NCHC Frozen Faceoff
Friday, March 21 • 8:38 p.m.
Saturday, March 22 • 4:38/8:38 p.m.
Target Center • Minneapolis, Minn.
Miami RedHawks (14-19-3; No. 8 seed) vs. No. 11/11 North Dakota (22-12-3; No. 2 seed)
Television: CBS Sports Network (Dish Ch. 151; DirecTV Ch. 221; check cable listings)
Radio: All Contests Are Streamed at MURedHawks.com
The Miami University RedHawks take on second-seeded North Dakota in the semifinal round of the inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff on Friday night at 8:38 p.m. ET. The winner plays for the NCHC Championship on Saturday (8:38 p.m.) while the other plays in the consolation game (4:38 p.m.)
WAYS TO LISTEN/WATCH
Miami hockey can be heard live all weekend at MURedHawks.com. An All-Access broadcast will also be available for both contests. Friday night’s matchup, along with Saturday’s championship, will be aired nationally on CBS Sports Network (DirecTV channel 221, Dish Network channel 152, check local cable listings). Ben Holden (play-by-play), Dave Starman (color) and Shireen Saski (rinkside reporter) will be on the call.
LAST TIME OUT
The RedHawks posted a dramatic sweep at top-seeded St. Cloud State in the NCHC Playoffs to punch their ticket to Minneapolis. Miami never trailed, but saw SCSU score the tying goal four times, including once with 0.1 seconds left in regulation, in last Friday’s series opener. Riley Barber ended the Huskies’ hopes of a comeback win when he scored 10:10 into the overtime period to secure a 5-4 victory. On Saturday, SCSU took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but Justin Greenberg’s goal with 2.6 seconds left in regulation capped a four-goal third to give MU its first third-period comeback of the year and a 4-3 series clinching win. Barber (1g, 4a) and Sean Kuraly (2g, 3a) tied for the team lead with five points in the series.
Enrico Blasi (Miami ’94) is in his 15th season behind the RedHawk bench. He is a five-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 325-215-56 in 14-plus seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to nine NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a trio of CCHA regular-season titles and the school’s first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the winningest coach in school history.
Dave Hakstol (North Dakota ‘96) is in his 10th season at the helm of the UND hockey program. In nine of his 10 seasons North Dakota has either advanced to the Frozen Four, won a regular season conference championship or a conference playoff title. Hakstol is 257-131-40 behind the bench at UND.
• Blake Coleman has eight goals and nine points in eight games since returning to the RedHawks’ lineup on Feb. 21.
• Riley Barber tied for the team lead with five points (1g, 4a) at St. Cloud State last weekend after totaling three points (2g, 1a) in the previous 10 games combined.
• Sean Kuraly recorded back-to-back multi-point games and tied Barber for the team lead with five points (2g, 3a) at St. Cloud State.
• Miami’s power play is 14-for-47 (29.8 percent) in its last 13 games.
• After beginning the year 0-7 in one-goal games, MU is 4-2 in its last six one-goal decisions. The RedHawks’ last four victories have all come by a single tally.
THE SERIES: Norther Dakota leads the all-time series with a 5-1-1 record against Miami. MU went 1-3 against UND this season.
ABOUT NORTH DAKOTA: North Dakota emerged victorious in a three-game series with Colorado College in last weekend’s NCHC Playoffs. UND boasted three first or second-team All-NCHC selections and placed another player on the league’s all-rookie team. Senior defenseman Dillon Simpson was a first-team all-conference pick who posted 21 points (7g, 14a) from defense. Forward Michael Parks (11g, 17a) and defenseman Jordan Schmaltz (5g, 17a) earned Second-Team All-NCHC distinction while defenseman Paul LaDue (5g, 12a) landed on the NCHC All-Rookie Team. Zane Gothberg earned the lion’s share of the minutes in goal, posting a 2.08 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 28 games (26 starts).
2013-14 MEETINGS: Miami split its NCHC-opening series against North Dakota in Oxford on Oct. 18-19. While a 3-0 deficit proved too much to overcome in an eventual 4-2 loss in the series opener, Blake Coleman’s hat trick propelled the RedHawks to a 6-2 win for their first-ever victory over UND on Oct. 19. In the return series on Feb. 14-15, MU fell behind 3-0 in the second period and its comeback fell short in a 3-2 loss. Miami was a bit flat in the series finale, falling to North Dakota 9-2 on Feb. 15.
TWO AWAY: Miami qualified for the semifinal round in a conference tournament for the fifth-straight year after topping St. Cloud State last weekend. A win on Friday will put the RedHawks in the inaugural NCHC Championship game, which would be their fourth appearance in a conference championship game under Enrico Blasi. Miami is 25-22 all-time in conference tournaments under Blasi (23-22 CCHA, 2-0 NCHC).
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: After playing together on a line for the majority of the season, head coach Enrico Blasi separated top scorers Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber the last two weeks to provide more scoring depth. The results paid off big time last weekend as Barber posted five points (1g, 4a) and Czarnik chipped in two more (1g, 1a). Barber’s new line mates Sean Kuraly (2g, 3a) and Anthony Louis (1g, 2a) were part of the new look lineup that caused SCSU fits.
GROWING UP: Miami’s freshmen played a huge role in its sweep over St. Cloud State last weekend. Four of the RedHawks’ 18 dressed skaters were rookies and they combined for seven points on two goals and five assists. Anthony Louis notched three points on a goal and two assists, scoring the game-tying goal and assisting on the game-winning tally in the series-clinching win on Saturday. Justin Greenberg posted a goal and an assist, scoring the series-winning goal with 2.6 seconds left on the clock on Saturday. Defenseman Matt Joyaux got into the scoresheet as well, earning the secondary assist on both Friday’s overtime winner and Saturday’s series-clinching goal.
COLEMAN’S GOALMAN: Blake Coleman has provided a jolt to Miami’s offense since returning to the lineup on Feb. 21. The junior forward has eight goals in his past eight games. He’s scored two goals in four of the eight games he’s played. While Coleman was limited to just one assist in last weekend’s sweep at SCSU, he still boasts nine points in eight games since his return.
SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: In tight postseason games, sometimes special teams can make the biggest difference of all. Luckily for Miami, its power play is perking up. The RedHawks are 14-for-47 (29.8 percent) on the power play over their last 13 games. While the penalty kill did yield a pair of power play goals in St. Cloud, it also contributed a shorthanded goal to Miami’s sweep.
FINDING A WAY: One of the biggest struggles for Miami this season has been winning close games, but that has turned around the last few weeks. After starting the year 0-7 in one-goal contests, the RedHawks’ last four victories have come by one-goal margins, including both wins in its sweep at St. Cloud State. The Red and White are 4-2 in their last six one-goal decisions.
BIG COMEBACK: The RedHawks entered the third period on Saturday staring at the possibility of a winner-take-all game three. Miami trailed St. Cloud State 2-0 after 40 minutes of play, but achieved its first third-period comeback win of the season. The Red and White were previously 0-15-1 when behind after two periods, but erupted with four goals to post their first win when trailing after two since a 4-3 win at Michigan on Oct. 27, 2012. MU trailed that game 2-1 after two periods.