiHockeyBlog for updates.

Both Miami Goalies Take Home CCHA Hardware, Smith a Hobey Finalist

At last Thursday’s CCHA Awards Banquet, 2 RedHawks took home some hardware on the night. Miami didn’t take home some of the awards we’ve grown accustomed to winning (defensive defenseman, CCHA POTY), but last night was still a success for 2 Miami Seniors.

For the on-ice awards, despite only receiving Honorable Mention for the All-CCHA teams, Senior Connor Knapp took home the goaltender of the year. Somewhere along the lines, the voters changed their minds and moved Knapp from the third best goalie in the league to the best, jumping over .  With his stats in 2012, you can understand why – I would have changed my mind as well. 16 games, 10-5-0 record, 1.41 goals against average, .945 save percentage, and don’t forget those 5 shutouts on the season and 13 career shutouts – a Miami record.

Reilly smith won this year’s Perani Cup, given to the player with the most nominations as one of the “3 stars of the game” in conference play. Check out the standings here, and you’ll see that he beat out this weekend’s opposing goalie Frank Slubowski for the award.

Jumping off of the ice now, we turn to Senior goaltender Cody Reichard. We know about Cody’s efforts with Swoop’s Stoop, and his hard work off the ice has also payed of. Reichard won the prestigious Ilitch Humanitarian Award, which is given to a player “who had tremendous philanthropic efforts.” Tremendous philanthropic efforts… that doesn’t even begin to describe Cody’s work with Swoop’s Stoop. Congratulations Cody on this award, and we hope we get to see a Lowe’s Senior CLASS award on your mantle as well!

In addition to yesterday’s CCHA Awards Banquet, the Hobey Baker Award Committee announced its 10 Finalists for the 2012 Player of the Year Award. Reilly Smith made the top 10 list, marking the 5th time in the last 6 years that Miami has had a Hobey Baker Award Finalist. Of the 10 finalists, 3 will be named to the Hobey Hat Trick, invited to Tampa Bay and the Frozen Four, and will be eligible to win the award.

Here’s a list of the finalists all-time for the Redskins/RedHawks.

  • Reilly Smith, 2012
  • Andy Miele, 2011 Winner
  • Carter Camper, 2011
  • Cody Reichard, 2010
  • Ryan Jones, 2008 – also a Hobey Hat Trick member
  • Nathan Davis, 2007
  • Andy Green, 2006
  • Derek Edwardson, 2004
  • Dan Boyle, 1998
  • Randy Robitaille, 1997
  • Brian Savage, 1993

Sorry for the late posting on this…It was a long weekend for the Warriors!

RedHawks Return to Form, Reichard blanks Wildcats

The young men on the Miami RedHawks squad know when to flex their muscle. Despite playing their hearts out on Friday night, the Hawks couldn’t recover from 2 early Northern Michigan goals. Tonight was a different story, however, as Miami showed the Wildcats why they are one point out of first place in the CCHA and why the Wildcats still find themselves in ninth place.  Miami showed its size, speed, agressiveness, and all-around skill to put 6 goals past Northern Michigan goaltenders when they had only scored 3 goals in 3 previous meetings this season.

On the offensive side of the ice, Miami was doing their best to get to the 41 shot total they had last night. They came awfully close, hitting the 40 mark, which made a total of 81 shots in the 2 game series. Pretty impressive, and truly off the charts when you consider on the other end of the ice, Miami allowed 7, 7 and 2 shots in the three periods tonight. That’s 16 on the night and only 29 on the weekend.

While the offense was doing its thing all over the ice, the defense did all it could to stop everything coming across the Miami blue line.  There was rarely a shot that wasn’t contested, and many rushes were stopped before they could even get started. What did sneak through the staunch defense was easily put aside by Cody Reichard.

Reichard started the evening not having won a game since November 26th against Denver, and only playing a handful of times since then. His confidence may have hit an all time low with his recent results.  He had been 0-3-0 in his last 3 games, had allowed 12 goals and was pulled after allowing a goal in the first 9:39 of the first period in the Friday matchup in Marquette against these same Wildcats.

Tonight was the Cody Reichard we have grown accustomed to, as he pushed everything sent his way to the corners, and swallowed the rest. While there weren’t many big scoring chances on the night, Cody comes out of the evening without a puck hitting twine, earning his 2nd shutout of the season, and 12th of his career.  This 12th shutout ties him on the all-time career shutout list at Miami. David Burleigh previously set the mark with his 12 shutouts in 134 games. As we all know, Reichard has spent his 4 years at Miami splitting time with Connor Knapp, another phenomenal goaltender, and has equaled Burleigh in just 88 games.  (Knapp has 10 shutouts in 73 games between the pipes as well.)

Reilly Smith didn’t want his teammate to get away with the only spotlight on the night, however. As if we didn’t know this before, Reilly Smith is good at hockey. The newly named co-captain leads the team in goals and points, has 7 game-winners, plays on the power play, the penalty kill, and does just about everything on the ice you could ask from your co-captain. A night after seeing his 5 game point streak come to an end, Smith’s assist on Alex Wideman’s first goal was the 100th point of his Miami career, becoming the 47th RedHawk to reach the century mark. Smith later would add to his CCHA leading goals total, scoring his 19th of the season.

After a night where the ‘Hawks seemed to do everything right, but couldn’t get a puck past Jared Coreau, tonight was the complete opposite. As a fair assessment, all 6 goals were of the “dirty” variety, and Coreau was pulled after allowing 4 goals.  He lasted 43:43 of game time, and was pulled in favor of Reid Ellingson. On a night where Miami was clicking on all cylinders, I can’t say I blame Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle. Coreau was not the same as what the ‘Hawks saw on Friday night or in previous meetings between the two teams.

As the dust settled on the evening, Miami had another 3 points in hand in the CCHA standings. Taking a look at those standings might make you shake your head a couple times.

Other Notes:
– Not to be out done by Reichard and Smith, Alex Wideman was the Perani Cup #1 star of the game on the strength of his 2 goals, the first of which was tonight’s game winner.  The goals were his first since the season opener vs. Bemidji State. Alex also led the team with 7 total shots on the night, including 4 shots in first.

– On the night, both Widemans (Alex 2G, Chris 2A), Blake Coleman (2A), Matt Tomassoni (2A), Bryon Paulazzo (1G, 1A) and Reilly Smith (1G, 1A) all had 2 points and 12 RedHawks had at least a point.

– With tonight being parents night, almost all of the players’ parents were in attendance for the pregame festivities.  In addition, tonight was Mr. Wideman’s birthday.  The proud father will certainly appreciate 4 points from his 2 sons on the evening (sure makes for a better present than a new tie or tube socks).

– The Hawks were 5-5 on the penalty kill and 2-4 on the power play tonight.  The power play has been ranked in the bottom 15 of the country for much of the season, and seems to be coming around at the right time.

Next Up:
Miami heads to Ann Arbor to play the Michigan Wolverines (off this week).  Friday night’s game will be on Fox Sports Detroit and Saturday will be in HD on CBS Sports Network. The puck drops for each game at 7:35pm.  As always, the Redskin Warriors will have coverage next week!

SixPack:
Don’t miss out on the Sunday #SixPack. Follow our twitter feed: @redskinwarriors for some bone chilling stats from Saturday night!!

Deep (Weekend) Thoughts…belatedly

This is more of a rant than a true weekend recap at this point, but I haven’t completely been able to put my shock into words at how the weekend series split against then #19 Lake Superior State went down.

Miami entered Saturday night’s game having won three straight including Friday’s 2-1 victory. They’d clawed their way into third place in the CCHA and into the Pairwise top 10. Connor Knapp had been in net for all three of those contests and (still) has won four straight starts. Knapp had been nearly flawless allowing just two goals in the three wins and lowered his goals against average to 2.04 and improved his save percentage to .922. Both of those numbers are in line with Knapp’s career averages at Miami and if the season ended today, his save percentage would set a career’s best mark (by .001).

But, as we know, head coach Enrico Blasi decided to sit Knapp and instead start senior Cody Reichard who hadn’t seen the ice since a 3-2 overtime loss to then #4 Ohio State on Saturday, December 10. By my fuzzy math, that’s a span of 35 days between starts.

Now, I understand the need to get Cody into a game, but it seems clear the winningest head coach in Miami hockey history did not heed his own preachings.

Prior to the series, Blasi went on record with the Dayton Daily News’ Pete Conrad and told the longtime Miami beat writer that practice would determine Friday’s starter and Friday’s game would determine Saturday’s starter.

Specifically, Blasi said, “We’ve told both goalies the week of practice will determine who plays Friday and Friday’s game will determine who plays Saturday, and it’ll be that way for the rest of the year.”

By that account, there is absolutely no reason I can think of (save an undisclosed suspension, violation of team rules or injury) why Knapp did not play Saturday night. Obviously, this is Coach Blasi’s team, not mine, but “getting Cody some ice time” when you have a goaltender so locked in right in the middle of a dogfight for CCHA points and national Pairwise rankings does not make sense.

The numbers and Coach Blasi’s own testimony speak to putting Connor Knapp in the net and riding him as far as he can go.

Consider that before Friday night’s game, Knapp’s goals against average was 2.35. Reichard’s was 2.52.

Before Friday’s game, Knapp’s save percentage was .917. Reichard’s was .900.

And, obviously by now, you know what happened.

Reichard started and was rocked for four goals on just 26 shots as Miami lost 4-3. This despite outshooting the Lakers 46-26 including an 18-2 margin in a dominant third period that saw Lake’s Kevin Kapalka do his best “Dominik Hasek in his prime” impression. Cody saw his goals against average balloon to 2.63 and his save percentage fall to .897 which as most know, are pedestrian numbers by today’s goaltending standards — and Reichard’s career numbers for that matter.

So, there wasn’t a huge statistical disparity but Knapp was hot. He obviously earned the right during practice to start Friday, so I just can’t understand how making 25 saves and surrendering one goal in Friday’s victory wasn’t enough to earn him the start on Saturday night?

And, trust me, this isn’t to say I don’t want to see Cody Reichard in Miami’s goal. Everyone knows he’s EARNED the right to playing time. I just question Coach Blasi’s thought process when he could not have laid out a clearer path just a few days prior.

Hopefully, both netminders get/stay hot for the remainder of the season, but Saturday night’s loss was costly as Miami fell from third to fifth in the CCHA and from 10th in the Pairwise to a tie for 15th, barely good enough to make the tournament if the season ended today.

Thankfully, there’s still plenty of hockey (12 meaningful games) to be played.

RedHawks Claim Second Denver Cup

Tournament MVP Reilly Smith scored three goals in two games and All-Denver Cup goaltender Cody Reichard made 32 saves Saturday night as the RedHawks swept Providence and host Denver at the 20th annual Denver Cup Classic at Magness Arena.

Joining Reichard and Smith on the all-tournament team were freshman forward Austin Czarnik who registered 1-3-4 and senior defenseman Cameron Schilling, who was initially credited with Miami’s third goal on Saturday before it was awarded to Smith, but chipped in with two assists in the tournament.

With the weekend’s two wins, Miami has now stretched its seasons-best unbeaten streak to eight games and has moved two games above .500 for the first time this year. At 8-6-2, the RedHawks are beginning to find their stride as all facets of their game were on display over the weekend, including the power play, which finished 3-for-9, and the defense that seemed to play with renewed intensity finishing checks and reverting to Miami’s notoriously aggressive style that overwhelmed the Friars and certainly surprised the Pioneers early last night.

Against Providence, Miami skated and passed demonstrating superior speed and skill. While the Friars netted two goals, they were never really a serious threat to win the game as both goals were scored off Miami mistakes. The first a terrible defensive zone turnover, and in perhaps showing a little rust in his return to the net, senior goaltender Connor Knapp appeared to be too deep in his crease when the Friars scored their second goal of the night in the second period.

Other thoughts from Friday as I saw this team live for the first time this season:

– The top 6 forwards were all over the Friars with three tallies from the freshmen which is incredibly encouraging.

– Having speed is something that will really set this team apart as they grow over the next few years. And, we finally have it.

– Jimmy Mullin is very strong on the puck and knows how to find his way between the circles with it.

– Blake Coleman is feisty and will be a point-scoring machine.

– “Awesome” Alden Hirschfeld looked like the captain on Friday night. Workmanlike and efficient. He led by example.

– It was good to see Connor Knapp back in net. He looked a little rusty on the second goal, but was otherwise strong making the saves he needed to enabling Miami to coast to the 6-2 victory.

In last night’s championship game against Denver, Miami got off to a slow start as they tried to dictate terms to the Pioneers. Will Weber was caught up in a scuffle during the first stoppage as he was sent off along with Denver’s Dusty Jackson. The ensuing faceoff was in the Miami zone and won cleanly by the Pioneers leading to Chris Knowlton’s blistering slapshot off the draw that put DU on top 1-0 at the :11 mark of the game.

But, as this team begins to play with the sort of confidence we’ve come to expect over the years, it felt as if it didn’t really matter. Miami struck back shortly thereafter as junior Reilly Smith notched his third goal on the weekend at 4:41 of the first off a wrister from between the circles that appeared to be slowed by Denver freshman goaltender Juho Olkinuora but not stopped.

Miami struck again in the period when at 12:09, freshman center Austin Czarnik stole the puck at the Denver blueline and walked in on Olkinuora sending a nifty backhand through the five-hole that found the back of the net giving the RedHawks a 2-1 lead. Once again, the Pioneers’ third-string goalie who shut out the Princeton Tigers one night before, appeared to get a piece of Czarnik’s shot, but not enough. Miami would not trail again.

In the second, Miami would score their third consecutive goal as senior defenseman Cameron Schilling sent a hard wrister on goal that was ultimately deflected by Smith giving Miami a 3-1 lead. For Smith, it was his team-leading 11th goal of the season.

Later in the second, the Pioneers were the benefactors of yet another poor Miami defensive zone turnover as the RedHawks lost a battle along the boards and the puck squeaked away and onto the stick of Drew Shore who made an easy centering pass to a wide open Ty Loney who beat Reichard glove-side to bring the Pioneers within a goal.

But, while Denver dominated play during the third period, Cody Reichard turned in one of his signature big game performances as he turned aside all 10 shots including three saves on Denver’s Jason Zucker, a second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild.

Zucker attacked the goal on a mini-break when he came in with Will Weber trailing and attempted to go from his left to right. But, Reichard stood tall and made the save while Weber was whistled for a slashing penalty. Rather than accept the two minute power play, Denver head coach George Gwozdecky elected for a penalty shot thinking a one-on-one encounter with his best player would be a better way to beat Reichard. But, Reichard came up big waiting out Zucker who attempted a backhand that was stopped by Miami’s senior goaltender.

Reichard would stone Zucker again late in the third period from close range and senior Trent Vogelhuber scored an empty net goal as Miami defeated Denver for the third consecutive time by a 4-2 score.

Notes:

– Former Miami and current Denver head coach George Gwozdecky coached in his 1,000th career game.

– Enrico Blasi is now 3-1 against the Pioneers, and his former mentor, in his coaching career.

– Miami is now 3-3 all-time against Providence and 4-4 all-time against Denver.

– The RedHawks are now tied for 13th in the Pairwise and 11th in KRACH having played the 8th most difficult schedule in the country.

– Miami returns to CCHA play next weekend as they travel to face Northern Michigan in Marquette, Mich.

– This was Miami’s second win ever in Denver, the first coming in 1997 when the RedHawks captured their first Denver Cup title. Miami is now 2-3 all-time at Denver.

Hawks take down BGSU 4-0

The Alumni Weekend welcome wasn’t too kind for former Miamians and current BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron and assistant coach Barry Schutte.  Miami Freshman Blake Coleman scored twice, and Cody Reichard handily stopped everything thrown at him tonight in Oxford, as your Miami RedHawks put together a complete game in taking down the Bowling Green Falcons 4-0.  After a 5-game winless streak, the ‘Hawks are now streaking in the right direction, running it to a 5 game unbeaten streak.

Coleman started the scoring early, burying a pass from Trent Vogelhuber (who had 2 assists of his own on the night) at 15:26 of the first period. Blake seemed to have “the look” tonight, as he had several scoring chances throughout the game, and tallied a team-high 4 shots.  Blake looks to be jealous of his fellow freshmen forwards Tyler Biggs and Austin Czarnik – the last to CCHA Rookies of the week, and is taking care of business when he is on the ice.

Tonight’s game was a continuation of the Hawks weekend against Michigan last weekend. There was a plethora of blocked shots, great goaltending, and timely offense – 30 total shots and of course the 4 goals (all even strength), which tied a season high for this young Miami squad.  It seems the 3,700-mile trip to Alaska was more than just another away series for the Hawks. Since the trip, the team is playing more complete hockey, and the upperclassmen and underclassmen are really coming together as a team. It seems the trip was well worth it, if not only for the 6 points they took from the Nanooks.

In the second period, Garrett Kennedy showed that he was another of the RedHawks wanting to get in on the fun. Garrett was seen pinching down from the point several times, was taking excellent shots, and looks more and more like a top tier defenseman every time he’s on the ice.  Steven Spinell flipped a wrister into the crease area later in the second period, and it was deflected perfectly by Curtis McKenzie to put the Hawks up 3-0.  Coleman’s second on the night finished the scoring at 14:33 left in the game, as Trent Vogelhuber threw another in on net

There with Kennedy and Spinnell were the always staunch defensive pairings featuring Cameron Schilling, Will Weber and Chris Wideman, and Senior netminder Cody Reichard. Cody feasted on all 23 shots that the Falcons threw at him, rarely letting up a good scoring chance, and limiting any rushes BG had by swallowing up any rebounds he let loose.  Cody has regained the form we’ve come to expect over the last 3 years, and has been fantastic in net since Connor Knapp got sick during the Alaska trip.  This was the first shutout for Miami since Reichard blanked Michigan on February 5th, 2011 in Oxford, and leaves him 1 shutout away from the Miami career record of 12, held by David Burleigh.

Another CCHA win puts the ‘Hawks in a tie for 5th in the CCHA with a 4-4-1-1 record, and brings their record to .500 at 6-6-1 overall.  Catch the RedHawks in Ohio on the Ohio News Network (ONN) again on Saturday night as they take on the same Bowling Green State Falcons at 7:05 PM from Steve Cady Arena.

Some additional notes on the evening:

  • It will be interesting to watch how Blasi plays the rotation going forward with Reichard’s success, having now led Miami in net for each of the last 5 games.  Tomorrow presents another opportunity for Miami, and the young BGSU squad may be just the break that Reichard needs, and may also be just the right team to break in Knapps pads after his illness.
  • While the Hawks only took 4 penalties for 8 minutes, some inexperience still showed by the Freshmen. Biggs was caught in a scuffle with the Hawks up 3-0 in the third and ended up throwing one last punch to a Falcon’s face, immediately in front of Referee John Philo.  The 4 penalty kills stretch Miami’s streak of perfection to 26 penalty kills in a row.
  • Curtis McKenzie is bringing the pain.  Tonight reminded me of nights past when the likes of Kevin Roeder and big Joe Cooper roamed the new and old Goggin Ice Arenas.  Throw in his assist on Kennedy’s goal and then his own twine-tingler in the second period, and you begin to see the all around player that Coach Blasi intended on bringing to Oxford.  McKenzie now has 3 goals on the season
  • We’re probably going to need an explanation from radio announcer Greg Waddell after Coleman’s second goal. Waddell quipped “Fruity Pebbles for one and all!” just after Blake slammed it home.  Perhaps there’s an inside joke there that we aren’t privy to?
  • While Miami tallied 30 shots, they also had 23 shots blocked on the night. While this could be seen as a concerning stat, I see it as a promising one, as it means Miami is getting back to playing Rico Blasi, put-the-puck-on-the-net, down and dirty hockey.  Along with 53 shots on or around the net comes a few dirty goals, including Coleman’s second which was of that variety.
  • A note on the CCHA referees.  Perhaps I’m just taking a small sample size, but it seems to me that they are being more lenient than in years past? Perhaps they are just calling less penalties, or really need to improve their medial coverage on eye exams, but tonight’s game had only six penalties. In addition to the lack of arm-raising being done, it seems the leagues head pairing (Brian Aaron and Wilkins) has a thing for calling off big goals. In tonight’s matchup in South Bend, Boston College had a goal waved off with 2 seconds remaining in the second period.  This followed their weekend in Oxford, where the same pairing took 2 apparent goals away from Miami on Saturday night’s tie and shootout win for Miami.

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.

Miami defeats #4 Michigan 2-1

In their most complete game of the season, the Miami RedHawks (5-6, 3-4 CCHA) received goals from freshmen Jimmy Mullin and Tyler Biggs and senior goaltender Cody Reichard made 20 saves as the RedHawks knocked off #4 Michigan (7-3-1, 3-3-1-1 CCHA) 2-1 at Steve Cady Arena.

It was an all-around effort for Miami as not only did the defense deny the Wolverines time and space, but chipped in with three of the four assists on the two Miami goals. Sophomore Garrett Kennedy and junior Joe Hartman assisted on the Mullin goal while senior co-captain Will Weber and junior forward Curtis McKenzie offered helpers on Biggs’ game winner. And, when the defense did breakdown, Cody Reichard was there to make key saves with none bigger than a lunging stop on Wolverine senior David Wohlberg, who found a loose puck on his stick in front of the Miami net with just over a minute left in regulation.

If last night is to be a harbinger of what’s to come, things are looking up for this team. Miami played with the sort of intensity that toed the line between out of control and physical. Unlike many of the season’s first 11 games that have been a parade to the penalty box, Miami managed to physically dominate the Wolverines but took only three minor penalties for six minutes before a few unpleasantries were exchanged between Michigan’s Alex Guptill and Miami’s Curtis McKenzie at the game’s final buzzer. If Miami can limit their time shorthanded and play their brand of tough, physical hockey, that will help them as the young forwards continue to find their game.

Tonight, Miami goes for their fourth straight win as they conclude this early season matchup with #4 Michigan. With three league points already secured, the RedHawks have an opportunity to play their game and improve upon their 8-3 record against the Wolverines over the past several years. In order to do so, they’ll need to play a game very similar to last night — tough defense, timely scoring and good goaltending. If they can, they’ll erase their early 2-6 start and climb back to .500 overall.

Notes

– Senior Trent Vogelhuber was assessed a 10 minute misconduct for leaving the bench to get involved in the scuffle at the final buzzer. It’s unclear if Vogelhuber was assessed a DQ or if it was just a misconduct. If he received the DQ, he’ll miss tonight’s finale against the Wolverines.

– Miami’s freshman forward Austin Czarnik will return to the lineup tonight after serving his mandatory one-game suspension for receiving a DQ in last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Alaska.

– After a slow start, senior netminder Cody Reichard is on a roll. His overall record is now 4-3 and he has been in net for the past three Miami victories allowing just three goals while watching his season stats improve dramatically. Reichard now sports a 2.27 goals-against average and .908 save percentage as he begins to round into form. In fact, as of October 30, Reichard’s numbers were an un-Cody-like 3.11 and .870 after the weekend sweep at the hands of Lake Superior State.

– In addition to having a chance to even its overall record at 6-6, a win tonight would even the RedHawks record at home as well as in the CCHA as Miami has moved into 7th place in the league, just two points behind Michigan. A regulation or OT victory would catapult the RedHawks past the Wolverines in the CCHA.

Miami tops Windsor 4-1

In their only exhibition tune-up before the puck drops for real next weekend, the Miami RedHawks got two goals from “Awesome” Alden Hirschfeld and defeated the Windsor Lancers 4-1 at Steve Cady Arena.

Hirschfeld got his final season in a Miami uniform off to a fast start, and along with classmate Matt Tomassoni and junior Curtis McKenzie, provided all the offense senior goaltenders Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp would need as the RedHawks outshot Windsor 51-13.

Miami went 2 for 5 on the powerplay and surrendered one goal in six shorthanded situations as the game featured 21 penalties for 48 minutes. One night earlier, the Lancers skated to a 6-5 loss in Columbus as their game with the Buckeyes was also a chippy affair for the visitors from Canada who play their hockey in the Ontario University Athletics Conference.

The RedHawks skated without top returning goal scorer, Reilly Smith, but were able to overcome his absence in dominating lesser competition. If Smith is out for an extended period, Hirschfeld and the other upperclassmen will have to shoulder the load until his return.

Next weekend, Miami skates for real against Bemidji State of the WCHA in the first two regular season games of the year. We’ll have a season preview for the RedHawks as well as a weekend preview posted later in the week.

MURedHawks.com has a game recap HERE.