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Schilling and Knapp Named CCHA Players of the Week

                          

Cameron Schilling                                    Connor Knapp

Senior defenseman Cameron Schilling and senior goaltender Connor Knapp were named the CCHA’s Defenseman and Goaltender of the Week, respectively for their efforts in helping Miami earn a road sweep at Michigan State.

Schilling notched two assists and four blocked shots on the weekend while Knapp stopped 53 of 54 shots including a whitewashing of the Spartans on Saturday night.

The two seniors are part of the most successful run in Miami hockey history having been part of two Frozen Four teams and a CCHA regular season and conference tournament champion.

Congratulations Cameron and Connor!

Miami finishes sweep of #15 Michigan State 4-0

Connor Knapp made 20 saves and Miami received goals from four different players as they completed the weekend sweep at #15 Michigan State winning 4-0 on Saturday night.

Junior forward Reilly Smith opened the scoring by tallying the eventual game-winning goal on a 5×3 powerplay midway through the second period and the RedHawks exploded for three goals to break open the game in the third as they peppered Spartan netminder Will Yanakeff with 44 shots.

Reilly Smith rings a shot off the post as Will Yanakeff attempts to make a save.

With the weekend sweep, Miami moved all the way to fifth place in the tightly packed CCHA standings, and if the season ended today, Miami would earn a first round bye in the CCHA tournament. Additionally Miami has moved solidly into NCAA tournament consideration as both their KRACH, and more importantly, Pairwise numbers are favorable. Miami is now ranked 10th in KRACH having faced the fourth most difficult schedule in the country and tied for 11th in the Pairwise meaning the RedHawks would be a #3 seed if the season ended today. But, it’s still early January.

One troubling note coming out of this game was that Miami found itself shorthanded eight times and took eleven penalties in the game. Hopefully, it was simply the presence of former CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos on the Spartan bench that led to many questionable calls against the RedHawks and not the start of another trend. It is true that Miami is a physically imposing, strong team and at times it does seem as though the RedHawks receive the short end of the stick for “being too strong.” To his credit, Anastos said of the Friday game, “I thought that we got what we expected – a tough, physical game from an opponent that has some pretty good size across the board. They made things tough for us, but we generated some shots and did a good job getting in front of the net.” (source: Lansing State Journal) So, at least the Spartan head man acknowledged the size and strength of the RedHawks and certainly did not go on the record complaining about calls because he got plenty of them Saturday night. On the results of the weekend, Anastos said, “When someone comes into your rink and beats you in every phase of the game, that’s unacceptable.” (source: Lansing State Journal) It’s always great hearing an opposing coach talk about how his team was dominated — especially in their barn.

So, 2012 has gotten off to a nice start for the RedHawks. But, with plenty of hockey to still be played, Miami has to string together the kind of second half that can propel them up the national rankings and into the CCHA, and hopefully, NCAA tournaments come March.

Miami is back in action next week as they travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. to take on Lake Superior. The Lakers swept Miami in Oxford on October 27-28 so the RedHawks will be looking for payback as well as yet another chance to face someone ahead of them in the CCHA and national standings.

Notes

– Miami’s 44 shots on goal was a season’s high mark and they dominated the Spartans with a 20-5 SOG advantage in the final period.

– Tyler Biggs, Alden Hirschfeld and Blake Coleman had Miami’s three goals in the third period.

– Miami’s last sweep over MSU also came on the road November 14-15, 2008.

– Connor Knapp earned both weekend wins allowing just one goal on 54 shots (.981). The shutout was the ninth of Knapp’s outstanding Miami career.

– Miami’s penalty kill was 13-for-13 on the weekend.

– It seems as if Miami has been on the road the entire season, as they have played just one home game since November 19. But, after next weekend’s series at Lake Superior, Miami plays nine of its remaining twelve games at Steve Cady Arena.

– Here’s Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos on the differences between his Spartans and Miami. Courtesy USCHO.com

Miami starts 2012 with 2-1 victory over Michigan State

Freshman Jimmy Mullin scored his fifth goal of the season just 1:24 into overtime and senior goaltender Connor Knapp made 33 saves as Miami started 2012 with a 2-1 victory over #15 Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Mich.

Miami sophomore forward Bryon Paulazzo opened the scoring late in the first period with his third goal of the year, but MSU’s Greg Wolfe notched the tying goal just twelve seconds later as good defense and great goaltending ruled the remainder of regulation.

Entering overtime, Miami was a paltry 0-3-2 in extra session games this year and had not won an overtime game since senior co-captain Alden Hirschfeld scored the game-winner in double OT against Michigan in the 2010 NCAA Regional Final in Fort Wayne, Ind. That game was played on March 28, 2010.

Not to be denied in their sixth OT opportunity, Miami dominated the extra period outshooting the Spartans 4-0. Fresh of the plane from Alberta, Canada, Team USA World Junior Championship hero Austin Czarnik found Mullin from behind the net, and as the MSU defense collapsed on Miami junior forward Reilly Smith, Mullin found himself with an opportunity and beat senior Spartan netminder Drew Palmisano high over his left shoulder.

“Czarnik made a nice play behind the net and I came around the right-hand side and everybody went to Reilly (Smith) so when they go to one person all you have to do is shoot and it went in,” Mullin said of the game-winner. “I was really excited about that.” (source: MURedHawks.com)

Notes

– It was Mullin’s first career game-winning goal.

– Miami is now 6-3 against Michigan State over the past three seasons.

– Smith was one of the best players on the ice and was denied on several grade A chances by Palmisano. He led all Miami skaters with six shots on goal.

– Freshman forward Cody Murphy played in his first game since injuring his leg in a game on October 8, 2011.

– By earning the OT victory on the ice, rather than in a skills competition, Miami earned all three CCHA league points and now sits in seventh place, but just two points out of fourth in the tightly contested conference race for home ice and a first round bye.

– Here’s USCHO’s CCHA beat writer Paula C. Weston’s take on the game and postgame video with head coach Enrico Blasi below.

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.