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 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.
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.
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.
The NCHC finally has a logo
With a blend of Americana and an old school typeface, the NCHC earlier today unveiled their logo signaling it’s new brand identity and link to American college sports. In addition, the league announced plans for the inaugural conference tournament which will be held March 21-22, 2014 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn.
Overall, I like the classic design feel, the hidden hockey stick and the eight stars representing the eight members (Miami, Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State, Western Michigan) of the new conference – though only the first six can be called “founding members.” And, I like the shield look which should reproduce well at all sizes and in all circumstances.
What do you think?
Read more at: http://www.collegehockeynews.com/news/2013/03/07_nchc_unveils_logo,_postseason.php
2012-2013 CCHA REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONS!
On the strength of a 4-2 victory over duhOSU, the Miami RedHawks claimed the final CCHA regular season championship and fourth in program history. Curtis McKenzie, Riley Barber, Blake Coleman and Cody Murphy netted the Miami goals while Ryan McKay earned the victory in net.
It is the RedHawks third regular season title in the past eight seasons earning Miami a bye in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The RedHawks will host a second round, best-of-three playoff series at Steve Cady Arena March 15-17 against the lowest remaining seed after the completion of the three first round series. Speaking of which, here are the first round match-ups.
#6 Alaska vs. #11 Michigan State
#7 Michigan vs. #10 Northern Michigan
#8 Lake Superior vs. #9 Bowling Green
All series’ will be played at campus sites with the higher seed hosting the best-of-three playoff round.
As for the second round, one matchup is locked in as #4 Ohio State will host #5 Ferris State in Columbus while Miami, #2 Notre Dame and #3 Western Michigan await their second round opponent.
If I were to wager a guess tonight, I could easily see Miami facing #11 Michigan State but more likely, the winner of the Lake/BG series in round two.
We’ll have more on tonight’s game as well as the CCHA playoffs in the days to come.
After last night’s disappointing result, Miami takes to the ice tonight in what will certainly be an emotional night no matter what the outcome. Tonight, we say goodbye to 6 seniors who will move on to the pro ranks, possibly even the NHL ranks, and others will become working men like many of us. Let’s take a look back at their time as RedHawks. (photos courtesy of http://www.muredhawks.com)
The march to Pittsburgh is nearly upon us.
When we were looking at the PairWise back in December, it didn’t really make sense. Now, however, it’s very meaningful. Let’s take a look at what’s happening keeping travel in mind. First, there are 2 regionals that Miami would love to be at: Toledo and Grand Rapids. Light travel, meaning no big trips out east to play eastern teams that are hosting, even when Miami is a #1 seed (UNH, 2011). And secondly, Miami could end up staying within 302 miles of Oxford (Grand Rapids: 298 mile drive, Pittsburgh, 302 mile drive) from the CCHA tournament through the Frozen Four if things happen to fall correctly. It’s certainly not a lock, and there’s a long way to go, but let’s take a deeper look at the current PairWise.
Light the Lantern! Miami sweeps Lake State
On the strength of 44 saves from freshman phenom Ryan McKay and goals from classmates Riley Barber and Matthew Caito, the #3 Miami RedHawks defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 Saturday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
In doing so, the RedHawks are now just one point away from clinching a share of the final CCHA regular season title and two points from an outright championship to close the league. Frankly, going into this season with so many new faces and young players, I would not have predicted a regular season title. But this team, coached so well by head man Enrico Blasi and his associates Brent Brekke and Nick Petraglia have molded the 2012-13 RedHawks (21-8-5, 16-6-4-4 1st CCHA) into an intense, system-based and fast squad that is a nightmare to play against. The RedHawks lead the nation in team defense and are sixth in penalty killing despite an offense that has just one point-per-game player (Barber) and no skaters ranked higher than 14th (Barber) in the national scoring race.
Last night, the ‘Hawks were carried by their talented freshmen as they served up a hard-fought victory. Though frankly, you never really felt as if Lake would be able to get past the one-goal barrier with McKay back between the pipes and the Miami defense stinging a bit after allowing four Laker goals the night before. Read the rest of this entry