It’s going to be a long couple weeks waiting for Miami’s second round CCHA playoff series against the Michigan State Spartans. Here are a few links and tidbits to help you cope through the bye week.
For what seems like the 40th time this year, the Miami RedHawks had multiple members of the club named CCHA players of the week. And, for Reilly Smith and Connor Knapp, their names have been etched on the awards almost weekly during the second half of the season.
Smith had a weekend line of 3-3-6 including a four-point night on Saturday in Miami’s sweep of duhOSU in earning the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honor. Smith now has 26 goals on the season which is best in the conference and second in the nation. He was +6 on the weekend and named the #1 star both nights. He has now won this award four times this season, most of any player.
Knapp stopped 50 of 51 shots on the weekend in notching both victories and landing the CCHA Goaltender of the Week award. He allowed just the one goal on the weekend, which was a 5×3 powerplay, and earned his fourth shutout of the season on Friday. The reigning INCH National Player of the Week is making a strong stretch run to be included in all major player of the year discussions. His 1.53 GAA is first in the country and his .939 save percentage is second while both lead the CCHA. (source: MURedHawks.com)
Jimmy Mullin earned the first weekly award of his career by being named the CCHA Rookie of the Week after a 1-4-5 line and +5 weekend. Mullin had two assists on Friday and followed that up with a 1-2-3 line on Saturday when he opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the season.
For the season, he has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points, which ties for third on the team and ranks fifth among freshmen in the CCHA. (source: MURedHawks.com)
As a team, the RedHawks have claimed 17 CCHA weekly awards, four more than any other team. In addition to Smith and Knapp’s four awards each, Miami has won six Rookie of the Week honors, as Mullin is the fourth different RedHawk to win the award, and three CCHA Gladiator Defenseman of the Week accolades. (source: MURedHawks.com)
Moving on Up
The weekend sweep has given Miami a six-game winning streak to close the season. The last loss for the RedHawks came on February 4 when Michigan finished a weekend sweep in Ann Arbor. Miami finds themselves tied for eighth in the most recent PairWise, sixth in KRACH (6th most difficult schedule), eighth in the INCH Power Rankings, 11th in the USCHO poll, and finally getting some respect from USA TODAY as they are eighth in the USA TODAY/USA Hockey poll.
The RedHawks earned a well-deserved first round bye and the right to host a second round series against former CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos’ Michigan State Spartans March 9-11 at Steve Cady Arena.
Anastos Bullish on Miami
Speaking of Tom Anastos…the MSU head coach and former CCHA commissioner made several flattering comments when asked about the RedHawks in his Monday press conference. Take a listen. He’s definitely turning on the coach-speak, but his praise for Miami is well earned. He makes some interesting points about the size differential between the two squads. And, as you recall, he was most concerned about Miami’s physicality the last time the two teams met, a Miami sweep in East Lansing on January 6-7. Here’s what we had to say after that series the opened the RedHawks’ second half surge.
To his credit, Anastos said of the Friday game, “I thought that we got what we expected – a tough, physical game from an opponent that has some pretty good size across the board. They made things tough for us, but we generated some shots and did a good job getting in front of the net.” (source: Lansing State Journal) So, at least the Spartan head man acknowledged the size and strength of the RedHawks and certainly did not go on the record complaining about calls because he got plenty of them Saturday night. On the results of the weekend, Anastos said, “When someone comes into your rink and beats you in every phase of the game, that’s unacceptable.” (source:Lansing State Journal) It’s always great hearing an opposing coach talk about how his team was dominated — especially in their barn.
The opponent you just swept over the weekend is still ranked (Michigan State is 18th) and you aren’t.
The new USCHO poll does not include Miami, yet a team Miami allowed just one goal to over the weekend, Michigan State, is still 18th. And, since it looks like the USCHO pollsters weren’t paying attention, they should know the RedHawks are tied for 12th in the current Pairwise (MSU is tied for 18th) and ranked 12th in KRACH (MSU is 13th). At least the guys at Inside College Hockey got it somewhat right having Miami reenter their power rankings at 20th while MSU is out.
But, at the end of the day, it’s not the pollsters that decide anything. It’s the Pairwise that will determine Miami’s national title hopes.