Miami leads the chase for the CCHA
Regular Season title with 3 weeks remaining.
The RedHawks swapped shutouts with Western Michigan over the weekend, but that wasn’t the only NCAA hockey action. It was quite a week in the world of NCAA hockey, and the upcoming weekend will certainly be much more significant for Miami.
We’ll recap the weekend notes after the jump, but before you go on, take a quick read through Rick Cassano’s previews of next weekend. He has insights on what several RedHawks did growing up on outdoor rinks, as well as how the entire Hockey City Classic came to be for Miami. If those don’t get you fired up for next weekend, I don’t know what will. Perhaps a weekend series against the Irish in what will be a determining weekend for the final CCHA regular season championship? Or maybe it won’t be until you are driving into Chicago next weekend. In any event, (Friday and) Sunday can’t get here fast enough.
On to the recap of last week – it was an up and down weekend, that’s for sure…
On Friday night, Miami just plain stunk. They couldn’t get many shots on goal, and what chances they did have were not supreme ones. Jay Williams looked only okay in net, and let in 2 goals that could have been prevented. The first goal was from the point and he was screened by his own players in front of the net. Joe Hartman played goalie for a split second in the second period, covering up the puck in the crease on what would have been a sure goal, but Western was given a penalty shot for the effort. In what we’ve come to expect, Williams had no problem stopping the penalty shot and remained perfect against shootout attempts on the season.
Later the Broncos would get their second goal just 46 seconds into the third period, a shot that deflected off of Williams and then reached the back of the net. Western Michigan’s sophomore goaltender Frank Slubowski promptly gave Miami some bulletin board material after the game. On the win, Slubowski said “You really want to make a statement and we were able to do that.” Well done, Frank the Tank. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he played well, stopping all 32 shots, but his performance on Saturday didn’t exactly back up all the talk.
Turn the page to Saturday and Western went and made Miami look like the Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn’t that Western played all that poorly, but Miami certainly played much better and looked like the much better team. Slubowski was the culprit in net, allowing 3 goals on 18 shots in just 2 periods of work. He was then pulled with what the team called “exhaustion” on Saturday night. Some statement, Frank.
We were certainly thankful for the weekend’s video coverage provided to the Miami feed by Western Michigan. However, unfortunately we can’t see any highlights from either game because of the away feed. Western Michigan only posted a 25 second clip of the highlights of their loss Saturday night – roughly 4 body checks and that’s it.
In any event, Ryan McKay was excellent, stopping 29 shots en route to the victory. Riley Barber and Curtis McKenzie each tallied a goal and an assist, and Miami’s scoring continued to arrive from unexpected sources. Max Cook and Marc Hagel scored the other two goals, and Taylor Richart, Matthew Caito, Garrett Kennedy, Jimmy Mullin, Blake Coleman and Joe Hartman all had assists on the night. With the assist, Caito moves into the top scoring spot on the team with 3 goals and 12 assists. He is only behind the three Hawks who comprised the top line for much of the year – Austin Czarnik, Barber and McKenzie.
Ryan McKay named CCHA Goalie of the Week
Jay Williams had a very pedestrian Friday night, allowing 2 goals. Unfortunately, the RedHawks couldn’t get anything past Western Michigan’s Frank Slubowsky on the other end to pick up the slack. For Ryan McKay, however, the story was much different. For his efforts on Friday night, his 3rd shutout in just 12 games started on the season, he garnered the Warrior Goaltender of the Week Award as the CCHA’s top goalie. McKay continues to lead the country in GAA (11 goals in just over 12 games, 0.98 GAA) and save percentage (.964), and holds a 7-2-2 record with 2 shootout wins this season. Some have raised the thought about having McKay be the #1 guy for a while to see how he handles it. Any talk it ludicrous, however, as Jay Williams is still 11-5-3 and is 8th in the country at 1.78 GAA and 15th in save percentage at .930. Both guys will continue to see action until one falters greatly, which just hasn’t happened at all this year.
After the weekend, Miami stays put at number 3 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll as well as the USCHO.com poll. In the PairWise, The RedHawks are also #3, and if the tournament ended today, I’m pretty sure we’d be headed to either Toledo or Grand Rapids for our NCAA tournament regional. “Just win, baby” will be the new mantra around here, as each win will get us closer and closer to one of those 2 regionals.
Standings update: all 11 CCHA teams from top to bottom
- Miami: 47 points – With Miami’s win on Saturday they jumped back in to the top position in the CCHA. Remaining: 2 vs. ND, Lake State and OSU
- Western Michigan: 46 pts – Miami snaps their 6 game win streak with a thud in Lawson Arena. Remaining: @ OSU, ND, @ MSU
- Notre Dame: 44 points – Scored 13 goals in their weekend sweep of Michigan and swept the 4-game season series for the first time since 1973. Remaining: @ Miami, @ Western, BGSU
- Ferris State: 39 points – Split at Northern Michigan. Fighting for a first-rond by and home series in the CCHA tournament. Remaining: BGSU, Idle, @ Michigan (have played 2 more games than the rest of the top 5)
- Ohio State: 38 points – With 2 games in hand on FSU, OSU has an inside track on the #4 seed, but they play Western Michigan, Michigan and then at Miami. We’ll see what they’re made of in the next 3 weeks.—–Teams 1-5 earn 1st round byes in the CCHA tournament—–
- Alaska: 37 points – Have been flying back and forth to Fairbanks for the last 4 consecutive weeks, and finish with a trip to Lake Superior State, then home again to host Michigan State and a non-conference home-and-home series with Alaska-Anchorage.
- BGSU: 28 points – Will have a tough time reaching Alaska, but will likely host a CCHA 1st round series with just a couple wins. Remaining: @ Ferris, Northern, @ Notre Dame
- Lake Superior State: 26 points – Miami’s opponent in 2 weeks – could be a potential buzzsaw weekend for the RedHawks. Remaining: Alaska, Miami, @ Northern Michigan
- Michigan: 25 points – The weekend sweep at the hands of Notre Dame means Michigan will be below .500 for the season. Only 2 teams have ever made the NCAA tournament with a losing record (Wisconsin as an at-large in 2008 and Alabama Huntsville as a tournament champion in 2007). The streak is almost assuredly over. Michigan will have to get a couple wins to even host a weekend series in the first round of the CCHA Tournament. Remaining: Idle, @ Ohio State, Ferris State
- Northern Michigan: 23 points - Miami’s nemesis this season seems far from a return trip to Oxford for any type of CCHA tournament games unless some crazy things happen in the first round. Phew. Remaining: 1 vs. Michigan Tech (tonight); 2 each: @ MSU, @ BGSU, LSSU
- Michigan State: 19 points – It has been a season to forget in East Lansing, and the last 3 weeks won’t be easy on the Spartans either. Remaining: Northern, @ Alaska, Western
UNO vs. North Dakota played at TD Ameritrade Ballpark
You’ll know TD Ameritrade Ballpark better as the new Rosenblatt Stadium, or the new home of the College World Series. This weekend, the Omaha Lancers faced off against the Lincoln Stars in the first game, and in a matchup of 2 future conference-mates, North Dakota spanked Nebraska-Omaha in the baseball stadium-turned-hockey rink. The game was more of a North Dakota home game with the majority of fans being from ND, and became even more so when the coolant under the ice began seeping through a 2-inch hole in the ice. You guessed it…it was North Dakota green colored coolant. Let’s hope this weekend’s game in Soldier Field has some colder weather and no problems with the ice.
Official fights a player
Yeah…not a typo. Check it out. I don’t know if this is awesome or despicable, but I’ve never seen it before. Ever.
That’s all for this past weekend. It looks like Miami just released their jerseys for the Hockey City Classic, so we better get to covering it, eh? See you this weekend in Chicago!