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#10/#11 Miami v. Bowling Green

Former Miami captain and assistant coach, Chris Bergeron, brings an improving Bowling Green program into the 2014-15 regular season against his alma mater. (photo: Todd Pavlack/Bowling Green Athletics)

With the start of the 2014-15 season just a few days away, hope springs eternal in Bowling Green, Ohio where Miami man, Chris Bergeron, has the Falcon faithful dreaming of an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 1990. Bergeron, 43, spent four years as a player at Miami in the early ’90s as a teammate of current Miami head coach, Enrico Blasi. Then after several seasons of professional hockey, he gave the program another 10 seasons as an assistant coach before leaving Oxford for the barren wasteland that is Bowling Green before the start of the 2010-11 season.

At Bowling Green, Bergeron has revitalized a once-proud program by guiding them to their first plus .500 season in a decade, and in the now lesser WCHA, has a reasonable chance to take the Falcons into the NCAA tournament. The Falcons finished 2013-14 with a respectable 18-15-6 record and played in the WCHA’s “Final Five” after sweeping a home playoff series against Michigan Tech before falling to eventual Broadmoor Trophy champion, Minnesota State 4-0.

The Series

Over the past decade, this series has belonged to Miami. The RedHawks have dominated the Falcons as the football team has done to them year after year on the gridiron. Yet, because of the former dominance of the BG program in the ’80s and early ’90s, the all-time series still favors Bowling Green 58-46-8 as the Falcons would routinely crush the then Redskins when Miami’s program was just getting started. At the same time, BG was winning national titles coached by legends such as Ron Mason and Jerry York, and was, well, relevant. And, because they showed us no quarter “back in the day,” I have no feelings of remorse reminding everyone that Miami has owned their longtime MAC rivals for the better part of the last decade. While the teams haven’t played since the 2012-13 season, the final season of the now defunct CCHA, Miami is 12-1-1 against the orange and brown in the past 14 and you have to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the Falcons last non shootout victory over the Red and White.

But, this is a new Bowling Green.

The Coach

They’re headed by a Miami man in Chris Bergeron who was a successful college star and helped lead Miami to back-to-back Frozen Four appearances as an assistant. He knows how to coach and he’s successfully turning the BG program. Around? Stay tuned, but they are certainly in a much better place today than how he and former Miami icer Barry Schutte, found them.

The BGSU Ice Rink, est. 1967, has been in need of improvement for years.

The BGSU Ice Rink, est. 1967, has been in need of improvement for years.

Along with more success on the ice, Bergeron has overseen substantial renovations at BGSU Ice Rink including new locker rooms. And, while (thankfully) the old curling parlor is still in use by the BGSU curling team, it has been largely changed over into another skating sheet to help save wear and tear on the main rink.

The Team

As for the team on the ice, Bergeron has nine of his top thirteen scorers returning from last year’s fourth place WCHA squad. Most importantly, both Falcon netminders are back including Tommy Burke who finished 2013-14 with an impressive 14-7-6 record with a 2.43 GAA and .912 save percentage. Burke figures to get the bulk of the work this year with back up Tomas Sholl (4-8, 2.68 GAA and .896 save percentage) relieving him from time to time.

Bowling Green returns their top goal scorer (14) from a year ago in junior Mark Cooper and top points man (32) in senior Dan DeSalvo whom Miami fans should remember from the CCHA. In addition, the Falcons return two other 10 goal scorers and their top returning threat from the blue line is Pierre Luc-Mercier, who just deserved to have his name typed because it’s so cool. Departed are clutch scorer Ryan Carpenter along with top defensive scorer Ralfs Freibergs and Marcus Perrier, but the Falcons appear to have some depth that should worry Miami this weekend.

On the recruiting trail, the Falcons are not loaded with top tier recruits, but have a large freshman class consisting of 10 players who are hoping to make an impact on the college stage. But then again, Miami won with lower-tiered recruits during Bergeron’s time in Oxford as the program has become a destination for the nation’s top junior players. I’m certain Bergeron is getting the type of player that he feels best fits his system as he builds their compete level and a culture of consistency in northwest Ohio.

The RedHawks

When taking about this year’s squad, these previews nearly write themselves.

As you’re well aware, the RedHawks will run out top end forwards Sean Kuraly, Blake Coleman, Riley Barber, Anthony Louis and Austin Czarnik and expect to get bounce-back seasons from junior goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams. Everyone in RedHawk nation must hope the defense corps will improve with the additions of super Freshman Louie Belpedio and Boston College transfer, junior Colin Sullivan. Returning RedHawks like Matt Caito, Trevor Hamilton and the Joyaux brothers must be improved or Miami will find the going tough once NCHC play begins on Halloween in Duluth.

Looking back at the weekend, some of Miami’s old defensive problems resurfaced in a 3-0 loss to the US Under-18 team and 11-0 thrashing of Simon Fraser (whom the Falcons also defeated 7-2).

The captains.

The captains.

In the exhibition opener, Jay Williams allowed all three goals playing the entire game, but Miami was unable to solve the younglings defense. On that team is incoming Miamian Jack Roslovic who contributed a shot on goal for the Red, White and Blue. Hopefully the US game was just a matter of Miami finding its legs, but the RedHawks have struggled against top-talented teams over the past year and some defensive letdowns were apparent.

 

The Prediction

Overall, Miami is much more talented than the Falcons. However, you know Bowling Green will be fired up to face another out-of-league school who also happens to be a longtime rival in their building on Friday night. I expect a close game with Miami winning 4-3 Friday and then taking it to the Falcons 5-1 on Sunday in Oxford.

Note: This is a Friday/Sunday series with Friday’s game starting at 7:07 PM EST at Bowling Green. Sunday’s affair starts at 5:05 PM at Steve Cady Arena. All games can be seen and/or heard via Miami All Access and you can watch Friday at WCHA.tv (which is a heckuva lot more expensive than the NCHC’s package which also provides superior hockey) and watch Sunday on Time Warner Cable or NCHC.tv.

Introducing the Blog of Brotherhood!!!

Miami University Red Hawks Neon Sign

It’s time for a new identity!
(photo courtesy neonsigninc.com)

Since Alex started “RedHawkey” on June 11, 2008, we’ve had 3 names around these parts. It started with “RedHawkey” and after the addition of Mike to the staff, the guys changed it up to Redskin Warriors – a name that we owe a lot of our success and followers to. There was some discomfort at the name of the blog from the get go, along with some praise, but after a few years as “the warriors” we decided it was time for a new direction.

Read the rest of this entry

16th-ranked Wildcats visit Oxford for 2 game set

Northern Michigan logo

Miami welcomes the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend

Coming off of a 4 game roadtrip against two other ranked Michigan teams, the RedHawks return to Oxford for a two-game set with the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend. Miami got out of Michigan with hard earned splits the last 2 weekends, and come in to the weekend second in the logjammed CCHA standings. 5 teams are 2-2-0 in the CCHA standings, and Northern Michigan is in a tie for 9th (1-2-1, 5 points and 1 shootout loss) in the early going of the CCHA schedule.

Northern Michigan will be led by Senior forward Matt Thurber, who leads the league in scoring with a goal and 10 assists.  Miami’s sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber are both at 10 points on the season, just 1 point behind the CCHA leader. This week’s CCHA Now production features the National Rookie of the Month (in case you’ve been living under a rock, that’s Barber), who is also the nation’s leader in points by a rookie.

Walt Kyle leads the Wildcats from behind the bench, and is in his 11th year in Marquette, where he stands 198-170-46. NMU comes to Oxford having blown a 4-1 3rd period lead on Friday night against Michigan (where they lost the shootout), but did pick up a 4-3 win on Saturday night – both games being played in Marquette. The Wildcats have had a truly impressive start to the season, having won twice against Wisconsin (in a non-conference neutral-site series in Green Bay), and splitting a series at Nebraska-Omaha. They were, however, swept at home by Notre Dame before last week’s tilts with the Wolverines.

Miami is just 20-34-3 all-time against Northern Michigan, including going 1-3-0 last year. Kyle has a chance to reach 200 wins at the helm of NMU this weekend, but the RedHawks will certainly have something to say about that. Coach Blasi may return to the goalie rotation this weekend after starting Jay Williams for both games in Big Rapids. Ryan McKay has yet to see action since being injured with a leg or groin injury in the Friday night game at Michigan, and Williams has played all 235 minutes since McKay went down. McKay was still dressed on the bench last weekend as the backup, however, but did not see any game action.

Look for another weekend of play similar to what Ferris State showed us last weekend. NMU likes to pack in a bunch of players in the defensive zone to block as many shots as possible. Their defensive style constantly frustrates the ‘Hawks, as evidenced by Miami’s 1-3 record against them last year. Miami’s talented group of freshmen will have to be smart and stay out of the penalty box – something they have done quite a bit this season. 17 of Miami’s 51 penalties (33%) have come from the freshmen group that has seen ice time. Miami has also been called for 2 misconducts and one more 5 minute major on the season. While Blasi’s Miami teams have always been physical and have always taken a lot of penalties, some that we have seen this season have been a tad on the cheap side, and have often come at just the wrong time.

This weekend, keep an eye on our twitter feed, as we’ll have a Miami-themed trivia contest during Saturday night’s game. The first response to our question, only asked on our twitter feed, will receive a Miami game puck, signed by Coach Blasi.

I’ll take another split this weekend and we’ll stay in touch with the other teams in the league, and will hope that we’re pleasantly surprised if we sweep the Wildcats out of Oxford. Both games will be available for viewing on the Miami All-Access feed (good luck logging in), and on AM 1490 in the Oxford/Hamilton/Cincinnati area.

Other weekend notes:

Alex Wideman returned to practice this week. After a couple weeks off due to being sick with mono, we could see Alex return to the ice this weekend.

On this date 34 years ago:
November 10, 1978: Miami hockey notches its first-ever victory against an NCAA opponent. Miami beat the University of Illinois-Chicago 7-4 at the old Goggin Ice Arena.

In Miami’s “In the Crease” feature, the 11 freshmen will be featured. Meet Matthew Caito this week on the Miami Athletics home page.

Great series ends with Miami OT Victory

Miami takes a 4-3 overtime victory behind 3 points each from Czarnik and Barber.

Entering the night, Miami was already the only unbeaten CCHA team, as all 10 others have at least one loss. After the night’s play was over, the Providence Friars proved they are going to be a team to watch in Hockey East, but Miami came out with a hard-fought 4-3 overtime victory and remain the CCHA’s only unbeaten team.

Freshman Riley Barber had a goal and 2 assists and Austin Czarnik did him one better with 2 goals and an assist, including the game winner, to lead the RedHawks. Czarnik had 5 shots and was a +2 on the night. Throw in 4 blocked shots and he earned the #1 star of the night, without question.

Barber has now scored goals in 3 straight games, not to mention 3 assists in the exhibition against Western Ontario. He had one assist on Austin Czarnik’s 2nd period goal – Czarnik’s first of the year – as well as another helper on the overtime winner. He is very quickly becoming a formidable scoring touch on the top line and will be certain to get more and more looks all season. We’ll be looking for Barber in a certain CCHA weekly release around Monday morning.

The Friars proved to the Hockey East front runners that they are not to be taken lightly with a shootout loss and overtime loss in hostile Coach Cady Arena. They went down 1-0 after Barber’s goal in the first, and were also down 2-1 and 3-2 in the game. It has to be tough to think you came back 3 times in the game, held a lead on Friday night, and didn’t leave Oxford with even a split, rather just a loss and a tie. Providence Head Coach Nate Leaman agreed: “What hurt us was a slow start,” said Leaman. “We played from behind all night. I’m proud of the guys coming back in the third period to tie the game, but it’s tough to play on the road from behind.” (source: USCHO) Miami now holds a 4-3-1 lead in the all-time series against Providence after this weekend’s highly entertaining series.

Providence didn’t have a shot on goal until 12:08 in the first, and they made it count. John Gilmore put the first PC shot in the back of the net on a 3 on 2 rush in the first period, and had 3 shots and 2 blocks on the night. Frehman Jon Gillies looked good in net again tonight, blocking 26 of 30 shots, and was again bailed out by his teammates as he was last night. The Friars recorded 13 blocked shots on the night and many of his saves were of the routine variety.

Heading down the closing stretch of the game, Miami looked like they were playing in their shell and doing a great job of applying a little pressure at the right times to try and get an insurance goal. Until, that is, Blake Coleman was called for a 5 minute major penalty. Coleman was called for charging with just 5:52 left in regulation – a call that just about everyone in the building thought was a very clean, shoulder to chest check. It must be his size advantage that the hit was considered dangerous, and Coleman may have left his feet for maximum effect. In any event, the Hawks killed the 5 minutes, but only 4 seconds after the penalty expired, Noel Acciari scored his first collegiate goal for Providence and the game was tied once again. The goal – of the 6 on 5 variety – would send the game to overtime where Miami would tally the game winner on Gillies.

On the other end of the ice all night was Miami’s Jay Williams. The firecracker looked good all night and probably could have stopped 2 of the 3 goals if it weren’t for well-timed screens. From my point of view on my computer, he had a great game and looked stellar in recording his second win in as many games.

Defenseman Matthew Caito gets on the score sheet for his first point as a RedHawk. Caito made a LASER of a pass about 100 feet up the ice to a streaking Blake Coleman for a goal at 18:59 of the first. Caito is proving to be a more than worthy pair for Captain Steven Spinell, and has been showing some great vision on the blue line.

In addition to Barber and Caito’s strong play, another freshman Michael Mooney appeared in his first NCAA game tonight. He was paired with yet another freshman Chris Joyaux on the blue line. Joyaux and Mooney were the third defensive pairing on the night, but each played solid minutes and should grow into a solid pairing, if they continue to play together for up to 4 years. Mooney took Ben Paulides spot on the ice tonight. We’ll look for some information on Ben, but after taking 2 penalties last night, we wonder how that played into tonight’s benching.

In this weekend’s matchup, the “Hawks certainly got more than they bargained for, and it turned into a good test as they head to Michigan next weekend. We’ll certainly have more on next week’s matchup later in the week, and keep an eye out for the Sunday #SixPack on our twitter page.

Thanks for reading, RedHawks fans, and BEAT MICHIGAN.

Miami Box Score and Game Notes.

#4 RedHawks set to host Providence College

The RedHawks entertain another school with a sweet logo
t
his weekend, as Providence comes to Oxford.

FINALLY! Again!

The RedHawks are back in action tonight and tomorrow, as the Providence Friars come into Coach Cady Arena. After several months off that we thought we couldn’t endure, we finally have hockey back. I don’t know about y’all, but to me it seemed like it was another couple of months since Miami’s sweep of undermanned Colgate just last weekend. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t been inside The Goggin since the end of last season, but it feels like FOREVER since I’ve made the trek from Columbus to Oxford to see the RedHawks in action.

This week, the Friars come in after a split last weekend against two very different foes. In their season opener at home, Mark Jankowski and sophomore Stefan Demopoulos each scored two goals to lead this young squad to an 8-2 victory over Sacred Heart. Saturday, however, was a very different story, and Boston University took the Friars behind their barn and came out with a 4-2 whipping. Ross Mauermann is Providence’s leading returning point scorer (10G, 15A as a freshman last season), and the RedHawks will also be shadowing Junior Derek Army and Senior Captain Tim Schaller this weekend, as both were among the Friars top 5 scorers last season.

The Friars will be led by the freshman Jankowski, who was chosen by Calgary with the 21st pick in the NHL draft last April. Jon Gilles was picked 75th in the same draft, and will be in net for at least one of the 2 games this weekend. Last week, he was named Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week after posting a .936 save percentage while he stopped 14 shots against Sacred Heart (in 2 periods) and 30 of 34 shots against BU.  Several RedHawks will be seeing Gilles again, as they were teammates with the Indiana Ice over the last few years. John Doherty, Max Cook and Blake Coleman were all teammates of Gilles.

On the RedHawks side of things, Alex Wideman will not be appearing this weekend due to illness. As we reported on our twitter feed, Alex has been battling mono and will be out at least a couple weeks. Other than that, the RedHawks remain healthy.

And Young.

Don’t forget that 11 of the 26 RedHawks are Freshmen, and 3rd string goalie Anthony Jacaruso is also a rookie, although he has sophomore eligibility. Not to worry, however. 12 of the 21 points scored last weekend were from the super sophomore class (including 4 points from Blake Coleman), and 4 of the 13 total new faces appeared on the score sheet including Senior transfer Marc Hagel. Only 2 freshmen didn’t see action last weekend, and with Wideman out, we could see John Doherty see his first action this weekend. With all of the goal scoring leaving Oxford last season, Coach Blasi will need players like Coleman, Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin to continue their progress and provide a much needed scoring touch. Save for maybe Bryon Paulazzo, the 8 upper classmen on the roster aren’t exactly known for their scoring touch, and Blasi will need more production from the new kids on the block.

In net, expect to see the “new” rotation of Ryan McKay (1-0-0, 1 shutout, 24 saves) and Jay Williams (1-0-0, .952 save percentage, 1.00 GAA) split the weekend once again until a clear front-runner emerges, if ever. Both goalies looked more than capable in last weekend’s sweep, and it will certainly be a fun few years in Oxford if they continue to play like they did last night. McKay recorded his first career shutout in his first start in Oxford, and also earned Miami’s first ever season-opening shutout as well. Right from the start, these two have put Connor Knapp, Cody Reichard and David Burleigh on notice that their old records are already in jeopardy with these 2 highly touted recruits tending the twine.

This week will pale in comparison to what we can expect next weekend, as Miami travels to #5 Michigan to take on Red Berenson’s hacks crew of misfits Wolverines. Miami must continue its strong special teams play – 13 for 13 on the penalty kill is 2nd in the nation, and 3 for 10 on the power play is also a very strong start.  They must still apply pressure on a physical Providence team and this weekend will be a success. Look for 2 tough grind-it-out type of victories: I’m predicting a solid “Paula Weston” finish for the weekend: 3-1 and 3-1 Miami.

Friday’s contest is a white out. For those of you joining me in Oxford, be sure to wear white to the game. Go RedHawks!

AD Search Committee selected

The Miami Athletic Department has selected 17 individuals to find a new Athletic Director, the University announced today. You can click here to read the full release.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what we see with this committee as it relates to the RedHawks Ice Hockey Program:

  • First of all, Enrico Blasi is a member of the search committee. Phew. Doesn’t look like he’ll be pulling a Jerry York and taking on the AD role as well as the head coaching position. Not that we thought he would, but this will ensure he’s involved with the decision, and we will likely get someone that is, at least partly, committed to the hockey program.
  • Excluded from the committee is Steve Cady. Currently, Coach Cady is labeled as Senior Associate Athletic Director, which in our books, means he was the Number 2 guy behind Bates. I’m reading through the lines here, but this likely means Coach Cady has applied for the position and/or is a (leading?) candidate.
  • Also excluded from the committee is Head Football Coach Don Treadwell and Head Men’s Basketball Coach John Cooper. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this will be a bad thing for these 2 sports when it comes to the new AD, but it is interesting that neither of them are on the committee. With these as the 2 main revenue sports at Miami, a renewed focus on them will be sorely needed to bring the programs back to the top of the MAC, and back into the NCAA spotlight. Senior Defensive Lineman Austin Brown is a studen-athlete representative of the football program, as is Rick Amos, a football Alumnus from the class of 1987. Senior Defensive Lineman and Captain Austin Brown is one of 2 student-athlete representatives on the committee, as is Rick Amos, a class of 1987 Football Alumnus.
  • Frankly, I’m shocked we don’t see Head Women’s Basketball Coach Maria Fantanarosa on the committee. Maria has been in Oxford as the head coach of the Lady RedHawks since the 1998-99 season (starting her 15th season), and graduated from Miami with a degree in speech communication in 1990. She has been a RedHawk for life and it surprises me that she is not a part of this group appointed by University President David Hodge.

We’ll see what the committee comes up with in the coming weeks and months as the RedHawks hockey program roars into their CCHA schedule.

Is it Friday yet?

Miami’s “You Can Play” Submission

Featuring  players and video from this season, Miami has created and released its “You Can Play” submission which is simply amazing.

As you recall, You Can Play was founded after the tragic death of Miami student manager, Brendan Burke, who’s father, Brian, is the current GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brendan’s brother, Patrick, a Philadelphia Flyers’ scout, has taken up the torch to push YCP’s agenda forward. The vision of creating a locker room devoid of prejudice and hatred of LGBT athletes is something everyone should get behind, and the work the group has done to further that cause in the aftermath of Brian’s death, is amazing.

So, here’s Miami’s entry. I think it’s perhaps the best one done to date. What do you think?

 

Find out more about You Can Play and ways in which you can help.