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2016-17 season schedule primer

Miami opens its 39th varsity season on Oct. 8 at Providence, and for the first time since Enrico Blasi’s first campaign in 1999-2000, the RedHawks will play a pair of road games to open the season.

NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Miami will play Providence, Ohio State, Maine, Bowling Green, Cornell. The Friars went 1-0-1 at Cady Arena to open last season, and Miami swept the Buckeyes and Falcons in a home-and-home series. MU did not play Cornell or Maine in 2015-16.

LONG HOMESTAND: Miami plays five straight home games Oct. 15-29. The RedHawks host OSU in the first game and weekend series vs. Maine and BGSU.

EXTENDED LAYOFF: Miami has typically taken several weeks off around the holidays, but this season it on has two consecutive weekends off, followed by a road game at OSU on New Year’s Eve.

FOUR STRAIGHT ON THE ROAD TWICE: Miami plays four consecutive road series twice, including Jan. 13-21 when the RedHawks play back-to-back road weekends at North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha. The first time Miami has a weekend off between series, facing Denver on Nov. 18-19 and Cornell on Dec. 2-3.

BRUTAL FINAL EIGHT: Miami faces the top four teams in the conference from 2015-16 to wrap up its regular season schedule, capped off by a home series against defending national champion North Dakota. Following a weekend off, the RedHawks travel to St. Cloud State on Feb. 10-11, host Denver, face Minn.-Duluth on the road before taking on UND at Cady Arena.

TOURNAMENT SITES: The NCHC Frozen Faceoff will be at the Target Center in Minneapolis for the fourth straight season. Cincinnati hosts the NCAA regionals for the third time in four years, but Miami hasn’t made the tournament the first two times it was held at U.S. Bank Area. It’s the 70th Frozen Four but the first to be played in Illinois.

A link to Miami’s 2016-17 schedule can be found here.

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RedHawks 2013-14 Wish List: We Want It All

For 2013-14, I can’t help but be hopeful for big things. A new conference that will provide new rivalries, new teams coming to Oxford and new barns to visit. Today, we give you our 3 wishes for the new season that has us thinking big. Be sure to comment below with your wish list items or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter by using the links above.

Open in Style

(Flickr/Billy V)

A strong start against OSU and North Dakota will be crucial. (Flickr/Billy V)

There isn’t much more that I like seeing out of the RedHawks than crushing Ohio State. It will be very important for this young team to gel in the Exhibition game against Windsor on October 5th. Miami will – as usual – have all it can handle with OSU on October 11 in Columbus and October 12 in Oxford.

It will be nice to have the home and home series back with Ohio State even though they have joined the Big Ten Hockey Conference. But a series is just a series when you’re not in the same conference any more. With that said, don’t expect a walk in the park on opening weekend.

Following the Ohio State series is what may be the biggest series of the season in week 2, as Miami welcomes North Dakota to Oxford for just the third time ever. The first game of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference will be on national television on CBS Sports Network, and Miami will look for its first ever win against North Dakota during the series in Steve Cady Arena. Miami has lost 3-0 and 3-2 to North Dakota in Oxford and tied them 5-5 in Grand Forks just a few years ago. It will be important to gain at least a split in the series that should match up 2 top 10 teams in the first month of the season.

Avoid the Rico Swoon

Blasi

Enrico Blasi comes into the season with a record of 311-196-53, good for 71st all time in NCAA wins.

We all know it seems to happen around the middle of the year. Perhaps this is why Miami scheduled a game against the US National Team Development Program on New Year’s Eve instead of a tournament trip to play games that count. The game will be in Oxford, so there won’t be any extended travel, and the game will be a nice bridge to keep the team fresh between NCHC games against Denver on December 6 and 7 and the second half opener against Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on January 10 and 11.

For year’s we’ve been complaining about the Swoon, and with good reason. In 2011-12, the Swoon came pretty early with an overtime loss to Colgate, 2 losses at Ferris State and another 2 losses to Lake Superior State in Oxford – all of which came in October. At the end of the year, Miami would go on to win 9 out of their last 10, before losing to UMass-Lowell in the NCAA East Regional.

In 2012-13, the Swoon hit in December and continued into early January. Losses to LSSU and Ohio State, a 1 goal performance in the Three Rivers Classic (1-0 win against OSU and 1-0 loss to Robert Morris) finished 2012 and then Miami opened 2013 with a loss and shootout win in Northern Michigan, and another 1-0 loss at Wisconsin. The story repeats itself once again as the Hawks got hot down the stretch and ended up winning the final CCHA Regular Season Championship.

We could go back and back and back and just about every year find a stretch such as the above. It always turns out okay for the Hawks, as Enrico Blasi has led the Hawks to 8 straight seasons with at least 23 wins, all of which also led to NCAA Tournament appearances.

National Title or Bust

Jonathan Biles/www.bloguin.com

Can the RedHawks hoist this bad boy in April? (Jonathan Biles/www.bloguin.com)

This was a foregone conclusion with this wish list, right? While many think that a regular season championship and tournament championship are possibilities in the first year of the NCHC, those championships are small potatoes compared to what this team has the potential to do. I’m certainly not going to be upset if we win one or the other, but these RedHawks have a real shot at greatness.

With a quick glance down the roster, you’ll find just 2 seniors and 8 juniors including a candidate for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in Austin Czarnik. The 11 Sophomores are part of what may become the best recruiting class that Miami has ever had, and the Freshmen are arguably the second best class ever, at least on paper.

The defense may have a little work to do after losing seniors Joe Hartman and Steven Spinell – guys who played a combined 307 games as RedHawks. However, replacing them are 3 great recruits: 2 brothers of current/former players (Matt Joyaux, brother of sophomore Chris, and Johnny Wingels, brother of former Miamian and current San Jose Shark Tommy) and one of the more highly regarded defensive recruits in the country in Trevor Hamilton. The defense was the second best in the country last year only allowing 1.74 goals a game over 42 games, so the new guys will certainly have big skates to fill.

But… Losing those 2 star defensemen isn’t all bad when you look who is in net for Miami. Behind the blue liners are not just one, but 2 goalies in the top 10 in the NCAA. Ryan McKay was statistically the 2nd best goalie in the country with a ridiculous 1.39 goals against average and a .946 save percentage – both numbers just whispers away from the number 1 spot.

This team is going to be good. How good? Well, I can’t predict the future. But with a new conference and a bunch of unknown foes, who says the RedHawks can’t take advantage of the unfamiliarity, run off a bunch of wins, gain the confidence they need to roll off 4 all-important season-ending wins and take home the NCAA Championship? There’s only one thing that Miami hasn’t done, and that’s win the last game of the season and hoist THAT trophy. This year, more than ever, the RedHawks have all the pieces to take the Frozen Four by storm and win it all. We start the wild ride on October 11th. See you there!

Welcome to The Skate – Frozen Four Predictions

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The road to the Frozen Four – “The Skate” rather than The Dance – starts in about 45 minutes. 4 Regions, 4 teams each. 5 Conference Champions, 11 at-large berths. 1 Championship.

Miami begins in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, OH tomorrow, as we’ve already previewed. And previewed again… But what about those other teams in the Midwest? And who else is in this thing anyways? Let’s break it down and give you our 2013 Frozen Four predictions in the process.

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Miami vs. Minnesota State – Another take

F4Logo
The road to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh
begins this weekend for 16 NCAA teams.

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.

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Going the Distance – Game 3 tonight

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After Friday night, there was some panic around Oxford in regards to the Miami Hockey program after being shut out by the 11th seeded Spartans in game 1. “Was the whole season a waste?” “Was the regular season a fluke?” “Why did a team with such firepower get shutout 7 times this year?”

Well, I think Enrico Blasi and the RedHawks turned all of those doubts into more hope for this young team with a 4-1 victory that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated last night. Let’s take a look at the two nights’ work.

On Friday, Michigan State came out firing with their first goal at 8:04 of the night. Miami couldn’t counter punch at all. A usually stout Austin Czarnik was just 5 for 21 in the faceoff circle, and Miami’s scoring chances were minimal. Ryan McKay stopped 21 of 24 shots on the night, but on the other end, Freshman Jake Hildebrand blocked all 34 shots Miami fired at him and MSU skated away with the shutout win.

Turn the page to Saturday night, and we saw the team that has been in the top 10 for the entire season, currently stands as the #3 team in the land and the team that is second in the country in scoring defense at 1.63 Goals per game.

To start the game, Miami wasn’t messing around. Senior Captain Steven Spinell, having not played entirely up to his potential over the last several weeks, decided to set the tone. The very first time MSU tried to cross the red line at center ice, Spinell laid out MSU’s Kevin Walrod. In the post-game press conference, Spinell said he “saw the opportunity and took it to send a message and set the tone for our team. We’re here to battle, and that was our focus.” (courtesy: Rick Cassano, Hamilton Journal-News) Spinell took a 2 minute penalty for and Indirect contact to the head – elbowing infraction, but the tone was set.

Last night, Miami held Michigan State to just 4 shots in the first period, 5 in the second and 8 in the third. Unfortunately, scoring chances isn’t an official stat, but I’d venture a guess that Miami had around 17 scoring chances compared to those 17 actual shots by Michigan State. In the second period alone, Miami outshot MSU 20-5 and really made the game look like it was theirs without question.

Once again, Blasi pulled the right strings and added some extra strokes to his masterpiece of a season. Blasi took Blake Coleman out of the game as a healthy scratch and inserted Bryon Paulazzo seemingly on a whim. To make the lines fit, he also dropped Cody Murphy down to the fourth line. Murphy was centered by Max Cook and also had Jimmy Mullin on his line for the night. Murphy had a goal and an assist, and Mullin scored the first Miami goal of the series that really turned the momentum in favor of the Hawks.

Miami was clearly the better team, and after Mullin opened the scoring, the rout was on. Austin Czarnik scored the game winning goal – his NCAA leading 4th shorthanded goal – off of a fantastic effort from Riley Barber, and Miami never looked back. In all, 4 RedHawks had multi-point nights: Czarnik would add a second goal in the 3rd period, Matthew Caito (team high 6 shots) and Barber had 2 helpers each, and Murphy had his spectacular goal and added an assist to go along with his 4 shots on the night.

Tonight, we find out if the momentum gained in the first period of Saturday’s game will carry into Sunday’s deciding game 3. If Miami can win, they will head to The Joe and will face the hottest team in the NCAA in Michigan (7-0-1 in their last 8). If MSU wins, Miami still likely has a #1 seed wrapped up, but will not have the opportunity to win the final CCHA Tournament Championship in Detroit next weekend.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s game. Tickets are $3 for students and $18-23 otherwise. Puck drop is at 7:05 once again, and the game can be seen in HD on Miami All-Access.

On the brink: Miami takes on OSU for the CCHA Championship

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Miami faces OSU with the final CCHA
Championship just 2 points away.

Miami’s long road to the last-ever CCHA Championship didn’t come without struggles, growing pains and scoring droughts. However, this group of 26 student-athletes is on the brink of the 4th ever CCHA Regular Season Championship in Miami Ice Hockey History. We haven’t been huge on weekend previews this season, so why start now? Take a look at Rick Cassano’s preview, as well as the Official Miami Hockey preview for those. Here’s a recap of an action packed last week of February as we look forward to a possible celebration in Oxford. Read the rest of this entry

Analysis: Miami stands a strong #3 in PairWise

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.

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Recap: Hawks cool off Alaska, head to Western Michigan

lanternLight the Lantern!
RedHawks sweep again!

Before we recap the week, we remember Brendan Burke. Burkie died 3 years ago today (February 5, 2010). Each and every RedHawk, including those freshmen who didn’t know him miss him like a brother. His legacy will live on in Oxford and throughout hockey and sports through the You Can Play project. We encourage you to support You Can Play at http://www.youcanplayproject.org, and always remember Brendan as an important part of The Brotherhood.

BurkePatch

For the second week in a row, Miami has swept their opponent out of Oxford, this time sending the Alaska Nanooks back to Fairbanks significantly cooler than they were coming in. The 2 wins snapped a 6 game win streak for the Nanooks, who fell back out of the polls, but still remain as a TUC in the PairWise – a good thing for Enrico Blasi’s talented young squad. Here’s what you missed so far this week.

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RedHawks Entertain White Hot Nanooks

>Where Will They Finish? 1-6

“Red hot” just wouldn’t be fitting for the fighting polar bears from Alaska at the moment. The Nanooks come to town on a 6-game win streak with each of the 6 wins coming at a critical time in the race to the CCHA playoffs. Behind the EZAC’s ECAC’s Quinnipiac (15-0-2) and Hockey East’s UMass-Lowell (10-0-1), they are one of the hottest teams in the country. Looking at those team’s opponents, it’s safe to say that Alaska is truly that hottest team.

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Rico gets 300th (and 301st), RedHawks Sweep

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Coming off of a weekend sweep in Oxford, the RedHawks look ahead to another (!?!?!) home series against Alaska to start off what looks to be a rugged February schedule. Miami hadn’t been at home for a game in 48 days before Friday night, and after the upcoming weekend will have played 4 home games in 9 days. Follow that up with the Western Michigan Broncos in Kalamazoo and Notre Dame on Friday 2/15 and Sunday in Chicago on 2/17, and Miami’s strength of schedule and RPI should be rising quickly. Here’s what you missed over the last week.

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