Category Archives: North Dakota Fighting Sioux
We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving with your families and didn’t miss us and the Miami RedHawks too much. You guys should have been asking “where are you guys” because we’ve been MIA for a bit. We’re sorry for leaving you hanging, and we’re back at it this week as Miami is already en route to Alaska for a 2 game set in The Last Frontier. For now, here’s what you’ve (we’ve?) missed in the last 2 weeks.
First of all, and most importantly, Miami took 5 more points against the Spartans way back on the 16th and 17th of November. On Friday night, Miami held a 2-0 lead and let MSU tie the game before taking the shootout. It was Miami’s 2nd shootout win in a row and 3rd of the season (Providence, NMU, MSU). In the three shootouts, Miami still has not allowed even one goal, as Ryan McKay has stopped the 2 shots he has seen and Jay Williams has stopped all 4 shootout attempts in his 2 wins. John Doherty played in his first game for Miami, Alex Wideman scored to continue his point streak and Alex Gacek scored his 2nd of the year.
In Saturday’s game, Miami again went up 2-0, but this time played some outstanding defense and Williams posted the shutout. Miami held MSU to 13 shots on the night, with 9 of them coming from 2 players. Freshman Taylor Richart recorded his first career point as he helped Wideman continue his blazing hot scoring streak in the third period. McKenzie recorded his 3rd goal of the season and Jay Williams got his first career shutout.
For the effort on the weekend, Williams took home the CCHA Rookie of the Week award – his first such honor. Jay is the second Miami freshman to win the award (Riley Barber has won it twice), and it’s the 4th weekly award for Miami. He stopped 19 shots and 2 shootout attempts on Friday as well as all 13 shots on Saturday. The wins ran his season record to 6-2-2, while allowing 2.18 goals against and a save percentage of .915. Get to know Jay a little better by reading muredhawks.com’s “In the Crease with Jay Williams.”
Even though Miami didn’t play this past weekend, the top of the CCHA standings is still in the hands of the RedHawks at 16 points. Notre Dame had a weekend series against North Dakota (and split). For now, Miami holds a 1 point lead on the Irish, Ferris State and Ohio State. Alaska is just 2 points behind at 14 and Lake Superior State is in 6th at 12 points. The next 3 weekends have Miami playing three of those teams (at Alaska, Lake State, at Ohio State), so to say they will be an important 3 weeks is an understatement.
Alex Wideman missed three weeks of play with mono, and since his return has been lights out. He now has 4 goals and 3 assists on the season – good enough for 3rd best on the team. He has also scored the shootout clinching goals in each of Miami’s 2 CCHA shootout wins and is looking better and better on the ice every night out.
After the MSU weekend, Miami dropped a spot from #4 to #5 in the polls.
We’ll reserve judgement, but Really, that’s stooooopid. The voters made up for their poor choices last week to bump Miami up 1 spot in this week’s (November 26th) polls, but Denver, who lost AT HOME to Yale and New Hampshire, dropped just 3 spots to #5 behind the Hawks. The PairWise is the important ranking, and we’re still a few weeks away from knowing where Miami really stands compared to the rest of the NCAA.
In addition, Miami’s All-1990′s CCHA team was announced. In the decade where Miami earned its first ever CCHA Championship in the 1992-93 season and gained momentum throughout, this team looks fantastic. Some guys named Kevyn Adams, Brian Savage, Enrico Blasi, Dan Boyle, Bobby Marshall and Mark Michaud made the first team. The second team has forwards Chris Bergeron, Randy Robitaille and Ken House, defensemen Joe Cook and Steve Wilson and goaltender Richard Shulmistra. The only thing I’d change is putting Shulmistra on the first team and Michaud on the second. You can vote for the all-2000s team on muredhawks.com.
And finally, but certainly not least important, Steven Spinell was named a Senior CLASS Award Candidate.
Stay tuned for our Weekend Preview before Miami takes on Alaska at 11:00pm Eastern time on Friday and Saturday nights!
For this Redskin Warrior, a sense of optimism and hope comes along with the tournament brackets for once. Teams like
the evil empires BC and BU are nowhere to be found (until the finals, anyway), other teams are missing key components, and momentum from a strong finish seems to be on our side. There are 9 teams that made the tournament in 2011, and 6 teams that have never won the whole thing.
Here are my picks and thoughts on the weekend ahead…
Northeast Region: #1 overall – Boston College, Minnesota-Duluth, Maine, Air Force
Let’s start in Worcester, where BC will undoubtedly have issues with Air Force. The Atlantic Hockey Champion has given teams fits in the last few NCAA tournaments. Last year, the Air Force Academy took the #1 overall seed Yale to overtime. 2 years ago, RIT took down another #1 seed in Denver, then blew out New Hampshire to make its first ever Frozen Four.
Even though BC has won 15 in a row, I still think Air Force comes in with the experience of last year’s tournament and gives them quite a fight. They are over sized and over matched on paper, but you can never discount the heart of the Falcons on the field or on the ice. BC in a tight one, maybe even in overtime again.
On the other side, you have the defending National Champions in the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs taking on the Maine Black Bears – Hockey East’s runner-up. If Maine’s Hobey Baker candidate and the nation’s top goal-scorer Spencer Abbott doesn’t play, I think they are 1 and done. If he plays (his status is currently “questionable”), this is a game to watch. I think the ‘Dogs come out on top in either scenario, however.
In the regional final, look for a titanic battle between the last 2 National Champions. BC’s size and speed will overpower UMD and make it to the Frozen Four again.
West Region: #4 overall – North Dakota, Minnesota, Boston University, Western Michigan
Congratulations, Western Michigan! You’ve won the CCHA Tournament, arguably the best conference in NCAA hockey this year. Here’s the Mason Cup, and you get North Dakota as your victory prize!
All kidding aside, I think the Broncos ride their Mason Cup win to a good showing. However, North Dakota has won 3 straight WCHA Playoff tournaments – something no other team has ever done, and they’ve been here before. NoDak moves on in this matchup.
In the early game in St. Paul, the home town team is matched up with Boston University. The Minnesota Golden Gophers make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008. For one of the flagship programs of college hockey, this is somewhat remarkable, and in that time, 29 teams have made the NCAA tournament since Minnesota last did. Can you beat my score of guessing 24 of those 29 teams?
Minnesota, this region’s host, should have about 15,000 of the capacity 18,064 fans in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and I have no doubt this will help propel them to a victory. Don’t count out BU, however. In a battle between head coaches who have 5 total national championships between them (Lucia – 2, Parker 3), I’ll take Minnesota.
This creates a rematch of a conference tournament that we just saw last week, and ironically, it happens in the exact same building. Last Friday, North Dakota quickly went down 3-0, but rallied and scored 6 unanswered goals to move on. This coming Friday, I predict a different story, and Minnesota heads to Tampa.
Midwest Region: #2 overall – Michigan, Ferris State, Denver, Cornell
Michigan extends its NCAA tournament appearance streak to 22 years in a row – all of them under head coach Red Berenson – and will face the Cornell Big Red, whom Michigan met in the first year of the streak. While Cornell has 18 total wins on the season, Michigan has 18 wins against TUC’s this year. ‘Nuff said. Michigan big.
On the other half, a much depleted Denver squad comes in for its 5th straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers could be missing their best player in Jason Zucker, and head coach George Gwozdecky is preparing for the weekend as if they do not have their leading goal-scorer. They will take on a Ferris State squad that was unexpectedly bounced by Bowling Green in round 2 of the CCHA Playoffs, and has only been to the NCAA tournament one other time (2003) in their history. I’m taking Ferris State, here, but they’ll run into a much more stern task in the regional final.
If the 2 CCHA teams prevail in Green Bay, this pits the #1 vs #2 teams from the conference against each other. Ferris State lost 7 times during the CCHA regular season this year, and two of them were to Michigan. I don’t think Ferris State has the star power to overcome Michigan, and Michigan makes it to their second straight Frozen Four.
East Region: #3 overall – Union, Miami, UMass – Lowell, Michigan State
Of the 4 brackets in this year’s tournament, I don’t think Miami could have drawn a better grouping. They don’t have to face Michigan, North Dakota, or either of the Minnesotas OR Bostons. Nice work, selection committee!
In the early game, Michigan State – the last team in the tournament – takes on the ECAC winner, the Union Dutchmen. A school of only 2,000, who is lead by first-year coach Rick Bennett, looks for their first-ever win in the NCAA tournament. I think they get it this year, as Michigan State is reeling. As we know, they fell 6-0 and 4-1 in Oxford 2 weekends ago, and have a bit of a goalie controversy. Also in his first year, Head Coach Tom Anastos will need to find something for either Drew Palmisano or Will Yanakeff to build on from those embarassing losses. Michigan State is going to be coming off of a bye, those 2 big losses, and another “bye” week, so they are going to be rusty as well. The ECAC Champs from Schenectady, NY (that’s fun to say) take this one handily.
We’ll have some more for you on the Miami vs. UML game later in the week, but I will tease you with this fact from our Sunday #SixPack from this past weekend. Despite the youth on this team, Miami will be the bigger and stronger team. UML’s largest player is just 6′ 1″ tall. Miami averages that in height, with 13 players plus Connor Knapp coming in at 6′ 1″ or taller. It might look like a scene from one of my favorite hockey movies with the size advantage Miami will have on the ice. In any event, the
New York Rangers RedHawks take down the scrubs from Mystery, Alaska River Hawks and move on to face Union.
The Regional Final will be a hard fought battle, but I’m confident that Miami will be back on track after a big win on Friday night and will carry the momentum to Tampa where I’ll get to see the RedHawks take on Michigan in the National Semifinals.
To recap, that’s BC against Minnesota on one side, and Michigan vs Miami in the other half of the bracket. Post your picks in the comments below and we’ll see how things turn out this weekend. IS IT FRIDAY YET?!?!?!
Oxford, Ohio – Over the past several weeks, there has been a significant push from fans and the SID of the University of North Dakota to promote their one-year wonder, Matt Frattin (32-21-53, 38 games) for the Hobey Baker Award. As you know, Miami has a Hobey Baker candidate of our own, the nation’s leading scorer, senior Andy Miele (20-42-62, 35 games).
Much of the misinformation has been directed at one thing, UND’s perceived strength of schedule advantage over Miami. While the Fighting Sioux’s schedule strength is rated fourth by College Hockey News and Miami’s is rated 14th, it’s simply not a big enough discrepancy to matter. If we were talking about Yale’s SOS (42) or Boston College’s (27), then there might be an argument. But, just to even the playing field, I’ve pulled each players statistics in games against teams that finished in the top 6 of the WCHA and CCHA (top 6 since both UND and Miami are in the top 6 so we have 5 league teams to evaluate) and against common opponents.
Here’s what I found.
In 19 total games against Denver, Omaha, Duluth, Minnesota and Colorado College plus common opponents St. Cloud, Notre Dame and Maine, Frattin posted 11-9-20.
In 18 total games against Northern Michigan, Ferris State, Western Michigan and Michigan plus common opponents St. Cloud, Notre Dame and Maine, Miele posted 12-21-33. Since Notre Dame is a CCHA top 6 opponent as well as a common opponent, we could add New Hampshire to Miele’s resume as another top tier team. If you do that, Miele’s numbers become 12-22-34 in 20 total games.
To drill even deeper, what if we take two opponents from each league such as Denver and Omaha, and Michigan and Notre Dame, and break down each player’s performance against the very best of each league?
Frattin had 2-2-4 in 6 games and Miele posted 2-12-14 in 6 games.
Or, what if we just look at common opponents?
Frattin had 7-7-14 in eight games against St. Cloud, Maine and Notre Dame. Miele had 4-9-13 in eight games so that comparison’s about even.
So, what we’ve seen is that Frattin has absolutely destroyed the bottom half of his league and lower ranking non-conference opponents racking up huge numbers (33 points) against the likes of Minnesota State, Alaska-Anchorage and poor Michigan Tech with only 20 points against better competition.
Consider — with still one more game to play, Frattin has absolutely destroyed Michigan Tech, the 49th ranked team by KRACH of 58 in the NCAA.
- Frattin has scored 11 points or 21% of his total against Michigan Tech
- He has scored 5 goals or 16% of his total against the Huskies
- Frattin has 29% of his assists (6) against MTU
- This in just three games (8%)
Frattin’s performance against Michigan Tech has been superb. However, the Huskies are so bad, his stats are being padded against incredibly inferior competition. Remove the games against MTU and Frattin’s line is 27-15-42. And, he would have played the same number of games, 35, as Miele with 20 fewer points.
Meanwhile, Andy Miele has performed better against top competition and more evenly distributed his points with 33 against top tier teams and 29 against lower performing teams.
Lastly, Miele has been a staple in the community and has built a body of work over the past 3 1/2 seasons. Consider he had 14, 31 and 44 points in his first 2 1/2 seasons (Miele played just half of his freshman season as he enrolled at Miami at the midpoint to help push the ’07-’08 team over the hump) whereas his chief competition had just 15, 25 and 19 points (missed half of last season due to suspension) before putting up 53 in 38 games this year. Further, Frattin had just 4, 13 and 11 goals before coming out of nowhere jumping to 32 this year.
Miele has steadily improved and is clearly not a one year wonder as his goal totals have risen from 6 to 15 to 20 and counting this year. Plus, Miele’s stick handling and playmaking ability set him apart from most players in the NCAA. A trait he has demonstrated since he set foot on campus.
While the Hobey Baker Award is not a career achievement, past history, behavior and playing your best against your best competition should count and I believe they will.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, well make that the Hobey Baker selection committee, I rest my case.
Miele for Hobey.