Blog Archives

Miami’s Next In Line For the NHL

Twenty-seven former Miami players have logged at least one game in the NHL, and several more could be in line to join that list in 2016-17.

BoB takes a look at the RedHawks’ pipeline to the world’s top hockey league, and the players that could be the Next In Line.

Center Pat Cannone (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Center Pat Cannone (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

C Pat Cannone, Minnesota Wild – Cannone was an iron man while at Miami (2007-11), as he recorded 133 points (45-88-133) and 83 PIM in 166 games while not missing a game his entire collegiate career. The captain of the AHL Chicago Wolves tallied a career high in points (55) and goals (20) last season. The 30 year old should anticipate a call-up to the Wild this season considering Minnesota will likely be in need a fourth line center. Cannone signed with Minnesota in the off-season and would play for AHL Iowa if he doesn’t make the big club.

Defenseman Vincent LoVerde (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Defenseman Vincent LoVerde (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

D Vincent LoVerde, Los Angeles Kings – LoVerde lit the lamp 11 times last season as captain of the AHL Ontario Reign, while also dishing out 21 assists for a career best 32 points in just 56 games. LoVerde won the Calder Cup two years ago, while adding AHL All-Star to his list of achievements in last year’s campaign. The Kings have an experienced winner in the minors in LoVerde if they want to add him to their top six. Worst case: he’ll Reign in Ontario again as captain.

Right wing Riley Barber (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Right wing Riley Barber (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

RW Riley Barber, Washington Capitals – The Hersey Bears rode the success of Barber’s first year with the team, finishing runner-up to champion Lake Erie in the Calder Cup. The 22-year-old was fourth in the AHL in goals (26) and was in the top 20 in points. The Pittsburgh native can rack up points by beating goaltenders in creative ways, whether it be full strength, on the power-play, or even shorthanded.

Center Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

Center Austin Czarnik (photo by Cathy Lachmann).

C Austin Czarnik, Boston Bruins – In Czarnik’s four seasons at Miami, he totaled 169 points, fifth most in school history, but he didn’t stop there. In his rookie season in the pros, Czarnik ranked seventh in the AHL in total points (61) with the Providence Bruins, one point behind former Miami star Andy Miele in seven fewer games. The American centerman was plus-17 in his 2015-16 season, but might have to wait to crack the top 12 forwards considering Boston signed free agents C’s David Backes and Riley Nash.

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#1 Miami v. #4 Providence :: 2015 NCAA Tournament First Round

Founded in 1636, historic Providence, R.I. will host the 2015 NCAA Tournament’s East Region.

This evening at 6:30 PM EDT the Miami RedHawks, champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, are set to mark their return to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.

The top seed in the East Region, the RedHawks (4th overall seed) will face fourth seeded Providence College (15th) of Hockey East in their hometown.

The Friars last played two weekends ago when they were ousted by New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East conference tournament. The two squads went the distance in the best-of-three weekend series in Providence playing three low-scoring 2-1 games.

We could end this post right here, because a low-scoring game is precisely what Miami should expect this weekend.

Junior Jon Gillies could sign with Calgary upon the completion of the Friars season. Tomorrow, perhaps?

The Friars rank in the top 5 nationally in many defensive categories including goals allowed (3rd) and save percentage (4th) led by junior goaltender Jon Gillies, who’s .931 save percentage and 1.95 GAA each rank 6th best nationally. That said, Miami will run out junior Jay Williams, who’s numbers aren’t too shabby either. Williams actually has a better GAA (1.89, 5th nationally)) than Gillies and his .922 save percentage (29th nationally) ranks just a few spots lower.

Meanwhile, Miami is much more offensively inclined boasting three players with 18 or more goals (Blake Coleman and Riley Barber (20 each) and Sean Kuraly 18) but they will be without Coleman, and likely, Barber for the game against the Friars. In fact, the Friars leading goal scorers, Nick Saracino and Trevor Mingoia have just 13 goals each, but Providence does run out five players with 11 or more goals. Maybe not as dynamic as Miami’s top end forwards, but they certainly have depth. That could be a problem for a Miami team suddenly without a lot of it.

This is not the first time Miami has seen Gillies. The two schools have met four times over the last three seasons playing, amazingly, four consecutive overtime games. Last year, Miami traveled to Providence and put up a four-spot against Gillies on Saturday night scoring six goals on the weekend. Miami should have some confidence against one of the nation’s best.

The Prediction

With both Coleman and Barber likely missing this game, obviously the Crash Cousins, and their size, can play a larger than usual role. Like most Hockey East squads, Providence is relatively small. Miami should use their blend of size and speed to jump on the Friars right away. I’d love to see Rico have the guys throw the body around, but they’ll have to mindful of east coast refs. The NCHC is a big, physical league and the RedHawks are one of the most physical teams in the country. If the refs don’t let the boys play, Miami could find themselves killing far too many penalties despite the Friars woeful powerplay which is converting at a paltry 14.7% clip this year.

Ultimately, this game is Jay Williams’ to win. He has to step up and hold Miami in the game. The RedHawks should expect to have to win a 2-1 style game because, 1) we’re missing 40 goals from the lineup, and 2) it’s how the Friars play.

Despite missing huge parts of the lineup, this is not your father’s Miami. This is not the team from the CCHA that was hardly challenged over the past decade and then, at times, unprepared for the rigors of the NCAA tournament. But, these RedHawks are the champions of the NCHC, a conference that sent six of its eight teams to the Dance. A conference that is currently 3-0 in the 2015 tournament. After last year’s adjustment to life in the National and life on the road, Miami has figured out how to win in the most dominant college hockey conference in the land. That has to account for a lot.

The RedHawks, though missing some big-time talent, have guys that can step up. Miami’s depth will certainly be challenged.

As much as I want to pick Miami, overcoming the losses of Coleman and Barber, along with the need to win a tight 2-1 game just doesn’t seem to fit Miami’s run, gun and bang style.

But, there is just something different about this team. They’re more battle tested. They’re deep. I think Miami finds a way to get it done but the goal scoring will surprise you. Look for a Kevin Morris or Crash Cousin dirty goal to be the difference. Miami wins.

Parting Thoughts

– Williams and the RedHawks’ defense will have to be big tonight because Miami cannot afford to fall behind the Friars and expect to be able to come-from-behind facing such an intensely defensive team.

– Unless Miami wins, we MAY have seen the last of Coleman and Barber in the red and white which would be an unbelievable shame considering how their Miami careers could end. Barber is just a junior, but could decide to sign with Washington. However, if his knee injury is severe, the Capitals could be inclined to see how he does in a comeback situation with Miami meaning, perhaps, Barber could also come back to finish his degree. Something I’d assume his family would be quite happy with given his father, Don Barber, collected his degree from Bowling Green before embarking on a successful pro career. When Miami’s season is finished, I’d expect the New Jersey Devils to sign Coleman (a senior) as quickly as possible.

– Gillies, Kuraly and Barber know each other well having played together on the US U20 team that won gold in 2013 and then again Barber and Gillies returned for the 2014 team when Barber was captain. Gillies was the main netminder that year for Team USA.

The home of the AHL’s Providence Bruins will host the 2015 NCAA Tournament East Region.

– Despite playing at “home,” the Friars have not played a game at the Dunkin Donuts Center since 2004. And, with Providence having a fairly small fan base, the advantage Providence will have shouldn’t really affect the RedHawks. Certainly, this team is road tested playing in hostile environments like the Ralph (UND), Amsoil (UMD) and Lawson (WMU) to say nothing of having made long road trips all year, twice in fact, to Colorado to play at altitude. In other words, Miami has seen and heard it all.

NCHC CHAMPS!

The Miami RedHawks are the 2014-15 NCHC Champions!

On the strength of three Blake Coleman goals, solid goaltending from Jay Williams and spectacular penalty killing, the Miami RedHawks won the second Frozen Faceoff in Minneapolis. The RedHawks defeated a stingy St. Cloud State team 3-2 and have earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Concerning however, is that Blake Coleman was issued a game misconduct, his third of the season, meaning he will be suspended and miss Miami’s first round tournament game next weekend. And, Riley Barber was injured late in tonight’s game and was seen being helped on the ice by teammates to join the celebration following Miami’s victory. Barber had an ice pack on his left knee as he hopped across the Target Center ice.

Coleman was named tournament MVP and Austin Czarnik and Louis Belpedio joined him on the all-tournament team.

More to come later, but tune in tomorrow at noon EDT for the NCAA selection show on ESPNU. USCHO.com will have a bracket projection up soon I’m sure so check out Jason Moy’s excellent analysis there as well.

Love and Honor!

#4 Miami 8, #12 Nebraska-Omaha 2

Thoughts after last night’s 8-2 whipping of #12 Omaha.

Overall, it was a thorough beat down as Miami rattled off seven consecutive goals after actually surrendering the first goal of the game just 4:14 in. Six different RedHawks combined for the 8 goals with senior Cody Murphy notching a natural hat trick (3 consecutive goals) while Kevin Morris, Matthew Caito and Michael Mooney found the net for the first time this season. For Mooney, it was his first career goal, shorthanded, while the Omaha net was mysteriously vacated by Omaha head coach Dean Blais, despite trailing 7-2. Bit of a bush league move if you ask us. Senior captain Austin Czarnik recorded four assists, including his 100th and gave up an opportunity to record his first goal of the season when he passed the puck to Mooney on a 2-on-1 break. On the year, Czarnik has a 0-16-16 line in what can only be described as a bizarre start to his senior season.

Miami captain, Austin Czarnik, is now 13th on the RedHawks all-time scoring list. (photo: Miami University)

Thinking more about Czarnik’s scoring line, I wonder if it’s something having to do with last season when this team seemed to be all about individuals rather than the greater good. I wonder if it’s a sign of maturity as a leader on this club that Czarnik isn’t trying to do to much. That he’s more comfortable with the ‘C’ on his sweater? While I still have some leadership concerns with the ‘C’ I think the formal addition of Sean Kuraly and Blake Coleman as assistant captains was an appropriate move.

Coleman was a bit out of his mind last night, but you have to like the combination of skill and snarl he brings. He’s tough to play against and will make his presence known to the opposition when he doesn’t like something.

Other thoughts and notes:

Depth: This team has it. It didn’t last year. I believe Tim Bray said 14 Miami skaters have tallied goals this year and that, amazingly, does NOT include senior captain Austin Czarnik who entered 2014-15 with 37 career goals.

Goaltending: Jay Williams was good, not great last night. I’m sure he’d like to have the first goal back scored off an ugly rebound of a harmless point wrist shot that hit him square in the chest. But, with this offense (and really any offense), two goals or less should get a W and Williams now has 11 of them this year. Those 11 wins are just one short of his career high set his freshman year, the last year of existence for the CCHA. Despite his success, I could see Miami head coach Enrico Blasi give Ryan McKay a start tonight since he hasn’t played in a few weeks. However, this is another important league game. I’d rather see Williams again tonight and then give McKay a start in the Florida College Hockey Classic on either December 28 or 29. There’s certainly no fatigue issue with Williams, or shouldn’t be, because Miami is coming off a bye week, and will have two off-weeks for exams and Christmas before heading south.

Attendance: 2,006? For a matchup of top-15 top-12 squads? I really don’t know what’s going on in the SW Ohio area. The Reds don’t draw. The Bengals don’t draw. And now, Miami hockey doesn’t draw.

Admittedly, I live in Denver and my partner-in-crime Miamibeef04 lives in Columbus. However, Beef was there last night making the two hour drive south. Just because it’s no longer Michigan and Ohio State is no reason that building isn’t full. Here’s a rundown of Miami’s home attendance this year. Because capacity has never really been settled — is it 3,200? 3,642? 4,000? — I’m going with 3,200 to qualify as a sellout.

vs. Bowling Green – 1,860

vs. Ohio State – 3,554 (sellout)

vs. St. Lawrence – 2,589 and 2,663

vs. Colorado College – 3,153 (sellout) and 2,878

vs. Western Michigan – 2,633 and 2,470

Frankly, this is pathetic. You have a top-5 team again. It was one bad season last year. That there aren’t at least 3,000 butts in seats (seriously, it’s not a big building to fill) each night is embarrassing. I don’t want to hear about the new seat licenses, though surely that hasn’t helped. Tickets are available. If you don’t want your season tickets anymore, fine. Walk up and buy a ticket. Good seats still available.

I can guarantee you I will be at Magness Arena here in Denver and World Arena in Colorado Springs when Miami visits the Centennial State twice in February.

Get to the games, people!

Highlights: Here is a link to the highlights from last night courtesy of NCHC.tv

http://www.nchc.tv/omaha/video/omaha-miami-vs-omaha-highlights—12-5-14

And, check out John Lachmann’s analysis at http://www.wcpo.com/sports/redhawkey

Tonight: Miami and Omaha will complete their NCHC weekend series, and the season’s series, tonight at 7:05 PM at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford.

Coleman’s return lifts Miami past St. Cloud

Well, hello there!

You probably didn’t miss us even though we haven’t posted since Miami got pretty boring to watch about six weeks ago. We haven’t found this season easy to watch, either.

Anywho, Blake Coleman is back! And the junior from Texas netted his 11th and 12th goals of the season to lift Miami to an emotional win over fourth-ranked St. Cloud State at Steve Cady Arena last night.

Blake Coleman celebrates a Miami goal. (Miami University Athletics)

Coleman, who had not seen action since injuring himself (we believe he broke his collarbone) in a game on December 6 against Denver, was easily the best player on the ice. He added an immediate boost of energy and seemed to infect the RedHawks with his sense of purpose and leadership — something that’s been sorely lacking since he left the lineup. He was hitting, backchecking, hustling, creating turnovers … and scoring. Frankly, it was one of his best games since his freshman year. If he can raise his level of play, and lift the team around him, this could be a good sign as the season nears completion.

Austin Czarnik also seemed affected by Coleman’s presence in the lineup. On the first line with regular mate Riley Barber, Coleman was inserted alongside the two of them creating matchup nightmares for SCSU as that line accounted for three of Miami’s four goals and was a handful all night for the Huskies. For Czarnik he scored his 11th goal of the season and assisted twice giving the junior captain a season’s line of 11-30-41. Barber also assisted on Coleman’s first goal of the night, his 20th, in an otherwise quiet night for the sophomore sniper from Pittsburgh.

Sophomore goaltender Jay Williams earned just his fifth win of the season evening his record at 5-5. He wasn’t great, but he did enough to enable Miami to record its second win over SCSU this year. Consider. Miami has only 11 wins this season but they have beaten an impressive list of teams with far better records than the RedHawks. Miami has beaten North Dakota, St. Cloud (twice), Wisconsin, Denver and Ohio State (twice) who is somehow 15-10-3. Oh, wait. I know. It’s because duhOSU has the 46th ranked strength of schedule in college hockey. For the record, Miami has played the 15th most difficult schedule in the nation and sits at 11-15-3.

Austin Czarnik scored a goal and added two assists in Miami’s 4-3 win over SCSU. (Miami University Athletics)

Can one player make a difference?

Well, it certainly looked that way last night. Miami put forth a level of effort, a much higher “compete level” to paraphrase CBS Sports analyst Dave Starman, that I haven’t seen in months. Will this be the start of a late season run that could carry this team into the NCHC playoffs and save the entire campaign? Or will this just be a blip on the radar? While I’m not completely sold on this as a bellwether moment, I’m at least curious for one more night to see how this team responds.

First period thoughts…

After one period of play from Omaha, Neb., #8 Miami leads Nebraska Omaha 1-0. Bryon Paulazzo had the Miami goal on the powerplay assisted by Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber.

Some thoughts from the pressbox…

  • Blake Coleman is strong. He threw his weight around the ice and can seemingly protect the puck with just one hand on his stick.
  • Austin Czarnik is the real deal. There is a zip on his passes. He doesn’t just make a pass, he means it. It’s impressive to see how accurate, and powerful, his passes are. Additionally, he has a very active stick always getting it in the passing lanes and is really impressive with the puck.
  • Good defensive period for Miami. UNO’s top line of Zombo, Archibald and Walters were relatively invisible.
  • Taylor Richart is a silent assassin. He is everywhere and he is no where. Always in position, always on the puck. His 150 foot slapper that drew a faceoff on the PK was impressive.
  • Riley Barber looks more aggressive tonight. There does appear to be more space tonight than previous games and he is making the most of it getting shots to the net. His shot and subsequent rebound found Paulazzo’s stick for Miami’s goal.
  • Max Cook and Ben Paulides look a little shaky. I think they could both use a boost of confidence.
  • UNO’s transition game might be the only way they score tonight (aside from a powerplay). Their speed is challenging Miami’s D to be alert and the Hawks’ forwards to backcheck — which Czarnik, in particular, has done well.

More to come!

RedHawks to head to ‘Somewhere in Middle America’

With apologies to Adam Duritz and “Counting Crows,” Miami hits the road for Omaha to take on old CCHA foe Nebraska Omaha in a weekend NCHC series.

The Mavericks, you may recall, were conference mates with Miami from 1999 until leaving the CCHA in favor of the WCHA in 2010. That, of course, was an ill-fated and perhaps short-sighted move, as college hockey underwent enormous realignment after the announcement that the Big Ten would field its own hockey conference in spring 2011. And, after all was said and done, UNO and Miami, along with charter schools Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota would announce the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in summer 2011.

After two more seasons in the CCHA and WCHA respectively, Miami and UNO once again find themselves facing off as conference rivals. This weekend marks the first time the programs have met since February 20, 2010 in Oxford when UNO knocked off then #1 Miami 4-2 in head coach Dean Blais’ first trip to Steve Cady Arena.

The ‘Dean’ of the NCHC

Speaking of Dean Blais, his resume speaks for itself. But, Miami head coach Enrico Blasi summed it up nicely during his weekly press conference.

“The one thing I know about Dean Blais’ teams is they’re going to play hard and they’re going to be in your face and you’re going to have to be ready to compete for 60 minutes.”

UNO’s Dean Blais is in his fifth season behind the Mavericks’ bench. (BleacherReport.com)

One of the most decorated American amateur coaches in recent history, Blais spent 10 seasons behind the bench at North Dakota, where he compiled a record of 262-115-34 and won two national titles (1997, 2000) before leaving to take an associate head coaching job with the Columbus Blue Jackets. After spending four years in Cowtown, also serving as director of player development, Blais went back to his amateur roots where he was hired by the Fargo Force of the USHL to be their head coach, and was eventually lured back to school in 2009 by new Omaha AD Trev Alberts. In going to Omaha, he took over the reins of the program from long time head man Mike Kemp, who is largely regarded as the Father of UNO hockey. Blais has also long been involved with USA Hockey winning a gold medal in 2010 with the U-20 World Junior team. The two-time Spencer Penrose winner (1997, 2001) has an all-time record of 342-189-49 over nearly 15 seasons in college hockey.

Whom to Watch

On the ice, the Mavericks (6-6, 3-1 T2nd NCHC) are led by 2013 Hobey Baker finalist, senior Ryan Walters, who finished last season with 52 points (which tied for 2nd in program history for a single season) after scoring 22 goals. Listed at 6-0/190, Walters has started strong and is tied for the team lead in points (13) on three goals and has helped the Mavs rebound from a 2-4 start to win four of their past six including last weekend’s split with then #2 Michigan in Omaha. Along with Walters, Miami much watch

Senior Ryan Walters leads a dangerous UNO offense. (Colorado Springs Gazette)

junior forward Josh Archibald who leads the team in goals (9) and is tied with Walters atop the team’s scoring list. Archibald’s name should be familiar to some as he skated on Team USA’s 2012 U-20 team which failed to medal a year after earning bronze in Buffalo. Others to make note of include junior forward Dominic Zombo (5-5-10) and senior Brock Monpetit (6-3-9) who rank third and fourth in team scoring for UNO.

Overall, the Mavericks are second in the NCHC in scoring averaging 3.08 goals per game. Miami at 3.42 goals per game leads the way in the league with 41 goals though St. Cloud is averaging just a shade more at 3.50 goals per game in two fewer contests played.

Who’s in Net?

Defensively, the Mavericks are allowing 3.25 goals per game as they have struggled to find consistency in net. Lately however, UNO has gotten better goaltending from junior Ryan Massa and freshman Kirk Thompson having allowed more than three goals just once over their past six games. Massa and Thompson are very similar goaltenders. Both are around six feet tall and possess nearly identical numbers. For instance, both goaltenders are 3-2 with goals against averages north of 3 and save percentages below .900. In contrast, Miami allows just 2.08 goals per game and sophomore Ryan McKay leads the nation with three shutouts and has posted sterling 1.74/.943 numbers. However, because McKay has played the last four games for Miami, I would not be at all surprised to see McKay in net Friday night and fellow sophomore Jay Williams (2-2/2.75/.905) between the pipes on Saturday.

The RedHawks

For Miami (7-4-1, 2-2 T5th NCHC), the eighth ranked RedHawks enter the weekend having faced two top 15 teams in a row after splitting series with NCHC foe St. Cloud State and Big Ten opponent Wisconsin just last weekend in Oxford. That stretch has catapulted Miami’s strength of schedule to the top of the heap. This week’s KRACH ratings show Miami’s SOS sitting at #1 having played the most challenging schedule in the land.

Overall, the offense is simply not delivering against top teams as they have managed just 13 goals in their last six games against ranked opponents including just seven goals total over the past two weekends.

Junior Blake Coleman has picked up his game this year. (MURedHawks.com)

As teams focus on shutting down the top line of Riley Barber, Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin, Miami must have secondary scoring from throughout the lineup. To this point, most of that scoring has come from junior Blake Coleman as he has netted seven goals which ties him with Czarnik for second on the team. Last season, Coleman scored nine goals so he’s well on his way to surpassing that total as his game continues to improve. But, outside of Coleman’s efforts, only two other RedHawks have scored at many as four goals (Alex Wideman and Anthony Louis).

And, as head coach Enrico Blasi said earlier this week, Miami needs to have all four lines contributing in order to play their game and be successful. Said Blasi,

“We need everybody in our lineup doing the same thing. Everybody’s got to be on the same page. This is not a team that’s going to rely solely on one or two players.”

Prediction

All-time, Miami is 17-7-3 against Omaha including a 7-4-1 mark in the self-proclaimed, “Gateway to the West.”

Tired of splitting, I think Miami gets a much-needed league sweep this weekend in Omaha. And, we’ll be live tweeting from the press box of the Century Link Center @miamihockeyblog and will have updates and recaps immediately following Friday night’s game. Miami All-Access has the call both nights along with local radio coverage at 1450-AM (Friday only) and 1490-AM (both nights).

#7 Miami Drops #3 St. Cloud 2-0

In one of their most complete games of the season, the #7 Miami RedHawks went into the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn. and handed #3 St. Cloud State their first loss of the season shutting out the Huskies 2-0.

The win was significant as it was St. Cloud that knocked Miami out of last year’s NCAA tournament winning a 4-1 Midwest Regional final in Toledo in front of a crowd that would make duhOSU’s crowds at Cheap Furniture Arena look huge.

Miami got on the board first about halfway through the first period as freshman defender Matt Joyaux recorded his first collegiate goal on a nifty pass from junior Alex Wideman. After Miami won a puck battle at the SCSU blueline, sophomore forward Sean Kuraly muscled the puck into the offensive zone where Wideman collected the puck along the boards and centered a pass to a trailing Joyaux who one-timed a low shot on the ice past Husky goaltender Ryan Faragher for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Sophomore Ryan McKay makes one of his 31 saves in a 2-0 Miami victory. (Miami University Athletics)

In the third, Miami collected an insurance marker as sophomore Riley Barber connected on his ninth goal of the season by firing a wrist shot off a draw in the SCSU end. Junior captain Austin Czarnik won the draw cleanly and directly to Barber, and he made no mistake ripping a shot past Faragher on the far side.

Sophomore netminder Ryan McKay made 31 saves to record his second consecutive shutout and sixth of his career and the Miami penalty kill went 5-for-5 and forced many of the SCSU chances to the outside though the Huskies certainly had their share of good scoring chances, but were simply unable to find the back of the net. Miami will still need to focus on limiting chances down low tonight and for the rest of the season as the young defense corps continues to grow.

“It was a great team effort, our most complete game all season,” said McKay. “We blocked a ton of shots (17). We weren’t blocking a lot of shots at the beginning of the season.”

“The size of the ice helps us,” McKay said of the Olympic-sized sheet at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. “We’re similar teams in a lot of ways. I thought our ‘D’ kept their position on the dots and kept stuff to the outside,” he said. “And when we needed to, we collapsed and won battles in the tough areas.”

Miami and St. Cloud will finish the two-game NCHC series tonight from the National Hockey Center. Faceoff is at 8:07 PM EST and the game can be heard via Miami All-Access. The Huskies also offer a pay video feed from their website, scsuhuskies.com.

Weekend Preview: What’s a Golden Griffin?

“This weekend will be no different – they are a very good hockey team,” Head Coach Enrico Blasi said. “They beat Denver in Denver. We need to continue to prepare at a high level during the week and start implementing some of those things we are doing during the week during pressure situations (in games). Playing top teams will expose you. Some times you do positive things and you learn from your positive play. I think both things are happening right now. We need to clean up the negatives and hopefully have more positives than negatives.”

Miami had quite the schedule to start the season: weekend series against in-state rival Ohio State, #5 North Dakota and this week’s #3 team Providence. Miami gets a break and faces off against the Canisius Golden Griffins this weekend. It will be more than just a physical test on the ice, but a mental one as well. Miami won’t be able to help thinking “we should crush these guys” and the fans will have that same thought as well. I know I do.

Scouting the Golden Griffins

4-0-0 all time against Canisius? 23-3 all time score over them? 11-5-0 all time against Atlantic Hockey teams overall? Don’t let it go to your heads, boys. All of these facts don’t mean this will be an easy weekend.

Through 3 games, Senior Defenseman Ben Danford leads the Golden Griffins with 5 assists and 5 points. Keegan Asmundson stopped Denver, and led the Golden Griffins to a 4-1 win last weekend. He was named Atlantic Hockey’s goaltender of the week for his effort. But what are we going to see from Canisius on the ice? It’s going to be interesting which team shows up – the team that beat 17th ranked Denver 4-1 in Magness Arena? Or will it be the team that has lost to Air Force AND Niagara on opening weekend?

We’ve Got a lot of Broken Records

On the Miami side of things, you know what I’m going to say next…

Riley Barber is first in the nation in scoring with 12 points, and his 8 goals are second in the nation. Austin Czarnik has 11 points, had 5 assists last weekend and was named NCHC Offensive Player of the Week. Sound like a broken record? Well, it is, but I’m happy to be talking about leading scorers at this point of the season. Hopefully these two guys will be in those same positions at the end of the season and we’ll be talking about Hobey Baker Finalists again.

Ryan McKay stops a shot by Minnesota State's Matt Leitner in NCAA Regional action. (Toledo Blade: Andy Morrison)

Like a broken record: we should see Jay Williams Friday night and Ryan McKay (pictured) on Saturday. (Toledo Blade: Andy Morrison)

Another spot on that same record that’s skipping and repeating over and over again? We detailed it as the season started, and so far, it has been a straight-up rotation in net for the RedHawks. Blasi hasn’t wavered in his Friday/Williams and Saturday/McKay rotation and don’t expect it to change this weekend. (Well…actually…depending on how close the games are, you might see walk-on Anthony Jacaruso get his first NCAA playing time this weekend if things get out of hand. With the early season momentum needing to get moving in the right direction however, don’t count on it.)

Prediction Time

This weekend should be a nice clean sweep to get Miami back on solid footing before heading to St. Cloud State next weekend for their first ever NCHC road trip. Ryan McKay and Jay Williams should both get on track to get their seasons rolling as well. Austin Czarnik will pass the puck a million different ways (behind the back, through the legs, off the scoreboard) to Riley Barber, who will impress us with his amazing shooting ability. Whoops. There’s that broken record skipping again…

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, as we will be giving you what we can during this weekend’s games at @MiamiHockeyBlog. Enjoy the hockey, everyone!

Providence Too Much to Handle

We’ll be the first to say it: Miami didn’t look so hot against an up-and-coming Providence Friars team this past weekend. There were several defensive lapses, a couple of soft goals and a continued string of untimely penalties both nights. Those mistakes were just too much to overcome against the now third-ranked Friars. Sure, the offense was able to make things look good with 2 comebacks to force overtime in both games, but plainly said, the defense needs to be better.

Here are Friday’s highlights from Providence:

Keep an eye on the overtime game winner for Providence. Granted this goal came on a 5 on 3 power play for the Friars, but on a shot from within 2 inches of the goal line, the puck has to stay out of the net. This came just 1 second before 1 of the Miami players was due to come out of the box, and Miami’s efforts to come down from an early 2-0 lead were squandered.

And here are Saturday’s highlights. We blame the Friars for the lack of sound (It’s all your fault! It’s all…ok…we’ll stop.):

Saturday night took on an eerily similar feel to it only half way through the first. Providence was up 2-0 again with just 9:25 gone in the period, but Riley Barber would score his second of the weekend to pull within 1 on a short handed goal. Barber’s goal was scored just 15 seconds after Providence went up 2-0, but they’d return the favor immediately thereafter, and it was another 2-goal hole to climb out of.

On each of the first 2 goals, keep an eye out for missed Miami checks. Each aggressive play is what Enrico Blasi will always preach, and it’s the right play – you can’t be waiting for the play to get to you. But in these 2 cases, you have to be certain to take the opposing skater out of the play. When the dust settled on the first period, it was those 2 missed checks and a juicy rebound that led to a 3-2 Providence lead. 4 of the 5 goals were scored in an 86 second blitz midway through the period. We could barely catch our breath:

After the weekend, Head Coach Enrico Blasi has this to say:

Obviously not the weekend we wanted. I thought our guys played hard, but we seemed to be making some plays that resulted in goals against. Of course things need to be cleaned up. I thought the good sign is that we were a resilient group. Both Friday and Saturday night we had to come back, but on Saturday we carried the play for the most part, we came back and really took it to them after that.

I’m disappointed in the outcomes, but we are going to continue to focus on the process.

Here come our three stars and weekend news to use for this week.

Three Stars of the Weekend

I get the feeling you’re going to continue seeing our #1 and 2 stars even more this season.

3. Miami’s Penalty Kill on Friday night. I can’t go as far to say both nights here, mainly because they were just 1 of 3 on Saturday night, but Friday night was nearly perfect. Other than the 5 on 3 goal previously mentioned, Miami killed 8 straight penalties. I’ve not seen a box score so lit up with strange penalties. Blake Coleman was hit with a diving penalty but didn’t get the accompanying call on Providence. Kevin Morris got a 10-minute misconduct late in the third, and Chris Joyaux got a 5-minute major and game misconduct with 3 minutes to go. With all of those penalties and shortening of the bench, Miami still got this game into overtime, much to the thanks of this penalty killing unit.

2. As if he didn’t before, Austin Czarnik is really starting to remind me of Andy Miele. I have these memories in my head of #17 skating around the offensive zone with the puck, from behind the net, around the boards, to the blue line, and back to the net. Only instead of the nameplate being Miele, it’s more and more becoming that of Czarnik (minus the 1). I wish Miami kept the “time on ice” (or TOI) stat because I’m certain Z’s would be north of 22-24 minutes for every game. Miele … er … I mean … Czarnik had assists on 5 of the 6 Miami goals this weekend and 5 blocked shots on Friday, to earn himself our #2 star of the weekend as well as the NCHC Offensive Player of the Week award.

1. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but really: Riley Barber IS. GOOD. AT. HOCKEY. Friday night: a game-high 7 shots, and the game-tying power play goal at 7:08 of the third period. Saturday? There was more. 2 goals, including – you guessed it – the game tying, power play tally. This time it was a little sooner, at the 4:53 mark of the third period. John Buccigross reminded us on Sunday where Barber stands in the NCAA scoring race:

Diving In

Let’s take a look at faceoffs quickly, because the box score tells us an interesting story from Friday night. Czarnik took 31 draws on Friday and won just 10 of them. He would recover to win 14 of 26 on Saturday, but overall on Friday night, Miami was just 30 for 78 on the faceoff dot – just 38%. That’s not going to cut it.

Riley Barber has been doing it all for the RedHawks through 6 games. (Flickr: Dani Mackenzie)

Riley Barber has been doing it all for the RedHawks through 6 games. (Flickr: Dani Mackenzie)

Miami is now 8 of 29 on the power play (27.6%) and is ranked 9th in the country. As we mentioned in our 3 Stars, the Penalty Kill was great on Friday night, but stunk it up on Saturday night allowing to power play goals. On the season, Miami is sputtering on the penalty kill at just 80.6%, a portion of the game that will need to be improved upon if they want to stay in the top 5 in the rankings. The 2 shorthanded goals indicate that Miami is being their normal selves – very agressive on the penalty kill, which can lead to some openings, and so far this season, it has been to their detriment.

Coming into the weekend, Providence was 19 for 19 on their penalty kill – a big reason they were sitting at #8 in the country. They would run that to 23 kills on their first 23 penalties until the third period when Blake Coleman and Barber slammed home 2 PPGs to halt that streak. Miami now has power play goals in 4 of their first 6 games.

Coming Up Next

Miami will host Canisius for a 2 game set this weekend in Oxford. Game times are 7:35 Friday night and 7:05 Saturday night. Last year, Canisius made the NCAA tournament, and are 1-2-0 this season. We’ll have more for you later this week.