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