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Miami pros won Cups at three levels

It was a memorable spring for several former Miamians, as ex-RedHawks won hockey championships in the top three North American pro leagues this playoff season.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff will have his name etched on hockey’s most coveted trophy, the Stanley Cup, after a the backup’s Pittsburgh Penguins beat San Jose in a six-game title series that wrapped up on Sunday.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

The RedHawks were guaranteed a Stanley Cup champion, as Tommy Wingels skated for the Sharks in all six games of that final.

Forward Trent Vogelhuber also skated a trophy, winning the Calder Cup with the AHL Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ top affiliate.

Gary Steffes was an integral member of the ECHL Allen Americans, who won their second consecutive Kelly Cup.

Zatkoff picked up one of Pittsburgh’s 16 postseason wins, posting a .908 save percentage. He went 4-8 in the regular season with a 2.79 goals-against average and a save percentage of .917.

Zatkoff has 16 career wins in 1,940 regular-season minutes, and he has one shutout. He played three seasons for Miami in 2006-09.

Vogelhuber went 2-5-7 this playoff year after recording 11 goals and 16 assists in 70 games in the regular season. He has played parts of five seasons with Lake Erie, racking up 24 markers and 35 helpers for 59 points.

Steffes scored 13 goals in the playoffs for the second straight season and has 29 career playoff postseason tallies in 65 ECHL games. He went 22-23-45 in the regular season and has scored 84 times in the last three seasons with Allen.

Other season highlights…

NHL – Forward Reilly Smith made quite an impression in his first year with Florida, scoring a career-high 25 goals and notching four more in six postseason games. Smith has 150 career points and has missed just one game the past three seasons.

Defenseman Alec Martinez also set a career high, racking up 31 points including 10 goals for the Los Angeles Kings. Martinez is 39-69-108 in 337 career games.

Defenseman Dan Boyle became the first former RedHawks to reach 600 NHL points, as he went 10-24-34 this season for the New York Rangers. Boyle is Miami’s all-time leader in NHL games played (1,093), assists (442) and points (605), and he second to Brian Savage in goals with 163.

AHL – Forward Andy Miele set several personal milestones this season, eclipsing 100 goals, 200 assists and 300 points for his AHL career. Miele went 18-44-62 this season with Grand Rapids, giving him 106 goals, 205 assists and 311 career points. He has played 355 AHL games in five seasons, averaging 0.88 points per game.

Forward Pat Cannone established career highs in goals (20) and points (52) with Chicago this season. Cannone has scored 80 career goals in the AHL and surpassed the 200-point mark for his career, finishing this regular season with 203.

Forwards Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik may be on different teams now, but they both proved they can roll up the points in the pros. Barber scored 26 goals and added 29 assists for 55 points for Hershey in his first AHL action. Czarnik went 20-41-61, giving him 63 career points in 71 games for Providence including his three-game stint at the end of 2014-15.

Forward Carter Camper was a playoff stud, racking up six goals and 10 assists in 19 games as Barber’s teammate with Hershey. The Bears lost to Lake Erie in the Calder Cup final.

ECHL – In addition to his playoff scoring, Steffes reached 150 points for his ECHL career this regular season. He has 84 goals and 59 assists for 153 points in three seasons with Allen. Steffes has scored 150 goals and dished for 126 assists in six minor league seasons between the CHL, the ECHL and the AHL.

While Steffes led all former Miamians in the ECHL, forward Alex Wideman also had a strong showing, going 15-24-39 in 58 games with Evansville.

Below is a list of 2015-16 stats for Miamians playing in the pros around the world, and RedHawks’ pro stats can always be accessed at this link:

https://blogofbrotherhood.com/redhawks-in-the-pros/

2015-16 STATS – FINAL REGULAR SEASON
Regular season

NHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Reilly Smith Florida Panthers F 82 25 25 50 19 31
Alec Martinez Los Angeles Kings D 78 10 21 31 16 40
Dan Boyle NY Rangers D 74 10 14 24 0 30
Tommy Wingels San Jose Sharks F 68 7 11 18 -10 63
Chris Wideman Ottawa Senators D 64 6 7 13 4 34
Andy Greene New Jersey Devils D 82 4 9 13 7 26
Curtis McKenzie Dallas Stars F 3 0 0 0 -1 0


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Jeff Zatkoff Pittsburgh Penguins 14 728 4 7 2.79 .917 0

AHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Andy Miele Grand Rapids F 75 18 44 62 18 77
Austin Czarnik Providence F 68 20 41 61 17 24
Riley Barber Hershey F 74 26 29 55 4 34
Curtis McKenzie Texas F 61 24 31 55 11 120
Pat Cannone Chicago F 73 20 32 52 5 38
Carter Camper Hershey F 64 9 25 34 3 16
Vincent LoVerde Ontario D 56 11 21 32 19 54
Trent Vogelhuber Lake Erie F 70 11 16 27 13 65
Cameron Schilling Rockford F 73 5 17 22 10 38
Marc Hagel Iowa F 53 4 15 19 -8 43
Justin Vaive Bridgeport F 63 11 6 17 -5 79
Blake Coleman Albany F 14 4 3 7 5 19
Tyler Biggs WB/Scranton F 11 1 1 2 1 11
Gary Steffes San Jose F 2 0 1 1 -1 2
Alden Hirschfeld Grand Rapids F 5 0 1 1 1 2
Chris Joyaux St. John’s D 8 0 1 1 -3 6
Will Weber San Antonio D 2 0 0 0 0 0
Kevin Morris Binghamton F 2 0 0 0 0 0


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Connor Knapp Lehigh Valley 2 113 1 0 5.31 .821 0

ECHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Gary Steffes Allen F 69 22 23 45 -4 56
Alex Wideman Evansville F 58 15 24 39 -11 14
Alden Hirschfeld Toledo F 27 14 12 26 3 13
Will Weber Fort Wayne D 64 3 8 11 10 103
Devin Mantha Norfolk F 26 5 5 10 2 8
Matthew Caito Toledo D 8 2 3 5 6 2
Kevin Morris Manchester F 6 2 0 2 0 0
Tyler Biggs Wheeling F 2 1 0 1 -2 16
Jarod Palmer Evansville F 3 0 0 0 -1 2


Goalies

Player Team GP Min. W L GAA Sv% SHO
Connor Knapp Reading 22 1,195 10 11 2.96 .899 2
Cody Reichard Evansville 11 511 4 4 3.75 .896 0

SPHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Devin Mantha Mississippi F 26 8 14 22 4 20

Europe
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Justin Mercier Val Gardena (Italy)$ F 39 20 24 44 0 72
Matt Tomassoni Frankfurt (DEL-2)% F 52 11 31 42 13 38
Dan Stewart Fife (EIHL)+ D 59 14 20 34 0 75
Ryan Jones Cologne (DEL)# F 41 15 15 30 3 55
Mitch Ganzak Belfast (EIHL)+ F 63 9 18 27 0 146
Cody Murphy Vasteras (Sweden)@ F 52 9 13 22 11 16
Mike Glumac Zagreb (KHL)& F 58 8 3 11 -4 30

Coaches

Coach Team League GP W L T Pct.
Chris Bergeron Bowling Green WCHA 39 23 11 5 .654
Jeff Blashill Detroit NHL 82 41 41 .500
Brian Kaufman Omaha USHL 60 26 34 .433

2015-16 PLAYOFFS

NHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Reilly Smith Florida Panthers F 6 4 4 8 7 0
Tommy Wingels San Jose Sharks F 18 2 0 2 4 21
Dan Boyle NY Rangers D 4 0 1 1 0 0
Alec Martinez Los Angeles Kings D 1 0 0 0 0 0
Curtis McKenzie Dallas Stars F 1 0 0 0 0 5

AHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Carter Camper Hershey F 19 6 10 16 3 2
Andy Miele Grand Rapids F 9 2 5 7 7 12
Trent Vogelhuber Lake Erie F 15 2 5 7 6 8
Austin Czarnik Providence F 3 2 1 3 -1 2
Riley Barber Hershey F 15 1 2 3 -6 24
Vincent LoVerde Ontario D 13 1 2 3 -3 10
Curtis McKenzie Texas F 4 1 1 2 0 8
Cameron Schilling Rockford F 3 0 1 1 0 0
Tyler Biggs WB/Scranton F 1 0 0 0 -1 4

ECHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Gary Steffes Allen F 22 12 5 17 9 23
Matthew Caito Toledo D 6 1 1 2 1 6
Will Weber Fort Wayne D 16 0 3 3 2 22

SPHL
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Devin Mantha Mississippi F 4 5 1 6 2 2

Europe
Skaters

Player Team Pos. GP G A Pts. +/– PIM
Justin Mercier Val Gardena (Italy)$ F 5 3 7 10 2
Ryan Jones Cologne (DEL)# F 11 3 2 5 4
Matt Tomassoni Frankfurt (DEL-2)% F 4 0 0 0 -3 18

Coaches

Coach Team League GP W L T Pct.
Jeff Blashill Detroit NHL 5 1 4 .200

Last updated: 6-4-2016
*-no longer with team
$-Val Gardena is in the Italian League Serie A, the top league in Italy.
%-Frankfurt is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga and plays in DEL2, the second highest league in Germany.
#-Cologne is in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the top league in Germany.
@-Vasteras is in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second highest league in Sweden.
+-Fife and Belfast are in the Elite Ice Hockey League, the highest league in the United Kingdom.
&-Zagreb is in the Kontinental Hockey League, the top league in Russia, its territories and surrounding countries.

The All-Cady Arena First-Decade Team

It’s hard to believe the 2015-16 season will be Miami’s 10th at Cady Arena.

From opening night in 2006, a 5-2 win over Denver in the Ice Breaker, to the RedHawks’ series-clinching 4-0 win over Western Michigan in the best-of-3 series in the NCHC Tournament in March, much of the RedHawks’ rich history has been made in recent years at the picturesque rink on the south side of Oxford.

And many outstanding players have laced up their skates there, some of which are currently in the NHL, and many more just one step below in the AHL.

The Blog of Brotherhood takes a look at some of the top players that have taken the ice for Miami in recent years in its All-Cady Arena First-Decade Team.

These are players that were the best during their time in Oxford, not necessarily the most successful in their college hockey afterlives.

(NOTE: To qualify, players had to play the majority of their seasons at Cady Arena. I originally put two years but my senility must’ve gotten the better of me because I had forgotten Ryan Jones played two years at Cady. My apologies. Also, yes it is technically Cady Arena at the Goggin Ice Center, but the rinks will be referred to as Goggin – 1976-2006 – and Cady – 2006-present – in this piece)

GOALIE – Jeff Zatkoff.

Zatkoff save

Miami has produced several excellent goaltenders since opening the doors at Cady Arena, but Zatkoff stands alone at the top. He played one season at Goggin Arena and his final two at Cady, where he posted a 1.94 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Zatkoff’s 1.96 GAA is the second-best all-time at Miami, and he is tops in career save percentage at .927 (he went 2.02 and .928 in 2005-06, the final season at Goggin). He finished his three-year career with seven shutouts, and he left for the pros after his junior season.

Miami did not have the defensive depth it has boasted for the past several seasons when Zatkoff was between the pipes, making his numbers even more impressive. The RedHawks were not NCAA Tournament regulars when this rink opened, but by the time Zatkoff left Oxford, they were. Boston College ended all three seasons Zatkoff played for the RedHawks, but he picked up Miami’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win in 2007, holding New Hampshire to one goal in a 2-1 win. He also beat Air Force the next season to open the NCAAs and played a remarkable game in the RedHawks’ 4-3 overtime loss to BC in the regional final.

Zatkoff, a third-round draft pick of the Kings, is one of just five former Miami goalies to play in the NHL, and he is second on that list in games played with 21, logging a 2.58 GAA and .913 save percentage. He played most of 2014-15 with the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, where he went 18-18-2.45-.910.

DEFENSEMAN – Chris Wideman.

CWideman3

Wideman recorded 12 goals and 83 assists for 95 points in 2007-12, the most points of any Miami defenseman since Mitch Ganzak. Wideman came to Oxford as a true freshman at 18 and went 0-26-26 his rookie campaign, earning him First-Team, All-CCHA Rookie honors. He found his scoring touch as a sophomore, netting five goals to complement 17 assists for 22 points. Wideman went 3-20-23 his junior season and 4-20-24 his final year. He was at least plus-8 each season and finished his career plus-58.

At Miami, Wideman was an excellent quarterback on the power play, and it was nearly impossible to get the puck away from him or clear it past him on the man advantage. His defensive play improved greatly in his four years with the RedHawks, and despite being just 5-feet-10, he was more than able to hold his own in the defensive zone.

Wideman was drafted by Ottawa in the fourth round in 2009 and is still in the Senators’ system. He was called up once by Ottawa but has yet to get into an NHL game. However, he earned the AHL’s Eddie Shore Award for the league’s top defenseman this season, as he scored 19 goals and dished for 42 assists, tallying 61 points. The latter two led all league blueliners. Wideman has played three full seasons with AHL Binghamton, where he has 30 goals and 100 assists for 130 points. He just re-signed with the Senators and should get into his first NHL games in 2015-16.

DEFENSEMAN – Vincent LoVerde.

LoVerde

The perfect complement to Wideman, LoVerde was the textbook definition of a shutdown defenseman. He had just six goals and 30 assists in four seasons at Miami, but he finished plus-67 and blocked 237 shots in 2007-11.

LoVerde was a physical blueliner and a force on the penalty kill who almost never made a mistake in his own zone. While his role was mostly limited to defense with the RedHawks, he made crisp outlet passes to get the puck out of the D-Zone. And for the grinding role he played, LoVerde was highly discipline and had relatively low penalty minute totals, never reaching the 50 mark. He also overcame a heart virus that shut him down at the end of his junior season.

The six-feet, 205-pounder was not drafted, and like Wideman, came to Miami as a true freshman, playing his first game at 18½. He signed with the Kings and began his pro career in the ECHL in the fall of 2011. He played a season and a half for Ontario, scoring 12 goals and picking up 29 assists in 91 games at that level, and he has played for AHL Manchester since. LoVerde has logged 184 AHL games, scoring 13 goals and dishing for 40 helpers. He was named captain this past season, and his team won the Calder Cup, with LoVerde going 2-8-10 in 19 games during Manchester’s playoff run.

FORWARD – Reilly Smith.

Smith

Smith had a decent freshman season but was off the charts his next two campaigns before turning pro. Smith scored eight goals and set up 12 as a rookie, but he blew up with 28 goals his sophomore season and 30 more his final year, during which he earned First-Team All-West honors. Despite skipping his senior season, Smith is still 29th on Miami’s all-time points list with 122, and he is tied for ninth in goals on the RedHawks’ career leaderboard (66). Rick Kuraly’s career goal record of 101 set in 1983 seems unbreakable, but Smith might’ve topped him had he stayed for a fourth season, as he needed 35 to tie it after lighting the lamp 30 times as a junior.

Smith improved in every aspect of his game from the first day he set foot on the ice at Cady Arena. Obviously the goal totals are eye-popping, and he got better at finding the net in his three years, but he bulked up and became markedly better defensively.

Smith only needed 45 games in the AHL – where he went 14-21-35 – before sticking for good in the NHL. He came to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal in 2013, and he only missed one game in two seasons with the Bruins, scoring 33 goals and assisting on 58. He has exactly 100 NHL points (36 goals, 64 assists). Smith was on the move again this summer, and he will suit up for the Florida Panthers this fall.

FORWARD – Andy Miele.

NanooksF3

Miele is the only player in Miami history to win the Hobey Baker, awarded to college hockey’s top player. He was the only player in recent years to join the RedHawks mid-season, as he came in for the final 18 games of 2007-08 and racked up seven goals and seven assists. Miele’s points totals jumped to 31 his sophomore season, 44 his third year and an NCAA-best 71 his final campaign, during which he won the NCAA’s top individual prize. He tied for second in single-season points by a RedHawks that season and his assist total (47) is second all-time. Despite playing 3½ seasons, Miele is seventh on Miami’s all-time points leaderboard with 160, and he is one of only seven RedHawks to record 100 career assists.

For being 5-feet-8, Miele did it all while in Oxford. He was an outstanding penalty killer, a great playmaker and a deadly-accurate finisher. Miele played well above his size and was too elusive to take much physical punishment, and for being a small guy he would lay out the occasional hit. He played on lines with a number of forwards with Miami and his game seemed to mesh with all of them.

Miele played for the Phoenix Coyotes for parts of three seasons, logging a total of 15 games and recording two assists. He is now in the Detroit Red Wings’ system. In four AHL seasons, he has 245 points. Miele was third in that league in points in 2013-14 and second last season.

FORWARD – Jarod Palmer.

Palmer

Picking the third forward was incredibly difficult, but because of Palmer’s all-around game, he earns the nod. He recorded 30 points as a freshman, including 11 goals. Palmer notched 35 points his sophomore season and 27 as a junior, capping his career off with an 18-27-45 campaign. He was 13th on Miami’s all-time career points leaderboard when he left Oxford with 47 goals and 90 assists for 137 points, and he is still 15th overall. Palmer never missed a game with the RedHawks and owns a school record that will be nearly impossible to break: He played in 169 games in his Miami career. With no UAF in the conference and one less playoff round in an eight-team league, the opportunities to play in more than 42 games in a season are much more scarce.

Palmer’s statistics are impressive enough on their own, but the things that didn’t show up on the stats sheet really set him apart. His stickhandling was NHL caliber from Day One with the RedHawks, and he is one of the best penalty killing forwards in recent history. Palmer also won nearly every battle along the boards, even while vying with multiple opponents. His passing and scoring skills were also at an NHL level while he was still in college. And of course his durability – not only did he never miss a game, he seemingly never tired when he was on the ice.

Sadly, Palmer’s pro career came to an end after just six games with his hometown Minnesota Wild, as he suffered another in a string of concussions. He did manage to score one goal while in the NHL. Palmer also logged 117 AHL games with Houston, scoring 16 times and setting up 31 more. He is currently a head coach for Sugar Land of the NA3HL.

EDITS: Note in sixth paragraph. My apologies to Ryan Jones, who was definitely among the top players ever to suit up at either arena Miami hockey has called home.

Jeff Zatkoff Notches First Career Win as Penguins Blank Blue Jackets

Jeff Zatkoff makes one of his 19 saves to earn his first career NHL victory. (Zanesville Times Recorder)

It was only fitting that former Miami goaltender, Jeff Zatkoff, notch his NHL first win in a town where he and the RedHawks have been so successful over the years.

The 26 year old Miami alum from Detroit, Mich. made 19 saves to record his first career win shutting out the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 behind goals from Derek Engelland, Jussi Jokinen and former Ferris State Bulldog, Chris Kunitz. The win moves Zatkoff’s season record to 1-2 with a 3.35 GAA and .865 save percentage as he has largely seen the pine behind Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury, who is 10-2 and has played 12 of Pittsburgh’s first 15 games, collected the victory on Friday as the Penguins swept a home-and-home series from their new division-mates.

With the loss, the bumbling Blue Jackets slip to 5-8 and have started what was supposed to be a breakout season very slowly.

Congratulations, Jeff, and Love and Honor! Here’s to many more victories in the future!

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.