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 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
First place Miami clashes with second place Western Michigan in the nation’s premiere weekend series
It’s a #MACAttack weekend as long-time MAC rivals Miami (17-6-5, 12-4-4-4 1st CCHA) and Western Michigan (17-6-5, 13-4-3-1 2nd CCHA) renew their hockey rivalry that’s heated up over the past two years. The schools have met twice at Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA tournament over the past two seasons.
Two years ago, Miami defeated the upstart Broncos in the CCHA title game to capture the program’s only Mason Cup, while last year, the Broncos returned the favor in the semifinals en route to their first Mason Cup championship. However, during the regular season, Miami swept Western in Oxford.
It has to be especially heartening to new NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr to see the two CCHA squads at the top of the league just 8 months from the inaugural puck drop for the new league.
But, to the weekend at hand…
10 goals last weekend? And, 15 over their past four games? Could it be that Miami’s offense is finally waking up at precisely the right time? With just 8 regular season games left, the time is now for this team to find its offensive game, keep playing stout defense and come together down the stretch.
Well, the stretch starts tonight in Kalamazoo where Miami will face it’s most difficult road series of the year at Western Michigan and the Lawson Lunatics, whom, to put it mildly, comprise the
most vulgar “rowdiest” student section in all of college hockey. And, we poke fun because it’s true in both good ways and bad.
Leading the charge for the Broncos is a familiar cast of characters led by senior Dane Walters who leads WMU with 21 points (12-9-21) and junior Chase Balisy with 20 (8-12-20). Western’s power play is best in the league at 22.9 percent but it will be without junior powerplay specialist Dennis Brown (1-13-14) who was suspended for tonight’s game following Saturday night’s shootout loss against Ferris State. Additionally, the Broncos will be without two other players including injured sophomore defenseman Garrett Haar (3-3-6), who scored a goal in the CCHA semifinal win over the RedHawks, and sophomore forward Justin Kovacs (1-5-6) who was also suspended following the Ferris State game.
In net for Western will be “The Big Slubowski,” sophomore Frank Slubowski who has started every game this season for the Broncos. Slubowski, a finalist for last season’s CCHA Rookie of the Year, has returned with a vengence notching 16 wins, a 1.78 GAA and .922 save percentage so far. It goes without saying that beating Slubowski will be challenging for Miami, a team that has struggled to score this year.
For the RedHawks, well, expect more of the same.
The top line has to continue to execute and carry the team offensively. In moving sophomore forward Alex Wideman alongside sophomore center Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber, head coach Enrico Blasi has gone for speed and creativity out of his top three. This has enabled players like Blake Coleman, Curtis McKenzie and Sean Kuraly to use their blend of speed and size to give Miami a more balanced and dynamic top six look.
Defensively, the RedHawks lead the nation in total defense and freshmen goaltenders Jay Williams and Ryan McKay will be tested, not so much by Western’s offensive prowess, but rather to keep their composure on the road in a rink that is difficult to play in. This will be an excellent test for Miami and if they are fortunate to split this weekend’s series, that would be huge as we move toward the playoffs.
- Miami is coming off its second straight CCHA sweep as the RedHawks downed then No. 20 Alaska, 4-1 last Friday before completing the sweep, 6-2, on Saturday and have won 5 straight overall. (source: MURedHawks.com)
- Western enters the series on a five-game unbeaten streak going 4-0-1 during that stretch including a sweep of 8th place Michigan (it ain’t what it used to be). Last weekend the Broncos won at Ferris State, 3-1 on Friday before dropping a shootout to Ferris on Saturday. (source: MURedHawks.com)
The #5 Miami RedHawks completed their four-game Michigan roadie by splitting both series against conference rivals Michigan and Ferris State in what will be Miami’s final regular season trips to those schools as conference mates. In doing so, Miami avoided losing ground to either squad in the standings and returns home this weekend to face #16 Northern Michigan (4-3-1, 1-2-1 CCHA) at Steve Cady Arena.
Last weekend, Miami dropped the Friday opener 3-0 as Ferris State sophomore C.J. Motte blanked the RedHawks by stopping all 25 shots he faced as the Bulldogs outshot the RedHawks 31-25. Saturday was a much different affair as Miami came out flying notching a 4-2 victory on the strength of freshman Sean Kuraly’s first collegiate goal and two goals from sophomore sniper Austin Czarnik. Freshman Jay Williams played both nights in net as Ryan McKay recovers from injury, and picked up his fourth win of the season making 24 saves as Miami outplayed and outshot the Bulldogs 40-26.
On the season, Miami is now just 1-2-1 on Friday nights, but is a perfect 4-0 on Saturday as they ran their overall record to 5-2-1 and 2-2 in the CCHA. Miami is locked in a five-way tie for second in the league.
Looking ahead to the weekend’s opponent, Northern Michigan lost a shootout and defeated Michigan in Marquette blowing a lead on Friday and nearly doing the same on Saturday as Michigan’s senior captain A.J. Treais toyed with the hearts of Wildcat players and fans on both nights.
On Friday, Treais, who has seven goals and ten points on the season, scored with just 0.6 seconds left in regulation as Michigan overcame a 4-1 third-period deficit to send the game into overtime and ultimately to a shootout. In the shootout, Treais notched the only goal giving the Wolverines two league points on the evening and sending the Wildcats home disappointed.
On Saturday, the Wolverines faced the same 4-1 third period deficit and again rallied as Treais and Mac Bennett scored to pull Michigan within one. However, the Wildcats held on to take a 4-3 victory earning three league points and four of six on the weekend.
Earlier this week, sophomore forward Alex Wideman tweeted that he is “mono free” and hopefully that means we’ll see him this weekend in Oxford.
Sophomore Austin Czarnik (5-5-10) and freshman Riley Barber (4-6-10) share the team lead in points and are tied for second in the CCHA with the aforementioned Treais and trail Northern Michigan’s Matt Thurber (1-10-11) for the league’s top spot. It is interesting to note that both Treais and Thurber are seniors.
Miami is the highest ranked CCHA team (fifth) and seven of the eight NCHC schools are in this week’s top 20 with only Nebraska-Omaha failing to crack the rankings. Only Denver is ranked higher than Miami (third) of teams that Miami will face regularly beginning next season.
Senior defenseman Joe Hartman was again absent from the Miami lineup last weekend. Hopefully big Joe returns soon.
Miami’s victory on Saturday in Big Rapids snapped a five-game losing streak at Ferris’ Ewigleben Ice Arena. The RedHawks last won at Ferris State on Saturday January 16, 2010 when Tommy Wingels netted two goals to lead the RedHawks to a 5-4 victory and a weekend series sweep of the Bulldogs.
The RedHawks are making a concerted effort to take advantage of their speed and defensive lapses by executing stretch passes with Curtis McKenzie and Austin Czarnik hooking up several times already this year. Czarnik is a master with the puck and has extremely good vision while McKenzie is doing a fantastic job getting open by moving his feet up the ice. On Saturday, Czarnik found McKenzie for a breakaway which ultimately resulted in a penalty shot for the RedHawk senior forward that he was unable to convert, but the effort will pay off in time.
The gang over at The Hockey Guys has released their top 10 recruiting classes for the 2012-13 season and Miami and head coach Enrico Blasi have landed the fifth ranked class in the nation. Their analysis confirms our belief that Ryan McKay will enter the season as the “starter” in net and that Sean Kuraly continues to rocket up the list of American-born players to watch over the coming years.
The CCHA is also represented in the top 10 by Notre Dame (#1), Michigan (#3) and duhOSU (#10) while future NCHC conference mates Nebraska-Omaha (#2) and North Dakota (#8) also made the list.
Here’s the complete article.
Well, it’s finally official!
Today, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference announced its first television deal with CBS who has been providing tremendous coverage of college hockey over the past several years. The deal calls for a minimum of 18 conference games as well as the league’s semifinal and championship tournament contests — wherever they may be held.
This is terrific news for Miami fans as regular season away series become much more difficult as road trips to Bowling Green, Ann Arbor and Columbus are replaced with flights to Colorado Springs, Denver and Grand Forks.
Here is an excerpt from the release over at DenverPioneers.com
CBS Sports Network has agreed to a multi-year agreement with the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, beginning in the 2013-14 season. CBS Sports Network will be the exclusive national television partner for the conference, which will feature eight of the nation’s top college hockey programs. The announcement was made today by Dan Weinberg, Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS Sports Network, and Jim Scherr, Commissioner of the National.
The agreement calls for a minimum of 18 conference games, including the National’s semifinal and championship contests. Currently six teams that will be in the new conference are ranked in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll.
“With top teams and passionate fan bases, the National is poised to be an elite college hockey conference, and we’re thrilled to be the national television partner,” said Weinberg. ”College hockey has been a staple of our programming and we’re pleased to expand our coverage and further serve fans with compelling and competitive conference action.”
“We are delighted to be associated with the preeminent national broadcaster of college hockey,” said Scherr. “It is our goal to be the premier single-sport conference in intercollegiate athletics and the unmatched exposure and production quality that will be provided by CBS Sports Network will contribute significantly to realizing that vision.”
Miami returns home this weekend (finally!) coming off a run of ten games that saw the RedHawks play nine of those games on the road. Fortunately for Miami, they kept their heads above water and finished 6-4 over that stretch.
Much was made over the summer about former head coach Jeff Blashill’s decision to leave Kalamazoo after just one season, a season in which the Broncos went from last in the CCHA to an overtime exit in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the hands of Denver. Rightly, many WMU fans were concerned the resurrection of a dormant program would be short-lived with the loss of Blashill and that the impending demise of the CCHA might leave the Broncos holding the bag with the also-rans of what will be the new WCHA. Or, maybe they were left wondering if they could somehow find a home with either the newly formed NCHC, or perhaps, Hockey East alongside Notre Dame.
But, the hiring of a big time head coach in Murray and Notre Dame’s decision to join Hockey East opened the door for WMU to receive an invitation to join the NCHC and secure its hockey future. So, along with longtime MAC rival Miami, plus North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State, Colorado College and Denver, Western joined the new eight team conference that will begin play in 2013.
With the drama of the future of the program seemingly behind them, Western picked up right where they left off last year when they earned a fourth place regular season CCHA finish and a spot in the Mason Cup championship game. Of course, they dropped a 5-2 decision to Miami in that title game when the RedHawks claimed their first Mason Cup title by scoring three times in the third period to pull away.
Offensively, the Broncos are led by sophomores Chase Balisy (9-15-24) and Shane Berschbach (6-16-22) and junior Dane Walters (10-8-18) who is coming off an injury in Friday night’s victory over Notre Dame. Walters left Friday’s game with the injury, did not return and also missed Saturday’s series finale when the Broncos finished an impressive home-and-home sweep of the Irish. At this point, I’d assume Walters is a “gametime decision,” but I fully expect to see him in the starting lineup for WMU tonight.
Defensively, the Broncos are impressive. Led by sophomores Dennis Brown and Dan DeKeyser, junior Matt Tennyson and senior Derek Roehl, Western features one of the best bluelines in college hockey. They can defend, they have size and they all possess big shots. However, Miami should be able to exploit the Broncos with their speed as I have not been impressed with the foot speed of the Broncos. In their two games (both losses) against Minnesota-Duluth two weeks ago, it was blatantly apparent the Broncos could not skate with an elite group of forwards like both the Bulldogs and the RedHawks possess. If Miami can get their legs going, they should have a distinct advantage in that area.
Check out this sweet “double one-timer” executed perfectly by the Bronco blueliners in last weekend’s game at Lawson Ice Arena against Notre Dame. Some serious skill here.
In net, Western has featured both junior Nick Pisellini and freshman Frank Slubowski who it appears is taking over the reins as Andy Murray’s go-to guy. Slubowski has an impressive 1.98 goals against average and a more human .909 save percentage with two shutouts. If Slubowski does start tonight, it’s safe to say the Goggin crowd will do their best to introduce “The Big Slubowski” to the Balcony.
It will be interesting to see who Miami head coach Enrico Blasi starts in net tonight. Not to beat a dead horse, err Bronco, but will Rico follow his own advice and start the goaltender who had the best week of practice and will tonight’s outcome truly dictate what happens tomorrow night? Because he did not do that last weekend. What should be certain is the RedHawks will regain the services of freshman forward Tyler Biggs after he served a two-game suspension last weekend for an elbow to the head of Michigan State’s Matt Grassi a couple weeks ago. Biggs, should be able to provide the big body the RedHawks need to work their puck possession game against the stout defense of Western Michigan and add a much needed burst of energy in front of what should be a raucous student section in Oxford.
The Broncos (12-7-5, 9-4-3-3 2nd CCHA) come in flying high off last weekend’s sweep of Notre Dame. Miami (12-10-2, 8-8-2-1 t5th CCHA) is 3-1 in their last four (they should be 4-0) and is beginning to find the back of the net with more regularity. Connor Knapp has played very well recently having won four straight starts and has allowed just two goals in his past three starts. I really like the way Miami matches up with what I feel is a bit of a plodding Western Michigan team. Our size, speed and goaltending should provide an advantage over a hard working, but not as talented Bronco squad. I really want to call a Miami sweep playing tonight in front of the home crowd for the first time since December 10, but I have to admit I have been surprised by the staying power of the Broncos. They have been impressive and a good showing this weekend might just make me a believer.
- Here’s the series preview at MURedHawks.com
- Pete Conrad’s take on red hot Jimmy Mullin
- Miami is 9-0-1 in the last 10 at home vs. WMU
Earlier this week, the St. Cloud Times published an incredibly interesting article about SCSU’s circuitous journey to become the 7th member of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Through a significant public records request, the Times pieced together how St. Cloud’s president (Earl Potter III), head hockey coach (former Miami assistant Bob Motzko) and a consultant (former North Dakota head coach Gino Gasparini) worked the back channels, the media and the other NCHC athletic directors and coaches to earn a home in the new conference.
Kudos to St. Cloud State’s leadership in trying to take the high road and being ready to accept the invite that eventually came in September even though the charter members, including Miami, were announced in July.
Though I must be honest and profess that I would have preferred Notre Dame over St. Cloud, in the end, I think the inclusion of the Huskies will benefit the league. And, as Gasparini said in an email, SCSU “allows the fox into the hen house.” By that, Gasparini was referring to the opening of the recruiting flood gates for Miami (and Western Michigan) as they will now have more occasion to be in Minnesota, playing and selling the state’s best junior/high school players on Miami hockey. In short, the league will most certainly make recruiting the “State of Hockey” easier and more effective than ever for the RedHawks. And, the inclusion of St. Cloud State is one reason why it will happen.
As we first reported last week, Notre Dame will make an official announcement Wednesday, October 5 on its future conference affiliation, widely expected to be Hockey East. The South Bend Tribune is reporting along with the NCHC’s announcement today the 2013-14 season will be played with eight schools (Miami, North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado College, Western Michigan, St. Cloud State, Denver and Nebraska-Omaha), Notre Dame’s destination appears set.
The only other loose end is whether RPI is invited as the 12th member of Hockey East as our source close to the situation indicated last week.
We’ll continue to update the story as we learn more.
Well, that didn’t take long.
After officially extending invitations to the schools on Wednesday, the NCHC became a reality for the Western Michigan Broncos and St. Cloud State Huskies on Thursday. This brings the total schools welcomed into the NCHC up to 8, and gives Miami a conference rival of sorts in Western Michigan, having spent the last 31 years in the CCHA together (WMU has been in the CCHA since the 1975-76 season and Miami joined for the 1980-81 campaign).
Miami Athletic Director Brad Bates was present to welcome the Broncos with WMU director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard providing the big news to local media.
St. Cloud State University President Dr. Earl Potter announced the Huskies are joining the NCHC, and looks forward to “forming new partners with Miami and Western Michigan.”
As far as these two teams go, Miami has a slight 51-49-9 edge all time against Western Michigan, and a solid 7-1-1 record against the Huskies.