This Saturday, Miami’s NCAA tournament run takes a trip through Toledo, Ohio, as the RedHawks take on the Minnesota State Mavericks. There are some interesting storylines that my co-blogger redhawk95 laid out for you: Miami can’t win the big games and a “one and done” is forthcoming. Well fear not, RedHawks. I think Rico Blasi and the youngest Miami team in decades have more going for them this weekend than previously expressed.
The march to Pittsburgh is nearly upon us.
When we were looking at the PairWise back in December, it didn’t really make sense. Now, however, it’s very meaningful. Let’s take a look at what’s happening keeping travel in mind. First, there are 2 regionals that Miami would love to be at: Toledo and Grand Rapids. Light travel, meaning no big trips out east to play eastern teams that are hosting, even when Miami is a #1 seed (UNH, 2011). And secondly, Miami could end up staying within 302 miles of Oxford (Grand Rapids: 298 mile drive, Pittsburgh, 302 mile drive) from the CCHA tournament through the Frozen Four if things happen to fall correctly. It’s certainly not a lock, and there’s a long way to go, but let’s take a deeper look at the current PairWise.
It has been a relatively big day for the RedHawks on the eve of their away series at Ferris State. First, the big news: Cincinnati has been selected to be home to the Midwest Regional of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and your Miami RedHawks will be the hosts. In addition to this spectacular news, two RedHawks were named as players of the month for October by the CCHA.
Miami will be the host of 3 games in the NCAA tournament in 2014 – the last time since 1996 that the Cincinnati Gardens have hosted a portion of the NCAA Hockey Tournament. According to MURedHawks.com, the arena “has also seen multiple NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament regionals and the 1997 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four take place under its roof.” Miami will, however, have to overcome the perception of what many believe was the worst Frozen Four ever to be held.
Some may recall that the 1996 Frozen Four that Miami hosted and eventually saw Michigan carry away the National Championship trophy. An average of over 11,000 fans attend the three games. Over that weekend, the arena crew may have lost a few employees as well – when putting in the goals after a break in the action (in the first of 3 games), a cooling line was hit and the ice was not staying frozen for the remainder of the games. The second semifinal was delayed a couple hours and the teams played in what could have been described as a swamp.
At the time, the Riverfront Coliseum as it was called, was not a hockey facility. Only occasionally did they host hockey games in the 15,300 seat arena. Nowadays, the arena is the home of the Cincinnati Cyclones (current team of 2009 Miami graduate Kevin Roeder), and has hosted the ECHL Playoff Championship known as the Kelley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2010.
The other host cities are as follows:
- West: St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center (host of the 2011 Frozen Four)
- East: Bridgeport, CT – Webster Bank Arena
- Northeast: Worcester, MA – DCU Center
- The 2014 Frozen Four is going to be held at the Wells Fargo Center – home of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
As far as Miami is concerned, this is a
big GIGANTIC win for a team that has accumulated too many frequent flyer miles in recent years. After trips to places like Bridgeport (lost to UMass-Lowell in 2012), Manchester, NH (loss to UNH as the #4 overall seed in 2011) and St. Paul (wins against Denver and Minnesota-Duluth in 2009), Miami will certainly enjoy the short trek to Cincinnati if they were to make the tournament. The shortest of the ‘Hawks 4 most recent NCAA tournament trips was to Ft. Wayne, IN, where Notre Dame hosted, and Miami earned it’s second ever and second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four which was held in Detroit. Miami currently has the 3rd longest streak in terms of NCAA Tournaments made at 7 (Michigan: 22, North Dakota: 10), and will be guaranteed a spot in the Cincinnati Regional if they were to make the 2014 tournament.
We will of course look forward to the 2013-14 season and tournament, but there’s a lot of work to do in 2012-13 first. We’ll preview this weekend’s big series at Ferris State in the coming hours.