Miami earns first NCAA tournament victory since 2010
Happy to be proven wrong, Miami easily dispatched Minnesota State thrashing the Mavericks by a 4-0 score. It’s been a long time since we’ve won big in this tournament and freshman Ryan McKay was back on top of his game earning the fourth shutout of his career and Miami’s first-ever NCAA tournament whitewashing of an opponent.
Curtis McKenzie, Marc Hagel, Cody Murphy and Max Cook notched goals for Miami as they advance to their third regional final since 2009. The RedHawks will face WCHA regular season champ, St. Cloud State (24-15-1) in today’s final at 4pm EST from Toledo.
Miami (25-11-5) will need even more balanced scoring today as they face a talented Huskie squad coached by former Miami assistant Bob Motzko. It is a preview, of sorts, of next year’s NCHC conference as Miami and SCSU will likely be the favorites to capture the first championship in the new league.
The Huskies took Notre Dame behind the woodshed yesterday exposing the slow and plodding Irish by a final of 5-1. SCSU looked strong, tough and fast in handing it to the Irish as I predicted here and other places. The Huskies have notched 136 goals this year and will provide yet another loaded offensive challenge for Miami.
Led by seniors Ben Hanowski (17-14-31 plus his rights were just traded for Jarome Iginla) and Hobey Baker finalist Drew LeBlanc (13-37-50), freshman Jonny Brodzinski (22-11-33) and junior Nic Dowd (14-24-38), the Huskies can score with the best of them. In net, sophomore Ryan Faragher is 23-14-1 with a respectable 2.26 GAA and .915 save percentage. The defense corps is led by Nick Jensen and Kevin Gravel – Jensen is particularly effective offensively. The Huskies are deep and talented and will pose a significant challenge to the RedHawks.
With another victory, Miami will reach the Frozen Four for the third time in five seasons. They would face the winner of today’s Quinnnipiac/Union regional final if they are fortunate enough to win.
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.
Toledo, Ohio; Saturday/Sunday
Teams: Notre Dame, Miami, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State
Congratulations for winning the CCHA Tournament Championship, Notre Dame! You now get to face the WCHA Regular Season co-champion St. Cloud State Huskies! St. Cloud isn’t exactly on fire, however, having gone 8-5 since February. Notre Dame comes in having won 6 in a row, and is unbeaten in their last 9, with the two non-victories being a split of shootouts against Western Michigan.
Everyone has said it already, and we’ll repeat it here. This regional is wide open. There is so much parity in college hockey, and these two CCHA vs WCHA matchups could provide some of the best drama in the first 2 rounds of the tournament.
Alex, Doug: Notre Dame
Mike: St. Cloud
Providence, Rhode Island; Friday/Saturday
Teams: Quinnipiac, Boston College, Union, Canisius
The Quinnipiac Bobcats went ballistic in the middle of the season. They ran off 21 straight games without a loss. However, to finish, they only went 6-3-1, unlike last year’s Boston College team that won 74 games in a row and rolled to the championship. After their 3-2 loss to Cornell in the ECAC tournament, they came back and won 10-0 the next night. The Cats can score, that’s for certain and they should have no problem with Canisius.
The other matchup is the intriguing one, as 2 of last year’s Frozen Four teams face off. Union is another team that is firing on all cylinders lately. They are 8-2 in their last 10 and won the ECAC Tournament. BC is… well… BC. They just win. All the time. And it gets old. One of these days Jerry York will retire and they’ll go away for a bit. However, he hasn’t retired yet.
Alex, Mike, Doug: Boston College
Manchester, New Hampshire; Friday/Saturday
Teams: UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire, Denver, Wisconsin
UNH and Denver will square off, but it won’t matter here. It might be an interesting game, but the real draw is the UM-L and Wisconsin matchup. We may be overlooking this one, but UNH backed in to the tournament and brought Denver with them. Sure, they had nice seasons, but really didn’t impress throughout the second half of each’s season and both lost in the first round of their conference tournaments.
On the other hand, Wisconsin is doing what teams like Miami, Quinnipiac and Minnesota wish they had been doing: fighting like hell to get into the tournament. Now, they’ve won the WCHA tournament and are another team that is playing great at the right time.
Lowell is playing like crazy and earned their first ever #1 seed in the tournament. They started the season 2-5-1, but then in their last 30 games went a measly 24-5-1. They are also 12-1 in their last 13 games. They remind me a lot of Boston College last year: big, fast, determined. Their hurdle here should be beating Wisconsin. Someone’s got to win this clash of the titans.
Alex, Doug: UMass-Lowell
Grand Rapids, Michigan; Saturday/Sunday
Teams: Minnesota, North Dakota, Niagara, Yale
Okay…so the committee wanted to see a Minnesota vs North Dakota Regional Final. Can you blame them? I certainly cannot. Their games are always slug fests and we could be set up for another titanic struggle on Sunday. While they shouldn’t look past their opponents on Saturday, I think we can bank on a WCHA entrant to the Frozen Four from this region.
Yale comes in having been shut out in each of their last 2 games – to Union in the Semifinals and then Quinnipiac in the consolation game of the ECAC tournament. Yale could pose a threat, but Minnesota’s depth, size and speed will over power them. Much of the same should be expected for North Dakota.
We won’t take anything away from Niagara’s fantastic season. They are the first ever Atlantic Hockey team to make the tournament as an at-large bid, but are just 2-2 in their last 4. North Dakota is worse, having gone 2-3 in their last 5. However, North Dakota has the firepower that should get them at least to the regional final.
Alex, Mike, Doug: Minnesota
And to recap, here’s our overall Frozen Four picks (we’ll preview the actual 4 teams in 2 weeks) and championship predictions:
Alex: BC, Notre Dame, UM-L, Minnesota; BC over Minnesota for the title (BC apologist)
Mike: BC, SCSU, Wisconsin, Minnesota; BC over Minnesota for the title (BC apologist)
Doug: BC, Notre Dame, UM-L, Minnesota; Lowell over ND for the title
As you can see, I am the only sane person of the 3 Warriors that didn’t pick BC to win it all.
In any event, enjoy the games, everyone. They start RIGHT NOW!
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.
Let’s start with Minnesota State. When I sat down to write this piece (admittedly for the last 3 days), I couldn’t help but let thoughts run through my head like “they only went 16-11 in WCHA play” “they allowed 95 goals this year” and “they just lost 7-2 to Wisconsin!” But then I look at their season and they did win some considerable games. Minnesota twice, North Dakota, at Wisconsin twice. However, my clinching statistic is this. MSU was only 13-13-1 against TUCs this year and went 5-9 against tournament teams in 2013. Against the better teams, they haven’t produced the results.
Consider that Minnesota State hasn’t been to “the skate” (my hockey version of “the dance”) since 2003. 10 years. The student athletes playing on this team almost assuredly didn’t know they were even going to attend Minnesota State when that happened. Can they score goals? Sure. They certainly can, and are 10th in the country in scoring at 3.17 goals per game. That’s a lot of scoring, but as I look back to the games I saw (on TV) featuring WCHA teams, they all allowed a lot of goals over the course of the season. 6 of the top 11 schools in the country in scoring margin hail from the WCHA. What does that tell me? Goaltending in the WCHA is suspect. With Miami’s snipers like Riley Barber, Austin Czarnik, Alex Wideman, Curtis McKenzie and Cody Murphy, I think we can get some pucks past Mavericks Freshman Goalie Stephon Williams.
Speaking of Williams, much like Miami freshman netminder Ryan McKay, he was also pulled in Minnesota State’s 7-2 loss to Wisconsin to finish their conference tournament run. Both goalies got wake up calls. It will be interesting to see how they come back this weekend. That is, if McKay gets the start instead of Williams. If he does, and MSU’s Williams gets the nod as well, we might just see a 1-0 3OT thriller in Toledo if they both decide to stand on their heads for the night.
Alright, now to present the case for the RedHawks. I will admit, it’s not an open and shut case. Miami just lost 6-2 to Michigan, are just 7-5 in their last dozen games including losses to 2 bottom feeders this year (Michigan State, Michigan) and sometimes forget to show up to games (7 shutouts). However, this Warrior hasn’t given up hope entirely. Here are some points to consider.
First, Miami has been here before. This is the 8th year in a row Miami has been in the tournament. In the last 8 years, MSU (1st appearance in last 8), St. Cloud (4th) and Notre Dame (5th) have been in the tournament 10 times total. None of these teams were in the tournament last year when Miami was bounced by UMass-Lowell.
Next, let’s look back at that scoring stat. Sure, MSU is 10th in the country in scoring. But if you look at scoring margin, they’ve only outscored their opponents by 0.8 goals a game. Hmm. Interesting. That number sounds familiar … Oh look. Miami’s scoring margin is … 0.8 goals per game. Sure Miami has scored just 101 goals to Minnesota State’s 127, but on the defensive side of the puck, Miami has only allowed 69 goals against all season. The defense is there. The goaltending is there (I could write an entire other article on McKay vs. Williams for this weekend’s start, but either will be fine with me).
Finally, you might say that Miami hasn’t exactly had the best of runs in previous tournaments, but in the last 8 seasons, Rico Blasi and company are 7-7 in the tournament. Find me a team that hasn’t won the whole thing, but has won 7 NCAA tournament games in the last 7 years. I’m not sure there is another one out there. Miami can and has won big games on this stage in the past. In this stretch, Miami has won the CCHA tournament, and has made 2 Frozen Fours. That is impressive and in this supposed year of “rebuiding,” don’t be surprised if Miami puts it together and wins a few games.
Well there you have it. The case for Miami to win a couple games. I’m not going to come out and say they will make it to Pittsburgh with 2 wins this weekend. They have to get through MSU first, and then either the CCHA Tournament Champion or the WCHA Regular Season Champion to get there. But in a wide open tournament, the Midwest regional in Toledo is possibly the most wide open foursome of teams and any of them can make it to Pittsburgh. Why not Miami?
The RedHawks will face the Mavericks of Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Late last night, the Miami RedHawks (24-11-5) learned their NCAA tournament fate as they received an at-large bid to compete for a national championship in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. The RedHawks were seeded second in the Midwest Regional and will face third seeded Minnesota State of the WCHA on Saturday at 5pm EST. The game will be played in Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center, home of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. This is the eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Miami, and the 11th in school history. On the other hand, this is just the second appearance all-time for MSU in the national tournament, and first since 2003 when they lost a first round game to Cornell.
With Miami’s loss to Michigan last Saturday combined with Notre Dame’s win over the Wolverines yesterday afternoon, the Fighting Irish earned the fourth and final one seed but were “rewarded” with a game against co-WCHA regular season champ, St. Cloud State. The Irish, CCHA tournament champions, finished second in the CCHA’s final regular season to Miami, who won their fourth regular season title in school history. With the two match-ups, this reads like a WCHA/CCHA mini-tournament with the two leagues facing off against one another for a final time.
The Mavericks (24-13-3) finished the WCHA regular season in a three-way tie for fourth place but were resoundingly routed by eventual WCHA tournament champion, Wisconsin, 7-2 in the first WCHA Final Five play-in game last Thursday. However, the Mavericks enter this weekend’s contest with gaudy statistics both from individual and team perspectives.
The Mavs have scored a whopping 127 goals and have surrendered a modest 95. That is in stark contrast to the low-scoring RedHawks who have netted just 101 goals on the year, but have allowed only 69. MSU is led by senior Eriah Hayes (20-16-36) and sophomores Matt Leitner (17-30-47) and JP Lafontaine (9-26-35) while freshman Stevon Williams has been stellar in net posting a record of 21-11-2 with a stout 1.96 GAA and .925 save percentage.
On paper, this appears to be another disastrous matchup for Miami.
Like last year against then unknown UMass-Lowell, the Mavericks are a high scoring team who hasn’t been in the tournament in 10 years and have nothing to lose, whereas Miami is there year after year after year. And, yet again, we know nothing of this team, but it doesn’t really matter. What we’ve learned over the years is to respect any and all opponents for they have a tendency to make Miami look silly even when we have no idea who they are.
Further, in listening to Hayes talk about the matchup, he shows little regard, nor concern, for the RedHawks.
And, as we’ve written, the RedHawks coaching staff just does not seem to prepare this team well for big games. I have no other way of describing the failures. Perhaps the losses of Jeff Blashill and Chris Bergeron have hurt the program most in this department.
Looking at the teams on paper, I do not see how Miami wins this game. The Mavericks are battle tested, having performed well in the always tough WCHA going 16-11-1 in league play. They have some signature victories over Minnesota (twice), Wisconsin (twice) and North Dakota (once), and possess good goaltending with great scoring. The way Miami plays these tournament games (tight – literally and figuratively), I do not know if the RedHawks can put up the three or four goals that it will take to win. This feels exactly like last year’s UML game, except that last year, I thought we’d have no problem with the River Hawks.
Perhaps something will happen to change my mind during the week. As of now, I feel another “one and done” is forthcoming.
In yet another forgettable performance in a big game at Joe Louis Arena, the Miami RedHawks hockey program concluded its run in the CCHA by being thoroughly embarrassed by Michigan. Final score…6-2.
What does this mean?
It means Miami will await the outcome of tomorrow afternoon’s CCHA championship game pitting Notre Dame and Michigan to determine whether the RedHawks are a #1 seed or #2 seed in the national tournament. If Notre Dame wins, Miami will be a two seed, but if Michigan takes the final Mason Cup, Miami will back its way into a #1 seed. Regardless, Miami should be slotted in Toledo and will probably face St. Cloud, Denver or Wisconsin (or the like) from the WCHA.
All that said, we’d seen today’s movie a thousand times. We knew how it would end before the teams set foot on the ice. Miami is now 0-6 all-time against Michigan in the CCHA playoffs and we simply do not show up against them in big games. Ryan McKay looked, perhaps, like a tired goaltender having played three games in three nights last weekend and he simply did not do enough to keep his team in the game. It will be interesting to see who Rico starts next week in the NCAA tournament. But, certainly, McKay does not deserve all the blame. Again, this was something we’ve seen time and time again with this program over the years. It was the same game I’d seen a hundred times.
The good news? Miami will have at least one more game in the tournament. But, we have been “one and done” in 2011 and 2012 and have not won a game in the tournament since 2010 when Miami defeated UAH and Michigan en route to the Frozen Four.
The NCAA tournament selection show will air tomorrow night at 9pm EST on ESPNU. If nothing else, it will be an interesting week for this hockey program.
The RedHawks face streaking Michigan at Joe Louis Arena
On the strength of series’ victories over Michigan State and Western Michigan, respectively, the Miami RedHawks and Michigan Wolverines will meet once again at Joe Louis Arena for the right to advance to tomorrow night’s last-ever CCHA championship game.
Today’s semi-final matchup smells precisely like the one the teams played in 2010 when the regular season champion RedHawks faced seventh seeded Michigan who had gotten hot late in the year needing to win the conference tournament to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Of course, Michigan would go on to win the Mason Cup but Miami would have another chance to face the Wolverines in the Midwest regional final in Fort Wayne where the RedHawks would gain revenge by earning their second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four.
This year’s Michigan team (17-18-3) isn’t even at the .500 mark but brings an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) to the Joe where they will have to, once again, win the Mason Cup to earn a berth in the field of 16. And, like in 2010, Miami has already wrapped up an NCAA tournament berth, but they are playing to retain a #1 seed based on the latest PairWise numbers. The game pairs the league’s top defensive squad, Miami (63 goals allowed) against the league’s top offensive team in Michigan (122 goals for). The defensive numbers are so lopsided, that Michigan (125) has allowed two times the number of goals the RedHawks have while the Hawks have also chipped in 99 goals for on the season. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out today.
Last weekend, Michigan rolled Western Michigan in Kalamazoo 4-3 and 5-1 after sweeping Northern Michigan in Ann Arbor in round one. Recently, the Wolverines have seen a resurgence of sorts from captain Kevin Lynch (10-14-24) and leading scorer Alex Guptill (14-19-33) who were mostly non-factors during the season. In addition, the return of Jon Merrill to the Michigan blueline has solidified them defensively enabling the Wolverines to match lines with the opposition knowing they have a solid top four with CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman, Jacob Trouba, likely leading the other pairing.
In net, freshman Steve Racine has taken the reins and played well recently. Though his season numbers are ordinary (11-5-3, 2.66, .895), the strengthening of the Michigan defense in front of him has helped tremendously. Miami will have to use its team speed, which is equal to or greater than Michigan’s for the first time in a long time, to make the big Michigan blueliners chase the puck. In doing so, the RedHawks should hope to draw them away from the front of the net where Michigan’s defensive size will be an advantage over Miami’s smaller forward corps (e.g., Czarnik, Wideman, Murphy).
For Miami, this season has been another of remarkable consistency. This team has gotten better as the season has progressed and they are playing reasonably well going into today’s game. Offensively, the RedHawks are led by CCHA Player of the Year, sophomore Austin Czarnik (14-22-36) and CCHA Rookie of the Year, Riley Barber (15-23-38). Along with sophomore forward Alex Wideman (5-7-12), the RedHawks first line possesses elite speed and skill.
If Miami can get secondary scoring as they did last weekend from the likes of Sean Kuraly (5-6-11), Curtis McKenzie (9-13-22) and Cody Murphy (10-8-18), it will lessen the load on the top line and make it more difficult for Red Berenson to match lines with CCHA Coach of the Year, Enrico Blasi.
Earlier this season, it was secondary scorers like Alex Gacek, Jimmy Mullin (who has looked outstanding recently) and Murphy who helped Miami split a series at Michigan way back on October 26-27. Ryan McKay started the first game in net but left after just five minutes when he was injured. Jay Williams finished the first game and earned the win on Saturday night as he played the majority of games over the coming weeks. With Williams’ success, it’s plausible, albeit unlikely, that he could face the Wolverines today. If I had to guess, it seems apparent that Rico has selected McKay as his horse in the playoffs. But, I wouldn’t put it past him to throw a curveball. Williams is rested and McKay played three games in three nights last weekend against MSU.
Miami has never beaten Michigan in the CCHA tournament (0-5). With the RedHawks having already claimed the final CCHA regular season title, a berth in the final Mason Cup championship game would be a sweet way to end things in the conference. And, a Miami win would assure the RedHawks of a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament which starts next weekend.
In the grand scheme of things, tonight doesn’t mean much. However, as the last season of the CCHA draws to a close, Miami has a lot of hardware on the line this evening. Tonight is the CCHA Awards Show (tickets are still available), and with a player/coach nominated in each of the categories, Miami could haul home some nice individual honors. Every person involved with the team will tell you the same, that tonight’s awards are team awards, or tonight’s awards don’t mean anything if the Hawks don’t get it done ON the ice in the next 4 weeks. Here’s our take on how tonight will go down.
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.
Five members of the 2012-13 Miami RedHawks were honored this week with CCHA recognition of their efforts on and off the ice.
Freshman Riley Barber was named first-team All-Conference and was also named to the All-Rookie team on the strength of his 15-21-36 line and +13 rating. Barber led the RedHawks in goals, the CCHA in scoring, collected a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship and has a earned a regular season title with Miami. So far, so good for the native of Livonia, Mich. In addition, Barber was the only unanimous selection to the All-Rookie team, was a four-time CCHA Rookie of the Week recipient including Rookie of the Month for the months of October and November and led the nation in assists and points among all freshman. It is certainly reasonable to believe that Barber will be a finalist for CCHA Player of the Year which will be awarded next week in Detroit.
Freshman Matthew Caito was also named to the CCHA All-Rookie team finishing with five goals and 16 points, leading Miami defensemen in all three scoring categories. Playing in one of Miami’s top defensive pairs, Caito finished with a +9 rating and was named the CCHA Defenseman of the Week twice.
Freshman Ryan McKay was named the CCHA All-Rookie team’s goaltender by posting a league best 1.32 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, while earning an 8-3-1 record with two shutouts. In overall play, McKay’s 1.17 goals-against average and .957 save percentage were the best in the country among all goaltenders. He was recently named the CCHA Goaltender of the Month for February as he recorded a 4-1-0 record with one shutout, helping the RedHawks to a 6-2-0 record on the month. His 1.20 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage led all goaltenders in the nation for February, as he allowed just six goals and made 148 saves.
Joining Barber on the CCHA All-Conference first team, was his sophomore linemate, Austin Czarnik who notched an 11-22-33 season’s line and +18 rating. Czarnik, who tied for the most first-place votes with eight and earned the most total vote points (46), finished the season in fourth place in both conference scoring (8-18-26) and overall scoring.
Lastly, Miami senior captain Steven Spinell was nominated as the team’s designee to become the 2012-13 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be chosen from the group of nominees with the winner announced at the 2013 CCHA Awards on Friday, March 22.
Congratulations to all five student-athletes and best of luck in the playoffs!
On the strength of a 2-to-1 road series victory over Alaska, the Michigan State Spartans (13-24-3) advance to face the CCHA regular season champions, Miami (22-9-5), in round two of the CCHA playoffs. The Spartans, who finished dead last in the CCHA, won games 1 and 3 of the close fought series against the Nanooks to advance to challenge Miami in Oxford for the second consecutive year in the playoffs.
Last year Miami dominated MSU by 6-0 and 4-1 scores to end the Spartans CCHA season and advance to the league championship weekend in Detroit. However, head coach Tom Anastos’ MSU squad squeaked into the NCAA tournament where they were ousted in the first round by Union en route to a Frozen Four appearance.
Since 2005, Miami is just 13-8-1 against Michigan State, showing the Spartan program is still dangerous and that Miami must take them seriously this weekend. In the CCHA playoffs, Miami owns a 2-1 record against MSU (since 2005) with the lone loss coming in the CCHA championship game in March of 2006 at Joe Louis Arena.
This weekend’s series is a best-of-three second round matchup that pits the league’s top defensive squad, Miami, against the lowest scoring team in the conference in Michigan State. Needless to say, if the Spartans have any chance this weekend, they must hold Miami to 2 goals or less to have a realistic chance of winning a game, much less the series. The RedHawks meanwhile will be looking to get to the three goal plateau. When the Hawks score three goals or more, they are unbeaten at 17-0-1. However, when they net two goals or fewer, Miami is just 5-9-4 showing they can be vulnerable to low scoring affairs. Of course, that plays into the hands of the Spartans who have two capable netminders in junior Will Yanakeff (3.13/.901) and freshman Jake Hildebrand (2.33/.929). Earlier this year, the teams played a series in Oxford resulting in a 2-2 tie (SOW win for Miami) on Friday and a 2-0 Miami win on Saturday. This is notable because Hildebrand and Miami freshman Jay Williams faced off in both games as Ryan McKay was on the shelf due to his injury suffered in the Michigan series. On Saturday, Williams had to make only 13 saves to record his first career shutout with the Red and White. It will be interesting to see if head coach Enrico Blasi goes with McKay both nights or if he reinstates the rotation. As of late, Rico has been favoring McKay, but as we all know, that can change at a moment’s notice. With Williams having success against MSU earlier this year, it’s certainly conceivable he goes back to the freshman from McLean, Va. this weekend.
The best-of-three series faces-off at 7:35pm EST on Friday night from Steve Cady Arena. Game two will be played at 7:05pm EST from SCA and game three, if necessary, will also face-off at 7:05pm EST.
With the students out of town on Spring Break, seats should be available all weekend by calling the Miami ticket office at 1-866-MUHAWKS (1-866-684-2957), logging on to MURedHawks.com or stopping by the Goggin Ice Arena ticket office. Currently, the games are scheduled to be broadcast on Miami All-Access but not nationally televised.