Beginning its 32nd and final season of CCHA play, No. 3/3 Miami opens conference action at No. 6/6 Michigan Friday and Saturday at Yost Ice Arena with both games set for 7:35 p.m. The Wolverines mark the first ranked opponent the RedHawks will have faced this season and are their first road games of the 2012-13 campaign.
Miami (3-0-1) is off to its best start since 2009-10 when it also opened 3-0-1. Last weekend, the 'Hawks played a pair of overtime contests against Providence at home in non-conference action, earning a tie Friday and a win Saturday. Freshman Riley Barber and sophomore Austin Czarnik led the way with four points each on the weekend as Barber tallied the game-tying goal in Friday's 1-1 draw. Freshman netminder Ryan McKay was stellar, making 37 saves to earn the tie. Saturday was a back-and-forth affair as the Friars tied the game in the final minute of regulation before Czarnik scored his second goal of the night in overtime to earn Miami the 4-3 win. Barber, Czarnik and fellow sophomore Blake Coleman share the team lead with five points each.
Michigan (2-1-0) enters the weekend coming off a 6-3 win over Bentley last Friday after splitting with RIT opening weekend. Senior A.J. Treais and sophomore Alex Guptill each tallied a pair of goals in the win over Bentley while Treais leads U-M with three goals and five points on the season. The Wolverines have the top offense in the country, averaging 5.67 goals per game, but will face one of the top defenses nationally as Miami ranks fourth giving up just 1.25 goals per game.
Miami trails in the all-time series with Michigan, 71-26-4, going 1-2-1 against the Wolverines last year. The RedHawks have won six of the last 10 meetings however and are 8-5-1 vs. Michigan since the 2008-09 season. The RedHawks were swept by U-M last year in Ann Arbor and are just 5-45-1 there all-time. Head coach Enrico Blasi is 12-23-2 against Michigan.
Enrico Blasi (Miami '94) is in his 14th season at Miami. He is a four-time CCHA Coach of the Year and was named National Coach of the Year in 2005-06. He stands 289-184-49 in 14 seasons at his alma mater, where he has led Miami to eight NCAA Tournaments, including two Frozen Four berths, a National Championship game appearance, a pair of CCHA regular-season titles and the school's first ever Mason Cup in 2011. Blasi is the the winningest coach in school history.
Red Berenson (Michigan '62) is in his 29th season at Michigan, where he has a record of 754-353-77, and is the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA hockey history. He was named National Coach of the Year in 2008, also garnering CCHA Coach of the Year honors for the second time (1994). Berenson has led his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament 22 straight seasons, including 11 Frozen Four trips. He has also led U-M to two national titles (1996 and 1998) and a total of 20 CCHA titles.
- Freshman forward Riley Barber was named CCHA Rookie of the Week after a four-point showing against Providence last weekend, including a career-best three points Saturday. He is riding a three-game goal streak with the three goals tied for first among freshmen in the NCAA. His 1.25 points per game are fourth among NCAA rookies.
- Miami's four-game unbeaten streak to start the year is tied for the longest in the NCAA with Minnesota State while the 'Hawks are the lone CCHA team without a loss so far this year.
- Sophomore forward Blake Coleman is tied for third in the country averaging 1.00 gpg. He has at least one goal in three of four games this year and leads the CCHA with four goals.
- Of Miami's 13 goals this year, 11 have been scored by freshmen or sophomores. Underclassmen have also accounted for 25 of the team's 36 points on the season.
- Freshman goaltender Ryan McKay leads the country with a 0.48 goals-against average, allowing just one goal all season, while his .984 save percentage is second in the NCAA.
Miami remains on the road as it travels to Big Rapids, Mich. for a two-game CCHA series at Ferris State Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2-3, in the teams' only meetings during the regular season. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. both nights at Ewigleben Ice Arena.
Friday's game will be televised by Comcast in Michigan with Matt Shepard handling play-by-play duties and Sean Ritchlin providing color commentary. Saturday's game will not be televised. Both games will also be broadcast on radio as the "Voice of Miami Hockey" Greg Waddell will have the call. Both games will air on WKBV-AM 1490 out of Richmond, Ind. while Saturday's game will also be on WMOH-AM 1450 out of Hamilton, Ohio. Waddell's call can be heard on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package, as well.
ONE LAST TIME: Miami opens its 32nd and final season of CCHA play this weekend at Michigan.
- The RedHawks are 13-15-3 all-time in CCHA openers, including 7-4-2 under head coach Enrico Blasi.
- Miami lost its CCHA opener for the first time since 2006-07 last year at Ferris State and is 3-1-1 in its last five league openers.
THE BARBER SHOP: Freshman forward Riley Barber earned his first CCHA honor Oct. 22 as he was named CCHA Rookie of the Week after a four-point weekend against Providence Oct. 19-20 with two goals and two assists.
- He had a goal in each game and is now riding a three-game goal streak.
- On Oct. 20 he recorded a career-high three points, his first multi-point game, including his first two career assists.
- His three goals on the year are tied for first among NCAA freshmen while his 1.25 points per game are fourth among rookies. He is tied for the team lead with five points.
NEW IN NET, NOT A PROBLEM: Miami has used both of its freshmen goaltenders in each of the first two weekends this year.
- Ryan McKay got the nod on opening night vs. Colgate Oct. 12 and pitched a 24-save shutout, becoming the first Miami goalie to record a whitewash in his first career game.
- The shutout was Miami’s first season-opening shutout in program history.
- McKay made a career-high 37 saves Oct. 19 in a tie vs. Providence, matching Miami’s season high for saves from last year.
- McKay has allowed just one goal all year in two games and leads the NCAA with a 0.48 goals-against average while his .984 save percentage is second in the country.
- Jay Williams started Oct. 13 and earned his first career win, giving up just one goal while making 20 saves.
- Williams made a career-high 23 saves in a win over Providence Oct. 20 as he is one of eight goalies nationally to have at least two decisions this year with all of them being wins.
The freshmen duo is the first freshmen goalies to play since Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard did so as freshmen in 2008-09. Williams and McKay have big shoes to fill as Knapp and Reichard shared the starting goaltender position all four years and both finished in Miami’s career top four in goals-against average, save percentage, wins and shutouts with Knapp setting the career GAA and shutouts records.
BONUS HOCKEY: Miami played its first two overtime games of the season against Providence Oct. 19-20, earning a tie Friday and a win in the extra session Saturday. Miami played seven overtime games last year and went 1-4-2 but the ‘Hawks are already 1-0-1 in OT this year. The last time Miami played back-to-back overtime games in the same weekend was Jan. 28-29, 2011 against Notre Dame, both of which ended in ties.
DOMINANT DEFENSE: Although the RedHawks are tied for 14th nationally on offense, the defense has been Miami’s strength so far this season, giving up just five goals in four games. Miami ranks fourth nationally, allowing just 1.25 goals per game, which is tops among teams with at least three games played. Miami’s penalty kill is a big reason for the defense’s success, going a perfect 13-for-13 on the PK against Colgate Oct. 12-13, while it is 19-for-20 on the year (95.0 percent), which is fifth nationally. The only power play goal Miami conceded came 5-on-3 on Oct. 19 against the Friars.
BLAKE MAKES IT AND TAKES IT: Sophomore forward Blake Coleman captured his first career CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honor Oct. 15 after a three-goal, four-point weekend against Colgate Oct. 12-13.
- Coleman tied a career high with two goals Oct. 12, his third-career multi-goal game.
- He then added a goal and an assist the next night giving him back-to-back multi-point games for the first time in his career. He now has seven multi-point games as a RedHawk.
- Coleman added another goal Oct. 20 vs. Providence and is tied for third in the country averaging 1.00 goals per game as he has at least one goal in three of four games this year and leads the CCHA with four on the season.
- He is Miami’s leading returning goal scorer after scoring 12 goals last year.
FRESH FACES: Of the 11 freshmen on Miami’s 2012-13 roster, nine of them saw their first collegiate action Oct. 12-13 against Colgate (forwards Riley Barber, Alex Gacek, Sean Kuraly and Kevin Morris and defensemen Matthew Caito, Chris Joyaux and Taylor Richart) while defenseman Michael Mooney made his debut Oct. 20 vs. Providence. Goaltenders Ryan McKay and Jay Williams have both started twice this year and each earned their first win against Colgate. Five newcomers have notched their first point at Miami so far:
- Morris scored his first point on a goal Oct. 13 vs. Colgate in the second period, which turned out to be the game-winner.
- Barber also scored a goal Oct. 13 vs. Colgate on the power play in the third period for his first point. He totaled three points Oct. 20 vs. Providence, including his first two assists.
- Joyaux had an assist on Miami’s final goal Oct. 13 for his first career point.
- Senior Marc Hagel, a transfer from Princeton, notched his first point as a RedHawk with an assist on Miami’s first goal of the season Oct. 12 vs. Colgate.
- Caito picked up his first career point on an assist Oct. 20 vs. Providence.
SUPER SOPHOMORES: Miami’s sophomore class has picked up where they left off as freshmen, as the six second years have accounted for seven of Miami’s 13 goals and 17 of the squad’s 36 points (47.2 percent) this year. Blake Coleman has four goals and five points on the year while Austin Czarnik has two goals and three assists. Alex Wideman has a goal and three points, Cody Murphy tallied a career-high three assists Oct. 13 and Jimmy Mullin has an assist. Last year as freshmen they scored 40.2 percent of the team’s goals (49 of 122) while at least one freshman scored a goal in 27 of Miami’s 41 games in 2011-12. Last year’s newcomers also accounted for 122 of Miami’s 323 points, or 37.8 percent. The entire class returns except for forward Tyler Biggs, who had nine goals and 17 points before deciding to turn pro. The seven returners on the team who aren’t sophomores combined for just 15 goals and 52 points in 2011-12.
POLLING AROUND: The RedHawks moved up for the third straight week to third in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll for week three after ranking fourth last week. The RedHawks started the year No. 9 in both the USCHO and USA Today Preseason Polls. The No. 3 ranking is Miami’s highest since being preseason No. 1 in the USA Today Poll to start last year and its highest ranking during the season since being No. 1 Nov. 1, 2010.
CLASSY SENIORS: Miami’s senior class has compiled 79 career wins, which already ranks ninth in program history. The class has been a part of a Frozen Four team as freshmen when they also won a CCHA regular-season title and helped the RedHawks win their first ever Mason Cup (CCHA Tournament title) as sophomores. The class of Joe Hartman, Garrett Kennedy, Steve Mason, Curtis McKenzie and Steven Spinell has been to the NCAA Tournament all three years, as well.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Miami’s lone freshman from Ohio is Sean Kuraly, the son of Rick Kuraly, who is Miami’s all-time leading goal scorer with 101 goals from 1979-83 and ranks third in career points (179). Sean is the first son of a former Miami player to suit up for the RedHawks. The younger Kuraly was taken in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks.