Light the Lantern! Miami sweeps Lake State
On the strength of 44 saves from freshman phenom Ryan McKay and goals from classmates Riley Barber and Matthew Caito, the #3 Miami RedHawks defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
In doing so, the RedHawks are now just one point away from clinching a share of the final CCHA regular season title and two points from an outright championship to close the league. Frankly, going into this season with so many new faces and young players, I would not have predicted a regular season title. But this team, coached so well by head man Enrico Blasi and his associates Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia have molded the 2012-13 RedHawks (21-8-5, 16-6-4-4 1st CCHA) into an intense, system-based and fast squad that is a nightmare to play against. The RedHawks lead the nation in team defense and are sixth in penalty killing despite an offense that has just one point-per-game player (Barber) and no skaters ranked higher than 14th (Barber) in the national scoring race.
Last night, the ‘Hawks were carried by their talented freshmen as they served up a hard-fought victory. Though frankly, you never really felt as if Lake would be able to get past the one-goal barrier with McKay back between the pipes and the Miami defense stinging a bit after allowing four Laker goals the night before. Read the rest of this entry
So, it would be an understatement to say that we’ve been a little distracted here over the past couple weeks. Previews? Nah. Recaps? What?
Well, here’s a little Saturday update to tide you over til tonight.
What’d we miss?
Led by impeccable goaltending by Connor Knapp, the RedHawks swept their way to a great start to the second half of the season. This week, the ‘Hawks head further north into Michigan to take on Lake Superior State in the U.P. of Michigan. The matchup will be a great litmus test to see if LSSU is fo’ real, was last weekend’s sweep of Michigan State a fluke, and will the Rico Swoon will happen or not this season.
Miami will be without Freshman Forward Tyler Biggs this week, after Tyler was suspended for 2 games. In the 3rd period on Friday night in East Lansing, Tyler hit MSU defender Matt Grassi with a direct blow to the head. There was no penalty called on the play, but Grassi was out for the rest of the night, as well as Saturday night, and looks to be out this weekend as MSU hosts Northern Michigan. Expect Biggs to be back in the lineup next weekend in Oxford.
Miami sits 5th in the CCHA with 24 points, just 1 behind LSSU for 4th place, and only 3 points behind ND and Western Michigan who sit at 27 points and in a tie for second. With the league so closely matched, a sweep by Miami would be huge, and so would a sweep by LSSU. Miami is only 4 points ahead of 9th place Michigan State, so earning points this weekend is crucial to start gaining some separation from the bottom tier of the league, as well as to earn that first round bye in the CCHA tournament.
In addition to the usual slate of CCHA games this weekend (all teams but BGSU are in action this week, and all are in-conference games), keep an eye out for Sunday’s game between Michigan and Ohio State. This is the “Frozen Diamond Faceoff” and starts at 5:05 Eastern time. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Ohio for those interested in seeing
how ugly the jerseys can get hockey in a baseball stadium.
It’s been a crazy week so this weekend’s preview is going to be pretty short.
Tonight the #16 Miami RedHawks (2-4) host 18th ranked Lake Superior State (5-1) in a CCHA series at Steve Cady Arena. The Lakers sport a fancy 5-1 overall record but they’ve fashioned against some of the “weak sisters of the poor” having compiled it against the likes of Alabama-Huntsville, Michigan State and Bowling Green – three teams that are a combined 6-12-2 with Bowling Green having four of those wins. In contrast, Miami’s three opponents sport a combined record of 12-4-1 with the RedHawks having the only victory over Colgate so far in 2011-12. The strange Thursday-Friday series is due to Miami’s Homecoming football game against Buffalo on Saturday afternoon that will literally draw 5 fans. In fact, so many fans that you couldn’t possibly host a football game followed by a hockey game on the same night. But, I digress.
As usual, the Lakers are led by head coach Jim Roque who is in his 7th season behind the bench. Roque carries an all-time record of 85-108-39 into the weekend’s series. In contrast, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi is 262-169-46 all-time and and impressive 23-8-1 against Lake Superior despite Miami’s dismal overall 37-54-11 record against the former NCAA powerhouse.
On the ice, the Lakers are led by sophomore netminder Kevin Kapalka who offers another test for the offensively-challenged RedHawks. Kapalka, who took over the starting job in the middle of last year, has been impressive sporting a 1.84 GAA and .926 save percentage. He has allowed just 11 goals in 6 games. Offensively, the Lakers aren’t lighting up the scoreboard having netted just 17 goals in six games (2.83 per game) and there aren’t a lot of marquee names to write home about.
But, until Miami shows its defensive mettle and its stable of young, talented forwards start finding the net, even offensively-challenged teams like Lake State aren’t to be taken lightly. Miami should sweep this series, but they’ve yet to put together a truly solid game, let alone weekend. It’s time to make that happen.
Do work boys.
Weekend Outlook – Double Lantern Weekend – Miami SWEEP